Lindsay Saunders

Alumna Spotlight! Lindsay K. Saunders

Linday Saunders

Lindsay Saunders

Lindsay K. Saunders Spotlight

A graduate of ECU, earning her Master’s degree in Technical and Professional Communication, Lindsay has used her education and talents to pursue an extremely interesting career in international work.  Through hard work, she has achieved her dream job of working at the American Embassy in Lusaka Zambia for the United States Government.  Lindsay agreed to be a Spotlight for the English department and through her interview, tells of her education, journey, and advice she wants to give to potential students, interested in following their passions.  Thank you, Lindsay, for your time and wonderful answers, we are proud to call you an ECU Pirate!!

 

Where are you from?

Originally, I’m from Kill Devil Hills, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I spent most of my life there before moving around a bit during undergrad and following graduation. Then I settled in Raleigh, NC for nearly a decade before recently relocating to Zambia, in Southern Africa. NC will always be home.

 

What brought you to ECU?

I actually didn’t want to go to ECU because both of my parents went there and I wanted to do my own thing, but ECU has top notch education and English programs, plus it’s very affordable and close to home so it made sense. Later on, it also ended up on the shortlist for graduate school because of the quality, affordability, and accessibility of the programs. Thank Dr. Richard Taylor for encouraging me to reconnect with Dr. Brent Henze for advice on graduate studies.

 

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

I’m an Alum three times over between my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a concentration in English, 2006; Professional Communications Graduate Certificate, 2013; and Master’s Degree in English concentrated in Technical and Professional Communications, 2014. My interest for these stemmed from a love of learning, stories, and creative digital projects.

 

What have you been up to since your graduation?

My life has been far from dull. Following undergrad, I moved across the country to teach for two years in Alaska. Upon return to NC, I transitioned to working as a paralegal. With the 2008 downturn of the economy and teacher job fair cancellations, I needed to adapt. Working in law gave me an avenue to help people by listening to client stories and support the long-term, detail-oriented, meticulous law process that might resolve  issues. Once I determined becoming a lawyer wasn’t the right move for me I chose to seek work in communications and programs that would still educate people, while also supporting long-term change and innovation.

Google, Unicef, and United Nations were the brands and organizations I set before me as my goal because of their work and ideals. When I finished grad school, it was still hard to get a job in government or nonprofits, even though that was where I longed to be. I decided to hone my creative skills at marketing agencies and then become more tech savvy by taking contracts at tech companies, like Lenovo and Red Hat. Meanwhile, outside of work I was a volunteer-holic building up my repertoire serving nonprofits such as the Society for Technical Communications Carolina Chapter, RESULTS, and UN Women Carolina Chapter, and helping with meetups. This led to communications projects, event planning, and public speaking, as well as national, and international travel, while I continued to push hard towards my professional goals. Eventually, I ended up working for a great team at the NC Department of Information Technology and now I work for the federal government, serving as a Development, Outreach, and Communications (DOC) Specialist for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) / Zambia Mission at the American Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. USAID is the United States’ largest and oldest foreign aid agency, incorporates public-private partnerships, and works to end poverty. It’s basically my dream job since I get to do communications, events, photography, social media, promote programs serving communities, travel, and collaborate with numerous government agencies and nonprofits.

 

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

I’ve pushed myself hard for my achievements. It’s still hard to believe that I finished my graduate degree with a 4.0 while working to support myself through grad school.

I’ve done public speaking in my home state of NC, nationally in Washington, D.C., and internationally. I speak about how we frame messages, public policy, advocacy, and the importance of storytelling for change. Becoming an activist, working on projects both as an advocate and professional to make change in communities is something I could not live without. That is ultimately what I’m most proud of — being a part of long-term change for so many. I’ve devoted the past four years of my life to speaking out, writing, facilitating meetings, and trainings to fight U.S. and global poverty. I strongly believe we have a duty to speak out about the injustices in the world and use our skills to the greatest extent in order to do so. I hope that when I leave this earth I can say I did everything I could to change it for the better and also took advantage of every opportunity, no matter how large or small, that came my way.

