Category Archives: Alumni Updates

English Major Mikayla Consalvo

What can you do with a degree in English?

Mikayla Consalvo, English major, ’12:

Mikayla started at Saint Rose unsure of her major, but certain she wanted to improve the lives of children. An internship at the New York State Assembly sparked her interest in changing the juvenile justice system, so she began thinking of a career in law. Mikayla majored in English and had three minors, she swept the College’s top awards in English, writing, and gender studies. Now, Mikayla is a the New York University Law School, where she was awarded a full-tuition scholarship.

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Our Recent MA Graduates.

In a survey, 80% of alumni respondents indicated that they are employed in an area that draws on the skills developed in their graduate studies at The College of Saint Rose.  We spoke recently to a couple of our graduates.  Here’s a sample of what they say.

Emily LaPointe, Communications Coordinator at Northern Contours: “I know that pursuing and earning my MA in English has enriched my life and emilywas a big factor in being hired for my current job. . . .  It’s something that precedes me in almost all introductions: ‘This is Emily. She has a couple of English degrees.’ It has given me confidence and credibility when it comes to a lot of the tasks associated with my job. . . .  I just always felt like my career options were really open if I had degrees in English. . . . My boss just said to me a couple weeks ago, ‘Man, I never knew how much we needed a writer around here!’ Score one for English majors! . . . I think the person I am today is largely a product of my course of study in English.”

Kelly Weiss, Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional at The College Experience Program:  “My English graduate study imbued me with kellya sense of confidence that I simply did not have before my experience at St. Rose. . . .  After graduation I began working at the College Experience Program, which is an innovative educational opportunity for students with disabilities.  The determination, self-discipline, time management, and advanced writing skills that I learned during my graduate studies proved to be invaluable to me at my current job. Much of my professional work involves writing and teaching. My experiences in the classroom as a student gave me the practical experience I needed to succeed. Ultimately, my time at Saint Rose turned out to be more meaningful for my career than I initially realized.

MA Alumni Update w/ Lauren Davis

Interview with MA Alumni Lauren Davis by Rachel Simonds

Q: When did you graduate? With what degree?

I graduated in May 2014 with my Masters of Arts in English. (Undergrad is 2012 with a Bachelor’s of\Arts in English Adolescent Education).

Q: What career were you looking for when you graduated?

After graduating, I was looking for subbing positions in local middle and high schools in this area, assuming that permanent teaching positions were hard to come by. During the search, I found there was an opening at St. Pius X for a Literature teacher and was hired for that.

Q: What are you currently doing?

I am currently teaching Literature to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.

Q: How has your education helped or hindered you?

My education has helped me in a number of ways. Aside from helping build my own skills in reading and writing analytically and broadening my knowledge of literary topics and texts, it has also helped me gain an understanding of the types of skills that students can and should be developing early in their academic careers in order to prepare them for their future goals inside and outside the classroom.

I found during my own experiences studying literature in college that there were important skills that I needed that I had never formally learned. For instance, if you look at my books from my freshman year of college, its clear that I had never been taught how to annotate texts properly. I highlighted anything and everything, but I never wrote notes in my texts. Of course, I was practicing important skills like inferencing, connecting, visualizing, and analyzing as I read, but I had no idea how to translate that into viable notes that I could use later on. I also wasn’t really sure how to explain what exactly I was doing in my head. I was close reading, but I didn’t know that it was called close reading, and I didn’t know how to discuss it. While my own students are obviously not going to be analyzing literature in the same way that college freshman are, I am teaching them to annotate and we regularly work on making inferences and drawing conclusions from the clues in our texts. We focus heavily on authors’ purposes when writing and how that shapes their works. I also try to keep them writing and using evidence to support their ideas and conclusions.

On the flip side, having a Masters in English, as opposed to Education, often means that I often have high standards for my young students, sometimes too high. I get excited about ideas or connections that I make, and then try very hard to find ways to modify them for middle school use. Obviously, this doesn’t always work. I have to “kill my babies” pretty often when it comes to my lesson planning.

Sometimes, I want to do much more than we have time for and I want them to be able to recognize or analyze patterns and details in texts in ways that are still over their heads. In other words, its hard to think like a middle schooler.

Q: What advice do you have for about-to-graduate students?

