Profile of One of Our Graduates
Name: Elizabeth Sanchez
Major: MAT in Spanish
Year Graduated: 2013
Job Now: Spanish instructor for levels 2 – 4 at Martinsburg High School
I am Elizabeth Mae Sanchez, an educator dedicated to fostering linguistic and cultural appreciation. Holding a Master of Arts in Teaching in Spanish, I have had the privilege of contributing to the education landscape, and my journey has been marked by notable achievements. Currently serving as a Spanish instructor for levels 2 – 4 at Martinsburg High School in West Virginia, I also fulfill the role of Equity and Inclusion Liaison. The honor of receiving the West Virginia World Language Outstanding Teacher Award in 2022 underscores my commitment to advancing language education.
An advocate for educational innovation, I am actively working towards the approval of the first heritage course in West Virginia. As the representative for our state at the Southern Conference of Language Teaching, I had the opportunity to showcase my commitment to world languages and represent our state. Beyond the classroom, I find immense joy in facilitating international travel experiences for my students. Exploring destinations such as Peru, where we delved into the Amazon Jungle and marveled at Machu Picchu, not only enriches their cultural understanding but also fuels my passion for teaching.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my profession is the enduring connections formed with students. Witnessing their growth and success, both academically and personally, is a source of great fulfillment. It is a testament to the transformative power of language education.
Reflecting on my academic journey, the Shepherd MAT in Spanish program played a pivotal role in shaping me into a certified and highly qualified teacher. The flexible and supportive environment provided by the Modern Languages program and the School of Education allowed me to balance teaching commitments while pursuing my degree.
Speaking Spanish has been not only a professional asset but also a life-changing endeavor. It has opened doors to diverse experiences, from living in Mexico, being the spouse of a native Spanish speaker, and mother to Hispanic American children, to becoming a bridge for my community in times of need. My ability to assist with translation has extended beyond language barriers, touching on matters ranging from immigration issues to daily necessities.
To current Shepherd University students, I encourage you to embrace the opportunities presented by the Modern Languages program. Cherish your academic years, consider studying abroad, and engage with professional organizations. Attending conferences, like the West Virginia Foreign Language Teacher Association Conference, held annually in late October, can pave the way for networking and future career opportunities. Language education is not merely a subject but a gateway to understanding, empathy, and a world of possibilities. I am grateful for the transformative impact it has had on my life and career.
Name: Lilli Sutton
Major, Minor: English (Literature), Environmental Studies
Year Graduated: 2019
Job Now: Editorial and Subscriptions Coordinator at the American Academy of Ophthalmology
What have you been up to since graduation? After graduating, I moved to Falls Church, Virginia, and spent two years working for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a multidisciplinary science journal. In 2021, I started a new position at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and have since moved to Frederick, Maryland, where I now work from home. My work is spread across the Academy’s four journals: Ophthalmology, Ophthalmology Retina, Ophthalmology Glaucoma, and Ophthalmology Science. In addition, since 2021, I’ve been working on a contemporary novel. In January of this year I began the querying process, and in March, I signed with an agent at BookEnds Literary Agency! I’m currently revising the novel with her assistance before submitting it to potential publishers, and I’m so excited about this opportunity to pursue my dream of publishing a book.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? I most enjoy proofreading articles that are accepted for publication. It’s one of the last steps before a paper is published in a journal, and I like polishing the grammar and language to make the scientific content shine. It’s also fascinating to read about all the new studies and discoveries, even if a lot of it is too complex for me to understand. It’s so rewarding to have a role in bringing new research to the public eye, even if I’m simply making that content easier to read.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? Attending the AAO’s annual meeting in 2021. I got to meet many of the editors and organization members, and seeing the true scope of the ophthalmology discipline in person made it easier to appreciate the impact of the work I do. Sometimes working on an editorial team feels very “behind the scenes,” but we play a vital role in making sure the review and publication process runs smoothly. Plus, the meeting was held in New Orleans, which was a fun city to explore!
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? I developed my ability to proofread and edit both my own work and the work of others during many different classes, which definitely applies to my job today. In addition, reading across a wide variety of texts prepared me to parse important information from complex writing, even when I might not fully understand the subject matter. So much of my job involves communicating—with my coworkers and with authors, editors, reviewers, and organization members—and I became a much stronger communicator from writing papers, giving presentations, and working with my classmates and professors while at Shepherd.
