The Power of an English Degree

As an undergraduate student in the English department, I’ve often found myself pondering the big questions concerning my future: What will I do when I graduate? What’s the job market like? Is graduate school a good option for me? I know I’m not alone in this mental exercise. Thankfully, the English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta recently held a panel with four former English students to help current undergraduates explore this topic.

Department Head Dr. Christopher Stuart opened the panel with an important observation: while it is important that the department’s faculty members measure student success as if each undergrad will be continuing their education as graduate students, this won’t be the case for most. Graduating students may have any number of personal or professional reasons for avoiding grad school.

This was the common thread that connected these panelists; each managed to secure an admirable position in their field with an undergraduate-level education and a healthy dose of determination. Thus, they serve as evidence that while graduate school is an excellent option for some, it’s definitely possible to succeed with a BA in English, and each panelist had plenty of relevant advice for undergrads looking to do just that.

Natalie Martin

Natalie Martin, the first highlighted panelist, graduated from UTC as a double major, earning BA English Literature and BA Communications degrees. Although she initially came to UTC hoping to be a high school English teacher, Natalie eventually changed her major from English Education and pursued experience in PR and marketing fields. She currently works as a project manager for the Chattanooga-based web development company Crash Creative.

As she reflected on her career path, Natalie expressed a fascination for the potential of working online.  “I learned that I love the web. Web is so exciting… It’s limitless, really.” Natalie seemed to ponder what her career experience would have been like had she continued down the path of English Education, but ultimately concluded that she had made the right choice for her; the lessons she learned from the English and Communications departments combined to give her the formal schooling and technical know-how necessary to succeed in her field. When asked for advice to current undergrad students, she offered a reassuring message. “Find out what you can do with your degree! If you’re not looking for a future in academia, know that there are so many things you can do with an English degree.” It just so happens that working on web development for professional clients is one great example.

Brooke Brown

Brooke Brown, UTC alum and Assistant Editor for The Pulse, emphasized the importance of finding a good internship as a student. She interned with “Chattanooga’s weekly alternative magazine” during her last semester at UTC, and impressed her supervisors enough to land her a position as Editorial Assistant immediately following her graduation. Six months later, Brooke was promoted to her current role as Assistant Editor.

The paper is distributed for free at newsstands all throughout downtown Chattanooga, and features articles on all sorts of cultural events relevant to the Scenic City. “It’s awesome. I love it. I get to edit the paper, and I also write Featured Business and Featured Dining pieces for it, so that’s pretty cool, too.” Brooke displayed a passion for her work that permitted her to find success, and the connections she made with The Pulse during her internship led her to where she is now, giving undergrads yet another reason to look into the department’s internship program.

Mary Fortune, the last UTC alum, graduated with a BA in English Literature in 1995.
Remembering her time in school, Mary stressed having little interest in any other department. “I majored in English because I hated everything else,” she said. Still, she admitted to having few ideas about her overall career plan during her studies, humorously stressing that the only thing she was sure about was that she did
not want to be a teacher.

Much like Natalie, Mary explained how she discovered the benefits of coupling an English degree with experience in Communications. In her senior year, Mary began an internship with the Chattanooga Times (precursor to the Chattanooga Times Free Press) and kicked off her thirteen-year-long career as a journalist. “It was great because you’re a writer and you get to tell stories, but you don’t even have to make them up.” Needing a new position to support her growing family, Mary took a job as a manager in the Corporate Communications department at the Unum insurance company, and has thrived there for over nine years now. Now the Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications, Mary serves as a great example for how much English majors may be desired in office environments, too.

Mary Fortune

While not a UTC alum, Dave Deardorff did graduate as an English major from a small university in Indiana with a focus in Creative Writing. He mentioned one great reason to pursue a degree in English: the ability to keep your studies broad. Choosing between a major in English and a major in the sciences, Dave chose English for the flexible skill set it could provide him in the future. This flexibility seemed to stick with Dave, as he eventually decided to establish a freelance writing company.

Confessing that he did spend some time in graduate school, Dave was not satisfied with his new program’s emphasis on literature, preferring instead to focus on his own ability to craft engaging work. “I went for a year and took all the Creative Writing courses I could, but then I realized all that was left were 18th-century literature courses that really weren’t enthusing for me.” Testing the waters as a technical writer, Dave found that his skills served him well, but the work was not particularly interesting. This led to the formation of Deardorff Consulting; Dave repeatedly emphasized the liberation of applying his skillset to constantly changing projects as an independent writer. “I like new challenges. I like variety.”

The Panelists for this event had plenty of great advice that we could all learn from. If you have an idea of what you’d like to do in the future, why not try for an internship in that field? When applying for jobs, consider the value of your communicational skills; as an English major, these skills can take you far in the job market. The English major is a broad field of study, and can lead to all sorts of unique experiences, but like with any field, making connections with others is also a great habit to maintain. You never know who might give you your next decades-long career doing something you love.

Launch Party for UTC English Grad Program’s New Southern-Inspired Magazine: CATALPA

Catalpa, a magazine of Southern perspectives, will release its first issue this April. This new publication thrives on the unique, unorthodox, and creative stories inspired by the South. Catalpa solicits submissions related to, or written in the South. At Catalpa we want to inspire, entertain, and evoke thought.

