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Congratulations to Fall 2021 Graduates

Congratulations Graduates!

The English and World Languages Department has had a very strong graduating winter class this year with 1 Master’s Degree Graduate, 1 Post-Baccalaureate and 14 Bachelor’s Degree Graduates!

Change is certainly not easy, as we all know. This has been a year of never-ending adjustments. Some modifications are for the better, like the English and World Languages programs merging to becoming one super program. Some changes were a mixed result and took time, like going from in-person learning, to remote, and now back to learning in-person again. However, some variations from the norm can be scary, like graduating and moving on. Scary doesn’t necessarily mean bad though. Change even when it is uncertain, can be good. This new uncertain deviation only means that great things are on the horizon for our Millersville students! John F Kennedy once famously said, “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.” So, in that spirit, it wonderful to see these students move towards their bright futures even if they have to leave us.

When reaching out to graduating students there was an opportunity to gain some reflections from their time here at Millersville, as well as what they planned to do moving forward.

Leah Freeman, who is graduating Summa Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in English and a concentration in Writing, explained of her time here:

I don’t know how it happened or why, but Millersville, especially the Honors College, has opened me up to so many opportunities to work and gain experience in my field and participate in college life in a way I would have never expected of myself in the past. I truly gained a lot from the experience!

Leah was the past editor and director for the Honors Report and continues to write for it now. She has been the editor for the University Research Newsletter and interned as an editor and project manager for the Made in Millersville Journal! This semester Leah is a Volunteer Coordinator for the HCSA and Secretary of MU’s ODK Circle and is a part of the honors society Phi Kappa Phi! On top of all of that, she also just completed her Honors/Departmental Honors thesis to Graduate. Where did she find the time? Wherever she found it, it is a great accomplishment to have flourished so much here at Millersville!

When asked what’s up next for her, Leah was all too eager to share:

I will be around the area for another six months until my lease ends once I graduate, and I plan to just work and earn money during that time. I hope to then move, I am thinking to Massachusetts, and go to graduate school for English ASAP. However, who knows where life will take me—I am not too worried about it, though.

Millersville isn’t worried either Leah, it seems like you have everything well in hand. Your Millersville Family is always here, cheering you every step of the way. Good luck in all of your future endeavors.

We also offer congratulations to Kayla Young who described her experience at Millersville. Kayla is graduating with a dual major. She is getting her BA in Language and Cultural Studies and a BS in Speech Communication. Kayla was asked to reflect upon her time here at Millersville and this is what she felt most encompassed her feelings about her time spent here:

Some reflections I have is that I enjoyed all the leadership opportunities I was able to possess here at MU; from being a Residential Assistant all the way to being the President of the Millersville University Gospel Choir. I can say I have truly grown into a stronger more confident individual. I’m leaving MU with a better understanding of culture, education, and so much more. I am very proud to be a Marauder, and I’m truly blessed to have been able to do my studies here at such an amazing University. Thanks to all the Professors who took the time to help me grow, and thanks to MU for 4 life changing years full of experiences crafted for the future me. Through all the mountain tops and valley lows, I made it and I survived! Glory to God and shout out to MU for one heck of a ride!

It sounds like it was a great experience overall. The department couldn’t be more proud of you Kayla, and is very happy that you were able to grow and found success and happiness here at Millersville and in English and World Languages. In fact, Kayla had this to say about the Department:

Another thing in Millersville University in this department has increased my knowledge and understanding of the Hispanic community, their language, culture, struggles, and successes so much more. I have a whole new sense of respect for the Hispanic community today, and I feel like I have grown a lot in my studies as a Spanish Language and Culture Studies Major.

Kayla is heading off to do great things to come. Best wishes and success in the future Kayla!

Dr. Caleb Corkery, who is the English Club advisor and professor of writing and literature for the English Department, also wanted to bestow some words of wisdom upon our graduating class; “When you compare yourself to others and critique yourself for where you stand, remember this: the best of what I have to offer is the real me.  Lean in to what you do best.”

Congratulations to Millersville University’s English and World Languages Graduating Winter 2021 Class

Master of Arts Degree

William Artz

  • Major: English

Post-Baccalaureate Certification

Rachael Prensner

  • Certification: Spanish

Bachelor of Arts Degree

Margoth Alvaro

  • Major: Language & Culture Studies, Concentration – Cultural Studies Spanish
  • Minor: Psychology

Jadon Noah Barnett

  • Major: Languages and Culture Studies, Concentration – Culture Studies Spanish

Kathryn Elizabeth Brown

  • Major: English Writing Studies
  • Minor: Theater

Aaron Matthew Gregory Cook

  • Major: English
  • Minor: History

Taylor Marie Hough

  • Major: Education English and Inclusive Education (Bachelor of Science)