What advice would you give current students? It’s okay if you start college without knowing what you want to major in. I was an Environmental Studies major, then a Political Science major, before settling on English. I enjoyed the English courses I took in my first year so much that I knew I wanted to major in it. Take classes that interest you, even if they’re not directly applicable to what you might want to do in the future. And get involved! I was an editor for Sans Merci and a member of Sigma Tau Delta; those organizations made my college experience more fulfilling and also rounded out my résumé when it came time to apply for jobs. It’s also a good way to make friends and have access to unique opportunities. For instance, attending the 2019 Sigma Tau Delta conference is one of my favorite college memories.
Name: Hayleigh Chambers (McAllister)
Major, Minor: English (Creative Writing); Gender and Women’s Studies
Year Graduated: 2018
Job Now: Relationship Manager at National Credit Center
What have you been up to since graduation? A month after graduation, I got a job as a customer service representative for a German company that sells industrial hardware to data centers, hospitals, school districts, etc. Though I was the youngest and least experienced member of the team, I managed to work my way up to be the lead of the customer service group shortly after I hit the one-year mark. I was with this company for almost four years before finding a new job opportunity here in Austin, Texas where I now live with my husband (whom I married a couple years after graduation).
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? This position is like being a customer service representative on steroids! This job was my first introduction to the world of retention, and it turns out I’m pretty good at it! The most interesting part of my job is building relationships with my customers, and convincing them not to switch to another provider when their contracts end. My team is responsible for retaining our company’s customer base so we can continue to thrive! Not an easy thing to do at times, but I really enjoy it!
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? I had one customer come to me extremely upset, because his prices increased (inflation—what are you gonna do?!). He sent me nasty emails, left me mean voicemails, and demanded we let him cancel his account. Now, I’m a very soft person by nature, so his aggression really upset me at first, but when I got him on the phone I listened to his complaints, managed to calm him down, and eventually convinced him to sign a new contract! Now, he’s one of my favorite customers to call and check in with!
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? Being able to articulate my thoughts effectively to customers came from being a part of Shepherd’s Department of English and Modern Languages. The English program is structured in such a way that it really helped me grow as a young adult and prepared me for working world by challenging me to learn several different ways to write. I may not be the world’s next best selling author (yet!), but I would argue that I am successful at what I do today because I utilize the lessons this program taught me over the years.
What advice would you give current students? During my time at Shepherd, I always thought I would find a job in publishing or editing, or something more closely related to my field. Now, half a decade later, I’m still working in the customer service world, which may not seem like it has anything to do with English, but I quickly realized that I use my degree every day to effectively communicate with my customers. Honestly, it’s amazing how many people are uncomfortable with written communication, but that’s where I thrive! So my point is this: don’t limit yourself to just one kind of job. The beautify of English is that it can be utilized in many different ways! My advice is to find a job you’re excited about, and then look for ways you can use your English degree to your advantage. Good luck and go Rams!
Name: Marilyn Creager
Major, Minor: English (Creative Writing); Communication and History
Year Graduated: 2019
Job Now: Systems Administrator at the Green Bank Observatory
What have you been up to since graduation? I graduated just before the COVID pandemic and started with a position as an Americorps member for the Pocahontas County Opera House where I got to explore my enjoyment of the community and archiving local history. After my term ended, I began a new position as the librarian at the Linwood Community Library at Snowshoe. After a year of working there, I discovered that while I loved what I did, I was really enjoying the technical aspects more than anything else and decided to pursue a career in computing and IT instead. I am now a Systems Administrator at the Green Bank Observatory, where I spend a majority of my time working with networks and networking equipment. It’s like a very large logic puzzle. I enjoy learning on the job and troubleshooting issues for such an interesting institution.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? I think the most interesting part is taking deep dives into how our network functions and how I can make it better. Each project I work on shows another layer of the Observatory’s history. I have taken on projects like connecting older buildings and troubleshooting older fiber infrastructure, and I can always count on learning something completely new each time I start something. I enjoy that variety quite a bit.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? One of my favorite moments was going all the way to the top of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope for the first time! It is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope and a feat of engineering. Seeing the receivers and keeping them and their equipment connected has been fascinating each time I have the chance, especially at over 450 feet in the air.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? One thing I need to do regularly is explain my thoughts and other complicated ideas clearly. While it is difficult to translate jargon I am still learning myself, I have been complimented on my ability to explain things in an easy to understand manner. I definitely owe that skill to the English program’s curriculum. Defending complicated ideas and theses in classes and papers also taught me the ability to learn, to be curious, and to be logical, which have all helped me in my field.
What advice would you give current students? I always thought that I would be a writer by now or finishing a library degree. I had a mental plan of where I wanted to be, and straying from that plan was scary. I did it anyway. Though I am no longer in the writing world, I love my job and use my education daily in a field where I never thought I would end up. So my biggest advice is to not fall victim to the sunk-cost fallacy—be flexible with how you implement your degree. Take life as it comes and be curious. It takes you to interesting places (like the top of a huge telescope)!
