Developing a Writing Major

What does a department chair think about? Material from my panel at the MLA Convention in New York City, January 2018, gives one window into my administrative work. I’m lucky to work with colleagues who carefully think through curricular changes with me! Note: To see the full original post, click here.

Laurie Mac Reads

The following material was prepared to complement my remarks at MLA 2018 as part of a panel titledWriting in the English Department: Models for Success.

Please find:

  1. Presentation slides
  2. A downloadable version of the presentation (to access hyperlinks and notes)
  3. Some helpful sources to consult while developing a writing major

If you’d like to view the above presentation with access to hyperlinks and notes, it’s available for download:
Developing a Writing Major MLA 2018

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BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESOURCES & TRENDS: WRITING MAJORS

Step One: Getting started thinking about the writing major

Giberson, Greg A., and Thomas A. Moriarty, editors. What We Are Becoming: Developments in Undergraduate Writing Majors. Utah State U P, 2010.

This edited collection considers a variety of institutional contexts for writing majors and offers models for writing curricula and specific courses. A couple chapters offer cautionary tales, but most offer designs that have worked at particular…

View original post 508 more words

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What’s an English major?

Four Pace students offer surprising and thoughtful analogies that help us appreciate the joys and challenges of majoring in English.

Which of the comparisons resonates most with you? Do you have your own fun way to think about your identity as an English major? Tell us in the comments!

Classroom Dynamics

As you get ready to start a new semester, think positively! Four students use metaphors to describe the classroom dynamics in their LIT 132 Introduction to Literary Studies class, and they definitely give us ideas of what we should aim for.

Tell us what you think of their metaphors, and give us one of your own!

Pace Profile: Dr. Laurie McMillan

Profile by Jenna Scaglione

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Dr. Laurie McMillan

Education & Career Path
After graduating from Brandeis University with a major in psychology and elementary education certification, Dr. Laurie McMillan began teaching. Even though she loved teaching at the elementary level, she felt she needed a change.

Dr. McMillan is passionate about reading and writing, which encouraged her to further her education. She decided to continue her education at Duquesne University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English Literature. Dr. McMillan then started teaching at the college level because it gave her the opportunity to teach writing and literary studies while also spending time doing her own research.

Dr. McMillan joined Pace’s Department of English and Modern Language Studies in September 2016. She appreciates the strong department community and enjoys the creative writing presence found at Pace.

Teaching Goals

Dr. McMillan is very dedicated to helping students become better writers, which is currently what she is working on at Pace University. She says that her greatest accomplishment is helping her students achieve their goals and improve.

Dr. McMillan is currently exploring possibilities for adding a writing major to the offerings on Pace’s Pleasantville campus. The Department of English and Modern Language Studies already offers a creative writing minor and a writing track within the English major, so Dr. McMillan believes a full writing major seems like the next step and says it would appeal to a wide range of students.

Spare Time

Dr. McMillan loves reading and writing. One of the books she recommends is Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Dr. McMillan enjoys many forms of writing. She is especially enthusiastic about multimedia writing digitally online such as blogging and creating Youtube videos.

Dr. McMillan also enjoys activities around the house such as fixing up old furniture,  painting, and gardening.

Advice

Dr. McMillan believes college students should follow their passion in life and not be afraid to pursue their dreams. She also stresses the significance in having a backup plan. Life is full of surprises, so it’s helpful if you’re ready to adapt.

Faculty Profile: Professor Musti

by Steven DeMartis (’19)

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Professor Shobana Musti

Coming to America

Professor Shobana Musti began her education in India, where she grew up. She finished her undergrad with a major in Zoology and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Special Education.

She is a Professor of Education here at Pace University, specializing in teaching those in the graduate program pursuing a Master’s degree in Special Education. When she is not educating the future educators of America, she loves being outside with her dogs and playing tennis.

