Two students in LIT 132 share thoughtful metaphors that describe the process—and the importance—of writing a literary analysis.
Are you working on a literary analysis right now? What gets you inspired? Tell us in the comments!
Two students in LIT 132 share thoughtful metaphors that describe the process—and the importance—of writing a literary analysis.
Are you working on a literary analysis right now? What gets you inspired? Tell us in the comments!
Profile by Jenna Scaglione
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.
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.
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.
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.
Profile by Grace Kadisha
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.”
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.
Profile by Jessika Charvis
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!
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!
Profile by Sophia Avella (’20)
Learning about Liberatore
Professor Liberatore is the mother of an adorable one and a half year old, loves to cook, and enjoys hiking with fellow mothers when she has some down time. She absolutely loves to read literature where she, “can enter that other world” and loves to uncover the hidden meaning behind the writings, like piecing together a puzzle.
At Pace, Professor Liberatore teaches courses such as English 110, 120, and 201. In these classes, she teaches her students how to write formal essays and critically analyze formal pieces of writing. She assigns journal style homework assignments and multiple readings from the textbook that are due each class to strengthen her students’ reading and writing skills.
Professor Liberatore was always fond of English classes. She always enjoyed reading and took a couple of AP/ honors classes in High School. But, believe it or not, going into college, she enrolled as a biology major! In fact, Liberatore did not switch her major until the end of her sophomore year in college when she realized her heart was not set on going to medical school. She simply could not see herself working in that field for the rest of her life.
“So I took a couple of English classes and ended up switching majors, then I got a Master’s degree in English, and here I am!” Liberators says with a smile.
In the fall semester that Professor Liberatore changed her major, she was enrolled in a course called Eighteenth Century Novels. Liberatore says that this class is her best memory of English, although the course was the most challenging she had ever encountered. “She (her professor) was tough as nails… the class was not an easy A and I had to hold myself to a higher standard,” considering the extremely strict and “brutal” grading policy. Even so, this most certainly did not discourage Liberatore. The teacher’s harsh way of grading motivated her and she was “determined” to work diligently throughout the class. In the end, she did not ace the course. However, it really showed her how dedicated she was to declaring an English major.
Along with that fond memory, her all-time favorite class she took in college was a Narcissistic Literature Seminar. “That absolutely affected me and I ended up doing my Master’s thesis on that,” Liberatore says proudly. Her thesis was forty-seven pages long and it is obviously a prominent piece in her career. It truly was a work that she is triumphant about and it gave her a sense ,of empowerment in the major she chose. She tells current English majors to,
“stay passionate about it because, it is really easy to feel boggled down in the analysis and the really rudimentary parts of it, but always remember why you gravitated towards it.”
In the classroom:
Liberatore loves to challenge her brain when she reads works of literature: “I get a satisfaction from figuring out what I read… lately I have been reading the classics, greek mythology, Dante’s Inferno.”
She also brings this aspect of solving problems and dedication to all of her classes. Liberatore states that she taught a Literature 102 class at Westchester Community College, where the students hardly showed up, were not connected, and could not care less about the due dates of assignments. “This was a real struggle to me as Professor… because they would show no enthusiasm for pieces of literature that I loved- I started to dread the class because it was like pulling teeth,” she stated, but then she went on to explain that this is why she loves teaching:
“I like all my classes for different reasons and every group of students is like a new combination.”
Liberatore enjoys figuring out and connecting with students to share her love of writing with them. “My students make the experience- not me as much,” she humbly states.
As one of her students, I must say that Professor Liberatore does in fact do everything in her power to motivate and push her students to get the best grades possible and get them involved and intrigued in what she is teaching in the classroom. She makes the class interactive and leaves it up to the students to take what they can out of this course—a truly inspiring professor.
Profile by Samantha Dexter
Melissa’s time at Pace
Melissa found herself at Pace University because of its proximity to her home in the Bronx, and also because of a scholarship that she had been granted. During her time at Pace, Melissa enjoyed the quaint atmosphere of Pleasantville and exploring the many surrounding towns with her friends.
Melissa majored in film and English with a concentration in creative writing. She speaks highly of her time in classes taught by Professor Poe, and valued the creative freedom that the classes provided. Her desire to be more engaged in a person’s story combined with her interest in psychology led Melissa to consider a career in social work.