Name: Hannah Brumbaugh
Major: English Education
Year Graduated: 2018
Job Now: Resource and Student Engagement Coordinator in the Department of Career Services at American Public University
What have you been up to since graduation? After graduating in 2018 I stayed at Shepherd and completed my M.A. in College Student Development and Administration in 2020. While earning that degree I worked as the graduate assistant for student community service and service learning. The role allowed me the opportunity to oversee important programs such as Relay for Life, Emerging Leaders in Service, the Potato Drop, and Alternative Spring Break. Furthermore, the role allowed me to work closely with faculty who embedded service learning components into their curriculum. After graduation from my master’s program in 2020, I was hired in the Shepherd University Alumni Association office as the Alumni and Annual Giving Coordinator. During my time in that position, I worked alongside the alumni, advancement, and foundation offices to host alumni engagement programs and philanthropy initiatives to support the campus community. I had my hand in homecoming festivities, Giving Day, Giving Tuesday, Emeritus celebrations, and other impactful programming. In 2022 I took an opportunity with American Public University in their office of Career Services, but to make sure I stayed involved and engaged with my alma mater and previous work place, I joined the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? The most interesting part of my job is the classroom module creation. I work with faculty and career coaches to develop units and modules that align with the classroom curriculum. The interesting part is looking at the content through the eyes of the faculty and through the eyes of the student. I determine the most effective manner to convey the information in a succinct but engaging way to ensure students get the most out of the module, which also allows me to create designs, videos, and work on special projects. I learn more about career content, student learning styles, and teaching styles. Also, I learn new ways to share information in multimodal ways. This part of my role has been the biggest learning curve but the most interesting and fun part of my job.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? My favorite and most memorable part of my job is working at the annual commencement ceremony at National Harbor. Over the course of three days, we welcome graduates and their families from across the country and celebrate their accomplishments. Working commencement is special for several reasons. Working remotely, I see colleagues on screen but not in person, and almost all employees come to commencement, so I can meet those I collaborate with daily, and I can network with and meet others from my organization as well as our sister schools: Hondros and Rasmussen. It is a fantastic time to network and learn more about the people I work with. Commencement is also special because there are thousands of graduates who attend from different walks of life, some active duty, some international. They are happy and excited, and their families are joyful and treasuring every moment of the experience. Working this event feels surreal in many ways, and it is something I look forward to every year.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? My current role requires me to edit and write constantly. I am always working on blogs, resources, and classroom modules that need to be edited, revised, and analyzed. The program at Shepherd helped me prepare for my current job in several ways; it gave me the tools and skills to write professionally and to edit others’ work, as well as my own. The program prepared me for professional settings by teaching me autonomy and equipping me with a voice to argue, discuss, and concur. I learned how to communicate my feelings on subjects in precise and persuasive ways, and I learned accountability. The professors in the program allowed me room to grow and make mistakes, but then helped me learn from them and supported my personal and professional journey. I entered the program naïve and left sure of myself and ready to be a professional comfortable with who I am.
What advice would you give current students? The best advice I can give students is to be involved at Shepherd and stay flexible on your career journey. I entered and graduated from Shepherd thinking my dream job was being an English teacher in a high school, and I had an end goal of being a principal. After graduating in 2018, I realized that my favorite memories and my strongest passions were connected to my time at Shepherd University and included the clubs, organizations, trips, and connections I made. I realized at that point I wanted to pursue a masters in something different from what I believed to be my career path my entire life. I took a leap of faith and entered a program that would change my trajectory. Looking back, I realize it was the smartest step I took in my college career. Being involved, making connections, and exploring college life to its fullest helped me find my true passion in life. I would advise students to get involved, stay flexible on their career journey, and lean into their passions because individuals never know where those passions might take them.
Name: Harley Smith
Major: Secondary English Education
Year Graduated: 2015
Job Now: High School English teacher at Antietam Academy
What you’ve been up to since graduation? I took a year off before beginning my job search to care for my son. I started teaching high school English in the 2016 – 2017 school year and have been the same ever since! I made the jump from West Virginia schools to Maryland schools and am very glad I did. I am in my seventh year of teaching and have become an active part of the Teacher’s Association, as well as an advocate for the students who need it the most. I now work in an Alternative School program that can work closely with students and their families to give them the best possible chance of success. I am also now working on my Master’s Degree to become a school librarian, which I am so excited for!
