All posts by Rachel Hicks

A Tribute to Dr. Archibald

From directing the Writing Center to creating the Literary Festival, Dr. Archibald has been a major presence in our English Community.  As he moves on to his next chapter, both figuratively and literally, the English Department wants to celebrate all his contributions.

Dr. Archibald has been at the center of Writing Studies for the last two decades at Millersville.  Teaching Advanced Writing, Visual Rhetoric, Reading Our World, Composition, Stylistics, and the Writing Studies Seminar while coordinating all activities of the Writing Center, Bill has easily influenced over 3000 students in his 20 years at Millersville. In creating the idea of a literary festival and organizing it with Jeff Boyer and Kasia Jakubiak, he brought writing to life in our midst. His thoughtful engagement with our students, his involvement with the writing and reading community, and his colorful stories all make Bill a tremendous person to work and socialize with.

While we are all excited for Bill to enjoy an active and fun retirement, there is no getting past the feeling of loss that we have, knowing that our last semester with Bill is this one, and we won’t get to see him haunting Chryst any more.  There will be a huge hole in the community as we contemplate a new experience without his calming and reaffirming presence.

So much travel I’ve enjoyed from my office desk thanks to Bill.  Hitchhiking cross country, living in a boarding house in New Orleans, avoiding German nuns, confronting drunk neighbors.  The rabbit holes I’ve enjoyed looking in and diving down.

Bill listens as though your words make a difference in how he sees the world.  And speaks as though a truth is just arriving between you.  What a delight to be in his company.

Caleb Corkery

Bill’s 70th Birthday

In addition to being our terrific, devoted Writing Center Director, Bill Archibald also happens to be an amazing person.  In another life under the sun, he was a smoke-jumper who extinguished wildfires out west and a housing contractor (I think).  Bill can build things (like Writing Centers, houses, and furniture); he’s a techno-maven and an elegant blogger. Bill was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, which, for me as a life-long Easterner, makes him exotic. And Bill has a super-power: kindness.  Bill is kind, compassionate, and empathetic toward everyone—a rare distinction.

Bill, it’s time to put the lessons you shared with our students to use: please write your memoir!  Enjoy a blissful retirement!

Love always to you and Robin—

Judy and Eddie

I don’t want Bill to retire. Even though I know that he deserves this time to finally immerse himself fully in his beloved writing, to finally publish a book or a number of books and become the renowned author that he should be, given his talent. Still, I cannot imagine this department without him. I will miss his warm presence, his sober attitude that kept many of us sane amidst the occasional department craziness, his inexhaustible passion for his field that has been inspiring and contagious. Bill’s constant eagerness to talk about writing and literature, to organize literary events and encourage us to participate in them has helped me feel a part of an intellectual environment that protects our creative sparks from being lost in the every-day grind of our jobs. In particular, I am grateful that I had a chance to collaborate with Bill on organizing the MU literary festival in Fall 2019. His enthusiasm and perseverance kept us working, even though resources were uncertain, deadlines short and schedules hard to juggle; the end result was a fantastic event that bonded and enriched our English community of students, faculty and alumni. And this event was only one part of Bill’s legacy that I hope will remain on our campus for many years to come. Enjoy your retirement, Bill! I know you will be only a few streets away from us, so please keep returning to campus for the future events we organize.

With love, Kasia.

Bill has always been a caring, thoughtful colleague and friend. I still remember his welcoming, warm, and assuring words when I first met him in the hallway of Chryst right before the fall semester I started teaching at MU. Over the years, I’ve had the honor to serve on the Writing Studies Committee together with Bill, to participate in the Literary Festival he organized, and to chat with him about life, teaching, and news stories about China. It’s been a great pleasure to work with Bill!

Several years ago, Bill and Robin kindly invited my husband and me to celebrate Thanksgiving at their house. It was truly a fun celebration, and Bill and Robin were the best hosts! My husband, who is not very sociable and kind of reluctant to meet with new people, enjoyed the conversations with Bill so much that he still remembers Bill as one of the nicest persons he met!

Bill, all the best for a happy retirement! We’ll miss you!


Bill has been our Writing Center director forever.  Literally since the beginning of this century.  I’ve been here twenty years, and I can’t remember before Bill. I’ve checked in photos in the archives… he appears there too.  Hmmm…..

You have always been the Caretaker. I should know, Sir; I’ve always been here.

What will we do without him?  It seems vastly unjust that he doesn’t get to drop the mic, and walk out of the Writing Center and McNairy Library with the announcement blaring “Bill Archibald has left the building.”

While Bill is an outstanding colleague, he makes an even better friend. Bill’s generous and kind spirit has always been one that drew me into animated conversations and thoughtful reminiscences about obscure films we had both over analyzed. Plus Bill gives the best hugs; he owns the distinction of giving me the most wonderful hugs on Millersville campus, and I hope he’ll travel back to give me a few more after his retirement.

I will miss Bill tremendously.  Bill, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.


