Introductory note from Macklin Smith (Undergraduate Chair 08-09)
Welcome to the Alumni Career Profile section of the English Department website. We created this section because we are curious to know what our graduates have gone on to do professionally. We also suspect that fellow alumni/ae may want to know what directions their peers have taken. Graduating seniors—faced with that pressing question, “What next?!”—definitely want to hear about what others in their position chose to do and how they did it. We also assume that Michigan students trying to decide on a major will be interested to know how people with an English degree have prospered in their careers. Those who have been in the working world for many years know that success in a career often results from a mixture of deliberate planning and the graceful incorporation of unforeseen experiences and opportunity. We believe these narratives will show a lively mixture of serendipity and strategy.
In our Department, we teach students about the English language—about its history as well as the ways artists and thinkers over many centuries and on many continents have used it to tell stories, fashion representations, and craft beauty. We teach students to read—and re-read—carefully, appreciatively, and critically. We expose students to multiple ways and stages of learning: in isolation with a pen and book as the investigation and, we hope, the fascination, begins; with other students in a group verbal exchange over interpretations; in a one-on-one discussion with faculty during office hours where an idea can be tried and challenged; and finally through writing and re-writing as students discipline their thoughts into precise diction and weight-bearing syntax. At these various stages, students watch—and make—meaning unfold; they come to appreciate that at every stage of an investigation, of ever-increasing awareness of an object of study, this object becomes richer, more intricate, and more remarkable. Students learn that knowledge is made through cycles of deepening attention and that it is never simply ‘down-loaded.’
With these skills of interpretation and articulation, our graduates have streamed out into the world in many directions. Some have become writers: journalists or producers of fiction and poetry. Some have turned their gifts of analysis and argumentation toward the law. Some have translated their capacity for diagnosis and communication into careers in medicine. Others have felt so at home in the classroom that they have become teachers and professors. Still others have gained insight into issues of social justice while reading texts in our courses, and have devoted themselves to creating a more just world.
We are very proud of what these graduates are doing. We hope that their stories will interest you as well.
If other alumni/ae have career histories you would like to communicate, we'd love to hear from you. For guidelines and to learn more about submitting a profile, please see our submission page.