Class of 2013
- Bachelor of Arts, in English, Minor in History, Penn State Altoona
- Master of Arts, in English literature, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2015)
- Doctorate, in English literature, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2020)
What do you currently do professionally?
TRIO Student Support Services Academic Advisor and Instructor at the University of Pittsburgh
How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
I have taught English at various universities, including Penn State Altoona, and this has driven me to further advance my career in higher education and in literary pursuits. I have publications, connections, and job experiences that I would not have had if I had not majored in English at Penn State Altoona.
What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
Critical thinking and analytical reading skills help me work daily with students, colleagues, departments, and written materials. I also have experiences in the classroom that help me work with supportive services for students outside of my teaching, and my success as a presenter, writer, and critical theorist is all due to my training in English and the encouragement I received from my instructors and colleagues at Penn State Altoona and at Indiana University of PA.
In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
My work with the Arthurian legend has led me to become a beta tester for the newly released video game Galahad 3093, so I have been able to add "video game tester" to my wealth of experiences. Without my background in English, I would have never met my best friends and cherished colleagues, with whom I often play Dungeons & Dragons.
What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
I would say that my favorite experience was watching Dr. Tom Liszka dress up as the Green Knight in our British Literature survey course to teach us Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. However, I also fondly remember my time as a peer writing tutor working with Lee Peterson and Ryan Weber in the Writing Commons.
What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
Be open to everything--learn as much as you can from your instructors, and make sure that you take the time to talk with them. The instructors at Penn State Altoona remain some of my favorite people to this day and are my favorite colleagues. I was more prepared for graduate coursework and my career in higher education from my studies at Penn State Altoona, and that was down to the curiosity and idea-sharing cultivated by everyone in the English department. Take advantage of every opportunity--learning and social--and remember that the world is filled with limitless potential, and that English majors help unlock that potential.
Is there anything else you would like current Penn State Altoona students (of all majors) to know?
Penn State Altoona was my home, academically and professionally, and the people there made it so that I was always excited to be on campus. Harness that excitement and wonder and make the most of your time at Penn State Altoona. You will not regret attending, and you will never forget it. Make it your home, too!