Quite possibly the biggest thing I’ve ever done was to give up everything in my life and make the international move, all on my own, to serve my country and our dear beautiful host country Zambia. In order to take this job at USAID, I left a job with a good team with the NC Dept of IT, signed the house I owned over to some tenants, and had to say goodbye to organizations and friends I really loved, while resetting everything I’ve ever known. I’ve learned a new job, a new country, new languages, new food, and new cultural norms. I knew I’d learn so much and this would be an invaluable experience. I’ve learned so much about myself, the United States, and the world.

 

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

One thing that’s pretty incredible about the ECU Department of English is that it has many facets so you can kind of carve out your own path. I intentionally selected courses for my graduate degree to be really dynamic because I knew I wanted to do work that required a range of skills and perspectives. Critical thinking through analysis and research. Design of communications from layout expectations, styles, and traditional hard copy or print and digital online. How to target your audience and be aware of user experience. Detailed editing to enhance content. Be in tune with overall project needs. Framing different styles of writing — I learned editorial, grant, public policy, and technical writing! During my graduate work with the Department of English, I learned that I would need to anticipate content needs before the audience might even need to know. Determining that through content strategy is imperative to reach your target demographics and find the most success in your messaging.

 

What was most rewarding/exciting about your time in the Department of English?

That would be the relationships I developed with other colleague students and my professors. I actually studied abroad with the Department of English for 3 weeks as an undergrad in 2005 and then again as a grad student in 2013. Those trips were really powerful. It was especially memorable because both Dr. Richard Taylor and Dr. Brent Henze were on each trip. I know that I can run into them and no matter how long it’s been we can connect again and have a great conversation. The professors in the Department really care. I also studied under Dr. Michael Albers, Dr. Matt Cox, Dr. Guiseppe Getto, and Dr. Kirk St. Amant, who has moved on to another university, but we’re still in touch. But I even enjoyed engaging with Dr. Michelle Eble, Dr. Donna Kain, and Dr. Erin Frost, even though I never took classes with them.

 

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

If you’re considering coming to ECU study English, assess the program strengths and what your objectives are. I wanted a program that would provide me with more technical background, but equip me with a diverse set in terms of professional communication for both print and the digital. Communication and outreach was my long-term interest and my interests are a little more “creative” than the typical person going to study technical communication. Thankfully, ECU really does allow you to customize your educational journey. What you get out of it is up to you. Even though my Master’s Degree was through a distance education program, I developed friendships and real relationships. My academics, both as an undergrad and graduate student, came first and foremost. I still enjoyed myself, but my academics were my priority because I knew if I got the most out of it then I’d be more armed to be effective in my career and support the organizations and people around me best.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Put in the time and effort to build relationships. They will serve you well in the long run. Contribute in ways that out of the ordinary — volunteer work and nonprofits are just as valuable as your day job, will enhance your resume, and also produce more references. Don’t be afraid to take risks whether academically, professionally, or personally. It’s okay to question yourself — that’s normal, but push yourself beyond your comfort zone. We change and learn more when we’re uncomfortable. I would know — I’m living that now while living and working serving two interests — the U.S. and Zambia’s — in Southern Africa! I have never feared a challenge even if it overwhelmed me in the interim. Because of that I’m stronger as a person and more well-rounded educationally.

 

Author Bio

Lindsay K. Saunders, originally from North Carolina, is enjoying the lessons of life abroad in Zambia and privilege to serve as a Development, Outreach, and Communications Specialist for USAID. She has a weekly email newsletter and shares her journey on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. You may reach her by email via lindsayksaunders@gmail.com, visit her website at www.lindsayksaunders.com, or follow her on social media @LindsayKelleyS.

Student Spotlight! Shainah Andrews!

ECU English major Shainah Andrews spoke at the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences scholarship luncheon where she told her story about traveling to London and being inspired to study Linguistics and TESOL.  She told fellow students, faculty and donors about her hopes to teach English in South America after graduation. Eloquent, and inspiring, she is being featured as an ECU Student Spotlight!  Below is her interview:

 

Where are you from?

I am originally from Connecticut but have been living in Windsor, North Carolina for almost four years.

What brought you to ECU?