Catalpa Cover

Inaugural issue of Catalpa

Please support Catalpa’s release by attending our Catalpa Magazine Launch Party on April 28th at 6:00 p.m. in the Southern Writers Room in UTC’s library. We will be reading a few stories from our first issues and will have free food and drinks available. This is a project that all Catalpa staff members have worked extremely hard on, and would love to share with the UTC community.

To give you a little history of Catalpa, the magazine was created and is run by UTC English graduate students, under the watchful eye of our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Rebecca Jones. Catalpa has been developed to be the product of an annual publication course, Writing for Publication: A Graduate Magazine. The magazine provides hands-on, true to life, real-world application of skills that are necessary of personal, public, and professional writers. From the message we want to put out, to writing and editing, to and deciding on design elements such as colors, fonts and page-layout, we created Catalpa from scratch. Student write, edit, and design the whole magazine. We hope this becomes a staple of the English Graduate Program. 

Catalpa, ultimately, is the result of English grad students’ group effort. Learning to work in a team, problem-solving, taking initiative, strategic planning, adaptability are just a few of the skills we’ve developed in addition to writing for a particular rhetorical situation. Students have specific duties and tasks and are required to finish them on time. If not, you could throw off the timing of the release, and that really is not an option. It’s refreshing to be in a class that is all about collaboration.

We hope our issue is the first of many and that you will enjoy it.

Your support for Catalpa will be greatly appreciated, and we hope to see you in the Southern Writers Room at 6:00 p.m. on the 28th of April.

—Team Catalpa

Hot Off the Dept. Head’s Desk: Fall 2017 Courses to Watch (and enroll in).

ENGL 3410:  British Modernism 1900-1945)  –  Kizza

British Modernism is an early to mid-twentieth century literary movement rooted in the Modernists’ desire to “bury Victoria”. The new millennium which opened with excitement but also apprehension enabled the Modernists to wage a battle against the Victorians. These brave adventurers captured the period’s overall sense of dislocation, despair, alienation, confusion, uncertainty, fear, etc.; critically analyzed and responded to political events and discoveries; voiced their dissatisfaction with “Western Civilization”; made artistic innovations, and experimented with literary techniques and styles to accurately depict the moral, social, and intellectual atmosphere of the new millennium, thereby successfully burying Victoria. So please join me for the most enchanting funeral you will ever attend – that of Queen Victoria, featuring renowned pallbearers like Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Bernard Shaw, and many more. 

ENGL 3750 M 5:30-8  Poetry Workshop: “What kind of times are these? Politics, Belief, and Poetry.”  — Jackson

Through writing poems and prose poems (essentially descriptive, lyrical paragraphs) we will explore how to write about politics without writing mere propaganda, how to write about the beliefs we have that underlie our views without mere proselytizing.  The theme comes from .the poem “What Kind of Times Are These” by Award winning poet Adrienne Rich who writes: “this is not somewhere else but here, / our country moving closer to its own truth and dread.”  In this class we will read some poems about current issues and try writing some that speak to our own beliefs and views about political, religious and social issues. We’ll meet once a week to share our reading and writing and suggest ways to get further into its truths. Truth, after all, is what the poem can bring us, a way to combat what Slovene poet Dane Zajc called the “stalkers” who try to control our language by redefining words and situations. As major American poet Gerald Stern says about belief: “To write and American psalm today means to penetrate the horror, the indifference, and the cruelty …to reach a true place of love and affirmation.”  Since all the material we need is on the internet we will not have any required texts.

ENGL 4270: Major American Figures: E.L. Doctorow – Stuart

E.L. Doctorow was a major presence in American letters from the late 1960s until his death in 2015.  He was best known for his classic historical novels such as Ragtime (African American terrorists blow up fire stations and hole up in J.P. Morgan’s library, among other events), Billy Bathgate (gangsters in the 1930s), and The March (a novel tracing Sherman’s infamous march to the sea towards the end of the Civil War).  Students in this course are in for a treat, as Doctorow’s novels offer a rare combination of accessible prose, exciting plots, and cerebral stimulation, an achievement reflected in the fact that many of his works were bestsellers while at the same time that they were winning the major literary awards and attracting sustained scholarly attention.

ENGL 4970: Fiction, Fashion, and Feminism  – Noe

This course will look at the ways in which fashion informs culture and constructs identity as seen in the fiction of Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, E.L. Doctorow, and other writers.

ENGL/WSTU 4430:  Africana Womanism –  Kizza

Since its inception in the late 1980s, Africana Womanism has been a major focus of literary scholars, and it is now centrally located in the feminist discourse, but what exactly is Africana Womanism? How and why did it move to the center of the feminist discourse? What is its agenda? How is it related to Black Feminism? How is it similar and different from main stream Feminism? What is its future? In this course, we will explore these issues and many more by immersing ourselves in the theoretical scholarship, and actively participating in the discourse on texts by Africana authors like Harriet Jacobs, Zora Neale Hurston, Flora Nwapa, Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo, Jamaica Kinkaid, and more, presumed to be representative of this ideology.

