Christopher Paul Brown

Class of 2010

  • English BA
  • Curriculum and Instruction M.Ed

What do you currently do professionally?
English teacher, Bishop Guilfoyle High School, adjunct instructor of English, Penn State Altoona

How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
As a teacher, my degree's usefulness is probably pretty straightforward. I need to know the content that I'm going to teach. PSUA laid a solid foundation for everything that I've needed to do in the classroom, but ultimately, knowing the content turned out to be an important, but small part of the job.

What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
The critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills I built while at Penn State Altoona have helped me excel in my field. The most crucial parts of my job entail communicating effectively about frequently sensitive topics with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. I might be working to motivate a student who has gotten off track, managing a difficult conversation with a parent about a student's behavior, leading faculty discussions to build consensus about policy decisions, or preparing information to help administrators make effective decisions.

In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
When I have conversations with people about hypothetical other paths my life could have taken, I often think that I would have been happy with a trade career; I like to work with my hands a lot and spend a lot of time on hobbies. But the perspective I built while majoring in English at Penn State Altoona changed how I look at things, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I perceive and think about the world differently than many of my peers in other majors, and I attribute a huge part of that difference to the wide range of reading and discussing that I did while in college.

What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
My favorite experience in the English program was the study abroad trip to London that I did with Drs. Rotunno and Page my last year. It was my first real travel experience in a foreign country, and it laid the foundation for a love of travel that is still one of the most important parts of my life. This summer my wife and I are planning to take our 5 and 8-year-old daughters to roam around Norway for a few weeks!

What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
Dig deep into those peer review discussions. One of the most important parts of my job is having conversations with students about how to write better. The class discussions that I did with peers while working through my major left me well-prepared to help the students that I teach.

February 2023