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Skills to Succeed: English alumni put degrees to good use

A story about the wide range of careers for English majors has just been posted on the ECU homepage. The feature profiles English alumni Bridget Todd (who works for tech/social media company Medium), Dan Neil (who writes about cars for the Wall Street Journal), and Megan Oteri (owner of Brick Scholars, which helps kids learn using Legos). Read on for more!
Dec. 8, 2016

By Jules Norwood
ECU News Services

Traditional liberal arts degrees are sometimes overlooked with the current focus on science, technology, engineering and math fields, but students continue to find that degrees like English help build important skills that are sought after by employers.

“Four of the top five traits employers are looking for are teamwork, clear writing, problem-solving aptitude and strong oral communications,” said John Stowe, career development counselor for East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “These are skills acquired in a traditional liberal-arts education. Companies are hiring humanities and social science degree holders for long-term employment due to the skill set they have developed through their liberal arts programs.”

It often makes more sense, Stowe said, to hire employees who can write well and then teach them the specific skills they need, rather than hiring specialists in the hopes that they can become strong writers.

Read the full story here: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/English-Alumni-Use-Degrees.cfm

D'Andre Johnson

D’Andre Johnson, Amanda Tilley featured in Cornerstone magazine

English has made a good showing in the latest issue of Cornerstone magazine!
D’Andre Johnson, who is getting a BA in English and a BFA in animation, is featured on p. 10 of the new issue of Cornerstone magazine in a story on internships. D’Andre, who is especially interested in creative writing, currently interns at the Greenville Office of Economic Development as a student in ENGL 4890, our internship course (supervised by Brent Henze). Dr. Henze and Dr. Marianne Montgomery are quoted talking about internships on p.9.
MA alumna Amanda Tilley is featured on p.6 as the newest member of the college’s Advancement Council.
Our English Professional Seminar for undergrads and Jobs Group for PhD students (both led by Erin Frost) are featured in a story on professional seminars on pp.7-8. Career-building teaching and assistantship opportunities for graduate students are also mentioned.
Cornerstone is the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences alumni magazine and it is now available to download from the college’s website. To download and read the full issue, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cas/ and click on the banner headline, or find the link under “More News.”

Darien Smith Named Communications Outreach Coordinator for ENC Stop Human Trafficking

Congratulations to Darien Smith, who recently earned her BA in English from ECU and has been named Communications Outreach Coordinator for Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now!

Smith graduated in May from East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in English, specializing in 19th-century poetry and professional writing, with a minor in foundations of education. She had served an internship with the organization while at ECU.

Read the full article from The Daily Reflector here: http://www.reflector.com/Workweek/2016/05/16/Smith-named-communications-outreach-coordinator-for-ENC-Stop-Human-Trafficking.html

PhD alum earns early promotion

Congratulations to Dr. Trisha Capansky (ECU 2011, PhD in Technical and Professional Discourse), who recently received early promotion to Associate Professor in the Department of  English and Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She will go up for tenure in 2017.

Dr. Capansky earned the English department’s PhD in Technical and Professional Discourse. She completed her dissertation in 2011; her dissertation committee included Tom Shields (chair), Brent Henze, Sherry Southard, and Carl Swanson (History). When she began her dissertation, her committee was chaired by Jan Tovey, who passed away in 2010.

Dr. Capansky teaches technical communication and composition, co-advises the UT-Martin chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and researches the impacts of media technology and infrastructure on South Sudanese independence and other topics related to nationhood, political discourse, and technology. This research ties to the work she did in her dissertation, The Declaration of Independence: A New Genre in Political Discourse or Mixed Genres and an Unlikely Medium? Her dissertation examined the genres and discourse that helped to create the first modern democracy in 1776, and her recent work examines how communication technologies and strategies shaped the birth of the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.


Alumna Spotlight: Catherine McCabe


Catherine McCabe is the author of A Rose Out of Ashes.


Where are you from and what brought you to ECU?

I am originally from Hyde County so I definitely consider myself ‘a country girl.’ Being a homebody, ECU was a good choice for me because it was close to home and I felt I would get a quality education as well.


What did you study while you were here, and how did your interest in this area begin? ?

My areas of study were English (Writing) and Communications. My interest in these areas grew from a natural love of writing and wanting to make a career out of it. I have been writing since I was twelve, and the high from writing a piece and having your peers enjoy it, there is nothing quite like it!


What have you been up to since your graduation?

I actually had the opportunity to work with a couple of local newspapers, one before I actually graduated from ECU in 1993. The experience was wonderful; I got to travel, meet new people and do what I love; write. Sometimes we don’t make the best choices and life takes you in a different direction then the one you thought you would be on. My current career, and the one that I have been pursuing for several years now, is in the helping field, particularly working with the elderly. I am currently the Program Director with the Creative Living Center, a very rewarding position. Although writing isn’t my career per se, I still enjoy writing my poetry and sharing it as I am able to.


What recognitions/achievements are you most proud of and why? ?

I would have to say becoming a mom was a great achievement for me. My daughter is now 17. My second greatest accomplishment would have to be self publishing my book of poetry, ‘A Rose out of Ashes’ through Bookstand Publishing in 2008. I did a lot of the editing work, etc on my own so it was definitely a rewarding experience.


What elements of your education in the Department of English have been most instrumental to your success?

I think just being able to hone my English writing skills in an atmosphere that allowed and encouraged creativity such as ECU’s English Department would have to be what stands out the most for me. And having instructors who are receptive of your talent in whatever form, and encouraged rather then discouraged you from that talent meant a lot as well.