Bill Archibald has a profound sensitivity for understanding our world in images, writing, and oratory. He has a keen eye for spotting nuances in everyday life. He speaks with emotional depth with mercurial moments of dry wit and humor. In class, we are shown what makes great works powerful, and how we can practically emulate that in our own work. He offers authentic criticism without the fluff and is not afraid to challenge your thinking. With a warm presence in the office, he is always happy to share his knowledge and passion with you. Bringing together a community of writers is important to him, which is why he has dedicated himself to organizing the MU Literary Festival for the past two years. This has been his heart and soul poured out, exuberantly, and the only way he does this work, and should be proud of that. He sees the value in giving young writers a support network of inspiring professionals. Happy Retirement, Bill. Stay in touch!

Skyler Gibbon

Bill at the Lit Fest

Bill Archibald saved me from a life of academic writing. I should say, he saved me from a life of just academic writing. Thanks to Bill, I learned to see myself as a poet again, as a creative writer. Bill taught me that the scholarly prose we’ve been trained to produce can also be a jumping off point into more pleasant waters. Just as it’s been for me, I suspect it’s been the same for Bill’s students. He has helped so many write their better selves.

Thank you, Bill, and all the best to you in your retirement. Diplodocus!

Justin Mando

As you go forward in this tapestry called life you’re lucky to find a dozen people who you can call really good friends. Those who will listen to your dreams and nudge you forward. Those who you can tell secrets and trust that they stay secrets. Finally, a friend that will call you a dumbs when the need arises.

I found that kind of friend in Bill Archibald.

I didn’t know Bill the first year or two when I started at Millersville some 20 years ago. But we talked shop in the hallways, had lunch now and then and after a while Cindy and I got to know Robin and the four of us went out to dinner occasionally (even a Jackson Brown concert in Hershey). Now it seems as if we have know each other forever.

Bill represents what I would like to see more of in the English department. Knowledge of co-workers at more than just a surface level. People you can bounce ideas off of that will make you a better teacher or researcher. Friends you care about and who care about you.

I will miss that Hemingwayesque dude who owns Chryst 109 and the Writing Center, but I will make an effort to keep in touch, as I’m sure he will too.

Be well my friend,

Alan Foster

I have worked with Dr. Archibald during the 20-19-2020 school year through spending part of my Graduate Assistant hours in the Writing Center. I have appreciated his welcoming me into the work environment there, as well as his willingness to answer my questions. I would like to thank him for the opportunity to learn new skills through that work. Also, I wish him well in his upcoming retirement.

Clark Fennimore

Some of my favorite memories with Bill have been made across the dinner table. From my first visit to Lancaster, when he and his wife Robin joined us at a candidate dinner, to his surprise New Year’s Eve birthday dinner, complete with a tremendous chocolate cake and a barbershop quartet, Bill’s been the kind of colleague who’s made me feel welcomed and brought us all a bit closer together. Cheers to you on your retirement, Bill! Even though you’ve retired, know that we expect to see you for many more dinners!

Emily Baldys

Hi, Bill,

What’s the good word?  I miss hearing your footsteps, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays around 11:15 a.m. when you scrabbled at the door of my second-floor office in Chryst and entered with a handshake.

I’d gladly lay down my pen and listen as you regaled me about getting up early to write, or ask whether I had read the Sunday Book Review and reveal you had already ordered that hot new novel, or talk about the biography you were listening to on Audible.  In return, I’d confess that I’d only written half a page of poetry in the past week, that I’d read the Review but likely would not read the novel until it came out in paperback AND I could find a used copy, or that with my hour-long commute getting Audible really would be a good idea—though first, I would have to fix the short in my car’s radio speakers.

The world grew kinder and worries withdrew for those 15 or 20 minutes.  “Noodles next Thursday?” you’d ask, scheduling a dash to Pho Pasteur up on Columbia Avenue.  “Now we have something to look up to forward to.”

Jeff and Bill at the 2018 Literary Festival

You’d slap your knees and get up, mentioning the meeting you had to go to or the pizzas you had ordered for your Writing Center tutors, and despite a second handshake I was sorry to let you go, listening as you stopped by the offices of Tim, Justin, and Carla to share a few words and a several laughs with each.  After you went back downstairs, it would take several more minutes to turn my attention back to my pile of ENGL 110 papers.

Hard to believe, that was just a few weeks ago, or that the last time I saw you was in a Giant Supermarket parking lot in Buck, where you drove down and I drove up so I could give you and Robin some Fish-Mox antibiotic capsules for your cat, Sophie.  “I got the drugs!” I joked, and we reached across the six feet that separated our cars.  Even that meeting seems swaddled in the indeterminate past, insulated from the present by all the subsequent days stuck at home since the campus shut down.

