Alumni Stories: Melanie Griffith

Melanie Griffith graduated from Saint Rose in December 2008 with a B.A. in English and a minor in writing. She received her M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2011. One of the highlights of her  experience at Saint Lawrence was working with the writer Jo Anne Beard. While at Saint Lawrence, she completed  her Master’s thesis entitled “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Dead,” which consisted of personal essays and other forms of Creative Nonfiction.

Pieces from her thesis were published in PANK and the online publication Connotation Press.  Upon graduating, she moved to the Bronx and was hired to reach first-year composition as an adjunct professor at SUNY Purchase and the College of Mount Saint Vincent.  This year, she started her studies in Writing and Culture PhD program at Louisiana State University. We recently spoke with Melanie over email about teaching and her experience at Saint Rose.

On the experience of teaching at a young age.

Teaching college at 23 was absolutely the most frightening thing I’ve ever attempted, but in what seemed like no time I quickly realized it had the potential to be the most awesome job ever. I started to have a little bit of a perspective concerning the enthusiasm and dedication of some of my English professors at Saint Rose—when your passionate about writing, the best job you could ever hope to have, in my opinion, is teaching writing. My experience as a teacher and a writer inspired an interest in English education, composition reform, autobiography/essay, digital literacy, and the intersections of creative and academic writing.

What led you to getting your M.F.A in Creative Nonfiction?

Professor Dainel Nester is the person who planted the MFA seed in my head—I have no doubt that my life would have taken a very different path had I not taken his class and gotten to know him, and I would put Dr. Megan Fulwiler in that category, too.  Both of them have the unique role in my life as people whose influence is absolutely palpable. Studying with those professors, and many other amazing teachers in the English Department (notably Dr. Kim Middleton and Dr. Vaneeta Palecanda), without a doubt changed the trajectory of my life, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Memories of Saint Rose.

Saint Rose employs some of the best English faculty there is, and having studied and worked in several English departments around the country at this point only reaffirms this belief.  While no experience is perfect, I can’t imagine having any better foundation than the one the faculty members at Saint Rose provided for me.  Those individual professors probably won’t ever be able to fully comprehend how indebted I am to them.

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