Emily E. Hyser

  • Major: English
  • Minor: English Journalism

Daniel J Irwin

  • Major: English Writing Studies
  • Honors College
  • Minor: General Applied Engineering & Technology

Leah Freeman

  • Major: English
  • Honors College
  • Minor: ESL/Linguistics
  • Minor: Psychology

Grace Annabelle Long

  • Major: English
  • Minor: History

Molly Kathleen Merson

  • Major: English
  • Minor: English Journalism

Jessica Lynn Rapp

  • Major: English
  • Minor: ESL/Linguistics

Jade Ryan

  • Major: Education English and Inclusive Education (Bachelor of Science)
  • Minor: Inclusive Education

Jocelyn Sarah Weitzman

  • Major: English

Kayla Kristina Young

  • Major: Language and Culture Studies
  • Major: Speech Communication (Bachelor of Science)

As this chapter closes in the book of your life, and you begin the next, remember that your Millersville family is always here for you. Our heartfelt congratulation to all of the graduates!

Special thank you to Artemis Harris (English GA), Jordan Traut (English GA), Drs. Justin Mando and Nicole Pfannenstiel for their work on this newsletter.

Congratulations 2020 Winter Graduates!

MESSAGES TO GRADUATES FROM YOUR ENGLISH FACULTY

Special Message from Chair Kim McCollum-Clark (click to expand)

Dear English Graduates,

Words on the page. That is what I am producing, and that is what I am thinking about as I grapple with how to congratulate you all as our latest Department of English graduates. The sentiments and emotions are right there: how proud we are of you and your efforts. How happy we hope you are at achieving such a significant life goal. How excited everyone in your lives must be—your family and friends and professors—to see what your next steps will mean for you.

Usually, we mark this time in your life with what some call a “threshold event,” in recognition of its special quality. We humans want to bring meaning to things, after all, and birth celebrations and weddings and funerals and Confirmations and bar/bat mitzvahs—these all say, this moment in time is special. These events creates a before and an after. We gather with the one being celebrated to mark that they stand on the cusp of something new, yet to unfold.

At graduations, the threshold event celebrates your commitment to your own future, as you have seen it emerge and develop. It is an event powered by your hard work, your late nights, the times you got over your doubt, the times you roared forth with confidence. At these events, as your professors, we all long to celebrate you, to hug or shake your hands, to greet your families and friends. We want to hear your plans for the future and remember the past we shared.

You know where this is going, of course. This year, we cannot do those things in each other’s company. You deserve such a celebration, for you have persisted and finished your degree in two of the wildest and most difficult semesters in American higher education history. You watched as your plans for victory laps and final moments on campus became smoke. I don’t want to focus on the grief and struggle that we have all encountered this year, but I cannot let it go unnamed either. Our campus, without you, is a lovely, but sterile place. We have been reminded, over and over, that these spaces are meant to animated by you and your dreams and your laughter, by your plots and jokes and just-squeaking in the door on time arrivals. This is one of the things we faculty have learned in this pandemic year.

We hope that, among the many things you have learned this year, you realized how strong, passionate, and capable you are when things get hard. You finished those courses, that internship, that thesis! (This is the part where the airhorns in the stands go off—insert your favorite HUZZAH sound here.) And one day, “Fall 2020” will just be words on a page. You will say, “I finished college in the middle of a pandemic!” and I hope your listener realizes the two most important words in this sentence are “I” and “FINISHED.” You brought it home. You MADE IT through in a time that has challenged every single person living through it. You held on to that thread that guided you here and leads you forward.

We are English folks, so we should know in our bones the powers of words on a page. Sometimes they seem ephemeral, like they have no hold on what is really happening. And then, mysteriously, because someone tried to set them down—they mark an occasion. They remind us of a piece of what we endured. They LAST. They can bring us back to who we were and how we felt. I hope these words have shared with you the bittersweet mixture of emotions we are feeling as we remember you, grieve our common loss of being separated from you early, and celebrate the next steps that await you. Let us know where you land and into what new adventures you take your piece of Millersville University. Congratulations, from everything we have in us, for all you have achieved.
-Dr. Kim McCollum-Clark
——————————————

Dear Graduates, You deserve the grandest of congratulations as you persevered through a truly challenging final stretch of your college careers. We value so much the hard work you have put into your time here and we wish you all the best as you move into the next chapters of your lives. You always have a home here at Millersville, so please stay connected. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep sharing your talents with the world!
-Dr. Justin Mando

Congratulations to you all!  We are so impressed with the individual ways you have made this degree your own  Please stay in touch.  We will miss you.
-Dr. Caleb Corkery

Dear Winter grads, congrats on achieving this major milestone, especially during such a difficult time! The world needs your talents now more than ever – we wish you the best for the future. Please keep in touch!
-Dr. Kaitlin Mondello

Congratulations on accomplishing this major milestone, despite the difficult times! I hope you keep this perseverance and courage through the rest of your life. And I hope you find ways to fulfill all your goals and dreams. Please return to your Millersville English family for our future alumni events!
-Dr. Katarzyna Jakubiak

Congratulations to all of you!  I have had the pleasure of working with nine of you, and all of you should be proud of your work and all your accomplishments through your time at Millersville.  I wish you the very best in your future and know you will all have many, many successes.  I can’t wait to hear about all of them!  As Henry David Thoreau said,
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Please keep in touch!

