Crystalee Calderwood

Class of 2006

  • Bachelor of Arts in English, Penn State Altoona
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (dual emphasis on poetry and writing for children), Chatham University, 2008
  • Instructional 1 Teaching Certification, English 7-12, Carlow University

What do you currently do professionally?
Academic Coach at Carlow University. Adjunct Instructor of Composition at the University of Pittsburgh

How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
I have the ability to write clearly and professionally in a variety of modes and genres. I have the ability and confidence to speak in front of a large group of people. I worked for eight years as a high school English teacher, where I drew from my experience in college and as an English major to help my juniors and seniors prepare themselves for college-level writing.

What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
How to conduct academic research; how to write an essay; how to speak in public; how to multi-task and manage my time efficiently.

In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
I have a better appreciation for books, movies, and even music because I look at everything with a more analytical eye.

What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
Dr. Liszka's Chaucer class and Dr. Livingston's Shakespeare class were my favorites because both professors had such enthusiasm for their subjects. I have such great memories of working on the literary magazine and doing poetry readings in the chapel because it was the first time, I truly felt like I was part of a team of like-minded people. (Dr. Tom Liszka and Dr. Meg Livingston have since retired.)

What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
Take advantage of all the opportunities you have at your disposal. I feel like I got into my creative writing and literature classes but did not bother looking into the more practical aspects of how to apply the skills I was learning, and what my potential career paths could be. As a result, I left college not knowing what to do with my life and went to graduate school instead of pursuing a career right away. Although I would not change any of my post-Penn State Altoona days for the world, I also wish I had prepared more for life outside of college.

February 2023