East Carolina University interested me because it is known to be an institute best for science and English/education, two fields which I juggled wanting to be in for several years until very recently.

What is your area of study? How did your interest in this area begin?

I am an English major with a minor in linguistics. My passion for reading and writing, from my earliest recollection, began when I was in second grade and my love for both have only strengthened over-time; it stems from my parents and grandma reading to me from the womb. Linguistics was intriguing to me well before I even knew what that word meant, as early as elementary or middle school, but my love for it heightened this summer when I studied abroad in London.

What are your goals after graduation?

Post-graduation, I aspire to teach English as a second language in a South American country for at least one year. In addition, I am also considering doing traveling journalism work in various countries, continuing to volunteer to combat homelessness and poverty, and break stereotypes on several platforms regarding dialect prejudice.

What has been most rewarding/exciting about your time in the Department of English?

If I had to narrow my most rewarding/exciting moment in the Department of English down to one, it’d have to be the following: being an English major opened a study-abroad-opportunity door for me which I walked through this past July; I went to London! It has been a dream of mine since elementary school and became reality this summer thanks to my THCAS scholarship donors and parents. While the program was available to non-English majors, I appreciated the experience even more as an English major as I physically saw many things that I’d often only read about and saw in pictures. The study abroad experience also allowed self-expansion for myself and aided me in helping others to flourish.

What recognitions/achievements in your ECU career are you most proud of and why?

Just recently on September 22nd, I delivered my speech at a scholarship recipient luncheon, being the only English major and even woman of the three student speakers, to go before the podium; my particular scholarship made it feasible for me to study English in London summer ‘17, another accomplishment of mine that still feels dream-like. When other students and even faculty/staff members told me how much my speech resonated with them and impacted them, I knew that I represented ECU English in an incredible way.

 

 

For the last spring break, I was a student lead in Baltimore, Maryland where poverty and homelessness is prominent; my alternative break experience gave me another lens to see life through and empowered me to want to do more sooner since my want to help those specifically poverty-stricken and homeless began at an early age.

I am also proud to say that I’ve been the English Club’s consumer coordinator since fall semester of my freshman year and I am also the treasurer now! This semester, I became the worship leader for Delight Ministries, a nationwide women’s Christian organization which six lovely ladies and I brought to ECU this semester.

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

Do it! Being an English major extends far beyond the desires to become a teacher, professor, or author. All of those options are great, but often, people do not know of any other avenues and limit themselves. I encourage all considering coming to ECU to study English to do research of their OWN; an English degree is so versatile! It’s alright if you don’t have it all figured out, too. I am a junior and am still finding my way in this world. The best piece of advice in this sense is that doing something productive is better than doing nothing at all.

 

Alumna Spotlight! Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey is an alumna of ECU and a national bestselling author who focuses on southern fiction.  After graduating from ECU with her MA in English and a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature, Kristy went on to produce many great works including “Slightly South of Simple” and “Dear Carolina”.  Come and see her speak on March 22, 2018 at the Greenville Hilton!

 

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Salisbury, NC, but now I live in Beaufort, NC.

What brought you to ECU?

I was graduating from UNC’s school of journalism and had planned to continue with either a master’s in journalism or a law degree. But I was marrying my now husband, who was working in New Bern, and I decided to just take a peek at what ECU had to offer so we could stop our long-distance commute. I read an article about a new concentration in multicultural and transnational literature that was coming to the English master’s program, and I was so intrigued. I decided almost right away that I wanted to do that instead. It was a great choice.

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

I received a master’s in English with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Even though I was a journalism major at UNC, I did a lot of English and creative writing, which I absolutely loved. I think reading is one of the best ways to learn about other people and cultures and to expand our horizons, and after years of writing, I wanted to do more of that.

What have you been up to since your graduation?

I actually went to work for Northwestern Mutual in the financial services industry for a bit after I got my master’s. It was perhaps an odd choice, but it was an opportunity presented to me and a chance to have another, completely different life experience. But now I write novels for Simon & Schuster, which is a dream job to say the least!