Early Educations’ Influence on Future Career

During her high school career, Professor Musti took English language classes, which were composed of analyzing literature, grammar, vocabulary and spelling. Professor Musti shared that “English was the mode of instruction in schools in India.” It is important to note that every student entered school speaking a variety of different languages. Although she does not have a degree in English, taking these classes provided a better understanding of the foundation for the English language. Despite not truly utilizing these skills until her doctoral program, Musti added

“The dissemination of research requires me to use academic vocabulary that is different from the conversation and casual writing skills that I may have acquired previously in my K-12 schooling experience.”

Finding her Passion

As previously mentioned, Professor Musti started her education pursuing a career in Zoology. In India, there was no option to take a “gap year” after Hhgh school therefore she had to make a quick decision about which subject area she would study. It was not until she volunteered at a center for children with disabilities that she discovered her passion for teaching, specifically Special Education. Her father was not fully supportive of her decision to change career paths to Education because it was not seen as a practical career for her culture. Professor Musti explained, “Since I am Indian, it was expected that I become a doctor.” Despite her not being supported in her career choice by her father, she deiced to stand her ground and pursue her passion to educate those with disabilities.

Why Pace

Professor Musti highlighted various aspects of Pace that sets it apart from other universities in this country. She spoke specifically about our small class sizes, which provide a more intimate class experience, as well as Pace’s ample amount of resources. She said students get extra attention here, which was not something that was available to her during her school career.

 

Advice for an Education/English Major

“Find volunteer opportunities to work in you perspective field now. Get as much exposure as possible! Affirm this is what you want to do before you waste too much time.”

Alumna Profile: Jen Kelsey (’16)

Profile by Christina Keenaghan (’19)

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Why Pace?

Jen Kelsey began her college career at State University of New York at Cortland where she spent her first semester beginning to study education. She really enjoyed her classes there but later decided it wasn’t the right school for her. She came home after one semester and the next began studying liberal arts at Westchester Community College. Studying liberal arts allowed Jen to finish up her prerequisites so when she transferred to another school she would only have to take education classes. She then decided after finishing up a few semesters at WCC that Pace was the right school for her. It was close to home so she had the freedom to stay with her job as a babysitter and go to school at the same time. Going to Pace allowed Jen a close commute and the option to study and become a teacher.

Education as a Major

Jen chose her major based on the fact that she grew up watching her grandfather, her mom, and her uncle as teachers. She loved the idea of being able to do what her mom did and her twin sister who graduated from SUNY Oneonta in May of 2016, also with a certificate to teach.

“There’s always something to talk about regarding education and definitely good suggestions and advice being given in our family.”

Jen chose Pace’s education program because of the idea that you get experience in the field while learning about it as well.

“The most beneficial part of the Education program at Pace is the fact that the Clinical Fieldwork experience starts so early in the program. The fieldwork experience gradually gets you into the classroom for a full day, once and then twice a week. You have the chance to get your feet wet without jumping right, which leads you up to Student Teaching which is 5 days a week. This allows you to form relationships with mentor teachers and other staff at the schools, along with the students.”

One class that Jen took here at Pace is something she will take throughout her career. “When I took TCH 302 – Educational Psychology, Dr. Joan Walker was the professor. She is definitely one faculty member who left a lasting impact on me and in my development as a teacher. She was always giving us feedback and suggestions on ways we could improve individually but also in just sharing her experiences as an educator, and tips and tricks we might find useful in our own classrooms.”

After Pace

Jen graduated from Pace in December of 2016 with a certificate in Childhood Education grades kindergarten through sixth grade. She passed her edTPA and is waiting to hear back from a few jobs that she applied for. Outside of school, Jen enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and coaching a third and fourth grade basketball team.

Advice Jen would give to future education majors is “to put yourself out there and do the best work that you can. Each class is so informative one way or another and it allows you to take bits and pieces from each that you may want to incorporate into your teaching one day. Also to keep everything! You never know when you might need an old lesson plan.”

