Ohio Wesleyan graduates go on to do great things, pursuing exciting careers in teaching, writing, and public policy, to name a few. Some have chosen graduate study at such schools as Columbia, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, New York University, the University of Colorado, the University of Iowa, The Ohio State University, and the film school at the University of Southern California. Others have attended law school, or used their skills in business or the nonprofit sector, or teach secondary education, or work for the Ohio House of Representatives. Still others are published writers of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, a recent recipient of the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, and a writer and performer whose debut solo play — developed in creative nonfiction courses — has since been performed at sold-out shows in New York City. Our graduates have become editors at such publishers as Random House, McGraw-Hill, and Little, Brown, and at magazines such as the Paris Review, the New York Review of Books, the Village Voice, Poets & Writers, and even America’s Test Kitchen. What will you do with your degree?
Kate Shannon, '08
Kate Shannon (’08), in a behind-the-scenes shot during the testing of beef broths for America’s Test Kitchen
"After graduation, I got a job through the French Ministry of Education and spent a year teaching high school English in a little town in southwestern France. From there, I moved to Boston and enrolled in a Master's program in English at Boston College. I was studying literature but figured out pretty quickly that I wanted to go into food writing instead of staying in academia. I did a short culinary program at Boston University, then worked as a line cook at a popular seafood restaurant and did some freelance writing before applying for full-time journalism jobs. I'm now an editor at America's Test Kitchen. It's a dream come true for a writer who likes to cook. The company has two magazines, two cooking shows on public television, and a whole slew of cookbooks. Some parts of it look a lot like any office, but we also have a 2500 square foot test kitchen that is always full of activity. It's also the only place I know with a paging system to notify employees when there's a tasting of things like chocolate caramel cake or pulled pork sandwiches.
I work on the Tastings and Testings team, which is kind of like Consumer Reports for kitchen ingredients and equipment. In the past two years, I've reviewed everything from smoothie blenders and ice cream makers to beef broth and apricot jam. My team's goals are to figure out what works (and why!) and warn against products that are poorly made, ineffective, or unnecessary. Although I spend about half of my time in the kitchen, no day goes by that I am not grateful for my time in the English department. ATK is very collegial and each piece of writing goes through a rigorous editing process. My professors at OWU prepared me well by teaching me to express myself clearly and to embrace feedback instead of running from it or pushing back against it. It's incredibly valuable, whether I'm chatting about my discoveries in the kitchen or writing articles for the magazines. If I could go back to OWU and do it all over again, there's not a doubt in my mind that I'd major in English."
Ben Owen, '08
Ben Owen (’08), now a George Mason School of Law graduate, represents cases of workplace harassment
“After graduation, I moved to the Washington, DC area and taught seventh grade English/Language Arts before attending the George Mason University School of Law, graduating in 2013. I was then admitted to the Virginia State Bar and joined The Erlich Law Office, PLLC. My boss, Josh, started the firm in 2012. I joined in 2013 and we added a third attorney, Davia Craumer, in 2014. Together, we practice mainly plaintiff-side employment law, representing people who have been discriminated against or harassed at work or who have been denied minimum wages or overtime. We also have a robust civil rights practice, largely focusing on police and prison brutality.
My English degree at OWU really prepared me for the demands of writing and oral advocacy that are essential to being a litigator. I take point on many first drafts of briefs and other court documents we write, and I have OWU and the English Department to thank for my strong writing and rhetorical skills. My writing is the skill of which I am most proud, and I count my English studies at OWU among the chief reasons for that skill.
All of my classes with the brilliant Drs. Hipsky, DeMarco, and Poremski were central to my development as a writer and as a thinker, but Dr. DeMarco's Medieval Literature was probably the class that most changed the way I thought about the world. Considering the Crusades from the point of view of Saladin and his men showed me that things can be quite different from how we may be led to believe by those who shape history and the media. Dr. Poremski's Early and Native American Literature classes similarly encouraged me to consider perspectives outside the ones presented by society as the dominant or primary perspectives. Dr. Hipsky's Modern and Contemporary British Literature classes, meanwhile, honed my writing by forcing me to make succinct points in just two pages while considering great and challenging literature in recent history.”
Marlon Frisby, '09
Marlon Frisby (’09), a fiction writer in Brooklyn, earned an MFA from Columbia and has written two novels
“After graduation, I left for New York to intern at publishing houses and eventually get an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, School of the Arts. I've worked in a couple public relations and marketing roles, first as an Account Supervisor and next as Marketing Manager. During my post-MFA life in Brooklyn I've written two novel manuscripts and am working with an agent on getting the most recent one published (fingers crossed!). For fun I perform and record alternative hip-hop.
I believe taking Dr. Hipsky's Modern and Contemporary British Literature courses was one of his most impactful experiences at OWU. Our English professors taught me everything I needed to know for the next step of my education."
