Maria Canela

Maria Canela

Class of 2010

  • Penn State Altoona- B.A. in English Literature
  • Arcadia University. M.Ed in Education

What do you currently do professionally?
I currently teach 9th-grade English Literature.

How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
I was able to become an English teacher as a result of majoring in English during my time at Penn State. Additionally, I have utilized my degree when writing a memoir and a young adult novel, which I am still working on completing. Without my English degree, I would be less prepared for my profession and creative endeavors.

What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
My understanding of the English language paired with the writing, speaking, and listening skills that I had the opportunity to improve during my undergrad have definitely helped me succeed in my profession. As an English teacher, I am tasked with helping my students develop their writing and reading skills, so having majored in English has supported my ability to excel in both areas.

In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
The English major has impacted my confidence in writing creatively; as previously stated, I have been writing a memoir and a young adult novel in my free time.

What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
I have so many wonderful memories from my time in the English program, but I particularly remember writing poetry in Dr. Wesley's creative writing course. Poetry terrified me, but Dr. Wesley taught me to approach it with curiosity and appreciation; her words of encouragement and modeled behavior gave me the opportunity to appreciate the nuances of poetry that I would have otherwise overlooked. I am forever grateful for her patience and diligence as a professor.

What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
Teach all students, regardless of ability or work ethic, with patience and empathy.

Is there anything else you would like current Penn State Altoona students (of all majors) to know?
Remember to slow down, at least once a day.