 

 

Faculty Profile: Dr.Rebecca Martin

Profile by Grace Kadisha

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Dr. Rebecca Martin

Finding value in learning

Dr. Rebecca Martin has been an English major from start to finish. Growing up, she loved to read in school and on her spare time. Her family has lived in many parts of the world including Italy, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. Her parents were devoted readers and, although they didn’t graduate from college, they instilled the importance of education to Rebecca. The values her parents taught have stuck with her. 

In high school Dr. Martin discovered that she was interested in archaeology, history, and environmental studies. When she started college in the 70’s, archaeology wasn’t a popular major. For her love of reading, she went into college as an English major. Surprisingly, she said she didn’t encounter people telling her studying English wasn’t a real major or there isn’t enough jobs to get with an English degree except for teaching.

Discovering her passion

While studying English, Dr. Martin imagined she would eventually be a teacher. She still continued to take courses she thought would spark her interest in other parts of studying literature. That’s where she found her love in 18th century gothic novel; it was literature she had never read before, and her professor made the class more intriguing. She got her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma.

From there she knew her passion was to learn more. She went on to get her Master’s at the University of Idaho and her Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa. Dr. Rebecca Martin came to Pace as an adjunct professor where she taught for twenty years. She became assistant dean for fifthteen years in Dyson College.

Her advice for students with English majors is to remember that college is a time to try out new ideas: “There’s not a high price to pay from taking a course you didn’t like instead of having a job you discover you didn’t like.” She also says that that “studying english is to get personal gain, substance, and increasing knowledge.” 

Teaching students

As Dr. Rebecca Martin continues to teach film and literature courses here at Pace University, she believes it’s important to teach students more than just the content in the class. Students should think critically, think analytically, and think more because it helps all of us. That way students can apply those skills outside of class, going beyond the most obvious meanings of what you see and asking “why are these images being used, why was this language chosen and why is it being told this way?”.

Dr. Martin wants to teach students to be more engaged in life and the questions we should be asking so that we can live to our fullest potentials.

 

Alumna Profile: Justine Porcelli (’09)

Profile by Jessika Charvis

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Justine Porcelli, ’09

Who is Justine Porcelli?

Justine Porcelli is a Pace University alumna. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, restaurant exploring, being with loved ones, and jet skiing!

She majored in English and Spanish but then changed to Childhood Education and specialized in Literacy. She has always loved school as a child. Her little sister, who is twelve years younger than Justine, would always struggle with school. Justine loved being around her when she was a little girl, and that’s one of the many reasons why she went into the education field.

When asked about her experiences in the English field she had said that she traveled to Cambridge, England over the summer and she was able to study Shakespeare. She shared with me that English is everywhere (for example, movies, books, people, etc.). She also said that education has helped her see what people need instead of just judging them first hand. And another benefit of going into the education field is enjoying a snow day or two!

Her Career

Justine praised Pace University because the school set her up with her student teaching position. The school that she taught in while she was at Pace University ended up hiring her.

Today, Justine is a  literacy specialist specifically for the dual language & bilingual classrooms in her school. She has taught a total of seven years in her district. She teaches children the skills they need to succeed.  She also teaches them about themselves—their strengths and weaknesses. She believes that  knowing about yourself is important in life. That is the most important thing that she teaches her students. She shared with me that she loves all her students and whenever they smile they make her feel good about her work.

Her Advice To Future Teachers

Justine shared with me one of her experiences as a student. She said that she had a Professor that made her feel great about her work. He cared about all students as people and he really impacted her life. He was dedicated and passionate.  She said that she is sure that he taught his students when he was a public school teacher with the same care and love that she received in her higher education. Justine is inspired by him daily and has benefited from his presence in her  life at Pace University tremendously.

Justine’s advice to students in the education field is simple: get a lot of experience working with students. She said to pace yourself and give yourself a break sometimes because it is better for the students if you are less stressed, well rested, and prepared!