Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recent Graduate Thrives in Higher Education Master's Program

By Erika Gallion, class of 2013

As an undergraduate English and Creative Writing major at Ashland, I knew I was going to have to think
eventually about graduate school. Majoring in what I loved as an undergraduate is a decision I did not regret and still do not regret at all. Getting to do what I loved the most for four years with professors and peers who also held similar passions was a privilege I will remember and treasure forever.

Working within the Admissions office at Ashland for four years introduced me to a career I never before knew existed: Student Affairs. I loved my on-campus job; it gave me crucial leadership and interpersonal communication skills. What I enjoyed the most, however, was actively helping someone make an important life decision. Hearing that I had impacted a potential student’s college decision gave me satisfaction, and when I realized I could do this as a career (mostly by inquiring as to what my supervisors held degrees in), I began looking for programs.

From my experience thus far as a first year master’s student within Kent State University’s Higher Education Administration & Student Personnel program, my past as an English major has been essential to my success within graduate level work. Graduate school expects students to know how to write well, a skill that is (sadly) very scarce amongst college graduates. Classmates within my master’s program seem intimidated and insecure about paper assignments whereas I feel confident and even excited to utilize my skills. I also feel some hesitation when class involves open discussion—coming from an English background, however, I am used to and happy to engage in discussion. My experience as an English major has given me academic skills needed to succeed in any graduate program, especially one such as mine that includes interpersonal skills, confidence in participating within class and/or group settings, and strong writing capabilities.

I have decided to specialize in Internationalization within Higher Education for my Master’s degree, a decision also rooted in my love of literature. With this focus, I will hopefully one day have a career as an Education Abroad advisor or a director of International Student Services at a university. Confronting social justice issues such as racism and immigration is something I began to do in my English classes. It’s amazing how much a book can truly change and inspire you. Travel and culture have become fundamental to my identity, and I can say with complete truthfulness that this transformation began in English classes at Ashland. I miss my English classes daily and often long to read Invisible Man again and discuss it for class, but I am confident that this path I am now on will be rewarding and fulfilling. I encourage anyone to major in English if he or she loves the subject. It will not only captivate your interest but will also revolutionize the way you think and potentially shift the very core beliefs within you. Thank you to the entire English department at Ashland—you have truly changed my life. Best of luck to all!