I know you are scheduled to teach online this summer, but it seems wrong that you should spend the last few weeks of our Spring 2020 so far from your English Department friends.  Emails and Zoom don’t fill the gap.  Earlier this semester, Justin and I talked about setting up one last Faculty Reading in the Writing Center and also making it a “Thanks, Bill!” occasion.  Now, that won’t happen.  It’s a cruel twist that Covid-19 prevents us from saying goodbye properly.

But what am I saying?  It won be long until we see each other again.  I can drive up, and even if we don’t shake hands, perhaps we can bump elbows.  We’ll go for noodles, then a visit to Winding Way or Dog Star Books, each exiting with a stack of paperbacks, each complaining that our homes are already full of books, and “Where am I going to put all these?”  Sooner or later, the campus will open again, and perhaps some late morning I’ll hear your footsteps on the stairs, and you will enter with a joke before we sit down and talk of writing and reading and gardening, and food—and “How’s life treating you?”

I look forward to that, my friend.

Jeff Boyer

I have nothing either profound or deep to say about Dr. Archibald, and not even anything terribly academic. To say that I am a non-traditional student is pushing the non-traditional student envelop a bit far. Be that as it may, the first day of my duties in the department of English office as graduate assistant, I was sitting there simply reading. A rather tall distinguished looking man walks in: What are you reading? Me: Derrida’s De la grammatologie, he’s even more obtuse in French. The distinguished looking gentleman extends his hand: Bill Archibald.

After that point I had the good fortune to talk with Bill many times about literature, and also to apologize to him for his tales of traveling through Kansas by car. If one is from Kansas, one automatically apologizes for the vast monotony of traversing the state through some other means other than an airplane.

I will always cherish those moments of discussing nothing more than what I was reading that day, or literature in a larger context. Bill Archibald is a true academician. Dr. Archibald, thank you!

William Artz



Being a Graduate Student on the Autism Spectrum

Clark Fennimore, one of the graduate assistants in the English department, discusses being a graduate student on the autism spectrum. Read more about his experiences below! 

For someone on the Autism Spectrum, working through graduate school can include extra challenges. It can take more time and effort than usual to complete assignments. Doing class presentations can be intimidating. However, another interesting aspect of such a condition is an unusual way of thinking about things. On the high-functioning end of the spectrum, this can lead to unique avenues of research and writing. In short, the challenges faced by someone of the Spectrum can be accompanied by a distinct ability to contribute to the world intellectually.

As someone on the Spectrum, I can relate to others who want to be respected for an ability to contribute. We want this to be viewed as more important than our limitations. In my youth, I would not have expected to be in graduate school as I am now. In my studies, I seek to develop a unique voice for myself, particularly with distinct areas of research. Part of how I can do so is through distinct ways of thinking as part of ASD.

To those with challenges in the area of academics, I would say that you can find a unique voice. You have things to say that are beneficial to the world. To others who may not face such challenges, I would say those of us who do face them also have something to contribute. We can all respect each other as a result. We must see each other as having value.

There are different kinds of challenges that people face. No one is exempt from challenges, which are part of human nature. I believe that we can view each other with understanding as a result, even if some people seem to be more challenged than others. People with different abilities have things to contribute to society. One important thing is how we face our challenges so that we can make those contributions. Disorders of the Autism Spectrum are among those challenges, and they can be faced so that those on the Spectrum can contribute.

Clark Fennimore 

Jason Bittel at Elizabethtown College

On Friday, February 28th, a group of Millersville students and professors traveled over to Elizabethtown College to hear Jason Bittel, a renowned science writer, speak at the Bowers Writers House. He gave two talks and students and English faculty members Justin Mando and Jill Craven attended a dinner with Bittel hosted by Bowers Writers House’s Jesse Waters.

Jason Bittel, from his blog. (Source)

Jason Bittel is a science writer who most often writes about animals. Cute animals, weird animals, animals that eat the eyeballs of other animals, animals that launch chemical warfare attacks out of their derrieres. As a National Geographic Explorer, he’s trapped invasive wild boar for the National Park Service, eaten termite soldiers in the South African bush, and taken rectal temperatures from bull elk. Bittel’s writing covers a range of topics, including human-wildlife conflict, new scientific discoveries, environment and conservation, and emerging wildlife diseases. You can read his work in National Geographic Magazine,The Washington Post, New Scientist Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, and onEarth Magazine. He is currently working on a children’s book about animals for Magic Cat Publishing due out in 2021.

Jason Bittel, apart from having a world-renowned reputation, is a really interesting guy. Read more about his love of weird animals on his website. Jason is also a contributor for National Geographic – how cool??

Here are the two talk summaries:

4-5 p.m. What the *&^!? is THAT!? Writing for the Sciences with Jason Bittel

Jason Bittel spoke about how to become a professional science writer, including tips and techniques for the emerging professional sciences writer.

7-8 p.m. Nipples on Men, Collars on Crocs: Science Writer Jason Bittel

Jason Bittel amazed the audience with the unknown aspects of the opossum and the squirrel.  Wow!  The opossum is crazy complex. And we were blown away by the history of the squirrels we see every day.  They had to push us out of the door.  We wanted to learn more!  But more importantly, we learned how science writing could be both engaging and funny!

