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!


Pace Profile: Dr. Beth Gordon

Profile by Paige Touse (’20)


Dr. Beth Gordon

“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.

Faculty Profile: Dr.Jane Collins

profile by Jaquay Dee-Hardmon


Choosing English

Dr. Collins loves to read. As a child she wanted books for any special occasion like birthdays and Christmas.

She went to high school in New Brunswick, NJ and attended Rutgers University as an undergraduate. Before choosing English as a major she studied biology, political science, pre law and pre med. In her junior year of college, Dr. Collins decided English is what she enjoyed most. She then double majored in English and political science:

“I decided to follow my heart on it and do what I loved most rather than what seemed most practical.”

After being asked if she was discouraged by anyone with her choice of majors she mentioned she was not discouraged nor encouraged. She went to a large state university where she felt students were on their own. Neither of her parents went to college so they did not have much advice to give her.

Finding Her Path

Dr. Collins did not go to graduate school right away after completing her bachelor’s degree. She was more interested in taking care of herself financially and figuring out what was next for her.

One of her first jobs was with publishing. She then went on to teach in public schools for two years in New York City. While she was teaching, she studied Chinese. She looked for a teaching job in China because she had a love for traveling. She was given information about traveling to Japan to teach by a coworker. So she applied to teach in Japan and went there to teach for a year. After a year in Japan, she went backpacking around Asia for six months. Some places she visited were India, Thailand and China. After six months she came home to take a break and began waitressing and bartending job in Manhattan.

After waiting tables, she continued on to graduate school, entering the doctoral program at the City University of New York and earning a Ph.D. Right before she completed her Ph.D., she started teaching at Pace University.

Life at Pace

Dr. Collins has now has been teaching at Pace University for twenty three years and enjoys staying current and innovative:

“What I most want to teach students is a love of reading and a love of words.”

One of the things she loves most about reading fiction, non-fiction, and poetry is the way it gives access to the lives of people who are not the same as you.

“Emotional access that literature offers is something that is a gift for everyone to be able to imagine the lives of other people.”

Words of Encouragement 

Dr. Collins reminds us:

“The most important thing to remember is that being an English major helps you build a flexible brain that asks questions, that sees connections, that uses language to make sense of the world, and those are really valuable skills and practices….You’ll find the way to use them to make your own way and figure out your own path in life.”

Alumna Profile: Gianna Sandri Antolos (’09)

Profile by Queen-Nzinga Alfred (’19)


Gianna Sandri Antolos (’09)

Who is Gianna Sandri Antolos?

Gianna Sandri Antolos is an alumna of Pace University who grew up in a rural town in New Jersey. She decided to attend Pace because she wanted to be in New York but wasn’t ready to take on the big city.

Gianna came to Pace undecided, but English was her first choice, and she made her decision freshman year after loving her English courses. She worked hard in college in order to achieve her goals. While she had some obstacles finding a job, she never gave up.

She is an author for Booksforbetterliving.com and Readitforward.com and is also a freelance marketer and writer employed by Penguin Random House. She was previously a Marketing Manager for celebrity books with Crown Publishing. A year ago she gave birth to her daughter and was fortunate enough to continue working for her previous boss as a freelance marketer from home, and she also writes weekly articles for Books for Better Living.

Opportunities of an English Major

Gianna made it clear that being an English major has many opportunities if you’re willing to work hard and seek them out.  She told me,

“The doors will only open if you pry them open and demand to be looked at for positions that you wouldn’t normally think you’d fit the bill for.”

Gianna applied everywhere she could for an internship to gain in-office experience before she graduated. Due to her determination, she received many internships with different companies such as a Sales Intern at Pearson, a PR Intern for Viacom’s channel LOGO, and a casting internship at ABC’s One Life to Live. These internships would open many more doors for her in the future. Because they were so different she learned many different applicable skills from each one.

Being an English major is important because companies want employees who can communicate well and edit carefully.

“Being an English major makes you desirable because you have fundamental skills that many lack. Put the management major and the English major side by side in an entry-level job interview at advertising agency and I guarantee you the English major has a leg up.”

After Graduation

While attending Pace University, Gianna Sandri Antolos received many awards such as the Jean Bueti Award for Academic and Extra Curricular Excellence and the Career Services Experiential Award. She was also Vice President of Programming and Administration for the Student Government while at Pace.

