Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Haven Awarded Djerassi Foundation Residency

From the AU News Center: "Dr. Stephen Haven, professor of English and director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Ashland University, has been awarded a residency in poetry for the fall of 2014 by the Djerassi Foundation, the largest artist residency program in the Western United States and considered among the best in the country." Read the full article here

Congratulations, Steve!

English Professor Takes Honors Class on the Shawshank Trail

Dr. Maura Grady with the Honors 390 class at the Ohio State Reformatory
By Erika Gallion, English and Creative Writing major
Props from The Shawshank Redemption

During the first section of Honors 390 this semester, Dr. Maura Grady introduced the class to the study of fan culture. The timing couldn’t have been better for this section: Mansfield and Ashland would soon be teeming with fans because of the Shawshank Trail’s 20th Reunion. The Shawshank Trail is an annual opportunity for fans of the film The Shawshank Redemption to gather in certain filming locations around Mansfield and Ashland. The trail was expected to be extremely busy this year because of its 20-year reunion, therefore inspiring Dr. Grady to conduct research on the basis of The Shawshank Redemption’s fan culture.
Touring the Reformatory

On the first day of the Shawshank Trail, I went with three other classmates to survey fans visiting the Ohio State Reformatory. The survey asked fans questions regarding their interests in visiting filming locations, their topmost desires for visiting Mansfield and/or Ashland, and how important the film was to the fan’s everyday life. During my research, I met a family from Illinois who were die-hard fans, locals who were simply interested in the prison itself, and a man who acted as an extra in the film (he had a folder full of pictures from the set—so cool!). The fans I met did not seem to be like one another; rather, Shawshank fans were widespread and unpredictable. This movie spoke to all kinds of fans, therefore attracting both genders, multiple age groups, and people from any profession.

Through this project, I discovered that fan culture is stereotyped way too often. The word fan has a connotation of being nerdy, introverted, and obsessive, but as I got to know Shawshank fans, I discovered the truth: fans are anyone who have a passion for a specific thing that has impacted their lives. I think it’s a good thing to be a fan- I know I’m a fan for a lot of things, The Shawshank Redemption being one of them!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dr. Weaver's Russian Novel Course Featured on Core Curriculum Blog

Dr. Russell Weaver's Russian Novel (English 370) course has been featured on the AU Core Curriculum blog. Read about it here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alumni Spotlight: Jillian (Messner) Kitts

Advice for Future Teachers from Someone Who's Been There…
By Jillian (Messner) Kitts, Integrated Language Arts Major

Stressed about student teaching? Not sure where your future in education is heading after graduation? Well, let me tell you about my experience.

During my very first lesson as a student teacher at Wooster High School, I had the privilege of working with two senior British Literature classes. The first lesson I taught was how to write a Shakespearean sonnet. For homework, the students had to write a sonnet of their own about anything they wanted.

To my surprise, when I collected the sonnets the next day in class, three senior boys had written me love sonnets. My all-time favorite sonnet included a line about how this particular senior boy had been “Messner-ized” by me. I then proceeded to congratulate this student on his clever pun.

For some student teachers, this may have been an embarrassing moment. But for me, I couldn’t help but find it anything other than comical. There is definitely a fine line between the student/teacher relationship. This line is even trickier when a teacher is young and just starting his or her career. However, the key here is to humor the students for a brief moment and then move on with your lesson.

This is something I learned during my very first lesson as a student teacher. I know it seems like student teaching is the most intimidating aspect of the impending future. But in all honesty, it is what you make it. If you go into student teaching with a terrified outlook, scrutinizing over your every lesson plan, then yes, your students will be able to tell, and they will pick on you. But, if you learn to enter into teaching with an open and flexible mind, then you will find that you learn just as much as your students.

In terms of my experiences at AU, I learned that teachers serve as bridges for their students. Nikos Kazantzakis once said that “true teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

By acting as this metaphorical bridge, my AU professors gave me the scaffolding I needed to progress until I could take the next step on my own. However, taking that next step meant that I had to reach out to my professors outside of class.

Do not be afraid to approach your professors before or after class. Email them, call them, stop by their office, utilize them in any way you can. Ask them to proofread your papers, write you a letter of recommendation, recommend possible graduate schools, or share about their own personal experiences. Overall, professors are there to help you whether it’s in relation to your education or your future career.

In terms of my job search process, I was blessed enough to land a teaching position three weeks after graduation. I attribute my success to extensive networking with any possible connection I could find within my teaching district. While not everyone will find a job three weeks after graduation, you have to be proactive in your job search. It’s often more about who you know rather than what you know. In addition to networking, it’s important to make sure you’re well prepared for the interview.

During my time at AU, I found many helpful resources provided by the Career Center that benefitted me in my interview. I attended a presentation on how to conduct oneself in an interview. During this presentation, I took extensive notes which I referred back to when I prepared for my teaching interview. After reviewing these notes, I felt more confident and prepared to answer any and every question my interviewers threw at me.

 Additionally, I did a mental recap of all the pertinent classes I took throughout my time at AU. I tried to pick out at least one or two important aspects of each class that I could relay in an interview. These mental bullet points proved to be a huge help in the interview process.
So in closing, here’s my advice: be a bridge for your students; act as a scaffold until they are ready to leave the nest and build bridges of their own. And lastly, network, network, network! It will land you a job in the end!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Alumni Spotlight: Scott Hazen

By Scott Hazen, Class of 1993, Creative Writing major
Scott Hazen enjoying the Firestone Golf Championship in Akron
Since graduating I have worked in Supply Chain for Sprint, Medcentral, Summa Health in Akron and OhioHealth in Columbus.  My specialty has been Enterprise Resource Planning systems and integrating processes and third part systems. ERP systems are large multi-functional software applications used in business to integrate processes, such as Human Resources, Supply Chain, Finance, Accounting, Inventory, Payables, etc.  These business applications would normally operate independently with interfaces trading data from application to application.  ERP systems put all those processes together and reduce or eliminate interfacing.

Third party systems are called bolt on systems for ERP, mainly for functions not fully developed in the ERP system.  I work primarily with PeopleSoft, an Oracle product, and while it is a good system, there's not a robust application for things like receiving, transportation, or inventory usage.  So third party systems are brought in to enhance that functionality.  My role is to coordinate all the technical and functional resources to make those third party systems work for Supply Chain.

In 2004 I was appointed to Mansfield City Council and won two elections, in 2005 and 2009.  The tools and experience I gained through Ashland have been invaluable in my professional and community service.  The ability to clearly communicate my positions, speak publicly, and clearly articulate business requirements have given me an edge with my goals and  ability to complete intricate projects.   In 2008 I completed my M.A. In Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga.  

So many of my professors at Ashland made a great impact on my life and future that looking back it is amazing to me how prescient and forward thinking they were.  I spent so much time in Dr. Stein's class, I think I read more than I wrote.  I got a kick out of his dry sense of humor and his quirky viewpoints.  He was really a nice guy and turned me on to a lot of authors I read to this day. Dr. McGovern was also a tremendous influence.  He was a gifted teacher, and could easily engage his classes in conversation.  Looking back we thought we spent more time chatting than working, but it was by design.  When the class was over we dissected the subject matter and dove headlong into the thought processes of the writer.  He was both challenging and inspiring.

I remember my classmates and the cameraderie we had together, along with the conversations, banter, and the excitement of new classes, new books, and new challenges every semester.  We had a fun group—we worked hard, but we also enjoyed our time at Ashland.

I hope that current students will be shaped by the department in the same way it has influenced me.  The lifetime love I have for literature has served me well, and has translated nicely into critical thinking and research skills in a professional environment.