Much thanks to Jesse Waters, director of the Bowers Writers House, for putting the event together and inviting our students.

Please email Dr. Mando with any questions.

Experience MAPACA

Skyler Gibbon and a group of fellow graduate students attended the Mid Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association conference last November. Read about Skyler’s experiences below! 

Skyler Gibbon at a panel discussion.

As graduate students, we get fun opportunities outside the boundaries of this university… or county… or state. These opportunities often come in the form of conferences — a gathering of students and professors coming to share their work. This often means creating connections and building relationships with people of similar area interests. 

This past November, several English graduate students left for Pittsburgh for a three day trip to the Mid Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association (MAPACA) conference. This took place at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, which is at the heart of the Cultural District (and also has the best taco restaurant around). We all went bearing different ideas to share, from play pedagogy to hip hop poetics. I presented ideas from my thesis: The Rhetorical Influence and Hermeneutics of Hip Hop Culture. I talked about how “Holy Profanity” and hip hop artist use the sacred to express authentic experiences. I have presented on this topic before, but this was on a larger scale. It was not only helpful to hear audience members provide insights for my work, but to also hear notions of using my work in their curriculum.

There was an array of presentations up for viewing, all organized by specific areas of study – lgbtq studies, film studies, religious studies, game studies, etc… Unfortunately, the presentations overlap with each other, so it was impossible to go to as many presentations as I wanted to. However, I was intrigued by all that I did see. I watched presentations from the beginning to end of day, each day. 

Because a number of the people I traveled with are invested in game studies, I found myself watching presentations in this, which I don’t do traditionally. I am usually to be found in studies involving a typical social justice connection. I am not so familiar with game studies and play pedagogy, so this was a good opportunity to get more informed. I watched professors dress up in superhero costumes in a skit to demonstrate the value of comic book pedagogy. This fed my curiosity while also being quite entertaining. I went in with the hopes of catching my professor looking like Spiderwoman. I was disappointed that this didn’t happen, but she promises that there will be a costume for both of us next year. 

Jason Hertz presenting at the conference.

There was quite a bit of play, actually. As a person who is really interested in looking for ways to build bridges through vulnerability, I was really intrigued by one of the gaming presentations we saw together. The presenter showed us three different games that use love and sex themes to build intimacy and vulnerability between players. Afterwards, Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel co-led a “parlor games” session, where we played a card game that she and another graduate student co-created. This game was a really fun way of practicing rhetorical skills. The simplest way I can describe it is as a creative Apples to Apples with rhetoric. 

There were a few chances to socialize, as well. There was a graduate student social, where participants played “MAPACA Jeopardy.” Winners received Starbucks gift cards (because what would a graduate student want more?).  There was also a reception and a formal dinner, where leaders were recognized for the labor they put into creating and organizing this conference. As a little outing in the city, I went to see a play production of The Scarlet Letter, which was really impressively done.

Overall and looking back, this was a really great time. It exceeded my expectations. Getting to travel in a car with others to a different place brought adventure to our academia (and laughter). I got to explore a bit of the historically and culturally rich, old city of Pittsburgh. Also, every conference I go to is a reminder of how my work connects with the work of others. I look forward to applying to MAPACA next year (which is in Princeton, NJ), as well as any other conferences that come my way!

If you are interested in participating in MAPACA, do get in touch with either Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel or Dr. Caleb Corkery. They  will help guide you through the submission, travel, and presentation aspects if this is your first conference.

Skyler Gibbon

On Track with TrackFive: An Intern’s Experiences

Emily Perez, a senior writing studies major with a minor in theater, was an intern at TrackFive, a company that works to streamline recruiting and the connections between employers and talent. Read more about her experiences below! 

Emily works hard at her desk at TrackFive.

My first go around with an internship was anything but what I had initially expected. I didn’t work in an office and my work didn’t use any of the skills that I had been studying for the first three years of my college career. So, it is an understatement to say that I was a little weary coming into my second internship.

At the interview, I had to admit that I didn’t know how to do SEO (search engine optimization), or how to use WordPress, both of which were mentioned to be a large part of the internship. All I could continually say to the interviewer was that I am a “quick study” and eager to learn.

Leaving that interview, I was convinced that I was going to have to find myself another internship opportunity, but to my surprise, I was wrong. Ms. Colebeck (now Mrs. Ozella), the internship mentor at TrackFive, happily informed me that I got the position and that they were eager to teach me all that they could; looks like my comments and confidence as a speedy learner worked after all.

