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Explain your career path
Initially, I began my masters degree so I could teach American students writing, but over time, I realized I was gravitating my focus towards international students; I yearned to know more about their culture and lifestyle. I was quickly enamored by their lively spirit and transnational learning styles. I reciprocated their curiosity. Now, having left America, my new home for next two years is the United Arab Emirates; here, I will teach English to both Arabic and Expat high school students.
What was your major at Southeast and what led you to that?
English: Writing was my major.
It was a hard decision because I listened to the common misconception that "language arts degrees are useless and unreliable." Thankfully, I asked around before ruling out English. Those who graduated with an English degree were living stable and successful lives.
Not to mention, in my experience, that stereotype couldn't be more incorrect. I've landed a great job as Writing Lab Coordinator at a community college and even interviewed for many teaching positions. This major was invaluable; without it, I'm not sure how else I would fit into the world.
Why did you choose to attend Southeast?
First of all, many of my high school teachers and community college instructors graduated from Southeast. When I was searching for schools, I called upon my own teachers to help me find the perfect institution to fit my career goals. Because I was interested in teaching and English, I was guided towards Southeast. Witnessing my own teachers' passion and respect for Southeast drove me to Cape Girardeau. I knew that if I loved the school and got involved academically and socially, it would fit.
Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?
Thank you will never be enough. Dr. Missy Phegley from the English department was the most influential instructor I've ever had. During my time as a undergrad and graduate student, Missy has been my teacher, counselor, guide, and friend. She genuinely cared to know that I was developing not only professionally, but personally. For that, I owe her many thanks.
Share your best college memory.
One memorable moment stands out during my more impressionable undergrad years.
In Relational Communication Strategies class, back in 2013, Dr. Jennifer Summary, who I adored with all my heart, had just assigned every student a 45 minute lecture/presentation to be delivered to our class (of about 35 or more students). I was petrified. We had about a month to prepare, but this was my first exposure to classroom-like lectures of advanced content. This was my chance to act all "instructor-y." Almost every other night, I worked on my presentation outline so it was perfect. The day of my presentation, I was already battling underarm sweat stains just walking to class. My performance as a "poser-teacher" came and went. I felt satisfied with myself simply because it was over, but it was the encouraging words of Dr. Summary that nailed down my passion to teach "Great job with definitions and examples, very conversational yet relaxed, AND you would make a fantastic instructor at the college and/or university level--shoot me an email if you want to learn more about teaching in higher ed." Her personalized feedback and willingness to reach out confirmed my desire to teach. I have held on to her feedback jotted down on that rubric ever since. I revisit it often.
What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?
Life is bigger than just the Midwest. Before Southeast, my dream was to become an English teacher living a small-town life in Missouri. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with this lifestyle, I just didn't know there were other options. I took advantage of the diverse and culturally-educated faculty and learned more about the world. Because of this, I felt equipped to live and teach in Dubai, UAE.
Describe Southeast in three words.
Stimulating, lively, warm
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Upon graduating with my masters, I quickly landed a full time job at Mineral Area College as the Writing Lab Coordinator. As a young professional, emphasis on young, I was shocked. I don't know why, but for some reason, I didn't expect to gain full time for several more years. I expected to work tirelessly for years, crawling up the ladders.
How did your education at Southeast prepare you for what you are doing today?
Southeast education provides range. I didn't realize it at the time, but my education
made me infinitely more marketable.
To illustrate, I could pursue small press publishing, creative writing, editing, teaching, copy-writing, content writing, marketing, customer service, social media, news reporting public relations, journalism, corporate blogging, sales, law, communications, grant writing, etc. I could market myself however I like.
But more importantly, my education at Southeast has taught me to think critically. Too many students "learn" but don't truly learn how to think or live in society. Thankfully, Southeast showed me how to think.
What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
You will hear "English degrees are impractical." Prepare for this. Even my dearest
friends and family said this, and coming from them, I almost switched majors, except
I didn't know what else I'd do without English. Writing was my existence.
So, let the criticism of "useless and impractical" degree talk bounce off. While STEM majors are great, and I truly believe that, not everyone belongs in a technical career.
Liberal Arts and Sciences, Foreign Languages, Literature, and Linguistics and Humanities ARE worth it.
What do you wish you had known before graduating and entering the "real world"?
Your dreams will change. Your career will change. Your life will change. It is supposed to. Above all, it's okay to foster new ideas and run with them to see where they lead you.