Maleah Orr

Maleah Orr

Class of 2022

  • Bachelor of Arts in English, Penn State Altoona
  • Currently a Master’s degree in English student at West Virginia University.

What do you currently do professionally?
I am currently a graduate student and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at West Virginia University.

How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
Majoring in English at Penn State helped me realize that I wanted to continue my education in this area of study.

What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
The knowledge and skills that I gained as a Writing Consultant at the Writing Commons have greatly helped me in the classroom as a Teaching Assistant. As a writing tutor, I learned a lot about the knowledge and writing skills first-year writers bring to college. I learned to speak with them about their writing in a way that allowed them to trust me and to feel comfortable. My experience as a writing tutor made my transition to the front of the classroom (as an instructor) much smoother.

In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
The English department at Penn State Altoona is fortunate to have a great network of faculty and students. I have made a lot of wonderful friendships with both the students I sat next to in class and with the professors who stood at the front. I decided to stay at the Altoona campus instead of moving to University Park because I enjoyed the sense of community there.

What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
My favorite experience from my time in the English program would have to be working in the Writing Commons. Aside from the knowledge and skills I gained there, I also really enjoyed having a community and safe space on campus.

What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
My advice for anyone wanting to enter graduate school is to find a faculty mentor and advisor to help with your application. They have successfully navigated the application/admissions process before. They can help you choose programs that fit your goals and to cater your application to those programs.
If you are considering graduate school, try to take more than 12 credits of a foreign language during undergrad. Many English graduate programs have foreign language requirements that are not fulfilled by Penn State Altoona's 12-credit requirement. Some students have to take language courses in graduate school and earn no credits toward their degree. I, fortunately, took 16 credits of German and was able to avoid this. An extra language course as an undergrad is worth it.

Is there anything else you would like current Penn State Altoona students (of all majors) to know?
Even if you plan to continue your education, there is no experience quite like that at Penn State Altoona. Take some time to enjoy being an undergraduate student because graduate school is a whole new adventure.

February 2023