Christopher Green, '10
“After graduation, I received my Master's in Health Administration and Education from the University of Phoenix and am now finishing the final months of my Doctorate in Education at Capella University. I've been working in the fields of social work and education for over five years. Currently, I'm a Manager for Campus Scheduling at Cuyahoga Community College. I've worked with the college for almost four years in a couple capacities and have enjoyed my overall experience as a higher education professional.
I've been able to communicate in an effective manner with a wide variety of stakeholders including faculty, staff, students, administrators, and many others through writing and interpersonal communication. Also, I utilize critical and analytical thinking processes when making important decisions that influence the institution I'm charged with managing; in particular, I play a role in regular campus scheduling, which includes providing well-written correspondences about changes, issues, and other related matters to college executives and staff. The first experience that impacted me was the opportunity as a sophomore to study abroad in Tanzania with Dr. Randolph Quaye. The English professor and class that impacted me the most was Dr. Michelle Disler's James Bond class. The class infused the use of James Bond novels and movies; I enjoyed that class because it incorporated a creative learning style that was foreign to me, and I will never forget it. Also, Dr. Disler was a very eccentric, yet down-to-earth, professor and I connected with her as an English major."
Brit Graham, '12
“Since graduating from OWU I've written and designed advertisements for a start-up in the South Florida heat, slung raw chicken in the back of a smudged neon-flickering gas station dropped in the middle of South Dakota. I've tromped across the rusted earth of South Carolina and obtained my MFA in Poetry under the tutelage of Denise Duhamel, Suzanne Cleary, Richard Tillinghast, and Rick Mulkey, encouraged by our own Professor Olmstead. Since graduating in 2014, I've led a writer's group and taught a few poetry workshops during our blustering winters. I contribute as a guest blogger to South85 and am a recipient of the Kraken Award from Devilfish Review.
The English department provided me with a wide array of skills and eccentricities that prepared me for future endeavors. Professor Poremski pushed me to research harder, that the answer, however illusive, was out there somewhere. Professor Disler revealed an entire genre. Professor Caplan taught me what remained unsaid echoed just as loud as the words smeared across the page. And Professor Olmstead taught me much, not just about writing, but about the conditions and characteristics of people and their fickle natures, those both fictional and real. Sharon Schrader taught me to trust myself. They demonstrated the happy benefits and slight shortcomings of English, they taught me how to observe, how to maintain a sense of self and independence, determination and persistence. Daylighting as a Portfolio Representative at our local bank and writing under the table, their advice and guidance has been invaluable in treating others on this planet with the utmost respect and care.
My background at OWU's English department altered my perspective of our language. A word, a phrase can be a weapon or a beauty. Most times the thing is both. I didn't realize the extent of that duality until I stepped into their classrooms. The department didn't quell my questions or stopper my curiosity. They propped open the floodgates."
Kelsey Kerstetter, '12
“After serving as an intern in OWU's President's Office for a year, I took a job as a Career Advisor for OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. I use my English major every single day. I work with students regarding their resumes, cover letters, letters of intent, personal statements, developing interviewing skills, and other business communication skills. I am also in charge of our bi-annual newsletter for alumni and employers, so researching and writing relevant news stories is a large part of my job. I enjoy everything that I do, and I am lucky enough to have a degree that is transferable across so many different fields.
It is hard to pick just one class or professor that influenced me because there were so many! I would say the experience I learned the most from was serving on the English Student Board, because it gave me an opportunity to take on a leadership role in the department and work closely with so many different professors as well as Sharon Schrader, who keeps the English Department running so smoothly! I still stay in touch with Nancy Comorau and Karen Poremski and they continue to be mentors and role models for me, but every single class and professor taught me something new. There is so much to be thankful for as an English major, and I know I would not be successful today without the skills I developed as a member of the Ohio Wesleyan English Department."
Ryan Lark, ’13
"After graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C. for an internship with Senator Kelly Ayotte, then was hired as a staff assistant before being promoted to my current position as a legislative correspondent. Having earned an English degree at OWU, I could not be better prepared for my current career path. The critical thinking, analysis, and writing skills that I developed throughout my time with the English Department provided me with an adaptable set of skills. As a result of the unique skills I learned, I am more capable at drafting legislation, writing letters, and researching and reacting to international events.
All of the professors I studied under provided me with invaluable learning experiences. However, I would like to specifically mention my advisor while studying at OWU, Nancy Comorau. Nancy helped to guide my path through the English department and always made time to help me with a paper or assignment I was struggling with. Most importantly, she was always willing to listen and provide advice to me during my senior year at OWU as I worked to figure out my career path after school. Her guidance, along with the total experience I gained from the English department at OWU, helped propel a successful start to my career."