-Dr. Kerrie Farkas

Millersville University English graduates,
While you have read about numerous worlds in literary works, now it is time to create your own as you forge new paths post-graduation. This is an exciting time and nothing short of extraordinary. I wish you the best of luck and know you will succeed as you write your own narrative. Congratulations!

-Dr. Rivera-Lopez

Dear Winter 2020 Graduates in English:
Congratulations for your perseverance! You have reached an important milestone in your academic and professional lives in the midst of one of the most difficult times we have ever endured.
The skills you have developed, and the ways of being in the world that you have cultivated, will serve you well in the future. More than ever, our world will need people who can read carefully and critically, write persuasively, and help us to imagine different futures.
Best of luck!
-Dr. Tim Mayers

(Click on the names below for personalized messages to our graduates)

SYDNEY CLARK

Sydney, your serious, inquisitive nature will take you far, especially since it’s balanced with a caring heart. Look forward to seeing where you apply it. – Caleb Corkery

Syndey,
It was wonderful to have you in my classes throughout your years at Millersville. Congratulations on your graduation and good luck with all your plans!
Katarzyna Jakubiak

MIKIA CRAWFORD


Dear Mikia—I will miss having you in class ❤ But I am happy to see you graduating and moving on to greater things! I hope you continue to use what you have learned in film. Please keep in touch!
Jill Craven

Mikia, what fun to see you grow through these years. I remember thinking you were shy back as a freshman. You have so much to bring out there. Can’t wait to see it. – Caleb Corkery

Mikia,
Congratulations on your graduation! It was wonderful to have you in my classes throughout your studies at Millersville. I look forward to reading your ambitious final paper in the African American literature class. Best of luck with all your plans!
Katarzyna Jakubiak

NOAH HARTWELL

Noah,
Congratulations! You did it! I enjoyed being your advisor throughout the years, and I’m so glad you finally found your true interest in film at the end. Best of luck with all your plans!
Katarzyna Jakubiak

LEAH HOFFMAN


Leah is one of the hardest working students I’ve ever met. She studied abroad in Peru as part of her Spanish major, while staying in contact with me about her Writing Studies Honors thesis. I am so excited to see all that Leah will accomplish after graduation!
Nicole Pfannenstiel

Leah,
It was wonderful to have you in our creative writing class this semester. The writing you shared and the feedback you gave to your peers were so valuable. Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck with all your plans. I hope you keep writing and I hope to see you at our literary festivals in the future.
Katarzyna Jakubiak

KAREN LAYMAN

Way to go, Karen! Congratulations!! I look forward to hearing about your accomplishments in the future. I am sure great things await!!
Jill Craven

Congratulations, Karen! We’re all proud of your accomplishment and wish you the best in the future! I remember well cruising the Susquehanna River with you in our tandem kayak and the good work you did in that class.
Justin Mando

DYLAN MARCIANO – Magna Cum Laude

Wow, Dylan, I’m so proud of all your excellent work to graduate magna cum laude. We’ve been through so many years together, and I’m going to miss your visits, but I will look forward to meeting outside of Millersville for coffee and updates on you and Jess. I’m so excited for your future and the mark you will make on the world.
Jill Craven

I remember well the hard work you put into our Environmental Writing class and the creative way you approached the Tiny Ecology Project. I encourage you to continue to see the extraordinary in what others allow to pass them by. That’s a skill not everyone has and you’ve got it in spades! Best wishes to you in the future. I think you’re bound for many great accomplishments! -Justin Mando

BRIAN MARKLEY

Brian,
It was nice to have you in class this semester. I appreciated your regular contributions to our class discussions and your insightful observations. Congratulations on your graduation and good luck with all your plans!
Katarzyna Jakubiak

MONEE MYERS


Monee,
Congratulations on your graduation! I will miss you! It was great to follow the development of your creative writing and your interests in African American literature throughout your career at Millersville. Your presentation at Made in Millersville about identity and your struggle with diabetes last year was wonderful. Good luck with all your future plans! I hope you keep writing and I hope to see you at our literary festivals.
Katarzyna Jakubiak