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

My latest novel, Slightly South of Simple, was an instant National Bestseller, and that felt huge to me because I have worked so hard to get where I am. Being an author is about writing, of course, but so much of the job is promotion and marketing. I travel all year long speaking and expanding my audience and love meeting my readers. Two of my books are being considered for film and one was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. So many amazing things have happened along this journey. I think, at the end of the day, simply being published by a “Big 5” New York publishing house was my dream, and I am so proud that I hung in there, fought the hard fight and made it. My fourth novel, The Secret to Southern Charm, will be released April 3, 2018, and actually, my first North Carolina event will be a fundraiser for ECU’s Joyner Library in March. I’m proud to be able to give back to organizations I support and love with my work. It is incredibly rewarding.

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

This may sound odd, but for some reason, reading about all of the different cultures I read about during my time at ECU made me realize how special my southern upbringing and childhood were. I realized that I lived in a very unique place and that I wanted to be able to share that with the world. I think that’s one of the reasons I write southern fiction now.

What was most rewarding/exciting about your time in the Department of English?

I loved my professors at ECU and felt like they were so committed to giving me the best experience I could have. Their doors were always open. I learned a lot of practical things there that I still use, like grant writing. And, though I haven’t actually taught English, the courses I took in that field gave me a really strong foundation, and I know I would be able to do that if I ever decide to go down that path. But most of all I think learning about other cultures so intensely changed the way I thought about the world and opened my eyes to other people’s struggles. It was an important lesson, especially at that time in my life.

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

Learning to read and think critically are two of the most important skills I know of for being able to be a part of a workplace environment, no matter what that is, and I definitely received that during my time at ECU. In addition, being a strong writer is a critical skill no matter what area you choose to pursue in the future. The English program at ECU is a large university experience with a small college feel. I got to know my classmates and my professors, and I think that is a critical part of any good education. For me, English has always been a passion and, when you follow your passion, amazing things happen. I’m living proof of that. You will get a broad-based education at ECU no matter what your major, so my advice is always to do what you love. It can’t help but make you a better student.

Jared Price smiles at the camera

Alumnus Spotlight: Jared Price

Jared Price (1995) earned the Department of English’s graduate certificate in TESOL–Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Where are you from and what brought you to ECU?

I was born in Raleigh, N.C.

What brought you to ECU?

My love of Spanish and desire to study language(s) brought me to ECU.

How did you decide to pursue the graduate certificate in TESOL, and what else did you study?

When I first sought to get my teaching license in Spanish, they suggested that I also get certified in ESL, since they were critical areas and gave me a better chance to find gainful employment as a teacher. Ha ha when I first went back to ECU, I didn’t truly understand what an “add on” licensure really was at the time. I just did what I was told. To be very honest with you, I didn’t realize how important my TESOL certificate would be on my resume until years later (Dr. Cope can attest to this).

What have you been up to since your graduation and what are your goals for the future?

After graduating in 1995, I began teaching in 1997. I have taught Spanish and ESL grades K-12 for about 15 years now. I have spent the last 4 consecutive years living, working, and studying in Bangkok, Thailand. My son, Gabriel, was born here. I also studied and received my Master of education. I am very proud of these accomplishments. Although I am certified in Spanish and ESL, I have taught grades K2 and 2 in Thailand. I consider all of the kids my ESL students. I especially love my K2 babies.

 

 

In terms of academics, I do aspire to get my Masters in Hispanic Linguistics. I have such a love for the Spanish language. In terms of ESL and linguistics, I am fascinated how the learning of one’s L1 can affect their L2. I am so psyched about studying at N.C. State University. I truly love to learn! Getting my PhD is a definite possibility. I would like to do research in perhaps Sociolinguistics or bilingualism. I would enjoy teaching as a college professor. Only time will tell. God has blessed me with this opportunity and I will definitely take advantage of it.

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

I am most proud of being offered this fine opportunity at N.C. State University. I am also very proud of my Eagle Scout award.

What was most rewarding/exciting about your time in the Department of English?

My entire experience at ECU was a joy! I absolutely loved college! In 1994, I received a $1500 scholarship to study in Monterrey, Mexico. It was awesome!

What elements of your education in the Department of English and/or your TESOL studies have been most instrumental to your success?

