Alumna Spotlight: Jamie Johnson
Jamie is a recent MA graduate who started ECU as an undergrad pursuing a major in nursing. Despite the seeming practicality of choosing such a major, Jamie soon discovered that her real passion was in English. After earning her BA, Jamie decided to further her education here at ECU, and enrolled in the English MA program. With so many years of experience to draw from, we decided to ask Jamie a few questions about her time at ECU.
Why did you choose ECU?
I completed my undergraduate career at ECU. I applied for several different schools for grad, but staying at ECU just felt right. I had such a great experience with my undergrad career that I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else!
What is the best part of the program?
The best part of the program is the support. I truly felt like everyone was on my side and wanted to help. The faculty was always encouraging and allowed me to explore areas of interest. The PhD students were like older siblings (the good kind) and could relate to my struggles and offer valuable advice. My classmates evolved into great companions; someone was always there to help me brainstorm, vent, or review one of my papers. Finally, the administrators and office assistants were always quick to assist me with making copies for my classes and answer any questions I had. I consider myself lucky; not many programs have such a great support system.
How has your major benefited you since graduation?
After I tell my story of starting as a nursing major and eventually getting my MA in English, sometimes people will assume that it wasn’t practical; but the opposite is true. The graduate program challenged me to think in different ways and apply my thinking to every situation. It has also given me the comfort of knowing I have lots of options; I could apply for PhD, I could teach at the college level, I could teach high school, or I could have any type of writing/communications job.
Is there any advice you’d give other students in the program?
I want current students to know that they deserve to be there. Sometimes when I was surrounded by extraordinarily bright people, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. But that wasn’t true for me, and it’s not true for anyone in the program. If you’re graduating soon, you have the right to feel incredibly proud of yourself and it is okay to be afraid of the next step. You’re never alone!
What were your favorite undergrad and graduate courses?
My favorite undergraduate class was English Grammar taught by Ms. O’Neal (rest in peace, Ms. O. You had a huge impact on me). It was my favorite because I went into the course thinking it would be easy and maybe boring considering the title. But I was actually very challenged in the course and learned several concepts I will use for the rest of my life.
My favorite graduate class Writing Systems taught by Dr. Aceto. There weren’t many students enrolled so the course was more like a conversation than a traditional instructor-led class. Similarly to my undergraduate experience with English Grammar, Dr. Aceto challenged my thoughts and taught me how to think critically. But you should know it’s hard to choose just one favorite graduate course. I had excellent experiences in every course.
What was the most influential work you read during you time at ECU?
The most influential work I read during my time at ECU were pieces by Christina Rossetti explored in Dr. Mallory’s British Literature course. I believe Rossetti was an early feminist and I can identify with her tones of sarcasm and wit in much of her poetry.
Jamie Johnson graduated in 2014 and has been working hard to build up her resume with teaching experience since then. Last semester, Jamie taught eight sections of English through four different schools, and though she would not recommend teaching more than six sections if possible, she appreciates the fact that teaching so many sections allowed her to work with a wider variety of students than she otherwise might have. She is also grateful for the early teaching experience she gained while in the graduate program.