What I found most stressful after finding a job was that I wanted to be perfect at it right off the bat. Its impossible to be perfect at teaching, no matter how long you have been doing it. There is such a learning curve and I can only imagine its the same for any job. My best advice, I guess, is to be willing to make mistakes. Don’t hold yourself to ridiculous standards and focus on getting through one day at a time. Give yourself time to adjust before you start to doubt yourself.

Alumni Update: Genevieve Aldi

Genevieve Aldi graduated from the English Master of Arts program in the Spring of 2013, but luckily for us she never left the The College of Saint Rose community.  GA blog post pic

She is currently teaching an undergraduate English course and describes the transition from student to professor as “a strange and awesome experience…to have had professors who are now colleagues, to be imparting information rather than absorbing it.” Genevieve is also a professional tutor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, where she works on an individual basis with students to assist with the writing process.

All of this professional work still leaves time to pursue some creative interests and long-term career goals, as Genevieve explains, “I’m also working on a number of personal writing projects. I’ve started a blog about my attempt to get healthier in terms of eating/exercise. I also have some fiction and plays in process. My next goal is to have some of my academic and creative work published.”

When asked how her experience at Saint Rose helped contribute to her success, Genevieve replies:

“I have developed and improved so much as a reader, writer, thinker and speaker as a result of my MA program. One of the greatest benefits in terms of my current teaching/tutoring career was being encouraged to examine my own processes of reading, analysis, and writing, which gave me a lot of tools to pass on to students.”

Presenting a literary research paper at a conference is one of the many opportunities that graduate students are encouraged to take advantage of during their time at Saint Rose and the faculty are more than happy to assist with this process. Genevieve describes her experience:

“I also enjoyed presenting at conferences while at St. Rose. It was great to share my ideas, and also to hear ideas from others doing work at a similar level. I came from each conference with a ton of new ideas to explore, books and resources to read, and new ways to approach concepts.”

On a final note, Genevieve acknowledges the English faculty for their dedication and insight:

“The professors in St. Rose’s English dept. are exceptional in my opinion. They all so clearly care about teaching and I learned so much from every one of them. Standout courses for me would be Imaginative Writing with Barbara Ungar, because it reignited a lost passion for and a desire to pursue creative writing (also, a play that I first drafted in this class ended up being performed in a staged reading!); Lit Theory with David Morrow because it was the inspiration for my advanced project; and Kim Middleton’s Contemporary Narrative because the literature was so rich and complex and it opened my mind to perspectives about the malleability of ‘truth’ and ‘reality.'”

Alumni Stories: Annie Wildermuth

AnnieWildermuthAfter graduating from Saint Rose, Annie Wildermuth (B.A. 2008) was accepted to Bard College’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Before she graduated from Bard, Annie landed a job teaching 11th grade American Literature at Mt. Everett High School in Sheffield, Massachusetts.

“I am still there,” Annie writes to us over Facebook. “In addition to teaching American Literature, I teach a Film Survey elective, based mostly off of the film classes I took while at Saint Rose, and American Sign Language 101,” also from a class from college.

We sent Annie some over our questions and, through the magic of Facebook mail, we have her answers.

Can you tell us a little about your experience at Saint Rose?

Saint Rose helped prepare me for a career in English. My professors were approachable, knowledgeable, and always accessible. What I loved most? The small class sizes. The campus, too, was easy to navigate. All around, The College of St. Rose completely accommodated my learning style. Continue reading

Hollis Seamon Upcoming Reading at Bethlehem Library

Hollis Seamon’s forthcoming young adult novel, Somebody Up There Hates You, has received a starred advance review from Kirkus Reviews: 
Kirkus Reviews awards starts only to books of “exceptional merit.”
Hollis will be reading from her new story collection, Corporeality, at the Bethlehem Public Library on Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. and will be signing advance readers copies of Somebody Up There Hates You at the Algonquin Young Readers booth at Book Expo America in New York city on
                                                                              Friday, May 31, from 2-4 p.m.
Someone Up There


Also, one of our alums, James Smith, who has a BA and MA in English, has a very cool nonfiction piece, as a guest writer, on the website: . James’s essay is called “Bitten by a Beaked Snake.”

Alumni Stories: Omar Lopez

OmarLopezAfter Omar Lopez (BA English/Adolescence Education 2008) graduated from Saint Rose, he went to the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where he studied Education Policy and Management. He then went back to New York City and taught fifth and ninth grade English in his native Brooklyn. Afterwards, he got a job as a policy analyst for a non-profit called Democrats for Education Reform, where he now works as their Director of Teacher Policy.