You inspire me! The book of poems, perseverance through rough times, and all with such grace, organization, and positivity. So glad to have you in class in your last semester and get to know you better. Congratulations on your graduation! I look forward to hearing about all the successes you will have! Keep writing and getting your voice out there to inspire others!
Jill Craven

Monee is such a joy to work with. Her passion for writing is obvious in her assignments and research projects. She is working toward writing children’s books, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes!
Nicole Pfannenstiel

SARA PIZZO

Sara,
Congratulations on your graduation! We will all miss you here! You did a wonderful job with The George Street Press. Good luck with your teaching plans. I’m sure you will be an amazing educator! I hope to see you at our literary festivals in the future.
Katarzyna Jakubiak

Hi Sara,
Congratulations! I still remember the ethnographic essay you wrote about George Street Club in my 311 class. Keep up the great work and best wishes for everything!
Best,
Yufeng Zhang

MICAH REEDER



Micah,
All I can say is Oughtgeist, Oughtgeist, Outgeist! I can’t believe this is the first short story you have written, and I encourage you to try your hand at more as you have a gift! It was a pleasure having you (and your cat) in class. Best wishes to you and congratulations on your graduation.
Dr. Farkas

CHLOE REISINGER

Dear Chloe, I will miss the many notes. You always thought you were bothering, but I always loved that you were reaching out with your questions ❤ I’m a little teary that I won’t get to see you walk the stage—the culmination of all those emails and hard work! Congratulations, Chloe!!
Jill Craven

CINDY SANCHEZ

Cindy, what a delight working with you these past years. I’ll miss your easy-going, thoughtful style. You’ll have so much to contribute wherever you end up. – Caleb Corkery

Hi Cindy,
Congratulations! It has been a great pleasure to work with you this semester, and thank you for the perspectives you brought to our 464 class. Best wishes for everything!
Best,
Yufeng Zhang

COLIN VANDENBERG

Congratulations, Colin. Your road to graduation has been more challenging, and I know you have put in more effort than mere words can recognize to get here. I want to recognize all that extra effort, that has made this accomplishment all the more impressive. Wow, Colin!! Heartfelt wow!!
Jill Craven

Colin,
Congratulations on your huge achievement. It was a pleasure to have you in class (and to ride the bus with you regularly). I wish you all the best in the future. Please keep in touch as you wish. You know where to find me (over e-mail or in the office).
Warm regards,
Dominic Ording

Colin, congratulations on all you’ve accomplished. You are such a model of perseverance and life spirit. You’ve touched so many of us. Thank you. – Caleb Corkery

Make sure you watch the Millersville Alumni Graduation video:

MU Alumni send well wishes to Fall 2020 Graduates

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Aleko Kontos

Aleko’s family

Aleko is graduating with a BA in English and a minor in Studio Art.

With his strengths in writing and art and an internship at a television station, Aleko will bring a wealth of skills into the media industry.

Aleko values his time at Millersville for all the friendships he made (some seen above and below left, at Jack’s).

Aleko and friends at Jacks

As far as classes, Aleko loved “anything taught by the man, the myth, the legend, Dr. Tim ‘The Monster’ Miller.” We note that Dr. Miller is reaching legend status around here, and Aleko is not alone in his admiration!

For an internship, Aleko worked at LCTV Channel 66, the regional Lancaster County station;  Aleko made segments, pitched ideas, filmed, edited, animated, interviewed, and created graphics for the station. It was a broad and meaningful professional experience to prepare for a future in graphic design and television.

Aleko–we will miss your energy and charm!  We look forward to seeing your work on television and your impact on media. Congratulations!

 

Jordan Traut

Jordan Traut is graduating with a double major in English and Anthropology. Jordan plans to continue her education with an MA at Millersville University.

Jordan Traut made the most of every minute of her college education, both in and outside of Millersville.  Jordan planned well and worked with her adviser to maximize her experiences each year; she managed to finish the Honors College curriculum, to write a thesis, to study abroad, to do her internship in Japan, and to complete two majors–all in 3 years.  We celebrate her impressive initiative and her many accomplishments!

Jordan Traut in Hungary

Jordan’s research focused on flood narratives, specifically how the flood archetype in literature is universal and prevailing in the creation/religious texts of all cultures around the world.  In particular, she wrote her thesis on the Anishinaabe flood story in their creation teaching, noting how unchecked English-language translations of indigenous oral literature have had serious cultural ramifications.

While at Millersville, Jordan’s favorite class was Professor Karli’s  Reading our World: Masculinity in Literature because the content she learned in that course was relevant and applicable to countless other courses. Some of her favorite books, however, were read in Dr. Jakubiak’s American Ethnic Literature course.