Although she had a job prospect upon graduation, she learned a very difficult lesson regarding the corporate world from the beginning, and she lost her job offer due to the ill advice of a mentor. While she had landed a Marketing Assistant position at Pearson, she received the ill advice of a previously respected Vice President who told her to interview for a higher level job she knew she didn’t have the experience for. Needless to say, she did not get the higher-level job despite the promises of the Vice President, and she also lost her opportunity as a Marketing Assistant. Upset, but determined, Gianna applied everywhere and decided that the best decision at that time was to go back to school and get her Master’s in English Literature at Centenary University, where she earned her degree for free while she worked as a Resident Director on campus. While she had a bad experience with one individual, she kept in touch with the wonderful people she met at Pearson through her internship. Keeping in touch with them paid off, because after receiving her Master’s degree, they asked her if she would like to interview for a job in the Marketing department again. She did, and became a Marketing Assistant for Business and Communications textbooks at Pearson Education.

After working at Pearson for nearly two years, an HR rep from Random House found Gianna on LinkedIn and asked if she’d like to interview for a position as Marketing Associate for the business division of Crown Publishing. This position opened more doors for her, when she was reassigned from business books to celebrity books, and began working on the marketing plans for numerous memoirs and nonfiction books. Some of the most notable books she worked on are Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele, Neil Patrick Harris’ Autobiography, Billy Joel, Gotta Give the People What They Want by Jalen Rose, and books by Mindy Kaling. After about two years she was promoted to Associate Marketing Manager.

While working at Penguin Random House, Gianna began writing for Read It Forward, and published an article about her favorite childhood author Sharon Creech and her book Walk Two Moons. Sharon Creech actually read Gianna’s article, responded to it, and sent her a signed copy of the book.

Greatest Influence

Gianna’s mentor was Dr. Rebecca Martin, who gave Gianna both support and motivation. Gianna said,

“She really gave me the confidence I needed to stick to my guns and follow through with what I wanted, not what was easy to settle for.”

This is the drive that forced her to keep apply for internships and jobs even when it felt like nothing was going to progress for her.

More Words of Advice from Gianna Sandri Antolos

“You have to recognize where your talents are, then what makes you happy. When you figure out what you excel at and what gives you joy, you’ve found your passion.”


“Your passion is whatever you naturally gravitate towards, whether you realize it or not- you don’t choose it—it chooses you.”


“At any moment, you may run into someone who could become a vital connection in your career advancement. I got my internship at Pearson because I met the VP on a trip in Florida and struck up a friendly conversation. So be kind to everyone you meet.”




Alumni Profile: Amanda Cody (’09)


Assistant Director of Communications for Portsmouth Abbey School

Profile by Jessica Henderson

Present Day Amanda

Amanda Cody graduated from Pace University with an English Degree in 2009 and moved on to grad school while still moving forward in her professional life. By learning to apply the writing and critical thinking skills she developed in school, Amanda began to pave her career path as a Marketing Communications Manager for the Sports Foundation at Brown University.

At Brown, she continued to apply her knowledge by communicating  with coaches, parents, and alumni; writing direct mail pieces; and featuring student athletes on the Brown University Athletics website.

Even today, in her brand-new job as the Assistant Director of Communications for Portsmouth Abbey School, she continues to apply the skills she learned at Pace and the ones she gained while working at Brown.

Discovering Her Major

Although Amanda was always interested in the humanities, it first led her to Pace as a double major in History and Political Science. The idea was short-lived and eventually led her to consider Education, where she realized that English would be the subject she would most want to teach. Yet again, she felt like Education was not for her and finally committed to becoming an English major.

Despite her love for reading and desire to pursue in the arts, she faced several concerns and discouragements from those close to her for choosing to major in English. They felt that English wouldn’t lead her to a successful, well-paying job. That English is only beneficial as a minor because other skills are more important than knowing how to write.

Amanda continued her journey in English, though, reflecting on the achievements of her professors at Pace had and discovering the wide range of opportunities that English majors are exposed to.

Branching Out and Growing Connections

What initially attracted Amanda to Pace University was the small classroom sizes, for she knew that she wouldn’t be able to sit in a lecture hall and simply copy notes. And although she wasn’t an involved student at first, the size of the classes forced her to interact with her peers and professors.

Little did she know at the time that her experience at Pace would leave her with connections with people that will last a lifetime. The relationships that she formed with her professors helped her with early drafts of her short story and led her to achieve her greatest accomplishment of publishing a book shortly after she graduated.

Even today, she is still in contact with her closest professors and considers them her friends that she can go to for advice.

College Experience: There’s More to It than You Think

Amanda came into college with the mindset that she was only supposed to engage in the things she was supposed to do and what was expected of her.

She quickly realized that college is more than that, though. It is a time to figure out what it is you want to do and a chance to find yourself.

If there is one thing that Amanda learned during her time at college that is more important than the others, it would be to branch out and expose yourself to new things, whether it is within your major or not. Even if you don’t think you will like it, according to Amanda, those are the moments that you will most likely learn the most from and help you with your career path.

Today, she continues to follow these motifs by staying active with her new dog after long hours at work. And now with her new job opportunity and short story project underway, she hopes to buy a house, settle down in Rhode Island, and see where her career takes her.