“How I landed in the position that I am now in is a long story that is somewhat outside of the scope of this blog post,” Omar writes. “Suffice it to say that my experience at St. Rose prepared me for it (mostly).”

Can you tell us a little about your experience at Saint Rose?

This is where I get to say what I’ve always wanted to say.

I appreciate this opportunity to describe my experience at Saint Rose in a way I don’t usually get to. Since I graduated, one of the ways that I have given back to the College is by volunteering in admissions events.

Admissions events are wonderful opportunities to share my very positive experience at the College with potential students. The downside is that admissions events are a little like first dates: you’re trying to put your best foot forward and convince your mate why they should stick around and have a long-term relationship with you. Invariably, you leave out all the nasty bits that might make them say no. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s perfectly natural. But there are certain parts of my experience at Saint Rose that taught me a lot that aren’t necessarily attractive.

My experience at Saint Rose was somewhat unique, mostly due to circumstances out of my control. I am a person of Dominican heritage, making my dark skin an exception in the community rather than the rule as it was in my native Brooklyn. My mostly white comrades and I spent a lot of time awkwardly navigating what that meant. When is race relevant? When is it not? My racial makeup added a level of complication that was not faced by my fellow classmates, but which prepared me for the greater world, and for that I am grateful.

Moreover, my class (and those a year or two on either side) was a lively, involved bunch. I found my experience at the College to be the perfect microcosm of society. There were some people who were really involved on campus, others who couldn’t care less. There were those who were dedicated to their studies, others who saw classes as things to do between nights at the bar. And I learned to how to see value in all of them. Later classes, I came to observe, weren’t nearly as intense as mine. I was just lucky to have been part of the class that I was in.

Lastly, I had a “burn the boats” mentality when I arrived my freshman year. I knew that there was nothing for me back in Brooklyn without a bachelor’s degree. Not making it at Saint Rose was not an option for me. So, although I struggled, academically, socially, personally, economically and spiritually while I was there, not graduating was never an option. What’s more, I couldn’t just go though the motions. I was going to make the most of my time at the College, so I said yes to pretty much everything. I threw caution to the wind. Sometimes, this caused massive success. Just as often, I failed miserably, hurting myself or people around me.

Can you describe a memorable moment, professor, or course from The Saint Rose English Department?

One of my most memorable academic experiences at the College was a socialism and communism independent study I did with a handful of other students and professor Deborah Kelsh. This wasn’t an official independent study course, so it wouldn’t show up on my transcript. It was a group that came together strictly for the sake of learning.

In those small group sessions, I learned a massive amount about how to think critically. The well-worn term “paradigm shift” captures my experience, but I cringe as I type it as the image of soulless business types haunt me.

Professor Kelsh taught me to question everything. More than that, she taught me how to question everything. I learned how to analyze huge systems (societies, economies, etc.) and break them down into their most fundamental parts. All those pieces are interconnected, so she taught me how to analyze the effect that change in one part would have in another.

That’s ultimately what brought me to thinking systematically about changing the education system. It’s what I do for a living today.

I saw Professor Kelsh at an education conference last year. When I told her what I was doing for work, she was pleased, though when I told her who I was working for, she seemed less so. Ideologically, I’ve swung to the opposing side of the argument from Professor Kelsh’s for how to improve our ailing school system. A part of me felt like she must be disappointed in me, felt that somehow she had failed in showing me the light. I wanted to thank her and tell her how much she influenced me. How I’ve never had a teacher like her before or since.

I gave her a hug and a kiss, told her it was good to see her and left it at that.

Do you have any advice for future English majors?

The only advice I have for future English majors is to look for the people that take pride in the work and gravitate toward them. If you surround yourself with people who are trying to get the highest grade they can doing the least amount of work possible, you’ll end up trying to play that game with them. Even if you win, you lose.

Instead, find those that work hard and want to do well. Become their friends. You can push each other to go deeper, learn more and love the craft.

Any other comments about the faculty at Saint Rose or the English Department?

The English faculty at the College is a special one. They are characters that teach and entertain as much as the literature that they share with you. When I get together with alums, we talk about our old professors at least as much as we do the classes we were in. Appreciate these people. They are saints.