Jordan not only studied abroad in Japan, but also completed her internship there.  She served as the Flash Quote Reporter for Rugby News Service during the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. How cool is that?  She got to travel to different stadiums in Japan and interview the players one-on-one. She loved seeing all the different cultures come together during the games.

Jordan with some ice cream in Hungary

Back at home, Jordan has enjoyed the community that the English Department created for its students. She especially felt that at the English Awards Dinner last May, where she received the Cynthia Dilgard Award for her essay on the continuing relevance of Shakespeare. This year, Jordan also received the Dilworth-McCollough Award, given to a student who has achieved excellence in English literature.  In addition to being selected as the first Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Fellow, Jordan was also awarded a MUSE (MU Summer Experience) grant for her research.

One aspect that made Jordan’s time at Millersville special was her work with various communities on campus. During her years at Millersville, Jordan participated in clubs and organizations like Friends and Advocates for Native Nations (FANN), the Honors College Student Association, and the Honors College Curriculum Committee.  She particularly enjoyed developing academic relationships with so many of the English faculty who helped her in so many ways.

As many jobs in the field Jordan is interested in require additional education, and often a masters, she has applied to MU for graduate studies in English. She looks forward to learning and doing more at Millersville!

We feel very lucky to have Jordan in our community for another two years!  We are looking forward to working with you, Jordan, on your next chapter.

Sean Guckert (Blue)

Sean Guckert will be graduating with a BA in Writing Studies and continuing on to Graduate school.  Many of us will remember Sean for that amazing poem “Sick Note” he performed at the Literary Festival and his always perceptive questions from the back of the room.

Sean Guckert reading “Sick Note” at the MU Literary Festival 2019

Millersville English is inspired by Sean Guckert. Many of us will always remember Sean for his superb poem “Sick Note” he wrote about disability for the fall 2019 MU Literary Festival. This was a moving piece about emailing a professor when you have to miss class as the result of a serious disability. It was an incredible rumination on invisible illness, chronic pain, stigma, and the social impact of physical and mental disabilities. His reading received a standing ovation, and the writing experience inspired him to get involved with the Spring 2020 Disability Pride fest. Unfortunately, this festival has been postponed this year due to Covid-19, but he hopes to be involved in the future.

Sean’s interests are in Feminist Rhetorical Theory.  He wrote his thesis as a call to action for men to transcend virtue signalling, and take real action on Feminist and Women issues. In his thesis, he wants men to act, to be informed, and to be empathetic–not just be supportive or an ally with words. Sean felt it was a personal challenge to explore his own failings, to take accountability, and to start paving a way with his writing to explore and effect change.

Sean Guckert discussing literature with Dr. Jakubiak

Given his interests, not surprisingly Sean’s favorite course at Millersville was Gender & Race Issues in Children’s Literature (EDUC 433) with Dr. Jennifer Burke. He describes it as “an awe inspiring experience, especially for someone working on a Children’s book. Dr. Burke exposed and introduced us to the myriad issues involved with getting the most marginalized among us to be heard and to be seen.”

Sean will be continuing his education in Graduate school here at Millersville University, focusing on his writing studies. He is working on a children’s book and potential series that he hopes to complete and ready for a publisher by the end of 2021. He is also writing a television pilot and speculation script.

Sean was grateful for the many connections he made at Millersville:

I was treated with so much kindness, respect, and thoughtfulness by my peers, the faculty, and the administration. Being an older, non-traditional student can be tough, but I will never forget how wonderful everyone at Millersville was during my three years there as a full-time student. More specifically, my advisor, Dr. P (Pfannenstiel) helped guide me through many challenging experiences. I am eternally grateful for her wisdom, mentorship and patience. (sorry ’bout all of those emails). Dr. Greg Bowen for always being there for me with his dry erase board to work out those dastardly tree diagrams. And Dr. Jill Craven for our impromptu pseudo therapy sessions.

We at Millersville look forward to continuing our journey with Sean as a graduate student and to seeing his drafts turn into publications. We can’t wait to celebrate your successes, Blue!

Dear Dyslexia: The Struggles and Strengths of Dyslexia

Dear Dyslexia,

I am left speechless by how much I have to say to you.

I hate you, because you kept me from reading and writing for so long. Being in third grade and still not being able to spell “of” was diminishing. Failing all my spelling tests for years, despite the time I sat and studied with my mother. My run-on sentences were longer than the Empire State building is tall. To this day, I still read three times slower than my peers. I still can not spell, and comma splices are enemy number one. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have people continuously point out your spelling mistakes? To tell you how you are spelling so badly that a child can spell better than you? Do you know how stupid you made me feel for so long? I dropped a college course because of you. The textbook didn’t make sense, and they graded on spelling. I changed my major because of you. Even as a child you made me feel lost and inferior as I saw all the other kids reading and writing years above my grade level. I had to work so darn hard to catch up, and I still read and write slower. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t dyslexic.

