This post by guest blogger Christine Lairson.
Each speaker expressed enjoyment and appreciation for the experiences in his or her respective Ph.D. programs. Dr. Brooke Hunter, who received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in medieval literature, discussed statistics regarding job growth (and stagnancy), employer's bias in gender, age, and race, and the importance of funding and networking. Following Dr. Hunter's perspective, Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh, who received his Ph.D. in English from Yale University with a specialization in modernist poetry, shared anecdotes of his own job search and the struggles of his colleagues to land tenure-track positions at universities. Although Ted Howell, who completed Villanova's English MA program several years ago and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Temple's English department, was unable to attend the event, he sent a handout listing his tips for the curious, current MA students. He focused on the application process, encouraging prospective students to apply to as many programs that fit their research interests as possible and to be careful in crafting personal statements.
While they feasted on pizza, the students participated in a lively Q-and-A session, making inquiries specific to the individual's interests and concerns. The evening concluded with those in attendance feeling much more prepared for the decision ahead: whether or not to pursue a doctoral degree. The overall consensus is that the event successfully cultivated a warm, comfortable environment where students could express their hopes and anxieties regarding a career in academia and receive advice and support from those in the department who recently completed the process. This community is just one of the reasons why the English MA program is beloved by its students.