Thanks to Dr. Cope and my studies in the areas of Second Language acquisition and Second language learning, I have become much more aware of how languages are acquired and learned. I want to learn more so I can be a better educator. I thirst for knowledge. Being able to study both language and linguistics at N.C.S.U. is so exciting! I can’t wait!

Anything to add?

Life is like a thick, juicy steak. Dig deep and take a big bite!

Alumna Spotlight: Sarah Castle

Sarah Castle is a 2010 ECU graduate who works at a small private wealth investment company brokered by Ameriprise Financial.

Where are you from and what brought you to ECU?

The Annapolis, Maryland, area. I am a third generation Pirate! My grandfather attended East Carolina in the late ’50s, followed by both of my parents who met at ECU in the ’70s , leaving me to continue the purple and gold legacy from 2006-2010.

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

I studied the English language, American history, Shakespeare, linguistics, and writing. I became interested in pursuing my Bachelor’s in English through the course studies of linguistics. I excelled and enjoyed using the International Phonetic Alphabet to accurately pronounce any word in any language.

What have you been up to since your graduation?

Since graduation in 2010, I have found employment in several different fields. Immediately following graduation, I worked for a law firm doing mortgage modifications. Then I went on to teach special education in the Annapolis, allowing me to give back to my home community. Following that, I gained my license to sell health, life, and variable annuities and was introduced to the world of sales. Most notably perhaps was when I was directly contacted and referred for employment by a financial firm which specifically hired me based on my degree in order to fulfill writing demands to keep clients engaged.

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

Receiving recognition from the English department at East Carolina for being the most dedicated and highest achiever in my American history class was a pretty big deal for me. The professor I had was one of my hardest but he pushed me to the tip of my potential and it has long stood rewarding. I have remained in contact with my professor and together we have edited one of my research papers written about Thoreau for a number of years, using it as graduate school application material and the like.

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

The English department at East Carolina assisted me to develop skills such as implementing effective grammar, manipulating the written word, and exercising research techniques which have led me to excel in several areas of business and communication in the professional setting.

What was most rewarding/exciting about your time in the Department of English?

My most rewarding time with the Department of English was choosing to study overseas in Manchester, England for a semester. Upon the advice of my mentors, professors, and advisors I chose to finish up my required courses in the first semester of my senior year so that I could open my eyes to the world outside of America in my last months of study. It was the number one decision I made in my undergraduate career and I could not thank the English department more for pushing me in this direction!

 

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

As a graduate holding my Bachelor’s degree in English, I would say to any incoming English scholar, remember “if you can write well, you can do anything.” My mother told me that a long time ago and as it turns out, she was right. Having a strong command of any language will allow you to advance in the work force, in the social sense, and can capture your memories in time. With enough creativity, you can find a need in almost every profession so do not hesitate, take your English background and run with it! Oh and, Go Pirates!

 

 

Zach Lundgren

Student Spotlight: Zachary Lundgren

Zach LundgrenHave you met English PhD candidate, Zachary Lundgren yet? Get to know him in the latest student spotlight!

My name is Zach Lundgren and I’m from all over. I was born in northern California, grew up in Virginia, and received my Bachelor’s in Colorado and my Master’s in Florida. This is my second year in the doctoral program at ECU. I also love hiking, hockey, fishing, and I am an active creative writer.

What brought you to ECU?
The great faculty and the support to both teach and focus on my research. I love a program where we are encouraged to grow as both instructors and as academics.

What is your area of study and how did you first become interested in it?
I’m focused on environmental rhetorics, rhetoric of science, and specifically climate change rhetoric. These interests grew from my passion for the outdoors and courses in science and technology studies (STS) I took as a Master’s student. I also believe that climate change is the most pressing issue of our modern day and it is in critical need of rhetorical study and focus.

What are your goals after graduation?
A tenure-track professor position at a research-focused university

What has been most exciting/rewarding about your time in the English department?
Simply interacting with the great faculty and fellow students and the ability to grow and share ideas. We have an excellent population of diverse and intelligent minds here.

What recognitions/achievements in your ECU career are you most proud of and why?
Being recommended for a position within the Chancellor’s office and being elected DESO president were both great honors. Oh yeah, and we also came in second in a sand volleyball tournament.