I love you, because I learned to think differently from a young age. Even in middle school I would create arguments about characters in literature that opposed the teachers, arguments that forced their perspectives in a new directions. I love you because I was taught pain and struggle from a young age. I knew how to empathize with others and learned how to see from their perspectives, even if they were nothing like me. I love you because you made me think differently. I think in patterns. I excel at mathematics. You did that. You taught me. You gave me the persistence and grit I need to get through life. You taught me to always bounce back from setbacks. You taught me to deeply analyze. Dyslexia made me a better person.

Through the good and the bad, we are a team. I didn’t get a choice in that, but I am getting used to it. Life is tough sometimes, but we wrestled through it together. We failed together, and we succeed together. I see a bright future, despite the dark past. We don’t look there anymore. I’ll take all the things you have shown me along the way and walk with you into whatever the heck is in front of us.

–You know who

Reading Masculinities in our World

The spring, Professor Shaun Karli taught Reading Our World: Masculinity in English.  Today, Professor Karli reviewed the course and some of the history of Masculinity Studies for Women & Gender Studies students and faculty.  The following is commentary about the course, by student Jacob Dickens.

 

Shaun Karli teaching about masculinities
Shaun Karli teaching about masculinities

Every so often, I like to talk to my friend in Canada through the chatting app Discord about our favorite shows, YouTube videos we both love (we will send everything related to the artist Jack Stauber to each other, it’s a problem), and our personal lives. When I talked to him about my remaining classes before the semester’s end, I mentioned that I was enrolled in the class Reading Our World: Masculinity, an English class that explored different facets of masculinity through various short stories, plays, and books. He sort of scoffed at it and said, “I’m sure it’s a good class and all, but it just seems weird”. He wasn’t the only person to show hesitation about the class. Other people in the class talked about their friends acting incredulous when the class was mentioned, as if the idea of studying what our culture expects men to be is ridiculous or unnecessary. But to those people I say that this class was not only fascinating, but something that every student should consider attending when it becomes available.

The class was structured in a typical English format: a reading due and a discussion in class. But the discussions themselves felt loose enough that we were free to discuss whatever facets of masculinity we were interested in. In a recent class, a presentation on masculinity in American Beauty lead to a nearly hour-long discussion of masculinity in the Star Wars series (including about 15 minutes of explaining the premise of the series to classmates who hadn’t seen it). The class was also structured to discuss intersectional masculinity, the idea of men’s expectations overlapping in their race and class. For instance, the way that Troy in August Wilson’s “Fences” expresses his masculinity as a working-class black man is very different from how Yunior would in Junot Diaz’s “Drown” as a lower-class Dominican teenager. After a few classes, it was as if our class had developed its own language, discussing “breadwinner dynamics” and “hegemonic masculinity”.

Ultimately, the class showed me the various societal pressures we place on boys and men to assimilate as the “ideal man” and how ultimately destructive it can be. In America, the ideal man that is presented to us in the media continues to be one that isn’t vulnerable emotionally, that views women as a prize or a sex object, that exercises power by dominating over his colleagues or enemies. These are the idealized images of men and masculinity and they have been for decades. And these images reflect back into what we expect of men in our culture. A 2019 Pew Research survey found that more than eight in ten men nationwide say they face pressure to be “emotionally strong”. This bottling of emotions can be damaging to many men and provide them with little or no nonviolent outlets that are seen as acceptably masculine. It’s worth examining other, more positive ways to encourage boys and men to accept that they can forge their own paths in their masculinity and shouldn’t feel burdened having to match societal standards. You don’t have to be sexually active to be masculine. You don’t have to be violent to be masculine. You can be masculine and feel vulnerable and scared. It’s worth looking at these in an academic sense to fully understand these pressures through a wide variety of lenses and so I end by encouraging everyone to not only look into what they think a man should be or look like but why they think that. It’s worth doing so the men in our community and abroad don’t feel so tied down by this intangible idea of men.

–Jacob Dickens

Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/23/americans-views-on-masculinity-differ-by-party-gender-and-race/

Education Justice Rally Speech – April 23rd, 2019 – Nathan Warren

Hello, my name is Nathan Warren, and I’m a senior here at Millersville. I’m studying English Education, because I believe that communication is key to how we understand the world, and I want to pass that on to younger generations. Currently, I work 18 hours a week on campus, take five classes a semester, and worry every day if I will be able to afford my way through to graduation. Even if I can, I’m surrounded by the reality of being in debt for life.