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? I can truly say that no two days are ever the same. The kids keep me on my toes and always have me thinking about how to change what I am doing to ensure they are understanding and maybe even enjoying it!
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? My favorite moment is always graduation, seeing students who have struggled so much getting to show they did something worthwhile and that they are proud of is the best feeling for a teacher.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? The English program really showed me how to dissect literature and then explain those ideas to others, which is a big part of being an English teacher. While I do not use many of the texts I was taught, I am able to constantly transfer and use the skills of literary analysis, critical thinking, and professional writing.
What advice would you give current students? Don’t just go to class and do your work and leave. I did this most days and I regret it! I didn’t get the social connections or friendships that I wanted, and looking back, I can see that is exactly why. Join that study group, go to those plays, talk to your classmates about something other than class, get out of your comfort zone, and really make an effort to enjoy your time. Oh, and talk to your professors; they’re pretty cool people with some amazing stories.
Name: Gabrielle Hersey
Major, Minor: English (Creative Writing); Gender and Women’s Studies, Communications and New Media
Year Graduated: 2019
Job Now: Customer Support Manager at OneClick.chat as well as a part-time Editor, Ghost Writer, Social Media Manager, and Web Page Developer
What have you been up to since graduation? Since graduation I’ve moved around a lot. I went from living in Shepherdstown, right along Princess Street, to moving back home when Covid hit, to getting a place in Charleston, West Virginia with one of my best friends, to finally settling a little closer to home and Shepherdstown. In my spare time—not that there’s much (I like to keep myself busy)—I’ve been working on my own high-fantasy novel and trying to improve my art skills with painting and sketching. I’ve moved through a few jobs along the way, from a tutor at Shepherd University, to an assistant for a few poets, to a poetry editor for a small publishing company, to a Bookseller at Four Seasons Books, to what I’m currently doing. In all of these jobs, and throughout my life’s journey, I’ve been doing what I love most, which is surrounding myself with the written word and making meaning come to life through text.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? I think the best part of what I do is getting to meet the most interesting people. I’ve been regaled with such fascinating stories from exuberant princes to hilarious Scottish writers to down-to-earth CEOs. Part of my job allows me to interreact with many older adults (the target audience for my company), and because of that, I’ve also heard so many captivating stories of love, sorrow, existentialism, and absolute fun. It’s the best kinds of people to be surrounded by. And it’s the best way to gain insight into all the paths of life you can walk. With such a cast of characters to help make things more interesting, my writing has never been better.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? My favorite on-the-job moment would have to be when I finally got to attend the writing conference that I’d spent the better part of a year helping organize. Once you’re looking at things from the big picture, it’s hard to see how fun or informative an event will be, because you’re so busy trying to meet financial goals or advertising goals or attendance goals or—well, I could go on and on. But once I arrived, I got to meet several amazing people at the forefront of their fields, and it reinvigorated my love for the publishing industry that I hadn’t known I’d started to lose. Specifically, it also gave me a better outlook on that world: most people in the publishing/writing world are just little nerds trying to make you feel something with the stories we tell.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? Everything I learned from the English program about clear and effective communication is put to use. I spend a lot of my time writing, whether it’s emails, team reports, social media posts, fiction, or any number of other things. During our many literary discussions and creative writing workshops, this program helped me hone the ability to see different perspectives and actively listen to other viewpoints without bias. Dr. Hanrahan’s encouragement to make our essay prompts our own (even if we didn’t like a particular story or didn’t even know what we wanted to say about a story), helped me develop the skill to make all my work an adventure—and a fun one at that. Without the time I spent with Sigma Tau Delta or Sans Merci, I wouldn’t have developed leadership skills that make me an effective manager, event organizer, and team lead. When I first got to Shepherd University, I was a shy little thing, but the colorful and amazing people I met in the Department of English and Modern Languages helped me bloom into the person I am today, someone able to make lasting connections and collaborate with people, no matter their story.
What advice would you give current students? First off, whatever you do, never give up on your dream. I know it sounds like some trite platitude better suited for a bumper sticker than as actual advice, but it’s a phrase worth keeping close to your heart. There were a few years after graduation where I asked myself “Is this really what I want to be doing? Answering customer support calls and writing someone else’s words instead of my own?” but I kept trying. I took every opportunity to improve my writing, my editing skills, my connections to people in the industry, and now I’ve won a couple of awards and have so many more career opportunities because of it. So, even if it seems like it’s taking forever, just trust the process and don’t give up—you never know what might be right around the corner. And second, take a random class just because it sounds interesting or you need the credits or you like the professor. I randomly took a class on Queer Cinema because the topic was awesome and found my way to my second minor, with great appreciation for Gender Studies, and became an activist because of it. I randomly took a literature class my last semester because it sounded cool, and I loved the professor (it was my seventh Dr. Hanrahan class) and came out with one of the coolest essays I’d ever written (I’m still proud of it, to this day). Finally, take advantage of the opportunities you have and get involved in what interests you. Being involved with Sans Merci and Sigma Tau Delta gave me so many skills and networking opportunities that I still value today. Plus, they were how I met one of my ride-or-die best friends, and they were absolutely some of the best moments of my life. Enjoy your time at Shepherd and with the friends you’ll make in the English program as much as you can. It goes by fast.
