Profile of One of Our Graduates
Name: Bethany (Knight) Clark
Major, Minor: English, Spanish
Year Graduated: 2013
Job Now: Lead Editor/Proofreader and Administrator with Christian Editing and Design (CED)
What have you been up to since graduation? The summer after graduation, I was hired as an English instructor at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College. I taught for three semesters before finally accepting that it wasn’t a good fit for me. While figuring out what to do next, I took a temporary position at the Blue Ridge bookstore for the spring rush. My bosses ended up training me as the store supervisor, and I worked there for three and a half years. Most of the time, it was just my bosses and I, three pretty cool ladies, running the bookstore by ourselves. We got along wonderfully, and I loved it so much. I married my college boyfriend in 2014; our son was born in 2018. We stayed in the area, and we love walking around Shepherdstown and getting ice cream at Rock Hill Creamery. I still write for fun when I have the inspiration and the energy.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? Getting to do what I love—from home, on my own time, while my son sleeps or colors or builds LEGO robots—is an incredible privilege. I also enjoy proofreading in general; the detail-oriented nature of the job makes my brain very happy. I love that feeling of accomplishment when I send a manuscript that I’ve ensured is as clear and correct as possible on to the next step in the publishing process.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? Recently my boss, our lead formatter, and I were working on a very messy manuscript with a tight deadline. It was exhausting and stressful, but I loved working so closely with two of my favorite team members on the project. We were in constant communication for about a week (including sending each other questions over video chat in our pajamas as we worked late into the night; that kind of thing creates a bond). When we were finally finished—before the deadline—that manuscript looked amazing. The author was thrilled with our work, too.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? The English program at Shepherd showed me what makes good writing in terms of both mechanics and content. Even though I’m now more proficient in Chicago than in MLA, I use what I learned in my English classes with every single manuscript I edit. Also, thanks to Dr. Nixon, I will never forget the difference between a hyphen, an en dash, and an em dash, and I see a lot of those in my line of work. My junior year, I went through the writing tutor training class; then I worked as a writing tutor for three semesters. Although I’m more hands-on with manuscripts as an editor and proofreader, I’m still essentially tutoring authors as I collaborate with them to clean up their manuscripts while telling their individual stories in their unique voices. I also have the job that I have because of a dear friend I met in Dr. Messenger’s Intro to Creative Writing class. After I graduated, Katie (Thacher) Scalf encouraged me to contact a family friend who is an editor. This editor ended up giving me the training and connections I needed to land my current job at CED.
What advice would you give current students? Don’t let anyone tell you that humanities classes are a waste of time and money. You will use what you learn in those classes not just in your job but every single day of your life. Critical, thoughtful contextual analysis of media is a crucial skill that too many people don’t have. My English professors (especially Dr. Hanrahan, with whom I took six classes) taught me how to think critically, and I’m so grateful. If you’re feeling unsure, overwhelmed, or nervous about an assignment, go talk to your professor; they want to help you. Take that random class just because you need the credits and like the professor! That’s what I did with the writing tutor class, and it led to so many opportunities for me. Finally, enjoy your time at Shepherd as much as you can. It goes by so fast. (Though if you’re like me, you might still have recurring dreams, a decade after graduating, about taking classes in Knutti.)