ENGL 4920 –Novel Writing Workshop – Baker

Although this new course does not show up on your My Mocs Degree yet, it DOES count as an upper-division level creative writing course.

For this class, we will focus on writing what Ann Lamont calls “the sh***y first draft” of a novel. We will use one literary novel to “read as a writer” in class, meaning we will closely examine and discuss the novel’s structure, scene, sentence structure, and character development as a guide to our own work. You will also choose a novel to write a short craft paper analyzing some aspect that interests you. All genres are allowed, but we will be focusing on the literary elements of writing in this class. At the end of the semester you will submit about 55,000 words toward the first draft of your novel.

Moving Beyond the Academy: An English Major Makes the Transition to Professional Writer

Photo of Laura Coker

Laura Coker

*The following is a guest column by Senior English Major Laura Coker.

For my senior capstone project, I earned an internship at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hamilton County (CACHC).

The CACHC offers services, such as counseling, medical support, and investigative services, to children who are victims of abuse. As their first English major intern, I was assigned the task of creating a manual for their internship and volunteer program. Since the English major doesn’t pertain to child development, I didn’t work directly with the children who were brought to the CACHC. Instead, I created a manual that outlined information and statistics about child abuse as well as about the CACHC’s mission and the services they offer free of charge to children and their families.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to work with the children or families who came to the CACHC, I was able to create a manual that would help interns and volunteers understand child abuse and the different types of people they would be working with.

Image of Who Do We Serve infographic

One of the many manual infographics which describe the demographics served by the CACHC.

Before I started the internship, my supervisor told me that the CACHC often loses volunteers because they don’t understand the role of each position or even what the CACHC does before they accept the position. It was a rewarding experience for me to be able to create something for the CACHC that might benefit their program by informing people about the services offered by the CACHC to victims of abuse while also helping them retain their volunteers. The manual is also going to be used as a teaching tool at seminars and events hosted by the CACHC to help people understand more about child abuse and what we can do as a community to prevent it.

Working at the CACHC gave me the chance to learn what it’s like to write professionally as well as academically. I also now have valuable work experience and a portfolio to show future employers. One career path I’m interested in is law, and I now have a better understanding of how the legal process works for criminal cases. I know that because of my internship experience and my time as an English major at UTC, I have the writing skills I need in order to be successful in whatever career or academic path I choose.

The best decision I made at UTC was choosing English as my major. Despite what some people believe, the English major isn’t easy, and we’re capable of more than just reading books and drinking coffee. I’ve taken many great classes with amazing professors who have challenged me to become a better writer and who have made me realize how much of an asset I actually am to the business world.

Image of Abuse and Neglect Factsheet

“Facts about Abuse and Neglect” gives basic information about identifying the physical signs of child abuse with infographics offering additional statistics.

Some of my favorite classes that I’ve taken at UTC were Dr. McCarthy’s Shakespeare course, Dr. Rehyansky’s History of the English Language, Dr. Jordan’s Romanticism course, and Dr. Hunter’s Publishing in New Media.

Each professor taught me a new lesson.

Performing a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays in Dr. McCarthy’s class was the most interesting and exciting group project I’ve participated in at UTC. Because of Dr. McCarthy, I now have a deeper appreciation for Shakespeare.

Dr. Jordan is one of the most caring and encouraging professors I’ve ever had. I knew that if I had a problem, whether academic or personal, I could talk to him about it. Dr. Jordan has helped me become a better writer just by sitting down with me during his office hours and being honest with me about how I could improve my essays as well as my overall writing style.

Dr. Rehyansky helped me discover my passion for language. She encouraged me to take on a daunting research project, read many of my final drafts, and even helped me develop this project further a year later when I was no longer enrolled in her class.

Dr. Hunter’s Publishing in New Media was a learning experience in many ways. Not only did I meet an amazing group of people who I’m still friends with to this day, but his class introduced me to new genres of writing and culture that pertain to our ever advancing technological world.

The “What You Need to Know” section of the manual included the standard workplace policies all of which were written by me.

All of these professors gave me a new appreciation for literature and writing, and they have all helped me build my confidence as a writer. In fact, I didn’t realize how much my English classes and past professors prepared me until I earned a writing intensive internship. At the beginning of the internship, I was told that I wouldn’t be working at the CACHC’s office under supervision; instead, I would be working completely on my own and was only required to check in with my supervisor once every few weeks to discuss the work she had given me to complete for the deadline she had set. I was terrified.

But, because I was used to working in a fast paced academic environment where I was forced to meet firmly established deadlines while also completing multiple projects and essays at a time, I adapted quickly to working on my own and to the writing intensive work I was assigned. Prior to my position as an intern at the CACHC, I’d also never written anything in a professional style. It was different at first and less complicated than academic writing which is the type of writing I’m accustomed to. But I was prepared, and after a few critiques from my supervisor, I quickly adapted to professional writing.

I can say without a doubt that my time as an English major at UTC has been a rewarding experience, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities are in store for me.

