Profile by Paige Touse (’20)
“English Majors can do anything”
Pursuing a Passion
Beth Gordon always knew what her passion was and what she wanted to do with her life. Even in her younger years, Beth enjoyed reading and writing. She liked making connections with themes and books and to the current events in her world. Despite the fact that it was popular to be an undecided major at the time Beth entered college, she already knew she wanted to be an English Major.
Beth attended Binghamton University for her undergraduate degree. She took any and all classes pertaining to literature while in college whether it be the “Psychology of Literature” or the “Literature of World War Two.” Beth then moved on to University of Albany for her Masters in an English-focused Education degree. After graduation, she made her way to Mahopac to teach.
Trials of Teaching
At Mahopac High School, Beth taught an array of English classes from normal Regents levels to the more rigorous Honors courses. Oddly enough, Beth found that teaching wasn’t always about the material. She stated that it was “much less about the literature and writing and a lot more about the social issues they are facing today.”
Beth easily saw a connection to the skills she learned from her English major to how she should teach her students:
“Learning how to teach is basically learning how to negotiate and motivate and communicate.”
These are skills that she sees as being integral to the English degree and very transferable to other fields.
From Teaching to Tech
While teaching her students, Beth noticed that there wasn’t always a strong connection between the material she taught and the interest of her pupils. There was only one instance when she felt they were invested in their work:
“I found that when I was able to get the kids most engaged in their writing was when I brought them to a computer lab.”
This became the turning point in her career as she “saw the power of what a computer could do for teaching.” It was then that Beth decided to return to school in the hopes of receiving a Ph.D. in Academic Technology.
With this new degree, she wanted to work in a college environment. Pace would soon be her home for her Academic Technology career. While attending Walden, an online university, Beth worked many jobs throughout Pace. She started as an adjunct and then moved on to teach writing courses and work in Admissions. Eventually, Beth settled herself in Dyson College at Pace as an Academic Advisor while finishing her Ph.D.
After receiving her Ph.D., Beth become incorporated in the Dean’s department as director of Academic Technology.
Benefits from Books
Despite the jump from an English and Teaching degree to Technology degree, Beth still uses more aspects of an English Major than one might guess. As the director of Academic Technology, Beth is constantly researching in order to find new teaching techniques with technology and persuade faculty to use such technology or even try to get funding for certain projects. In order to achieve theses requirements of her job she must use her “ability to read critically and write thoughtfully and extract themes and create proposals,” all of which comes from her English background.
Beth described the benefits have having an English degree not only in her current job but in her everyday life. The skills both taught and learned from an English Major opens the door to many fields. It’s a versatile major:
“I feel like my English Major has been a real asset to me in lots of different fields…What I learned as an English Major about how to communicate, analyze, problem solve, has been completely transferable to my work in IT.”
Ultimately, the only advice Beth had for those of us who are currently working on our English degrees is something that isn’t specific to us but is to be said to everyone. Her advice is that it is, “Important to follow your passions and study what motivates you but continue to stay open minded about your career and opportunities ahead. I think that English majors can do anything.”
It is because of her passion for English that Beth finds herself in a career she thoroughly enjoys and would never had expected to be in.