I’m a member of the Pennsylvania Student Power Network, which has empowered me to speak up against the injustices affecting students and society. We’re in campuses across the state, building connections between colleges and showing us that we are not alone in our struggles. If we unify as students, we can make our voices heard and make the change we need.

College feels like a process you go through, more than one you learn during, and I am often too stressed about my finances to put my full effort into my classwork. How can I be expected to write essays at my best when I are wondering when I will lose my roof? I’m too scared of costs to heat my apartment in the middle of winter, and I know I’m not alone. Plus, overwork in attempt to make ends meet is all too common among students, and as a disabled person, I am constantly fatigued trying to navigate the exhausting modern college student way of life. I have whole-body pain daily, but I still must take on a full workload in order to survive.

Where's the Funding?
Where’s the Funding?

Disabled, working, and other marginalized students are forced to confront numerous additional barriers to education and are the last thought about by educational administrations. I want to truly learn in an environment that cares about the unique lives of students and understands that workload and finances severely limit the potential of the people who are making the future.

When it’s part of the college experience to skip meals because they’re too expensive, when it’s part of the college experience to sleep on the floor without a mattress because it’s too expensive, when it’s part of the college experience to work two or three jobs on top of a full semester because rent is too expensive, there are issues in education. These are experiences that not only I have had, but many of my friends and classmates have had as well. For example, the term ‘food insecure’ was originally used as a euphemism to refer to other countries, but now it’s a word every college student understands; nobody should be ‘food insecure’. We’re forced to accept these conditions as a normal part of what it means to be in college, but we shouldn’t have to.

That’s why I support the PA Promise as a step toward affordability for all. I’m a member of the PA Student Power Network, a statewide organization of students advocating for justice, for us and for our communities. We believe that nobody is free til we’re all free, as the civil rights organizer Fannie Lou Hamer once said. We’re ready to make our voices heard, and ensure that all students have free and accessible education—no matter whether you’re undocumented, have a criminal record, or are an older or nontraditional student who’s had to take time off.

As a state, Pennsylvania ranks 47th in state funding for higher education, and as a result we as students have the highest levels of college debt in the country. While tuition fees at colleges are going up, state funding is going down. The PA Promise would cover two years of tuition at PA community colleges and four years of tuition at PA state system schools, including Millersville. This would apply to recent high school graduates whose families make less than $110,000 a year. The PA Promise would be life-changing for many.

I also want to make sure this vision is accessible for all. As we know, there is a lot of diversity in who is a student and who wants to be a student- there is no single way to be a student. We also need to think about students who are disowned by their families for being queer, or students who have had to take leave for medical issues, or students who are returning to college after a long period of time. If these students are able to access education, our society will truly change for the better, with creativity and education leading the way to innovation.

Imagine a world with free college, a world where education is acknowledged as a human right. What change will this bring you? I’m excited to support PA Promise as a step towards this world, and to keep building the power of students and communities. I encourage you to bring what you’re learning today back to others; share the feelings and energies of a space that won’t settle for injustice. Talk to your friends, your family, your peers; show them that there is a way we can do something, as a people. These conversations are how we will make change.

Nate Warren
Millersville Pennsylvania Student Power Network

Pen America’s World Voices Festival Update

Karrah Keck is a Public Relations Major at Millersville University who went on the trip to Pen America’s World Voices Festival in NYC with Dr. Jakubiak’s New Dimensions to World Literature Class last semester.

On Thursday, April 19th, 2018 my English class taught by Dr. Jakubiak traveled to New York City to hear a panelist of authors from all over the world speak at a convention called Cry, the Beloved Country. The festival was for Pen America’s World Voices Festival which is centered around bringing together world literature and ideas.

The group of authors we listened to each read a piece of their writings in their own native language to authenticate and appreciate its origins. Every single piece that was read dealt with a conflict that each author’s country experienced and had to endure. For Cry. the Beloved Country there were a total of six authors:

  • Ryszard Krynicki: Poland
  • Serhiy Zhadan: Ukraine
  • Marcos Aguinis: Argentina
  • Ngugi wa Thiang’o: Kenya
  • Hwang Sok-yong: Korea
  • Negar Djavadi: Iran/France

After each had finished, the audience was able to meet the authors and have them sign any works they had written. This was a great time for me and my class. Some of us brought along our book The River Between written by Mr. Ngugi wa Thiang’o that we had read in class and got to not only have him sign our novels but to ask him questions about the book we had discussed so heavily. All of the questions we had about the book he was able to answer. To actually meet an author who had written one of my favorite books we had read all semester was such an amazing experience.

Some of us didn’t have any pieces of literature written by the authors, but that did not stop us from talking to them about their inspirations and experiences. I had four out of the six authors sign my program that I was given so I didn’t go away completely empty handed. Every author I spoke to was so insightful and had such grace to their craft that I could not help but feel inspired when they spoke to me. Discussing literature in a classroom is beneficial but hands down, nothing beats talking to the author that actually wrote it.

