Profile of One of Our Graduates
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.)