What was most rewarding/exciting about your time in the Department of English, and what would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

I think I would have to say my most rewarding experience, not necessarily in the department, but as a student was writing for Expressions, the minority magazine. Getting to work alongside other students, feed off their writing energy and having my work recognized was very rewarding.

I would have to say if English is your passion, ECU is a good place to pursue it. The department was great when I was there and I am sure it has only gotten better in the years since I graduated so I can only imagine the wealth of information waiting for someone there.

Alumnus Update: Lucas Berrini

Lucas Berrini, a 2013 graduate with an MA in English Studies, is currently the holds, recalls and missing items manager at Joyner Library. He is also an adjunct instructor in composition and literature at Craven Community College. In addition, he is working on his second MA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he is studying in the Library Science program with an emphasis on manuscripts and archives.


Alumnus Spotlight: Stacey Cochran

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 12.26.33 PM > Why did you choose ECU?

Well, the truth is both of my parents are ECU graduates and met on campus in the early 1960s, and so ECU has been a part of my family my entire life. It was one of my first choices, and I was honored to be accepted.

> What drew you to English as your Major?

I knew I wanted to be a writer, and the faculty were amazing. As a grad student, the TA opportunities were a draw, and I started to learn the craft of teaching writing with the help of some outstanding mentors in the English Department at ECU.

> What is the best part of the program?

I think the thing I loved the most was the encouragement and support that faculty in the English Department offered. I was very much finding my way when I was a student, and their guidance shaped who I am as a writer and teacher today.

> What course would you most recommend to other students, why, and who taught it?

Well, that’s forcing me to choose sides isn’t it! 🙂 I loved all the classes I took in the English Department at ECU, but at the end of the day my heart probably lies with the CW folks. Although the Lit folks, FYW folks, and the Rhet/Comp folks are pretty amazing, too. Not to mention some of the amazing NTT faculty, too!

> What published work (article, book, etc.) had the greatest influence in development of your research interests?

Getting to know Ron Rash in the past few years has had a tremendous impact on my writing. I thank Amy Rogers (formerly publisher of Novello Festival Press) for first introducing us a good decade or so ago. Ron has become my literary idol in many ways.

> When did you graduate?

I graduated in 2001.

> How has your major benefited you since graduation?

Well, I’m not sure I can put into words all of the ways it has helped me. I mean, it’s shaped my entire adult life. I met my wife as a result of my success in the program. We have two kids. I taught at NC State University from 2006-2015, and we’ve most recently taken positions at the University of Arizona to begin in the fall (2015).

> What are you engaged in now?

My novel Eddie & Sunny launched in March 2015. Ron Rash gave me a nice blurb, and the News & Observer wrote a pretty darn nice review of it. An excerpt of the novel was originally selected as a finalist for the James Hurst Prize for fiction, and the novel itself was selected for publication by Kindle Press as one of the first ten novels acquired via Kindle Scout. I also have a co-authored textbook coming out this fall with Bedford/St. Martin’s Press titled The Insider’s Guide to Academic Writing.

A couple of links:



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Alumnus Spotlight: Brandon Sneed

Landing a book deal was the culmination of six years of hard work and passion for East Carolina English department alumnus Brandon Sneed.

“Getting a book deal with one of the Big 5 publishers has always been a dream,” said Sneed, who describes the project as “a crazy, fun, top-secret project for HarperCollins.”

However, this top-secret project is far from Sneed’s debut as an author. In fact, it’s just one of many projects he’s embarked on as a full-time author and freelance journalist.

“I grew up absolutely loving reading and always messed around with writing funky stories as a kid, and I still love trying to write great stories now,” he said.

Sneed was raised right here in Greenville. He graduated from Barton College in Wilson in 2009 and moved back to Greenville in 2011 to pursue his Master’s degree at ECU.

“I liked that I could finish it in a year and a half, and I thought their English department looked great. Plus, Greenville is home,” Sneed said. “I wanted a master’s so that I could teach college writing and literature classes—I very well may end up getting my Ph.D. at some point—and I focused on Nonfiction Creative Writing because I majored in journalism as an undergrad.”

Sneed earned his M.A. in English with a concentration in Nonfiction Creative Writing. He said some of his favorite parts of the program were spending time with professors who were as passionate about good writing as he is, and working with other students who were improving their writing–“that was all really fun and invigorating.”

Since his graduation, Sneed has been writing full time as well as teaching writing classes at area colleges. He’s also been publishing “longform, in-depth narrative journalism” for a variety of outlets, including CNN/Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, SB Nation, Pacific Standard, Outside, and more. His story, “The Prospect,” was named a Best American Sports Writing 2014 Notable Selection.

And besides all that, he’s also been writing books. Aside from his current project with HarperCollins, he’s written The Edge of Legend (2010) and Behind the Drive (2015). Sneed put these books out via a small publishing company that he created with his wife.

Sneed has a lot of work to be proud of, and he’s happy with the path he’s chosen.

“It’s taken tons of time, effort, and sacrifice, and my goal has always been to write stories that entertain and/or inform, sure, but also offer something that can make people’s lives better.”

“I believe in moving stories that explore the stunning things human beings are capable of.”

People wanting to learn more about Sneed’s work can visit his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, and his personal website at brandonsneed.com, where Sneed posts regular updates there about his work, hosts monthly book giveaways, and offers interviews and updates about other people doing remarkable things.

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