Internship Ins & Outs: Part II

As we’ve already seen, faculty explained that internships give students an edge in the job market, and teach a wide range of skills that can’t be learned through coursework alone. Internships also look really impressive on a resume, demonstrating to employers that potential hires have the drive to apply themselves in a non-academic environment.

It’s clear that our English faculty sees the value in pursuing an internship, but what do interns themselves have to say about the process? I reached out to current and former UTC English interns to get their thoughts on their time in the program.

David Haynes

The interns I talked to generally expressed some surprise at the range of projects they were involved in during their internships. As David Haynes, recent UTC alum and Programs Intern for the Southern Lit Alliance remembered, “I was responsible for coming up with social media content for a lecture series featuring up-and-coming authors. Then, I started branching out to writing press releases, assisting with event coordination, obtaining information for fundraisers, and much more!”

Haynes emphasized the importance of his professional writing and communications skills, both of which were thoroughly honed during his time as an intern. He had the chance to practice these skills doing something he loved, too, because the Southern Lit Alliance supports the Chattanooga community by sponsoring major literary events in the city. “It was amazing just to work with an organization that I genuinely believe can help change its sphere of influence for the better.” Following his graduation, Haynes decided to continue his work for the organization as a volunteer with SLA.

Trevor Harper, current Media/Writing Intern for Chattanooga Organized for Action (COA), is learning a skillset just as broad, explaining, “My duties include writing publications such as blog posts, grants, and press releases as well as designing their website and newsletters. There’s a lot more diversity of work than I had originally imagined; things I never thought would fall into the scope of an English major.”

COA is a community-based nonprofit centered in Chattanooga that promotes grassroots political movements in and around the Scenic City. Harper’s responsibilities also include contacting local politicians to hear their stances on certain issues. Because of his direct involvement with COA’s work, Harper feels like an integral piece of the puzzle, stating, “I actually feel like a part of the organization and that the work I do makes a difference.” English majors in UTC’s internship program seem to have a certain passion for their work.

“I actually feel like a part of the organization and that the work I do makes a difference.”

Each intern also highlighted the amount of on-the-job experience they gained as part of the program. Conni Boykins spent her time as an intern working with the Patten Group, a Chattanooga-based investment firm. She spent much of her time working with Portfolio Managers (PM) who would indicate the names of publically traded companies which Boykins would produce reports on, sometimes determining whether the Patten Group should or should not invest in them. Valuing her internship as a learning experience, Boykins said her favorite aspect was being able to combine her love of language and rhetoric with the finance industry. “I was initially an accounting major in school, but later switched to English, which had always been a passion of mine. I guess the biggest challenge is that, despite my minor accounting background, the finance industry was one that I was largely detached from when I started work here. I knew the basics, but have never really delved into the industry with the seriousness and depth that this work required.” Boykins made it clear that her time as an intern provided valuable real-world experience she would not have received otherwise. She now works for the Patten Group full-time as the Grant Development and Research Coordinator.

Haynes candidly revealed that working professionally in a non-academic environment can be a little nerve-racking at first. “When asked to write a press release for the first time, it was very easy to panic,” he said. “But, my bosses were supportive, encouraging, and offered some of the greatest advice.”

Ashley Branam

Ashley Branam showed that some experience can be earned even before joining the internship program, however, and then cemented with the proper internship. Remembering her time as a student, she said, “I knew I didn’t want to teach English, so I was mostly excited for the opportunity to investigate other career options. I had taken Dr. Lauren Ingraham’s Grant Writing class the semester before, but I wanted additional experience in the field to see if I enjoyed grant writing enough to pursue it as a career. And as it turns out, I did.” As an intern, Branam worked as a Grant Communications Intern at the fund development firm Skye Strategies, researching census reports and other data, creating profiles for prospective clients, and editing documents. Her grant writing experience from Dr. Ingraham’s course transitioned well into her internship position. This shows how important it is for students to choose courses that interest them and develop that interest with on-the-job experience. 

Reflecting on the internship program itself, Harper expressed thanks to Dr. Lauren Ingraham for helping him find a position he loves at COA. “I actually didn’t really know what internship I wanted to do starting out. I just needed one.” It’s clear that students don’t need to have a specific career in mind to benefit greatly from an internship; it is always possible to match the right intern with the right position. Given the chance to offer advice to potential interns, Harper encouraged looking into the program as soon as possible. “If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have waited till my last semester to start my first internship.”

Boykins shared this enthusiasm. “If you’re thinking about joining the internship program, then do it. The experience will be invaluable. At the very least you’ll get real life job experience to put on your resume, but I truly believe you’ll get so much more out of the program.”

The English Department offers all of its students who have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their major a chance to apply for an internship. You can find more information about internships here.

Noah Pace is an intern serving as the English Department’s Staff Writer and Social Media Coordinator. He is a senior English Major with a Minor in Communications.

10 Reasons to be an English Major (or Minor)

1. The Liberal Arts (yes, including English!) are “tech’s hottest ticket”? It’s true.


2. 93% of business leaders said that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems” was more important that a job candidate’s major.” It’s true.


