Graduate Alumni Stories
"The KU English graduate program indispensably supported my career trajectory. I really appreciated my time and mentors at KU, especially when I had been supported by my advisors and mentors to look into diverse careers outside of university structures. I was supported by mentors in my field, outside my field, and even outside of my department. I always attended alt-ac panels, workshops, courses, and events and applied for alt-ac, part-time jobs on campus and fellowships off campus. I set google alerts and subscribed to the Hall Center and Alumni Office’s alt-ac events. In addition, I worked at the Spencer Museum of Art as a communications assistant and was selected for a Hall Center Humanities Fellowship. These events and roles prepared me for my current career outside of the university.
I earned my PhD in Rhetoric and Composition in Spring 2020. I am currently a writer and editor for the USDA’s Economic Research Service, a statistical research agency that anticipates trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food access, the environment, and the rural United States."
"My time at KU in the Rhetoric and Composition program was incredible. I came into the program with a lot of questions, but not a clear sense of direction. Through studying and working with Drs. Mary Jo Reiff, Amy Devitt, Peter Grund, and Pritha Prasad, I found and fell in love with the world of technical communication. My research and teaching were supported from the beginning, and the learning environment was challenging but caring. For example, I appreciated 2C’s, the professionalization group for Rhetoric and Composition students, which prepared me for attending conferences, submitting articles, and going on the job market. In my current role as an Assistant Professor of Technical Communication at Utah Valley University, I draw on what I learned in the RC program daily as I support student learning, conduct research, and collaborate with colleagues. I look back on my time at KU with gratitude, and sometimes, I even miss walking the maze of Wescoe hallways."
"When I was considering two graduate programs, one deciding factor led me to wave the wheat at KU. One school sent my acceptance email addressed to Student #297492. No doubt this was a mistake, but it was also telling of how I would be perceived at that institution. Not two weeks later, I received a personal email from Dr. Maryemma Graham inviting me to join the program at KU. Later, I met Dr. Graham at a conference in Atlanta. At our initial meeting, she offered whatever support she could provide to allow me to make the most informed decision. I will never forget that. The next day, I decided to attend KU and became a Jayhawk. At KU, I was a person, an individual. That individuality was valued from Day One and even beyond the completion of my program. As a member of the KU Writing Center for three years of my program, I received experience and leadership opportunities that eventually led me to become Assistant Director of the CommLab at Georgia Tech and Director of the Writing Lab at Clemson. My dissertation committee was endlessly supportive, challenging me to become a writer and scholar who engaged with difficult stories, navigated challenges with care, and leaned into the 'I don't know.' The department's support of me and my work eventually led to my receiving the Richard and Jeanette Sias Fellowship at the Hall Center for the Humanities and subsequently, the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship at Georgia Tech. All of this taken together created an experience for which I am very grateful. No matter where I work in the future, I will always and forever be a Jayhawk-- proud to have learned and worked at KU."
"I am reminded of what an exceptional experience I had at KU whenever I speak to people about their MFA experiences elsewhere. Many have horror stories! I hear tales of loneliness, lack of mentorship, fierce and unfriendly competition, and even outright discouragement from which these creatives had to take time to recover. I've come to understand that the wonderful experience I had at KU is sadly not the norm.
When I think back to my time in the KU English department, I am hit with almost painful nostalgia. It was an incredibly nurturing and exciting time in my creative development. On top of being brilliant writers themselves, with so much knowledge and wisdom to share, my instructors were also kind and available and they got behind me and my work in ways I wouldn't have dared to hope for. I honestly do not know if I would have believed in myself and my project enough to get my first novel published (it's such a long, hard road) had I not received the incredible support and encouragement that I did from instructors like Laura Moriarty, Tom Lorenz, and Kij Johnson. Moreover, many of my instructors continued as mentors even beyond my time at KU, guiding me through the challenging process of landing the right literary agent, and negotiating a publishing deal. I knew they were so busy! Every time I reached out with a question, I was surprised by how quickly and eagerly they responded with invaluable insights and support.
My colleagues in the program also became dear friends and a rich source of creative support for life. This could only happen in an academic environment of kindness, humility, helpfulness and an earnest desire to see people succeed. Workshops were cozy and almost familial; we got excited about each other's work and celebrated all successes. My MFA friends and I are now scattered all over the country, but we still get together online to workshop our fiction, and they remain among my most trusted sources of feedback.
Beginning writers often ask me if I think an MFA is worth it. My answer is always something along the lines of, most MFAs? Probably not. The MFA program at the University of Kansas? I honestly couldn't think of a better, more fruitful way to spend three years growing in your craft."
"My journey at KU started as an adjunct lecturer teaching English 101. Having fallen in love with the department, I decided to apply to the doctoral program the following year and pursue a PhD in English literature, specializing in 14th / 15th century medieval literature. As a PhD student, I matured into a critical scholar, teacher, and communicator. I received personal support from my graduate mentors, Misty Schieberle and Geraldo Sousa, who cared not only about my academics but also my personal well-being. I also received professional development opportunities ranging from becoming a Graduate Summer Research Fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities to serving as an executive committee member for the Student Association of Graduates of English (SAGE). One of the most meaningful opportunities was working at the KU Writing Center in which I took on various roles including that of a graduate consultant, administrative intern, and workshop coordinator. Eventually, my administrative experience at the writing center, alongside my extensive teaching experience at KU, led me to pursue my current career as a writing center administrator at Rice University. I am forever thankful to the KU English Department and the professors and staff who supported my academic journey along the way."
"I think the best endorsement I can provide for KU's English PhD program is that in my current role as Director of Graduate Studies in the MA in English program at Marshall University (WV), I've encouraged almost every advisee who is planning on further graduate studies to consider applying to KU. This is because KU's grad program provided excellent support, opportunities for professionalization, world-class mentorship, and a strong foundation for my current academic career. The faculty and staff in the English department made me feel welcomed and valued from the moment of my acceptance into the program, and that network of support has extended beyond my graduation. I was encouraged by professors including Dr. Laura Mielke, Dr. Susan K. Harris, and Dr. Katie Conrad to revise my work and pursue opportunities to present and publish my research. Even faculty members I didn't have in class, like Dr. Misty Schieberle and Dr. Paul Outka, worked with me to hone my job market materials. I feel like my time as a doctoral student paved the way for my current success—in addition to serving as the DGS, I am a tenured associate professor of English at Marshall, and the current department associate chair."
"The graduate program in English at KU is phenomenal at preparing graduate students for their aspirations, whether scholarly research, public humanities, editorial work, or teaching. My time in the doctoral program was invaluable--I served as an assistant to the director of the creative writing program; various editorial positions, including editor-in-chief at the graduate student-run literary journal; a teaching assistant for first-year writing and creative writing courses; a graduate consultant at the writing center; an applied humanities intern for Humanities Kansas; and a fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities. These experiences were essential in finding a tenure-track position at Brevard College, a small liberal arts college where I teach various courses in creative writing and literature, closely mentor students, advise the undergraduate literary journal, and direct a national writers' conference. The high-caliber advising and mentorship from the graduate faculty, including Megan Kaminski and Misty Schieberle, made my five years in Lawrence incredibly worthwhile."