Turns out that learning is exactly what I would be doing for the entirety of my internship, even up until my last week with them. During my time at TrackFive, I learned an immense amount of information pertaining to my field of writing, specifically content writing for different brands with different styles and voices. I was taught how to optimize a keyword (SEO: Search Engine optimization) in the first week of my internship, but I can already see that I will be learning about this throughout the entirety of my career as it is constantly changing with the times. I was also shown how to write with the company’s blog style and voice for each different brand, which included Travel Nurse Source, All Truck Jobs, Allied Travel Careers, Locum Tenens Online, All Physician Jobs, and Senior Caring. Just by the names of each brand, it is easy to see that I had a wide variety of audiences to write to, each one dealing with its own voice.

Along with writing blog posts for the brands, I also had to learn how to write social media posts, which also entailed learning how to use SEMrush and Hootsuite, two popular social media scheduling programs. Again, learning seemed to be the theme of this internship, but I was completely willing to learn and apply all that I was taking in.

Lastly, the internship allowed me to learn a few skills that I didn’t think I would ever need in a job in my field. These included video hosting, podcast transcription writing, and social media interactions. Though these are tasks that I thought would never be a part of a job that I would have, they have given me valuable skills that I can integrate into the work that I do in the future, such as verbal confidence, close listening and quick typing, and an ability to be conversational with complete strangers.

Overall, the internship that I thought I wouldn’t get because of my lack of experience and knowledge of my field, actually ended up putting me on track for the career that I will have in the future. Though I may not have come in with all of the experience of the other candidates, I came in with the confidence that I could learn the skills needed and showed that I was eager to learn whatever they threw my way with grace and ease.

Now, I really do have the knowledge, experience, and skills to successfully transition into my next internship and full-time job with WebFX, an online marketing company where I will be doing content writing, similar to my internship with TrackFive. And so, my experience with TrackFive served to show that an eagerness to learn can land you an opportunity that will put you on the right track for your future endeavors and develop you further as a valuable employee.

-Emily Perez

Film Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Andrew Ciardullo, one of the attendees of the TIFF 2019 study abroad trip and a double major in English and Communications, wrote a film review about the recently released movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, directed by Marielle Heller. Read more below! 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is a newly released biopic starring Tom Hanks and directed by Marielle Heller. The film is based on the real life story of Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), who was a beloved children’s show host primarily known for his work on the show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and is about Roger’s friendship with award-winning journalist for Esquire magazine Tom Junod, who in the film is named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys).

The story of the film primarily focuses on Lloyd being tasked to write an article for Esquire profiling Mr. Rogers for their section on real-life heroes. Initially hoping to get enough information on Rogers to write a hit piece, Lloyd somewhat reluctantly accepts the job. However, after meeting Mr. Rogers in person, Lloyd is not only unable to uncover anything negative about Mr. Rogers as a person, but instead slowly but surely starts to understand Mr. Rogers’ philosophies regarding things like kindness and forgiveness. Through his multiple interactions with Mr. Rogers, Lloyd starts to come to terms with his own troubles regarding his own personal and family life, especially in regards to his strained relationship with his father, and the stress he now has having to be a father himself, and learns to become a better person as a result.

As one would probably expect from a film where Tom Hanks portrays Fred Rogers, the film is at its best when Mr. Rogers is the focus. Hanks does a pretty phenomenal job of capturing a lot of the small and subtle details that made Mr. Rogers seem so charming and kind based solely off of his performance. From his soft spoken and gentle voice, to his relaxed posture and body movements, to his absolutely contagious smile, he really captures just how kind and caring Mr. Rogers really was as a person, without over exaggerating it to the point where it becomes cartoonish. This is especially apparent during the scenes in the film where Hanks actually gets to recreate segments from the show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. The way Hanks recreates the show’s intro right at the beginning of the film, complete with the cheery piano music, the model sets, and the iconic red cardigan sweater, had me grinning from ear to ear, especially due to how great of a job the set and costume designers did at recreating the look of the show, even going so far as to shoot those scenes using the show’s traditional 1.33 : 1 aspect ratio.

Whenever the film just showcases how kind, thoughtful, and polite Mr. Rogers really was as a person–whether it be through his show, the way way he interacts with kids, and especially the way he talks to Lloyd to get him to open up about his feelings while also giving him meaningful advice that helps him deal with his problems–the film is basically impossible to hate.

Unfortunately, this only makes up about half of the actual movie. Despite what the film’s marketing may have led you to believe, Mr. Rogers isn’t really the main character of this film, although he does play a big part in it. The film’s main character is actually Lloyd Vogel. Lloyd is the character who gets the most focus and development in the film, and the story is much more focused on how Lloyd’s interactions with Mr. Rogers lead to him becoming a less cynical and more kindhearted person, while also helping him deal with his own family issues, than it is about Mr. Rogers himself. Even when Rogers is on screen, most of the time we as the audience are mainly supposed to be aligned with Lloyd, and view Mr. Rogers from a more detached perspective, with the film sometimes even cutting away from Rogers’ performing segments on the show to show Lloyd’s reactions to watching Mr. Rogers perform.