Melissa graduated from Pace in 2012 and decided to take a year for herself, when she enrolled in creative writing classes around Westchester county. She then attended graduate school at Fordham.
What Melissa is doing now
Melissa found her niche in social work. Currently, Melissa is working for a company that places social workers in high schools and middle schools, where they provide therapeutic services to adolescents and children.
As a therapist, Melissa prides herself in being able to provide a safe space for each individual to share their story. She connects this to her background in English and creative writing. Using narrative therapy and her analytical skills, Melissa seeks out patterns and helps her students make sense of their actions. During our interview, Melissa stressed the value and the relevance of the skills that she gained in English classes in her profession.
In the future
Melissa hopes to acquire her next license and become a clinical therapist, but she is content with her career. She admits that she has not been able to write much in recent times, but she intends to change that.
From her own experience, Melissa says that English degrees are more versatile than one might think. For Pace students who are approaching graduation, Melissa offers her advice:
“It’s okay to not know what you want to do.”
It’s a common fear to not know exactly which path to take, but she wants to reassure graduating seniors that it will soon become clear.
Dr. Jane Collins led a workshop for writing teachers suggesting that instead of framing cell phones as devices that interrupt learning, we instead find ways for cell phones to enhance learning.
Here are notes I took during the discussion portion of the workshop—lots of good ideas for how faculty might use cell phones in their writing classes.
*Forgive my lack of parallelism in the bulleted list. These are my actual notes with minimal editing.
Hope you like some of the ideas. If you implement any, give feedback on what worked and what didn’t in the comments below. Also consider adding your own ways of using cell phones in the classroom. We love crowd-sourcing ideas!
Profile by Carly Wood (’19)
Educational and Career Path
After graduating from college with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and English and a minor in Education, Doctor Leslie Soodak knew she wanted to work with people and policies. Right after graduation she obtained her masters in special education.
Dr. Soodak’s first job was with United Cerebral Palsy where she worked to deinstitutionalize Willowbrook Developmental Center, a housing institution for individuals with mental disabilities. The fight to deinstitutionalize was because many children living at Willowbrook were recommended by doctors to be placed there despite not having any significant disabilities.
After 10 years Dr. Soodak returned to school to get her doctorate in Psychology. Dr. Soodak currently works as a professor in the School of Education where her favorite course to teach is one on special education. She loves that through this course she is able to “discover people’s perspectives on individuals with disabilities and hopefully enrich their knowledge in that area.”
The Importance of Reading and Writing
Reading and writing are two very important things in Dr. Soodak’s life. She can distinctly remember her favorite expository writing course she took during her undergraduate studies. She said the course required her to write constantly, and by doing so she was able to really understand herself and her writing. The class was small and a safe place for her to truly open up and express herself. She shared her opinion that “if you cannot comfortably relay information and express yourself then you are really at a disadvantage.” Dr. Soodak holds the firm belief that reading and writing are key in almost anything we do.
Dr. Soodak’s Words of Advice
In terms of the English path, Dr. Soodak’s first piece of advice is to stay on it! She expresses the need to look at information on a broader sense and consider more ways of communicating.
Dr. Soodak recognizes that the field has gone much more in the way of nonfiction and factual information; however, she has hopes that this generation will be able to bring back the love of reading and writing for pleasure.
Profile by Francesca Ferreira (’19)
Michael chose Pace University for his undergraduate studies for a multitude of reasons. Through a long college search, Michael was tirelessly looking for a school that was the perfect fit, as many other students struggle to do when transitioning from high school to college. But when he came in contact with Pace University this exhaustive search was over: “Pace University was the right balance because of the location, size, classroom size, etc.” Pace made him feel academically comfortable and secure.
It wasn’t only the physical appearance of the school that reassured him of his decision, it was the people, the faculty, and the guidance. Michael said, “I knew I wanted to be a Political Science Major, and during the application process, Pace University made sure I had a chance to speak with the Political Science Chair on the phone, and meet him in person. Knowing I wanted to [also] be a journalist, Admissions arranged for the Newspaper Editor to call me.”