3. Intercultural skills, such as accepting different cultural contexts and viewpoints, will be vital in the 21st century. It’s true.


4. 97% of executives rate strong writing skills as absolutely essential or very important. It’s true.


5. English helps you develop the attributes employers seek on a candidate’s resume. Yes, it’s true.


6. UTC English offers Majors and 3 minors that will give you in-demand skills.

  1. Creative Writing (Major and Minor)
  2. Literature (Major and Minor)
  3. Rhetoric and Professional Writing (Major and Minor)


7. Great faculty and interesting classes, where you can study:

  • Traditional and digital writing, editing, and publishing
  • Viral marketing campaigns
  • Expatriate life in Paris after WWI
  • How to create your own poetry chapbook
  • Human language in all its aspects



8. The trend is real, English majors are the “hot new hires” because of skills such as, research, critical thinking, and empathy. It’s true.


9. Learning skills that will never lose value, understanding the changes in media, skills that will help navigate in a world dominated by English, and gaining invaluable communication skills that can help you explain your world. At least according to a pretty prestigious University up north, Yale. Yeah, it’s true.


10. Being an English major helps you to better understand the human condition, and helps you gain a deeper understanding of the world. English majors also help create the foundations for other professions. It’s true.

English majors and minors not only learn how to communicate tactfully and effectively, but also build a resume with desirable attributes companies are looking for. Which brings us to our final, and most important question:


Q: What can you do with an English Major/Minor?

A: Anything.

Internship Ins & Outs: Part I

Working as an intern before graduating college can pay dividends for one’s future. The success of an intern is tied to complex factors, but it’s an opportunity for students to get actual work experience under their belt and get a feel for the professional world beyond college.

Dr. Lauren Ingraham

Dr. Lauren Ingraham

One of the toughest transitions all students face after graduation is finding jobs related to their majors without prior work experience in that field. Employers want to hire those who already have experience, and an internship can help solve this problem . It’s not exactly a catch-22, but a competitive labor market often requires us to have prior working experience.  English majors students can do a lot things while in school that may have a positive influence on employers such as studying abroad, participating in community service, being involved in student organizations, and doing an internship.

I asked Dr. Lauren Ingraham, Professor and Internship Director for the English Department, how students participating in internships are prepared for the future. Gaining new skills, enhancing the resume, and networking were all important details. She added, “Having experience in a workplace setting teaches students professional ‘soft skills’ they may not be exposed to in regular academic classes. For example, interns may get to see up close how meetings run in a workplace—an experience that likely doesn’t look like a typical class or mirror other work experiences that college students sometimes have.” Being able to acclimate quickly to a workplace’s culture can ready graduates to hit the floor running.

“Having experience in a workplace setting teaches students professional ‘soft skills.’

Dr. Rik Hunter

Dr. Rik Hunter

With regards to writing on the job, Dr. Rik Hunter teaches Writing Beyond the Academy, an upper-division professional writing course, and he explained, “What the scholarship in professional writing tells us is that there are disconnects between expectations inside and outside of school for writing. Anson and Forsberg, in their study of college students doing internships, found that students were effectively ‘illiterate’ when it came to the specific professional cultures and the social processes of writing in those contexts. One student who had in-school experience writing press releases ended up struggling at it in his internship because that workplace wrote press releases differently, and his supervisor wasn’t giving feedback like a writing teacher does. Understanding how to analyze the rhetorical situations of both the writing you’re producing and the workplace culture itself are skills that can help students make that transition.”

Scholarship in professional writing tells us that there are disconnects between expectations inside and outside of school for writing.

The second question I focused on was how important coursework can be to a student’s success in their careers. I was wondering if the skills gained in school could apply to an internship. Dr. Ingraham said, “I think both coursework and experiential learning opportunities such as internships are important. If students complete internships that are really close to the kind of work they want to pursue as a career, students are getting a kind of ‘on the job’ training. Many internships also gave students experience working in software (such as InDesign and Illustrator) that advertisements for writing jobs often list as required skills.” It make a lot of sense that coursework should prepare us for our job work, but internships teach us intangibles we aren’t yet familiar with.

Carrie Meadows

Carrie Meadows

English Lecturer Carrie Meadows said, “Coursework prepares interns for adjusting to new rhetorical situations, which is what professional writers do daily. While some of our courses at UTC try to replicate workplace writing situations, the very best practice is an internship. You can think of an internship as an opportunity to build specific job skills, practice them, and make mistakes before you’re in your first professional job and your rent is on the line.”

Meadows added that an internship can help you get a job and prepare you for that job. “Having an internship listed on a resume tells potential employers that the applicant knows how to act like a professional, not a student. Past interns will also have a huge advantage over job seekers with similar skills and interests, because the internship counts as professional experience often required for entry level positions.”

Past interns will also have a huge advantage over job seekers with similar skills and interests

Internships and classroom learning can work together to prepare you for life beyond graduation. It seems fair to say, however, that internships give you an edge. Internships get you ready for the future, plain and simple.

The English Department offers all of its students who have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their major a chance to apply for an internship. You can find more information about internships here.

