Some of our recent DA graduates describe their current positions and how their experiences at Idaho State University prepared them for the future:
Assistant Professor of English at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio
I teach primarily writing courses: Journalism (intro), Linguistics, Technical Writing, (no freshman comp amazing!). I was hired primarily to be the “other” writing person in the department there are 4 of us, 2 lit and 2 writing, so it works out well. As advisor to the newspaper, I also teach a 1 credit Experiential learning and Newswriting course that essentially has students write for the newspaper. Down the road, it's possible that I will work in the Writing Across the Curriculum program as well the other faculty person responsible for that and I are talking about switching off on that so no one gets burned out.
ISU's DA program helped me prepare for this in a couple of ways:
1. At a small liberal arts college, the main focus is on teaching, so the DA's teaching focus and pedagogy courses and internships have all helped me prepare for the strong emphasis on teaching here at a small liberal arts college.
2. They needed a generalist since there's only 4 of us, we have to flexible, so the more varied courses I can teach, the better. ISU's DA program has helped me become a good generalist which adds to the flexibility of our department and creates variety in my teaching schedule.
Chair of the English Department at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington
We have 8 full time and about 30 part time faculty teaching composition, literature, journalism, and film. I teach composition, creative writing, some literature, and occasionally technical writing. I am also the coordinator of the Writing Across the Curriculum program, for which I conduct faculty workshops and maintain the WAC web page.
I believe my having graduated from ISU's DA program, with its emphasis on pedagogy, was attractive to the hiring committee in fact, members of that committee told me so. Also, since I concentrated a part of my studies at ISU on composition theory and technology in the classroom, I was able to bring pertinent experience and current scholarship to the department. This was not an accident; in fact, I read the position openings in the Chronicle of Higher Education and as I planned my DA studies with my advisors, I tailored my interests to the needs of the colleges seeking instructors. I think the flexibility the DA offers, along with the opportunity to develop in several areas, is a program strength.
Assistant Professor of English at The Sage Colleges, with primary
assignment to Russell Sage College for Women in Troy, New York
While I am officially in the English Department as the American Literature specialist, I was hired with the understanding that I would also supervise student teachers for the Education Division, teach English methods, and be a liaison between English and Education. I am now Co Chair of the Council for Education, which oversees a new Master of Arts in Teaching. As the MAT program gets underway, I will be teaching two graduate English courses: one in advanced writing and one on the literary canon, both with a pedagogical emphasis. My background going into the DA program included several years of teaching middle school and an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education and English, so that, coupled with the pedagogical emphasis of the DA, made an excellent match for this position. It also didn't hurt that the President of The Sage Colleges, Dr. Jeanne Neff, has a DA in English, and the State University of New York at Albany had one of the original DA programs, along with ISU.
At ISU, I was able to develop an interest in American frontier and romance literature that enabled me to carve out a bit of specialization along with what is essentially a generalist's degree. This combination has proven helpful for a small college such as Sage, where I have already team taught one course in an interdisciplinary women's studies program and never know when I may need to step out of my primary teaching area to fill a void.
At ISU, I also had the opportunity as a graduate student to serve on one university wide and three departmental committees, and this experience has proven invaluable. ISU is much larger than Sage, but for me, it was small enough that I felt like an integral part of the department as a graduate student and was able to develop a collegial sense that has helped immensely in my current position.
Technical writing instructor at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL)
I am charged with preparing and teaching a series of courses in technical writing, in addition to courses in writing technical proposals and in making professional presentations. Writing skills are valued highly here because writing affects all aspects of the Institutional Plan and cuts across all organizations at the INEEL: from writing clear operating procedures to publishing in peer reviewed journals to bringing in more research dollars through successful proposals.
To benefit the surrounding community, the INEEL (with the Department of Energy and other organizations) sponsored my workshop in grant writing for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes at Fort Hall. Again with INEEL sponsorship and as affiliate faculty for the University of Idaho, I teach a graduate/undergraduate course, “Winning Technical Proposals,” part of U of I's Engineering Management curriculum. And as a result of the exposure in the engineering field, I have been invited to teach a seminar in writing proposals at the summer 2002 conference of one of the largest professional technical societies in the U.S., the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
For a committed and enthusiastic teacher of writing, work doesn't get any better than this. Thanks to the DA's rigorous curriculum, I have a deeper understanding of the English language and the usefulness of techniques from applied linguistics such as the given new principle that influence the courses I teach. My coursework external to the English Department in corporate training prepared me for teaching in industry and lent credibility to my resume. You may be wondering about the value of the majority of courses in the program; i.e., the DA's coursework in literature. These courses give invaluable lessons about the nature of the human creature, the political and emotional issues I deal with every day as a teacher and employee in a hierarchical organization. Continued reading of good literary prose also ensures that my standards for written English remain high. I strongly recommend the DA as the most versatile doctorate in the discipline of English. The DA prepares us to excel in two quite different areas: teaching literature and composition at the college level or teaching writing skills in business and industry.