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?
I’d say it’s a diverse, growing program with a lot of opportunities to really get involved and make a lasting impact. The people are great, the weather is fair, and the football can’t be beat.

Sophronia Knott

Student Spotlight: Sophronia Knott

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Sophronia Knott wins Three Minute Thesis!

Sophronia Knott won the Grand Champion Award at the Three Minute Thesis competition in Oct 2016! She will be going to Annapolis, MD to represent the Dept of English at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools.

Below is a student spotlight on English MA student Sophronia Knott!

 

Hello! My name is Sophronia Knott 🙂 I’m originally from Guatemala, but I was raised in Smithfield, North Carolina. I have three dogs and we all love to go running!

What brought you to ECU?

Both of my brothers graduated from ECU and my father received his Principal’s Certificate here, so I wanted to carry on the tradition!

What is your area of study and how did you first become interested in it?

I am currently an English MA student, but I also received my BA in English and my TESOL certificate here at ECU. I wrote my first short story when I was seven, and I’ve been reading for what feels like forever. My father used to make me read for one hour for every 30 minutes of TV I wanted to watch, but I was never able to put down a book!

What are your goals after graduation?

After graduation, I would like to attend the University of Denver in Colorado to complete my PhD in English.

What has been most exciting/rewarding about your time in the English department?

The most exciting thing has been writing my thesis, to be honest! As a graduate student, I was able to reach out to my favorite author and talk with her about my ideas. She has since become a friend and mentor, and I feel so lucky to be analyzing her work for my thesis!

What recognitions/achievements in your ECU career are you most proud of and why?

I won the Most Outstanding Undergraduate award in 2015, and that was my proudest moment as a student and an English scholar. I spoke at graduation, and I felt as if I finally got the chance to thank my parents and all of the professor who truly changed my life. I was very grateful to be able to speak and thank everyone properly.

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

If you choose to study English, do it because you love writing or because you love reading. When all else fails, it’s your passion that will keep you going during the hard times. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t be able to sustain your motivation. I can’t imagine doing anything else because English has always been my one true passion.

Kitta

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Andrea Kitta

DF-Author-Photo-Kitta

Dr. Andrea Kitta is an associate professor of Multicultural and Transnational Literatures in the Department of English at East Carolina University. She holds a B.A. in History (Honors) from Slippery Rock University, an M.A. in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, and a Ph.D. in Folklore from Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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Where are you from?

Originally Western Pennsylvania, but I also consider St. John’s, Newfoundland to be one of my “homes.”

What brought you to ECU?

I was between here and a post-doc in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I ended up choosing ECU because I wanted to teach and I really wanted to teach students that were the first people in their families to attend college.

What is your field and how did you first become interested in it?

I first heard about the field of folklore from a GA in Anthropology while I was taking some post-bac classes. I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go to grad school and when I told him about all the things I was interested in (history, stories, culture, medicine, the supernatural) he said “Why don’t you become a folklorist?” I had no idea what he was talking about, so I went home and started looking into. I immediately knew it was exactly what I wanted to do, so I started applying for my MA in Folklore that night.

What other life experience prepared you for your role here at ECU?

I did two years of service with AmeriCorps, the first was part-time (900 hours) while I was getting my BA, the second was full time (1600 hours) right after I graduated. I can’t express how much I learned in my time at AmeriCorps – every time I came up with an idea, I was given the go-ahead to try it. That was a fantastic experience and really helped me to see that I wanted to pursue my PhD and be a professor.

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

I’m really proud of all of my achievements, but I think the ones that stand out the most for me were the ones when I broke a boundary and helped people to see things in a different way. I’m very proud that I was the first person from the Folklore Department to get an Applied Health fellowship when I was working on my PhD. I was the first folklorist to get the Duval prize at the Canadian Immunization Conference. I was also really proud to represent the American Folklore Society in the US/China exchange program.

What is your favorite part of your job?

That’s difficult, I love being in the classroom and working with students, but I also love my research. And I love going to conferences. I basically love every part of my job except grading and meetings.

Describe one of the most rewarding courses you’ve taught in your time at ECU?