An English Graduate Student Dialogue

Interviewer: Alex Plaumann, First-Year Rhetoric and Writing


pic of Dominik

Dominik Heinrici, First Year Literary Study

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Layton Woods, Second Year Literary Study

pic of Adrienne

Adrienne Siegenthaler, First Year Rhetoric and Writing







 Alex: Why English? What led to you to becoming English graduate students?

Dominik: I started studying English in Austria in 1993 and the love of the language has always stuck with me. I had the opportunity to go to England when I was 16, and something about the language reverberated with me. So after my time in England I wanted to see what the United States was like.

Adrienne: I am an English graduate student because I was an English undergrad, and I knew I wanted to work as an English teacher, or editor or writing. I thought the rhetoric and writing degree could be very interesting and a wonderful way to spend two years. Also, a very concrete step to choosing a career and being very qualified for it.

Layton: I kind of have the generic answer of I loved to read books when I was little, so I ended up going into literature because I wanted to think critically about all the culture I involve myself in. It wasn’t just books; it was movies and stuff like that. I was always that kid that wanted to read deeper into everything, so I became an English major so I could academically delve into and discover the real meaning behind things.

Alex: Why UTC?

Adrienne: I did undergrad in the area and wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay here but there were a number of reasons why UTC was attractive. I don’t believe in killing yourself in going into major loads of debt for graduate education so I loved UTC as a place I already had connections. It’s a good program and a place where I could get a tutorial assistantship and not be suffering to make this happen financially. On top of that, I have really started to love this school more and more and have loved the professors I have worked with.

Dominik: I started my MA program at Ohio University in Athens, and my wife got a job here, so I was able to transfer to UTC.

Layton: I choose UTC because it is such an amazing area. You can partake in outdoorsy activities and it’s amazing because it’s this dual city, you have the outdoorsy stuff but you also have the technological, you have the fiber optics. That’s another reason I came out here. You have the crazy-fast Internet business that’s starting to boom around here, and it’s just a really nice area for anyone whether you’re a techie or outdoorsy.

Alex: What is your coursework like for this semester?

Adrienne: I am taking English 5000, which is Methodology and Bibliography in Graduate English studies. That class is actually awesome because it’s teaching me the completely new way I need to approach academics at the graduate level. It’s a completely different way to do research and also how to write and understand the scholarly conversation that’s happening. Another class I am taking is the first half of rhetorical history. It’s really interesting because we are still in the ancient Greek and Roman rhetoric time periods, but I am learning a lot about how long these things have been around and how we can situate ourselves in the historical context. So that’s the harder one because it’s very theoretical, but it’s still a lot of fun. My last class is Writing Essays for Publication, which is cool because it’s very practical, and we are looking at how to create a graduate magazine and will be creating a graduate magazine [in the Spring]. So we are looking at the history of magazines, how to write magazines and how to get things published. So that’s actually incredible for me because I have only written academically, and this kind of stretches me to see writing and editing as more than academic writing.

Layton: So I am a literature specialist here. But I think one of the good things is there is enough freedom in going down your specific track that you can indulge yourself in the different areas. For example, I have taken a lot of rhetoric classes even though I am in literature, and I get a lot of this cool exposure to rhetorical thinking that I can also apply to a lot of the literary theory I have been studying. It ends up giving me a deeper ability to analyze and write papers.

Dominik: This semester I am taking Authors, Intentions, and American Fiction, which is really theory heavy. I’m taking History of Rhetorical Theory I: Ancient Greece to Renaissance, and I’m taking Matthew Guy’s Theory and Criticism. I think they mesh well together. It is a really theory heavy semester, but I think as a professional in the field you should know what theory floats around. I am also in the literary track, and I like the opportunity that I have to expand my expertise a little bit, so I am taking rhetoric classes as well and think I will have a more well rounded perspective on the field of English after this semester.

Alex: What opportunities have come your way through UTC’s Graduate English Program?

Layton: I have had the great opportunity of being a tutorial instructor. It really helps with being a grad student here. It’s a great opportunity because to give you the chance to teach and impart the knowledge you have gained here to other and sort of giving back to the academic academy and giving back to other that need the help.

Dominik: I think one of the greatest opportunities was to be able to work as an assistant here to teach English tutorials here which I believe is a great way gain a cultural understanding in the specific university setting because UTC is quite different from Ohio University, but I love the atmosphere here … being able to get first-hand experience with the student body and getting involved in student life.

Adrienne: Definitely the tutorials have been a huge opportunity. I have had the opportunity to get teaching experience and also explore the different areas I might want to go into. I’m in a magazine writing and editing class so that has helped me explore that area and see myself in those fields. Of course, teaching and also my classes that are heavy in theory and research make me consider what it would be like to get my Ph.D.

Alex: Can you tell me more about the tutorials?

Adrienne: I have loved the tutorials so far. I am mostly leaning toward wanting to teach, and I actually interviewed for a job right out of undergrad about teaching at a private high school, but I didn’t get the job because I had no experience. So this great because it gives me the opportunity to go through two years to get a Masters degree that could make a huge difference in getting a job in education. On top of that, being able to say that I have two years of teaching at the college level could well be the deciding factor on whether or not I get a job. It also has just given me a ton of practical experience and has helped me sharpen up my writing by tutoring students.