Unfortunately, the parts of the movie involving Lloyd’s personal issues, while still decently executed, are nowhere near as interesting from either a writing standpoint or a visual standpoint. When the film isn’t recreating segments from the old television show, the film is still generally well shot, but doesn’t really have a unique visual identity to speak of.  There aren’t many creative shots or unique visuals, with admittedly a few exceptions, one in particular being the choice to use model vehicles and sets akin to the old Mr. Rogers show for some of the film’s establishing shots.

The only other sequence that feels stylized is a somewhat bizarre dream sequence that unfortunately feels kind of out of place within the rest of the story. The plot also isn’t much to write home about, as it hits all the beats you would expect in a conventional story about a bitter and cynical man who is more focused on his job than he is on his family, and has to learn about the importance of caring for his family and being a father with the help of a more kind-hearted and emotional mentor figure, whom the main character initially doesn’t like, but grows to understand after getting to know him.

Still, regardless of how conventional the film can be at times, it never feels disingenuous, and the emotional beats do feel earned, even if you can see them coming a mile away. The fact that this story is based on real-life events also helps to make the more conventional plot points a little more acceptable, as it probably wouldn’t have been wise to stray from the actual events the film is based on simply for the sake of making the narrative less conventional. The acting from everyone co-starring with Hanks is also really good, especially when it comes to Chris Cooper’s role as Lloyd’s dad Jerry, even if the main actor Matthew Rhys can sometimes be a little over the top as Lloyd himself.

Overall, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood definitely isn’t a masterpiece, but the movie has heart where it matters.  The movie’s admittedly conventional story is held up by Hank’s great performance; a well-composed and comforting score by Nate Heller that does a great job sounding like the old Mr. Rogers show; and a nice message about forgiveness.  This message about realizing that the most important thing in life is being there for the people you care about, and supporting them through thick and thin, is sometimes really enough.

I’d definitely recommend this film to people who grew up watching, or are simply fans of, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, as they will probably really enjoy this movie and get a lot out of it from that perspective, but for anyone who doesn’t have much of a connection to Mr. Rogers already, I’d probably recommend watching the 2018 documentary about Mr. Rogers titled Won’t You be my Neighbor first, and if you really enjoy that, then I’d also recommend that you give this movie a shot.

Andrew Ciardullo

2019-2020 College of AHSS Fellowship

English major Jordan Traut was selected as the first fellow for the 2019-2020 College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Fellowship. Read more below about what her job includes, her personal motivation for taking the fellowship, and how she hopes to impact English.

It is really an honor to be selected as the first fellow for the 2019-2020 College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Fellowship. I have a lot of people to thank for that, especially the professors who took time out of their busy schedules to write me letters of recommendations— Dr. Timothy Miller, Dr. Katarzyna Jakubiak, and Dr. Carla Rineer.

One thing I strongly believe in is that our College needs and deserves more funding opportunities for students, whose work in the humanities provides the bedrock for cross-cultural academic pursuits.  I have had several meetings with the AHSS Dean, Dr. Ieva Zake, about the direction and purpose of the fellowship. Part of my responsibility as the AHSS fellow is to attend important meetings with university alumni and potential donors and share my undergraduate research work. It is my intention and hope that I represent the College and the English Department, especially, in a way that demonstrates the merit of the humanities and awards us more funding opportunities.

Over the summer, I did research on traditional oral stories of Native Americans. I was looking for culturally responsible literary sources for my thesis project (original sources in native languages from people within the culture), and ultimately was invited to attend the 2019 Annual Anishinaabe Family Language and Culture Camp on a reservation in Michigan to hear an elder tell their creation teaching using the Anishinaabemowin language. This trip was extremely important to me personally, and it was imperative for my academic ambitions, but also an extremely expensive undertaking for a broke college student struggling to pay tuition. I was unable to secure any funding from the College, which ultimately impacted my time at the reservation and my research.

AHSS just does not have the same kind of funding available to support student research efforts as other Colleges. This is true across the higher education system in the United States, not just at Millersville. Science and Technology is simply better funded. But…imagine the quality of original work Millersville arts, humanities, and social science students could produce if given access to the necessary funding. We should be able to participate in high-impact educational opportunities and secure funding for them in the same way students of other colleges can. For these reasons and in this way, I would like to use this fellowship opportunity to positively impact the departments in our College.

Jordan Traut

Student Profile: Abby Good

Read more about one of our current English majors: Abby Good! 

Abby Good is a senior with a major in Secondary Education English and Inclusive Education 7-12 (Special Education). She answered a few interview questions about her experiences so far at Millersville and where she plans to go in the future.

What made you want to pursue an English degree? Did you always know English was the major for you? What about education?

Abby Good

Ever since I was a little girl, I played ‘teacher’ with stuffed animals and my sister, Ashley (who was always a good student 😉 ). Growing up I had a lot of volunteer experience with elementary aged children and although I enjoyed working with them, it helped me decide that I wanted to teach an older age group. This helped me narrow in on the secondary education aspect of middle and high schoolers.

