English Alumni

Tyler Moss

Tyler Moss

Class of 2011

Managing Editor, Writers Digest

"The summer before arriving at UP, I made the decision to major in English based on my passion for reading and writing. At the time, I didn't have the foresight to think about the marketable competencies such an education would offer—I just wanted to consume books and discuss them with fellow literary nerds. The skills I developed, however, had a far broader application than I could’ve ever imagined. In addition to improving the overall quality of my writing, I learned how to form clear and cogent arguments supported by strong evidence. Even more unexpected was the prowess I would gain in terms of the ability to conduct research—a proficiency that is highly valued in any number of career paths. After earning my degree from UP in 2010, I was able to leverage this knowledge to receive a master's in journalism from Northwestern. Today I am the managing editor of Writer’s Digest, a national publication for professional and aspiring writers, and have had bylines in publications such as Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, New York, The Atlantic, Playboy and Mental Floss."

Jen Vierck

Jen Vierck

Class of 2009

Writers’ Assistant on The Mindy Project

"I’ve always loved stories. I gobbled books, movies, and (of course) television. At the University of Portland I was introduced to a whole new world of stories, but more importantly I gained the tools to think critically about them. I learned to ask questions about what makes a story compelling, how to form them structurally, and what connects stories to us as human beings. I realized during a screenwriting class at UP that I’d never had more fun doing anything in my life. And it was at the University of Portland that I decided film and TV writing could be more than just a hobby.

A few years later, I pursued my MFA of Screenwriting at Chapman University and moved to Los Angeles. I’ve now worked on The Mindy Project, a comedy airing on Hulu, for three seasons and spend my days interacting with some of the funniest and smartest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I’ve never lost my passion for story, and someday soon I hope to be creating my own!"

Kevin Hannon

kevin Hannon

Class of 2012

Student Services Associate, Stanford University

"As an English major at UP, I recall being constantly challenged to look at literature with an open mind and a critical eye. While there are a multitude of perspectives you can take on a poem or a novel, the outstanding professors in the English department reinforced the value that, before making a claim, it is important to read carefully, write intentionally, and be able to defend your perspective with facts. In a time when we are bombarded with information and one can present opinion as fact with a simple status update or tweet, the skills that we are taught by the English professors at UP are invaluable in pushing us to be life-long learners with a sense of integrity and a desire for truth. These skills have been especially influential in my life after graduation, in which moving around the country and in working with various organizations, I continuously push myself to remain open to the views of others, especially those whose perspective differ from mine own, while also not fearing to have a challenging conversation when it presents itself. 

Now, to be honest, I am one of those individuals that never really truly felt ready to leave the college atmosphere. After moving out of Portland, I worked for multiple educational institutions including a Cristo Rey college-prep high school in Newark, NJ and later the Student Health Center at New York University. I currently find myself at Stanford University, in which I work closely in assisting high school students earn college credit as a part of the High School Summer College department. With my time at UP and the work I have done afterwards, I have come to realize just how passionate I am about working in education. I love being able to both provide administrative support to make academic programs more successful, and also assisting students along their own educational journeys. I credit the UP English department, and specifically the amazing amount of support I received from professors, both in and outside the classroom, for inspiring me with this appreciation for learning and development. Thank you so much!"

Moon Williams

Moon Williams

Class of 2012

Editor/Proofreader

"From my first day as a UP student when I sat down in Dr. Lou Masson’s Studies in the Short Story course, I never once questioned whether an English major was the right choice for me. The UP English Department offers a wonderful variety of courses, a couple of my favorites being Satire and City Life in American Literature, and the professors’ passion for their subjects is contagious. I was introduced to numerous authors and genres that reinforced my love of reading while broadening my worldview. Through the English Department, I was able to take advantage of opportunities that enriched my learning, career, and life: I worked as a writing assistant at the UP Writing Center, was co-editor in chief of Writers magazine during my senior year, and even met and interviewed one of my favorite authors in person.

The English professors who were so influential during my time on the Bluff continued to provide support and mentorship after graduation as I looked to begin a career in publishing. I’m now living my dream, working as an editor/proofreader for an academic publisher in San Diego, California."

Laura Eager

Laura Eager

Class of 2012

Secondary Teaching Candidate

“The best part of my experience as an English major was my wonderful professors. They are smart, caring, funny, and engaging. My introduction to the department my freshman year was a happy one, when I had Dr. Asarnow as my English 112 professor. His acting out stories and poems always made me look forward to coming to class each day. I eventually took two more classes from him and he was also my advisor. Dr. Larson was not only my professor for two classes, but also my supervisor when I was a Writing Assistant for two years, and my senior thesis advisor. I worked closely with Dr. Brassard when I was president of the English Society. I studied abroad in London during the summer of 2010 and got to know the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Fr. Rowan, through his Shakespeare class. Four years after graduation, I still keep in touch with some of my professors. One of the advantages of having attended a small university like UP is the ability to develop close relationships with professors. I don't know if I would have developed such relationships at a larger university.  This year I will begin my single subject credential program at St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA, where I plan to teach middle or high school English.”