Just one? I absolutely love teaching the Supernatural class because my students are so interesting and unique – they always give me something to think about and remind me of how much there is to learn. I also loved team-teaching the Disability and Literature class and I’m really enjoying my honors class this semester on experiencing illness and alternative medicine. And the American Folklore class is where I get to see my students fall in love with folklore, so that’s really rewarding as well.

Smith

Student Spotlight: Darien Smith

Darien Smith.

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Darien Smith just graduated from the East Carolina University Department of English!

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What brought you to ECU?

My first trip to ECU was actually in 1998 when I came with my family to a football game, I guess you could say it was my destiny. I competed here in a public speaking competition in high school and fell in love with the campus. I originally had my heart set on College of Charleston, but ECU just struck me as having a much more diverse and welcoming atmosphere, I felt like the possibilities were endless as a Pirate. When I came back for orientation, I knew I was home.

What is your area of study and how did you first become interested in it?

Funny story, I’ve actually had 5 majors in my time at ECU (and I’m still graduating early!). I could read before I started kindergarten, and I’ve never really stopped. I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday of a quote from my favorite book, The Outsiders, so I should’ve known then that English was my calling. After lots of trial and error, I decided I was ready to settle down and graduate. After looking at all my credits, I realized that the recurring theme was English and that I’d always done markedly better in my English classes; all the pieces fell into place from there.

What are your goals after graduation?

I’m stoked to say that I will be continuing my work with the organization that I did my English internship with, Eastern NC Stop Human Trafficking Now, as a paid employee! I plan to eventually go to law school for nonprofit and civil equality law. Long term, I’d like to start a nonprofit to benefit special needs kids in foreign countries that don’t get the help and acceptance they deserve.

What has been most exciting/rewarding about your time in the English department?

The best part for me is realizing my own intelligence/power. I’d always doubted myself and thought I wasn’t an academic, that I wasn’t smart enough, but being in the English department has helped me find my own voice and stand my ground (supported with textual analysis). Besides, who else can say that they got to watch Star Wars (Science Fiction), create their own company (Professional Writing), and imitate Sir Ian McKellan (Shakespeare: The Histories) during their senior year?

What recognitions/achievements in your ECU career are you most proud of and why?

It’s going to sound really cheesy and I’ll probably regret this later, but finding myself. College has been a long, hard journey, but one I’d do anything to relive. I’ve grown so much as a person, and I have ECU to thank for that.

Also I have a killer GPA and I still go to bed at 9:30 every night.

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

“We’re all mad here.”
But seriously, do it. There’s no right or wrong in the English department (except your/you’re and they’re/their/there and even that’s debatable in poetry). You don’t have to be a certain way or like a certain thing or have read a lot of classic works (because I’m graduating and I didn’t do half of my reading assignments, sorry Dr. Feder). English is so much more than reading books by dead white guys. English is the written expression of the history of the human race, there’s something here for everyone.

Shelor

Student Spotlight: Rose Shelor

Shelor.

Rose Shelor, the recent winner of the Debbie O’Neal Award, is a Hispanic Studies major from Cary, NC. Read on to learn more about her academic journey at ECU!

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My interest in Spanish and linguistics began in high school, but I originally came to ECU for their nursing program. However, I quickly realized that I missed my language courses and wanted to return to what I really loved. After graduation, I hope to work as a school teacher, teaching either (or both) Spanish and ESL. I hope to eventually train other classroom teachers on how to effectively scaffold the English language learners they have in their classrooms.

My most rewarding moment in the Department of English was probably when I discovered how tightly world history and language development are intertwined. The fact that English speakers can trace vocabulary and grammar through who conquered who is fascinating to me. I am most proud of my research about ELL parent involvement and student success because it covers issues that I encounter regularly in the classroom. Many parents want to be able to help their children, but when English is not their native language either, they may struggle to know how to help. My research covers how schools can provide better support to these parents.

To someone considering studying English at ECU, it is a rewarding field with many opportunities. The professors are amazing and care about the lives of their students. Small class sizes and opportunities for faculty-mentoring have greatly helped me through my time here, so for anyone looking for a close-knit community at a large school, the English department is amazing.

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