Kit Balay, ’14
"After graduating, I worked as an IT Specialist in retail for a Fortune 500 company before landing a very different kind of role. My team worked against some crazy deadlines, but we somehow managed to equip all 3,000 specialty stores with point of sale devices in time for Christmas 2014--only for me to turn around and begin overseeing overnight installs of traffic cameras. When that project ended last fall, I ended up getting a more permanent role at a marketing firm in Columbus as a business development analyst, which is much more in line with my interests. I'm not happy unless I'm writing reports!
Being an English major (particularly an English major from Ohio Wesleyan) meant I had to have diverse interests, and experience in a number of different fields. More importantly, a firm understanding of how human beings communicate has been valuable in every role I've held. Every English professor at OWU deserves a shout out of some kind, but Dr. Mark Allison and his Writing Essays course were by far the most influential on my career. Dr. Allison taught me that it's better to edit with scissors than a pen, and his deadpan sense of humor always helped me take myself less seriously."
Mackenzie Conway, ’12
“I’m currently the Marketing & Development Associate at the Ohio Physician Health Program (OPHP), a non-profit in downtown Columbus. During the first 6 months in the position, I worked with our Executive Director and a Fundraising Consultant to create a 5-year Marketing and Development plan. I am the first in-house, full-time marketing/ development person on staff at OPHP so we were really creating my position along with developing goals and direction for the organization. Day-to-day I work with the Executive Director to develop marketing materials such as annual reports, newsletters, and brochures. I am responsible for maintaining relationships with current donors, researching potential donors, and establishing relationships with community stakeholders. I also coordinate OPHP's educational outreach programs throughout the state of Ohio.
My office is small. There are only seven of us. I have always come alive in small groups, so a small, intimate office is perfect for me. I often feel I would get lost and distracted at a large company. Another thing that I love is working at a non-profit. The work is rewarding and each day we are making a difference in the lives of our clients. I imagine my whole career I will stay in the non-profit sector for this reason.
I enjoyed all of my English classes at OWU to be honest. What I really loved was the group of students that I got to know in the classes. We had such unique interests in language and literature, which was so inspiring. I truly feel I learned just as much from my peers in my English classes as I did from professors or books. One thing that was unique to my English degree was that I paired it with a major in psychology. I would encourage any current OWU student that either has double interests or is not sure what he/ she is exactly interested in to pursue a double or even triple major. OWU makes it easy to combine and even create majors."
Diane Bizzaro, ’12
“After graduation, I moved to New York City and began a job with Indeed.com, managing a team of 6 people in the Client Services department. Clear communication (both written and verbal) are keys to this job, and my experiences presenting and developing a clear writing style at OWU have helped prepare me for my current role. Managing is all about communicating effectively and working to motivate others. All of the novels I read and papers I wrote at OWU investigating the human condition of different characters has paid off. This has helped me to figure out what makes my team members tick. I love the amount of collaboration that happens everyday at Indeed. Things are constantly changing here, and it's exciting to work for an innovative company in the Technology / HR space. If you have an idea, people are open to hearing it, and we'll work to make it happen. Creativity and new projects are encouraged rather than dismissed or frowned upon.
All of my OWU English classes have helped prepare me for my current job. It's surprising how many people simply don't have quality writing skills these days — even my colleagues that I respect and look up to! The communication skills I learned — from group projects, presentations, and writing and rewriting many drafts of papers — have helped me to succeed in my company and life in general (forming strong relationships with friends and colleagues!)"
Lauren Foote, ’14
“After graduation, I joined Teach for America (TFA) in Memphis teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at an elementary school. I use my English major every day whether in communicating with my administration or teaching an ESL class.
Since I am working to help fight social inequality in the education system and provide underprivileged students with quality and an identity affirming education, I am often very careful about the texts I select for my classroom. I think back to conversations I had about the power of multiple narratives and the importance of valuing literature outside of the canon in Dr. Comorau's postcolonial literature classes and Dr. Poremski's "Native American Literature" and "Women in Literature" class when making these decisions.
As my time as a TFA corps members is drawing to a close and I look to transition into leadership develop in educational nonprofits, I know that the skills I learned from my English Literature studies at OWU have prepared me to take on this new challenge. My classes helped me to grow academically and to critically evaluate the texts and information that is presented to me."
Sam Walter, ’14
“After graduation, I attended Kent State University in Kent, OH to pursue my Master’s in Higher Education Administration. Following graduate school, I accepted a position at Ball State University in Muncie, IN as an Academic Advisor in the Freshman Advising Center. My job entails working with college freshmen to determine their academic, career, and personal goals, and how those goals translate to their everyday lives and course schedules at Ball State.
OWU’s English Department was invaluable in my preparation for graduate work, and even the work I do now at BSU. The writing, critical reading, and technical skills I gained in the program have propelled me forward academically and professionally. A special thank you, however, goes to Dr. Patricia DeMarco for igniting my interest in all things medieval literature. My students seem to enjoy the bookshelf in my office that is dedicated to texts from her many courses."