Jessie Hethcoat

Jessie Hethcoat

Class of 2012

Second Year Podiatric Medical Student 

"My undergraduate experience has prepared me to begin a career in medicine. I believe college should be about the act of pursuing higher education rather than completing a series of requirements to say one did so. Accordingly I took my four years in undergraduate study to take the classes that I believed would facilitate intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth, with confidence that a career path would become more clear to me as I took the time to figure out how I am best suited to serve the world around me. The skills that I developed while studying literature and psychology are transferable to medicine. Each encounter with a patient is a new story, and their complaint a new puzzle that must be solved. Just as physics and calculus taught me a way of solving complex problems, the study of literature taught me disciplined thinking and analysis. To trace a theme and formulate an argument on a fictitious work taught me to analyze the work on both micro and macro levels, and required each assertion made to have clear and abundant textual evidence. I learned to not only see the world from a multitude of perspectives, but I also honed the ability to find the interesting, strange, and surprising in a body of work, including the way by which it is presented to its reader. Through my studies of written language, I have come to appreciate the economy of words and will incorporate my writing skills in both my medical practice and contribution to the field of healthcare at large. Through my study of psychology, I developed the practical skills of research methods and analysis, as well as in depth study of humans across a lifespan and the nature of the human mind. I firmly believe that I am prepared to eventually become a physician, which is a task that requires precision and complete attention to detail."

Ian Clark

Ian Clark

Class of 2013

Masters in Irish Literature, Trinity College Dublin

"The English Department at UP might be small, but it's one of the most vibrant departments on campus, hosting countless visiting writers and lecturers while also organizing the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature, an excellent platform for students to practice presenting their work in a conference setting. More important than all of that, however, is the faculty. UP's English professors enthusiastically step into mentoring roles with their students, providing individualized attention that you simply don't see at larger institutions. As such, English students enjoy an enviable intersection of abundant resources and focused faculty attention. English at UP is, in my opinion, the best of the best."

Emily Barrett

Emily Barrett

Class of 2010

School Psychologist

"After I graduated from UP in 2010, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. My degree in English had inspired in me a fascination with people- both in reality and characters in fiction- and I wanted to continue to learn about why people think how they think and do what they do. Coupled with a love for children, my interests ultimately led me to the field of School Psychology. I received my master’s in School Psychology from the University of Oregon in 2014, and I now work at two elementary schools in Milwaukie, Oregon.

As a school psychologist, I spend my days evaluating students for special education, consulting with teachers to develop behavior support plans, and supporting students and families who struggle with things like mental health concerns, poverty, and homelessness. My job is always challenging, entertaining, and complicated, and there is definitely no “typical day.” I truly loved having 4 years at UP to delve into my passion for literature, and I know it helped develop my interest in the human mind. In addition, there is no question that my writing skills were honed in college, and I can quickly whip out clearly written and organized 10-page evaluation reports because of my background in English.  And although I often miss having the time for literature, I get two months off in the summers to read to my heart’s content!"

Annemarie Grimaldi

Annemarie Grimaldi

Class of 2008

High School English Department Head

"Majoring in English taught me the most transferable skill that I could need in any career path I choose: the ability to communicate. My professors helped shape me into a better writer, class discussions taught me to communicate my ideas and thoughts about a text, and subsequently, about life, and ultimately I learned to have confidence in my own voice. I can't think of any career path I could have chosen that does not require these skills. 

Currently, I am the English Department Head at a private, Catholic High School, which serves exclusively low-income, high risk students. We are part of the Cristo Rey Network, which aims to make quality, college-prep education accessible to all regardless of socio-economic status. The average income of our students (for a family of four) is approximately $24,000/year which, in Boston, puts our students well below the poverty line, yet we boast a 100% college acceptance and attendance rate for our seniors. I am privileged to be able to work with my students, who inspire and amaze me each day. Attending UP, and majoring in English, gave me to tools I needed to be successful in this career path, and I am grateful for being able to use the opportunities I was given at UP to contribute to a greater good."

Alex Dickinson

Alex Dickinson

Class of 2013

Copywriter

"I'm now working as a copywriter for an independent creative agency here in Portland. To most, that probably doesn't mean anything (I didn't know what a copywriter was until my senior year). All it means is that I write. I write web content, app content, and scripts for video content, for brands like Nike and Google and Ace Hotel. It's fun and I consider myself pretty lucky.

UP made me into the writer and thinker that I am. Much of what I do on a daily basis is high-level conceptual thinking and strategy, which I'm so much better at because I practiced reading and analyzing work. But the other big part of my job is looking at writing under a magnifying glass. The patience acquired from taking my time with my own writing in school, scrutinizing every word, to meet the high standards set by my instructors, showed me what it takes to make the best piece of writing possible. And that's what's required of a professional writer.

Another lesson I took away from UP is that you can get better as a writer. Maybe other people just know that, but I didn't. At least to some extent, I just thought of writing as a talent you're born with. But just seeing how much I've gotten better with practice makes me excited about what's to come. 

Writing and getting better is hard work. It's draining. Sometimes it makes your head hurt. Sometimes it makes you want need a drink. But doing that kind of work has helped me grow as both a person and as a writer. So I think something that's helped me is finding other things that fill me up (maybe running and climbing and yoga rather than drinking), and working out the balance between those and writing."

Amie Windsor

Amie Windsor

Class of 2008

Reporter, Sonoma West Times & News

"One of the practices we often went through in my English classes at UP included understanding scenes or chapters from different characters' points of views. Learning to understand a situation from different perspectives has never been an easy task for me. Admittedly, I am self-centered person. Yet, as a newspaper reporter I work in a career that is very community-oriented. Learning to understand experiences from multiple perspectives, as I did in my English classes at UP has made me a better reporter. It makes me ask deeper questions from unique angles. It helps me give voices to the secondary characters in stories, to which my community has responded well. It's surprising how analyzing characters has helped me so much!"

Calling all English alumni!  Send us an email at brassard@up.edu with an update.

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