The Pace University faculty went above and beyond to provide him with connections to real people in his field. Not only did faculty go beyond in academic success, however; they went beyond their duty as good people. Michael shared a personal story of an instance where at a Pace Open house, his mother, who is diabetic, needed something to help boost her blood-sugar level; a simple bottle of juice or candy would have been sufficient. But instead a registered nurse came, insisted on getting her checked out, stayed with her for a long time, and even got her number and called her afterwards. Michael went on to say,
“This faculty member went way above and beyond the call of duty to help somebody else out. The personal touch really resonated with me, and made Pace University an easy decision.”
Michael went on to pursue a Political Science and History degree with a focus in writing. The reason he chose to have a major focus in writing was because of the opportunities he was given during his years at Pace University. He said, “I became Sports Editor of the Campus Newspaper (then called the ‘New Morning’) as a freshman, and then spent three years as Editor in Chief.” As a sophomore, he helped to start a publication, “Inside Lacrosse” which is the biggest lacrosse publication in the sport.
As a junior he had the opportunity to intern with the New York Times and as a senior he interned at the United Nations in their official communications office. All of these opportunities helped Michael to not only improve in his writing, but also helped him decide that writing was something he wanted to focus on.
Light at the End of A Tunnel
After graduating from Pace, Michael Spinner went through a struggle to find himself. He enrolled in the Pace Law School and although he was a good student, it was not his passion. He said, “While at Pace Law, I accepted a position as Assistant Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Coach at nearby Manhattanville College, and loved every minute of that experience. By the time lacrosse season ended, I was convinced that I should leave Law School and become a coach … and the rest is history.”
A Coach and A Writer
No matter what occupation a person is in, they must perform, in some way, the important skill of writing. As a coach, writing plays a big role in Michael Spinner’s life. He said, “As coaches, we are always recruiting, and electronic communication is a significant part of recruiting. I have a form letter I send to every recruit, and I e-mail with recruits constantly.” Although writing an email might sound simple, it is not. This use of writing connects player to coach while showing the coach’s character and intelligence. An email in the world of coaching could be the difference between gaining a new player or pushing one away. Without refining his writing and editing skills through the help of Pace University faculty and opportunities along the way, he would not be able to be the best coach he can be.
Profile by Jessica D’Angelo
LeeAnn Reynolds is a Pace University alumna who graduated in December of 2016. She earned her degree in English with a minor in Creative Writing. While attending Pace, she was an animal caretaker at Pace’s Nature Center. This allowed her to take care of animals, create informational packets, and give tours. She currently has a job as a personal assistant and is writing a novel.
Life at Pace
While at Pace, LeeAnn was influenced by several professors—Dr. Poe, Dr. Collins, Dr. Kirschtein, and Dr. Martin were just a few. She strongly believes that the English department was a positive influence in her experience at Pace. She said,
“I think the English department at Pace is really unique, because you get the sense that the whole department cares about you and wants to help you.”
When she started at Pace she was originally an Education major. She wanted to double major but then eventually dropped Education entirely when she decided that being an English major would give her more job opportunities. She did have some discouragement from others about her choice in major at first. People told her that there were no jobs for English majors, but she feels differently:
“I feel that being an English major has really helped to give me a diverse set of skills that I can apply to a wide variety of jobs.”
Role of Reading and Writing
Currently LeeAnn has a job as a personal assistant, which consists of many different things. She never really considered becoming one, but she saw a job opening, and she decided to apply. She saw that it would be a great job that included writing, learning more about businesses, and cooking and cleaning. There were over 75 applicants, and she was chosen for the position. Her job consists of context writing, website maintenance, childcare, cleaning, and errand-running.
Her job consists of writing in financial language which is not easy for her, so she has to do a lot of research beforehand. However, LeeAnn explains, “Because I was an English major, I’m able to pick apart things and understand them relatively quickly.” She writes two articles a week, so reading and writing play an important role in her career.
Her favorite things to read and write about are Young Adult literature, especially fantasy. Some of her recommendations would have to be Tithe by Holly Black, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and Howl’s Moving Castle by Wynne Jones. She also insists that the Harry Potter series is a must!
While at Pace LeeAnn says her most memorable moment was her thesis reading. She had to write and edit a novel, so it was very personal to her. Currently, LeeAnn is in the progress of writing a book. She has been working very hard on it, and she even said, “It seems like the editing will never end!” She is about 86,000 words in, and she is very proud of her work.