Dominik: It got me back into teaching again after having to take a year hiatus. I think the tutorials are a great way to get back into teaching a class because it has the great advantage of not having to grade at the moment. But mainly getting first-hand involvement with a specific student body is priceless.

Alex: Any further plans to continue your education to the Ph.D. level?

Dominik: I am planning to just get my masters. I think with a masters I can work as an adjunct or as a lecturer, and this is a path I want to take because I have always wanted to teach more than being research-focused.

Layton: I am going to go on for a Ph.D., but in today’s world, I feel like you have to go where the wind takes you. So, that’s one of my goals, but I don’t know how immediately I will get to it.

Alex: What about any additional career goals?

Dominik: If there way an opportunity to teach literature courses in medievalism I would love that opportunity. But I am pretty flexible for what the market demands be it teaching freshman composition or German since I am I trained language teacher.

Layton: I do want to teach to some degree. I don’t know exactly how or where, but tutorials have been a part of seeing what it’s like to be an instructor.

Adrienne: At this point, what I think I will do immediately after graduating is to go on to teach at the secondary level for a while. I would love to teach at a private high school because I am someone who loves the content area. I would hope this would give me a basis of being able to teach composition well. So that’s what I would like to do right out of grad school.

Care to share your stories about being an English graduate student? Please share in the Comments.

Student Takes on the English Major

Family and friends might think that being an English major leaves you with one option, teaching. But the reality is that your options are endless. Students can pick up on numerous skills that are viable for real world work environments. Employees are looking for communicators who can work productively with a team and coordinate effectively. They look for critical, innovative thinkers who can identify and solve problems. They want employees who can apply knowledge and awareness to their job duties. Writing, thinking, and problem-solving are all examples of skills an English major brings to the table. An English degree is geared toward creating empathetic and ethical critical thinkers as well as giving students the marketable skills to pursue their dreams. They are writers, artists, and entertainers. They are managers, executives, and entrepreneurs. There is a lot of room for an English major to discover who they are and what they want to do because of everything they are capable of.

Dr. Rehyansky, the professor who teaches History of the English Language (HEL) and who has been with the English department since fall 1989, was kind enough to connect me with several of her students. As someone who has taken HEL, even though her course was one of the more difficult that I’ve had during my time at UTC, it was also one of the most inspiring and enjoyable classes I’ve had. Ever. And as a required course in the English major, HEL is a good place to meet majors in any one of the three concentrations—Creative Writing, Literature, and Rhetoric and Professional Writing. They each answered questions about the English Department and why they decided to major in English. I also interviewed one student not in HEL, Hannah Rials, who recently published her first novel, Ascension.

Hannah Rials pic

Hannah Rials

For Hannah, majoring in English was never a question. Two of the main reasons all of the interviewees became English majors was due to their passion for reading and writing, so Hannah was far from the exception. Hannah’s favorite part about being an English major was working with all of the English professors. She said, “I’m so honored to be in the classes that I’m in because I literally learn something new every day. I’m sure a lot of our university’s professors are wonderful, but I think the English department has the best.”

Liz Duncanson, like Hannah, is an avid reader and mentioned her love for writing too. She said, “I like getting to understand the mechanics of writing and dissecting how and why it makes us feel the way we feel.”

Kylie Kuizema also loves reading and writing. She said, “Despite everyone telling me I’d never make money by majoring in English, I knew that I would never be unhappy, and that’s more important to me.” For her, writing offers a chance to say what she wants, and majoring in English has introduced her to peers who share the same interests as her. Kiley reminds us that the English Department is a community in itself.

Jarod pic

Jarod Hobbs

Another History of the English Language student, Jarod Hobbs is taking his first English major courses and had great things to say about English. Jarod said, “My favorite thing about being an English Major is probably the sense of community. STEM majors often see English or other humanities majors as being pretentious, or they might question what we plan to do with our degrees once we get them. I have never felt more at home than when I decided to change my major from Computer Science to English (not to drag CompSci majors through the mud, of course.) Everyone whom I’ve met since beginning English at UTC has been encouraging, helpful, and friendly, and that’s exactly what I needed—to feel like I belong, and not to be judged for doing what I want instead of what seems most easily profitable at the time.”

Olivia Haynes said she majored in English because she knew it would be what she could do best. The choice to become an English major, she says, has been rewarding. “I love what I’m doing, and I love learning about writing, language, and analysis.” She’s taking Writing with Style and History of the English Language this fall and thinks these classes are really helping her in her education. She went on to say about the department, “I love how most (if not all) of our professors are so willing to get involved with their students. The professors I’ve had devoted so much of their time to helping me improve my writing and overall understanding or to talking about life and how to succeed. There’s so much room within the major to grow personally, academically, and professionally.”

David Haynes

David Haynes

David Haynes wasn’t a student at UTC for his first two years of college, but after he transferred, David says he finally understood why he chose English in the first place. Dr. Ventura’s Introduction to Literary Analysis class showed him how much he loved literature and working with people who read and experienced literature alongside him. Reading and interpreting those stories helped him become a more empathetic person.