Name: Paige (Kitchen) Nally
Major, Minor: Secondary English Education
Year Graduated: 2016
Job Now: English teacher at ABLE (Academy of Blended Learning Education) in Washington County
What have you been up to since graduation? After graduation, I was fortunate enough to be hired at a middle school in Washington County where I taught 6th and 7th grade English (separately and simultaneously) for six years. I also coached a few seasons of high school volleyball, too. In the fall of 2020 I graduated with my Master’s in Educational Leadership from Frostburg State University and got married! The year 2020 wasn’t great, but it wasn’t all that bad either. At the start of year seven, I was teaching 6th grade English but then ventured into the realm of administration, where I served a short two-and-a-half-month sentence as an assistant principal at another middle school in Washington County. I’m not giving up on administration entirely, but I have found myself back in the comfort of the classroom for now.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? The best part of my job is the unknown that everyday brings. Sure, as a middle school teacher, I know havoc is a part of the lifestyle, but the kids keep me on my toes.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? After almost seven years in education, I have found that the favorite and memorable moments pile up. I think I was most touched when my 6th graders made me a “going away slideshow” after I told them I was leaving to be an assistant principal at another school. They remembered how much I loved pizza and Starbucks and hoped it would be plentiful at my next job. It was sweet, and I actually hadn’t experienced that level of thoughtfulness from a middle schooler up to that moment.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? The great thing about Shepherd’s English and Education programs is that everything is personal. Being able to feel that my instructors and professors sincerely cared about me and my success made me want to strive to be that much better regardless of the path I chose to take after graduation.
What advice would you give current students? Truly, nothing will prepare you for the reality of it all. No matter how many times you hear that and think you’re ready, all of the “firsts” will come out of nowhere. You will wonder if you’re cut out for the classroom, if you made the right decisions, but I promise, you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t meant to.
Name: Claudia McCarron
Major, Minor: English (Literature), Modern Languages
Year Graduated: 2019
Job Now: APUS Admissions Manager
What have you been up to since graduation? The summer after graduating, I worked as a tutor/counselor for an Upward Bound summer program while thinking about what I wanted to do next. I briefly worked as a content writer and was hired by the admissions department at American Public University System (APUS) right around the time they started transitioning to a remote work environment due to Covid-19. It was definitely a unique experience! I worked as an admissions representative for a little over two years and was promoted to admissions manager in September 2022. As a manager, I spend most of my day doing what I enjoyed most when I was a representative, like presenting and building trainings, creating employee and student-facing resources, and coaching a team of my own.
What is the best/most interesting part of your job? I love being able to build relationships with my team members. Working with them to set performance and professional development goals, and getting to cheer them on as they work towards those, is very rewarding. I also love my department’s work culture, which is very supportive and friendly.
What has been your favorite and/or most memorable on-the-job moment? When I was an admissions representative, I volunteered at APUS’s 2022 commencement. It was our first in-person graduation ceremony since the pandemic, and we recognized over 14,000 graduates. Most of my work with our students happens before or immediately after they apply, so getting to see so many of them graduate was very rewarding. More recently, I was able to meet many of my colleagues on the management team and tour APUS’s physical offices for the first time.
How did our program help you prepare for your current job? I spend a large chunk of my day writing, whether that’s emails, team meeting slides, training resources, or any number of other things. Everything I learned about clear and effective communication by working on paper after paper gets put to use. Discussing literature and critical frameworks also exposed me to so many different viewpoints, and that was crucial in helping me understand the importance of empathy. A lot of my time is spent listening to others and understanding without passing judgement is still something I strive for.
What advice would you give current students? Take advantage of the opportunities and get involved in what interests you! While I was at Shepherd, I was involved with Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and Sans Merci. I learned so much about writing, event planning, and time management, but most of all it was fun! The learning you do while enjoying yourself is just as important as the learning you have to strive for. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions, and take advantage of open office hours. The professors were so generous with their time, knowledge, and encouragement. It made a huge difference in my experience.
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.)