In regard to the English education part, I wasn’t entirely sure what content area I wanted to pursue probably until my tenth or eleventh grade year of high school. My mom is a Reading Specialist and she works for the IU13 so her passion for literature and all things reading was always a part of my life growing up. I think this influenced me because I always had a book in hand and was always encouraged to read and write. At one point I considered math education based on my experience in high school but eventually came to the conclusion that English was the subject area for me.

I had an internship experience my senior year that really confirmed this for me as I helped out in a ninth grade English course and aided in the classroom. I also had wonderful teachers in my experience at Garden Spot (New Holland, PA). To name a few teachers, Kelly Bohn (now Kelly Trupe), Michelle Custer, and Lisa Burkett all inspired me and helped to show me that reading and writing can be approached in numerous ways and that English isn’t just about learning vocabulary and writing essays. They helped to show me that English classrooms are a safe space where you can learn to express yourself and explore various media to communicate with others. To put it simply, I pursed an English education degree because of my mom’s influence, the impact of my teachers growing up, and my interaction with the subject throughout my schooling.

What’s your favorite book?

This is a very tough question! The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks is a favorite of mine. I also recently read Refugee by Alan Gratz and enjoy novels from the historical fiction genre.

Are you involved in any clubs on campus?

Yes! I am the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club on campus. We meet every Wednesday as largely an athlete base, but anyone is welcome to attend our meetings. We usually have some social time, an ice breaker activity, song/worship time, and then a message from a student or guest speaker.

I am also a member of the women’s volleyball team on campus. I have been on the team for all four years of my college career. Unfortunately, because of five knee surgeries, I can no longer play anymore. I’ve only actually played in one official point in a collegiate match and participated in only one off-season because of my injury(ies), but the coaching staff and teammates have always supported me and ‘kept me around’. I attend practices and travel to games and my main role is statistician. I give input to coaches based on what we see during games and at practices and try to help my teammates out by letting them know where I think they might be able to score or let them know when I think they’ve been doing really well. I have loved being a part of the volleyball culture—especially this year as we work towards extending our season in the playoffs and potentially the NCAA tournament!

Do you have any jobs on or off campus?

Over the summer I work as a lifeguard at the New Holland Community Pool. I am also a head lifeguard which puts me in a managerial role most times.

On campus, I work as a student worker for the athletic department. Last year I worked the softball games retrieving foul balls, homerun balls, and things like that.

How do you manage your time?

This is a good question. Overall, I’d say I manage my time with a day planner. I need to write everything down or else I forget, and this provides me a way to do so. Between volleyball, classes, student teaching/interning, and FCA, I have to be very strategic about setting aside time to do laundry, grocery shop, clean, visit my Grandpa (who is in a nursing home in Lititz), and any other responsibilities that arise.

I think because I’m so busy all of the time, it forces me to manage my time better—as silly as that may sound. Every spare moment I have must be intentional, so physically planning out my day on paper allows me to manage the extra time I might have. I have also found that I am more productive if I take a little bit of time to myself, even just fifteen minutes, in order to relax before I dive into a task I need to complete. This helps me maximize the time I have to work on things! I’m an avid fan of checklists and scheduling which helps me prioritize and manage my time.

 What are your future career goals?

My future career goals are to have a classroom of my own! Right now, it’s exciting to be in the field learning from an expert and it makes me even more eager to have a room of my own where I have say over poster choice, design of furniture, and so forth. I can’t wait to start impacting the lives of my students in one way or another!

Do you have any non-career or personal goals for the future?

Some personal goals that I have for the future include having a family one day. I’d also like to own a garden one day because I love to cook, and it sounds fun to be able to make something with ingredients that I’ve grown myself.

What’s your favorite class you’ve taken at Millersville?

I think I have a tie for favorite classes. For my English courses, I really enjoyed ENGL 232 World Literature 2 that I took with Dr. Skucek. The class allowed us to truly read world literature which was something I didn’t have much experience with. Before this class, I was familiar only with European authors. The novels we read helped introduce me to authors from various countries such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, and a few others.

For my favorite education class, I’d have to say EDSE 321 Issues in Secondary Education that I took with Dr. Witmer. In this course, we researched and taught our peers various topics such as school funding, common core, technology in schools, equity in the classroom, funding, test scores, racism, family dynamics, integrated classrooms, and many other issues that may be found in a secondary classroom. It was very eye opening and fun to learn from our peers who acted as the experts in this situation.

How do you think Millersville’s English department has set you up for the future?

I think Millersville’s English department has set me up for the future because they have employees who truly care about students. The professors within the English department are wonderful people who are always available to meet to answer questions you may have and work to adjust their workload when they notice students are feeling overwhelmed. The English department also offers a variety of workshops, promotes speakers, and provides information about excursions that support academic learning and can be added to a professional resume. They are also constantly adding new classes that allow you to gain a new perspective on reading and literature.

Thank you, Abby! Find more student profiles under the “Student Profile” category on the home page. 