Taking this trip was one of my favorite things of my freshman year here at Millersville. I cannot even begin to express how fortunate I feel to have been given the opportunity to go and hear this group of authors speak. It is something I truly will never forget. It opened my knowledge of the world and had me think, truly think about the impact that conflict has on literature and the impact literature has on us as humans. It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of something greater than myself. It’s not only eye opening, it is life impacting. I will forever be grateful that I took advantage of this opportunity and went on this trip of a lifetime.

-Karrah Keck

 

Student Profile: Helen Reinbrecht

Helen Reinbrecht interned at CASA Berks for her internship. Read more about her experiences below! 

As a student working towards a Bachelor’s in English I was required to complete a 120 hour internship. I worked for CASA Berks as a communications and social media intern. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and is a national nonprofit that trains volunteers to advocate for children in the foster care system. After starting my internship, I quickly learned that as much as my classes at Millersville University taught me how to write and how to research topics to write about, writing as a profession or as an organization demands more in-depth involvement than any of my classes asked of me.

In order to succeed in my internship, I used my skills as a writer and a researcher. I learned about grants, marketing, fundraising, and the general organization of a nonprofit. I also had to make an effort to learn about services and fields not related to English. I needed to write about children in the foster system and involved with the legal system and the issues these children and families face. I needed to write about these situations so that my readers and social media followers would be able to understand the problems facing these people, what they could do to help, and how CASA Berks was already helping.

To start, I researched statistics on the foster care system. I went to court to learn about dependency hearings, which are proceedings that decide whether children will go into foster care system or, if the children are already in foster care, be returned to their parents. I learned that most parents present at a dependency hearing are not “bad parents” but just about all of them were dealing with mental health and/or a substance abuse problem. So, I researched substance abuse in Pennsylvania to learn more about what is being done and how substance abuse affects children, their parents, and their grandparents.

This is just one example of how my research and knowledge on the subject developed past the original broad issue of foster care. Funding for children and children’s programs is another example of a knowledge rabbit hole or the social issues that can arise after children age out of foster care and what impact that has on the community. In short, no subject is an iceberg. In my experience, having an English degree means continually learning about new subjects and critically thinking about the issues that stem from the original topic. By being open to learning about new subjects, I was more successful at writing and communicating the needs of those I was writing about. With an understanding of who and what I was writing about I could make my points stronger and write more confidently about what needs to be done. Also, on a more superficial note, learning about these new subjects made the job more fun. It would have been easier to simply add in the statistics provided to me, but taking the time to actually go out and learn about a subject and talk to people or observe people who have a vested interest in what I was writing about added depth to the topic.

On another note, much of my internship revolved around posting on social media. This means that I needed to find pictures or videos to post, especially for Instagram. As CASA Berks is a relatively new nonprofit there were not a lot of pictures and even fewer videos for me to use. I had to find other sources of media. I mainly used the National CASA Association’s pictures and videos, but I also used the website called Creative Commons, which I heard about in an Education class. This website allows users to search for pictures and videos that are free from copyright and. therefore, most people are able to use them freely. As an English major I learned more about written plagiarism instead of copyright laws, but in a professional position I had to make sure that all of my posts and work follow the laws.

Another subject that I did not think of much in my English classes but made an appearance in my internship is statistics. While misrepresenting statistics usually has less dire causes than misrepresenting who owns a picture or who wrote a quote, to be a legitimate source of information I have found that it is good to understand at least a little bit of statistics to understand potential biases and how statistics can be misleading. Alternatively, and I was not at a level to do this, some marketing campaigns may use the statistics that best represent the product instead of the statistics that are the most clear.

This is part of why I think English and writing is so interesting as a field to be in. When one is writing there is almost always a bias. The writer is trying to convey an idea as they see it. There are some exceptions, journalism being the most commonly perceived bias-free writing, but even in journalism one can find bias in the word choices used or the pictures that go with the article. I am not the only intern to work for a CASA organization. There are interns all over the country who have the same goals and who are working with the same groups of people that I did.  We all learned, in a general sense, the same type of information, but we all made different decisions of what to post or what to include in a newsletter based on our biases of what we think is important and what we think our audience will find important.

By taking a job that requires you to write, you have an obligation to continue learning about all matter of subjects, but you can also have the freedom to express your opinions on these subjects and educate other people. As a source of information, whether the medium is a novel, an advertisement, a news article, a blog, or a social media post, you can influence people. I did not truly realize this until I was in a situation where I did feel that I could make a difference in children’s lives. You have a power, use it wisely!

Helen Reinbrecht