MCC Alumni Feature: Sarah Jensen, the art of writing.  

April 29, 2022

Sarah Jensen reading from her book “A Perfect Union of Contrary Things.”

MCC Alumni Feature: Sarah Jensen, the art of writing.  

Spartan News is presented by Mason County Central Schools in partnership with Mason County Press. This special series of Spartan News features alumni of MCC. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s note: Over the last couple of months, MCP has featured profiles of alumni of Mason County Central and the role MCC played in influencing their lives. When I decided to run this series, I was unable to write all the stories I had planned by myself. Plus, I wanted someone who could offer a different perspective on some of the subjects. Sarah Jensen was the natural choice for this task. Sarah is a talented writer who has a deep affection and appreciation for Scottville. It’s only fitting that we begin to wrap up this series with Sarah’s profile. 

  • MCC class of 1972
  • Undergraduate degree: associate degree, West Shore Community College; bachelor of arts, anthropology, Michigan State University
  • Current position: author, copy writer, editor

Sarah Jensen grew up on a farm on Sugar Grove Road in Victory Township, land that is now the campus of West Shore Community College. Her father, Viggo, was born to Danish immigrants. Her mother, Aletha, was originally from Reed City and came to Scottville in 1942 to teach kindergarten and elementary English. 

Sarah has lived in Mason County only briefly since she graduated from high school in 1972, but Scottville is dear to her heart. After graduating from Michigan State University, she moved to Kalamazoo, back to East Lansing and then eventually to Boston, and held a variety of jobs. “I’ve been everything from a tax clerk at a savings and loan to a librarian at a law firm, an audio transcriptionist, and a secretary,” she says. “But, the common thread in every job was that I ended up writing the company newsletter. Writing projects just always tended to come my way.”

She also wrote poetry that was published in various publications across the country and in the early ’90s was founding editor of the literary journal atelier. 

In 2001, personal reasons brought Sarah back to Mason County where she took a job as a staff writer at the Ludington Daily News. The three-year stint there allowed her to reconnect with her hometown and its people. 

When she returned to Boston, she got a job at a copywriting firm, where she wrote materials for colleges and universities such as recruitment and capital campaign materials. 

Her connection with Scottville continues through her editing and writing. In 2010, she helped edit the book Working in the Music Industry by Scottville native Edgar Struble (MCC class of 1969; read Edgar’s alumni feature here). A few years later, she began working in collaboration with fellow Spartan Maynard Keenan (MCC class of 1982) to write his authorized biography. Keenan is the lead singer and a founder of Tool, a Grammy Award-winning rock band. He is also founder of the rock band Puscifer and a co-founder of the rock band A Perfect Circle. The book, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, was published in 2016 and debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. It was dedicated to Kjiirt Jensen (MCC class of 1982), Sarah’s brother and one of Maynard’s best friends. 

“Maynard and Kjiirt were friends all through high school,” Sarah says. “When Maynard moved to Boston, Kjiirt and I were there and we always hung out together. Then he moved out to Los Angeles and eventually started Tool.”

In 2016, Sarah was commissioned by West Shore Community College to write West Shore Community College: The First Fifty Years, a book chronicling the college’s first half century. She also recently edited Owen 9, a novel about a small town football team by Scottville native George C. Wilson (MCC class of 1979). 

Sarah’s inspiration for writing can be partially attributed to her high school teachers at Mason County Central. 

“I had no idea then what I wanted to do with my life,” she says. “I wasn’t good at math. I wasn’t good at science. When I was in high school, it was the English teachers who started looking at things that I had written and who encouraged me.” 

Sarah credits teacher Frances Schulte, who taught English, Shakespeare, and poetry along with English teacher Wayne LaPointe. She also credits Ted Winkel, who taught psychology. “He was always very encouraging and has remained a good friend.” 

“Through their encouragement I finally felt like I could be successful at something,” she says. When she graduated from high school, Sarah received the Cox Award for Outstanding Achievement in English and Literature, named after J. Jay and Margaret Cox, who both came to Scottville in the early 1900s. J. Jay was a community business leader and Margaret was a teacher and later served on the Scottville school board of education. Sarah’s sister, Sue Ellen Jensen (MCC class of 1976) also won the award. 

On May 3, voters in the Mason County Central School District are being asked to decide on a 1.95 mills bond request that will raise $33 million towards school facility and technology improvements. Highlights of the bond include safety and security upgrades in all five of the school buildings, upgrades to the high school (including renovations to B and C halls, new administrative offices, renovations of A.O. Carlson Gym and construction of an auditorium), repairs to the school campus streets and athletic facility upgrades. 

“I think any improvement would be good for the students,” Sarah says. “The school should be as up to date as possible. This is vital to prepare them for what they will encounter after graduation. A school with modern technology, whether it’s in an academic classroom or in a performance space, will prepare them for post-high school education and training.” 

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