Japan Study Abroad

English major Jordan Traut studied abroad in Japan for a semester. Read about her experiences below! 

The Shinto Shrine in the woods in Hirakata, Japan

Studying abroad in Japan has been a life-long dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Since I took a world literature course in middle school, I have been passionate about studying ancient literature from the Middle and Far East. Japanese prose and poetry from the Nara, Heian, and Edo periods were always of special interest to me, and there is really no better place to study a particular culture’s literature than from within the country itself. Millersville’s partnership with Kansai Gaidai University and their new Japanese Culture Studies minor were part of the reason I was attracted to the university in the first place.

After my first semester at Millersville, however, I wasn’t sure I would be able to spend a semester in Japan and still graduate on time because I fulfilled most of my general education credits in high school and at a community college. I only briefly mentioned how I was planning on letting go of my study abroad ambitions to another student when Dr. Jakubiak pulled me aside after class and told me that the English Department is always happy to accommodate students with their study abroad goals. On her advice, I sat down with Dr. Craven who assured me that we could work together to ensure my Japanese courses counted toward my English degree.

Jordan with a deer in the Todai-ji Temple

With the help of the Dmitzak Global Initiative Award from the Honors College and Dr. Craven in the English Department, I am happy to say I made it to Japan without spending more than my usual tuition costs and I am set to graduate one year early!

During my semester here, I am focusing my studies on Japanese literature. Specifically, I am interested in understanding Japan’s historical and cultural development through literary representations of their diverse eras. I am currently working with one of my professors researching a particular Japanese folktale that relates to my thesis work. Even though I am halfway around the world, I am finding bits and pieces of information that relates to my life and work at home.

The world’s largest bronze Budha in Todai-ji Temple

On weekends, I like to travel to different Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples with my friends and host family. Last weekend, my host parents took me to the Todai-ji Temple in Nara Park. This temple, originally built in 738 CE, is famous for the world’s largest bronze Buddha. It is, in my opinion, one of the most magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a historic monument of Japan’s most ancient cities. My host parents, who treat me like their own family, bought me souvenirs and took me to feed the deer in Nara Park.

I was also lucky enough to be one of three Kansai Gaidai students selected for an internship with the official news service for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is currently being held in various cities around Japan. At the games I am assigned to cover in Hanazono and Kobe, I attend press conferences with the teams and interview players after their matches.

To any English students interested in studying abroad or even just trying something different and new, I would encourage you to go for it. Faculty and staff in the English Department are a great resource who, in my experience, value high-impact personal education experience. They will help you fight for the opportunity to grow as a student.

-Jordan Traut 

Alumni Profile: Michael Albright, Ph.D

Michael Albright, Ph.D. graduated from Millersville University in 2006. Read more about his professional journey after his undergraduate experience below! 

Dr. Michael Albright

When I began my undergraduate career at Millersville, I had intended to graduate with a BSE in English to become a high school teacher. Four years later in 2006, I graduated with my BSE, a BA in English, and a minor in French.

Millersville occupies a special place for me professionally and personally. Not only did I learn the craft of teaching, but also I benefited from the wisdom and dedication of dedicated scholars in literature, English education, and linguistics. I thrived in the classroom as a student and knew that in order to be a successful teacher, I had much more to learn in my discipline.

In 2006, I began my graduate career at Lehigh University in Bethlehem where I obtained both my MA and Ph.D. My dissertation focused on the dramatic representation of schoolmasters in Early Modern English drama, and I considered how their staging reflected or shaped emergent conceptions of professionalization.

Throughout my seven years at Lehigh, I was able to remain in the classroom as a teacher of composition, and I also began tutoring in the Writing Center. I knew that teaching would always be a priority for me professionally, so I actively sought opportunities to work with students during the academic year and in the summers.

Because the job market in higher education took a hit during my time at Lehigh, I made it a point to keep my PA certification in secondary education current. I also applied widely to public and independent schools, eventually securing a position as a teacher of concurrent enrollment English in rural Virginia. This opportunity led to a two-year stint as a concurrent enrollment teacher at a public residential STEM school in South Carolina.

Dr. Albright participating on a roundtable on concurrent enrollment at a recent Minnesota Writing and English conference (MnWE).

In 2016, I made the move to higher education. I am now in my fourth year of a tenure-track assistant professorship at Southwest Minnesota State University. I am primarily responsible for working within our University’s concurrent enrollment program called College Now, and I support about twenty different high school teachers per semester. In addition, I serve on various committees, teach on campus and online when asked, and engage in research.

I would not find myself where I am today had I not kept an open mind about teaching in different settings or roles. As an undergrad, I had no idea about concurrent enrollment, yet I always knew that I wanted to occupy a place in secondary or higher education. Now, I enjoy the best of both worlds.

Millersville’s dedication to teacher training and its commitment to staffing classes with professors provided me a strong professional and scholarly background that has supported a host of exciting career moves.

-Michael Albright, Ph.D.