I can’t think of a better way to end a story about what being an English major is like than to share David’s favorite thing about being an English major. “Dr. Jordan, Dr. Stuart, and Dr. McCarthy have all taught me so much, both during class and office hours. I am really so grateful to have such amazing people take the time to help me pursue not just an education but also an examined life.”

The Secrets of Our Success

The English Department would like to congratulate this year’s winners of the Outstanding Student Award, special recognition given to one exceptional student in each of the department’s education tracks. This year’s Outstanding Students are Rachel Smith in the Rhetoric and Professional Writing track, Colin Rochelle in the Literature track, and Hunter Hobbs in the Creative Writing track.

So, what does it take to be an outstanding student? After sitting down with this year’s award recipients, we have the answer.

Rachel Smith (left) with Professor Sybil Baker (right) speaking with a student at the Sequoya Review release.

Rachel Smith with Professor Sybil Baker speaking with a student at the Sequoya Review release.

Rachel Smith stresses the importance of getting involved and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the department, for which she had the highest praise: “Our English Department is truly incredible. I think we have one of the best English programs at any public university.”

Rachel is serious about this point, having devoted much of her time to the many activities offered by the department. She is a member of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, has worked on the last three editions of the school’s literary journal, The Sequoyah Review—serving as editor on the most recent edition—and completed three internships with Unum, True North Custom Publishing, The Odyssey Online, an online publication geared toward college students.

Rachel admits that she wasn’t the most involved or spirited student in high school, feeling apathetic about most aspects of the high school experience. That all changed upon arriving beginning her college education.

“People think it’s cool not to care, but I’ve learned that that’s just not true. Actually caring about your education and getting involved makes the whole experience so much more rewarding,” she said.

According to Rachel, it doesn’t matter how far along you are in you education, it’s never too late to start make changes to your attitude and get involved. “You make decisions everyday that have the power to change the course of your life. You just have to make the decision to put yourself out there and try.”

Colin Rochelle drinking coffee in café.

Colin Rochelle

Colin Rochelle’s college experiences show some of the other opportunities available through the university. During his Sophomore year, Colin joined the Brock Scholars program, an Honors College program designed to challenge highly motivated and gifted students.

“If you really love the thing you’re studying and are motivated to learn more deeply about that subject, I would highly recommend considering joining the honors program. You also get to meet so many wonderful, kind people who have the same interests and drives that you do,” he said.

Colin also participated in the Study Abroad program, spending a semester in Marburg, Germany, which he describes as an enlightening and deeply rewarding experience.

“It was the best experience. I met some of the people who are now my closest friends. It’s also just a great way to learn more about the world and gain a new perspective that extends beyond your immediate surroundings,” he said.

As many great opportunities that are offered by the department, it is also important to expand your horizons and go beyond the English Department.

According to Colin, who is also a Philosophy major, you should study broadly. “It’s important to acknowledge that there are some really cool things going on in other departments. Some of the classes you don’t expect to like, you may end up loving and changing your life.”

Colin has experienced this phenomenon first hand. Originally a History major, he decided to change majors after an Intro to Literature class sparked his interest in literary studies. His unexpected interest in an Environmental Rhetoric class has also inspired him to pursue a career in Environmental Law.

For Rachel, one of the most rewarding experiences of her time at the university was joining the sorority Gamma Phi Beta: “Joining Gamma Phi Beta is what really started to get me involved more on campus. I was able to meet so many incredible people and learn about so many new opportunities.”

The experience also forced her to develop some valuable real world skills, “Keeping up with all the obligations that come along with being in  a sorority as well as all my school responsibilities really taught me how to prioritize and multi-task,” she said.

Both Colin and Rachel also emphasize the importance of getting to know your professors. They each have great relationships with professors who have helped them succeed during their time at UTC.

“These people are here to help you succeed. They are the ones who are going to be writing your letters of recommendation and telling you about academic and job opportunities, so it’s really important to build a relationship with these people and actually treat them like human beings,” said Rachel.

Rachel cites Abbie Ventura as a major source of support and encouragement over the last four years. “She became my unofficial advisor my Sophomore year and was there for me whenever I was having an existential crisis and needed someone to talk to,” she said.

Colin says a number of professors have had a great impact on him over the years. “I probably wouldn’t have applied to the Brock Scholars program if not for Dr. Ralph Covino. Dr. O’Dea, the head of the Brock Scholars, has always been so supportive and understanding. Dr. McCarthy is probably my favorite professor ever. He’s always been so cool and easy to talk to. I can go to him for anything, even personal stuff,” he said.

Our Outstanding Students have some final advice to live by:

  • Take your classes seriously.
  • Don’t cheat and don’t skip.
  • Know what your priorities are.
  • Make sure you are actually doing something you enjoy.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what you need to do to get the most out of your education and be more successful. After all, the next Outstanding Student could be you.

Shelby Bess serves as the English Department’s Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer. She is a senior English major and Communication minor graduating in the Spring of 2016.