Assistant Professor at Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon
This is exactly the kind of position I hoped to find as I entered the DA program at ISU. The flexible but rigorous program of study at ISU has thoroughly prepared me to teach effectively at a small, four year Christian college. The administration at Multnomah has repeatedly expressed to me their respect for ISU's DA English degree, and they followed through by hiring Domani Pothen in 1999. For me, the ISU DA degree was a perfect fit, allowing me freedom to construct a personally fulfilling program of study and preparing me to secure a wonderful position at Multnomah. I have no regrets about pursuing the DA in English at Idaho State, and I have encouraged several of my students to consider entering the MA program there. Without hesitation, I would do it all again if it were necessary. Our time in Pocatello was memorable and significant both of our children were born while I was in school, and we loved living in the campus area of Pocatello.
In short, entering the DA program at ISU was one of the best career decisions I have ever made.
Teaches English and philosophy at Brigham Young University—Idaho
The doctoral program at ISU not only allowed me to fill previous gaps in my graduate education in English, but also prepared me, through its interdisciplinary approach, to teach philosophy at the introductory level. The interdisciplinary and pedagogical elements in the Doctor of Arts degree prepare graduate students for the broad demands they will encounter as faculty at community and liberal arts colleges.
I began the program in '94 with Dr. Attebery’s enjoyable science fiction class taught during the summer. Since the DA program offers seminars as night classes, I pursued the degree while teaching full time. I completed the doctoral degree in 1998, writing doctoral papers on Christopher Marlowe's plays (a paper that I presented at the Marlowe Society of America's International Conference in Cambridge, England) and on peer evaluation in the composition classroom (a paper presented at CCCC's in Atlanta, Georgia).
The Doctor of Arts degree prepared me for a fulfilling professional career.
Assistant Professor of Humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona
As a generalist in the College of Arts and Sciences, I teach a variety of courses: freshman composition, business communication/technical writing, literature, and creative writing. This year I am teaching two religion courses. I also tutor writing and am working with colleagues to develop writing activities across the curriculum throughout the university.
The interdisciplinary and teaching components in the DA program were a good match for my background and interests all along, but also helped prepare me to be comfortable teaching a variety of courses and “wear many hats” in a small campus setting. The fact that I had a chance to take a pedagogy course in teaching business and professional writing AND teach these courses before I left ISU gave me an edge for the job I have now.
Teaches at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington
My current position includes teaching a wide range of courses something the DA Program clearly prepared me for. I regularly teach Literature of the Pacific Rim, Non Western Literature and Film (a coordinated studies course), Renaissance Florence and Twentieth Century Montreal (humanities courses that focus on significant cities), Canadian Literature, Shakespeare, English 91 (Basic Writing), English 101, and English 102.
The DA Program in English was the perfect degree for getting a job at a community college, and its broad based approach has allowed me to fit into an established department here; in particular, the flexibility of the program of studies at ISU left me in a position to carve out my niche here at TCC (and at Northwest College in Wyoming where I was previously). The most important part of the DA Program in preparing me for my current position, however, was the emphasis on pedagogy. DA course work in pedagogy prepared me for college teaching from basic writing to the various genre and humanities courses I now teach.
Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho
I graduated with a DA in English in 1990, with interdisciplinary graduate course work in the Department of Foreign Languages, in Spanish, French and German literatures, and with teaching internships in English Composition and Spanish language and literature. I teach all periods of Latin American Literature, though by default I now specialize in Colonial and 19th Century Latin America. As a scholar, I'm still a generalist, having published and read papers on topics ranging from comparative Renaissance Drama and Colonial/Neocolonial Latin American politics and history, to contemporary women writers and Mexican mystery novels.
Probably the most important legacy of my DA training is its adaptability for teaching. In 1989, it would never have occurred to me in Larry Rice's course on 17th Century writers that John Donne's “Valediction Forbidding Mourning” could be handy tool for teaching undergraduates how to unravel the densely knotted threads of the Mexican Baroque in the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Or that a decade later, in a Senior Honors course on literary translation, I would be using Ford Swetnam's technique for helping students learn to hear the formal music in poetry by having them compose poems within the constraints imposed by each verse form in its original language. Or that so many of strategies I learned for teaching English composition would apply equally well to Spanish, not only to composition, but to second language acquisition in general. And, speaking of adaptability, who would have thought that one could become an Associate Professor of Spanish with a Doctor of Arts in English? It seems to me that this kind of general flexibility, achieved without sacrificing the depth of treatment in core courses in English literature, constitutes a major strength of the interdisciplinary component of the DA.