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When were you enrolled in the program?

Respondent #19: August 1996- August 1997

How did you learn of the program?

I was applying for graduate English programs at universities around the
country and received information on UVA's English Dept, with descriptions
of specialized M.A. programs (including American Studies).

Why did you enter the program, and did it meet your expectations?

I was interested in specializing in American literature and I was unsure
about whether I wanted to commit myself to obtaining a PhD or if I would
stop after the M.A. After I found out the goals of the program,
particularly giving English graduate students practical and interesting
skills, combined with the fact that I could concentrate on American
literature and use the interdisciplinary nature to feed my other
interests, it seemed like an ideal situation. Another advantage was the
fact that it was such a quick process...and as there is no funding for
M.A.'s it decreased the pressure of the loans I had to take to earn an
M.A. I turned down a funded PhD position at another university because I
understood the job market to be so poor for PhD's and I felt that this
degree would give me much more flexibility and a number of options.

What did you find most valuable about the program?

1) a marketable skill set
2) a mentor that put his students first, and a support group of students
and former students for advice and job help in a large and often
impersonal department
3) short time frame
4) interdisciplinary nature of the program

Was the program different in any significant ways from your earlier

Certainly. I was given some practical application for my interests and
abilities, while maintaining emphasis on the subject matter that I loved.

Did the program help you develop any of these aspects of your life?

-Thinking and communicating?
-Work habits?
-Research abilities?
-Technical abilities?
Yes, it helped dramatically in all of these areas. Any work at discussion
and writing is a way of improving thinking and communication
skills...particularly when you are considering your work in a public venue
that needs to be accessible to many audiences (such as the Web). Work
habits and research abilities are always brought to new levels in graduate
My technical abilities were increased exponentially. I had never even
been on the World Wide Web and I now work in a Web Center and have
recently been hired by a private company to be their Director of Web
Training and Technical Support.

To what extent did your classmates affect your experience in the program?

It is a real pleasure to have a close community of people working on the
same projects and with similar experiences, so it certainly added to my
graduate school experience.

To what extent did the public venue (the Internet) for much your work
affect your experience in the program?

Again, there is a specific emphasis on writing style, etc, that is
intended for a Web audience. Your work feels much more relevant and
accessible. I have been out a couple of years and I still receive
feedback on my sites every few weeks. I have started conversations with
numerous professors and graduate students who were interested in my work,
as well as being able to help out some younger students who had questions
and needed research advice. It is a real pleasure to feel that your hard
work is seen, evaluated and often appreciated by more than one professor
or one small group of academics at a conference. It also gave me a venue
to advertise my work for potential employers to see and evaluate.

Was the course work appropriate to the goals of the program?

Yes, I believe so.

Did you perceive yourself as part of any university department or
community larger than the American Studies Program itself?

Yes. I certainly felt myself to be part of the English Department itself.
I worked as a grader and I took other English courses. Most of my friends
were members of the general M.A. or PhD programs, as well.

How well was interdisciplinary study integrated in the program?

As well as it could be...though of course there are times when one wishes
for certain classes to be offered the semester one immediately wants to
take them...and that is often not an option. There were definitely
professors from other departments, however, who worked closely with
American Studies students and were very accessible and accomodating for

Were the following resources (and any other ones) adequate for your work?

-Libraries? yes
-Computers and technical support? we could have used better equipment and
-Work space? I was part of a very small American Studies class, so the
space issue was not too serious, however, I think all other years have had
much larger groups and I would imagine that work space was a problem
-Classes? yes
-Faculty? Alan Howard is very dedicated to the program and to improving
the program for his students and did an excellent job of teaching and
managing the goals of the group. Some of the other professors (Railton,
Ayers, Purdue) were also very supportive and welcoming to American Studies
students and our specific interests.
-Financial support? Completely inadequate...there was no reasonable
financial support option

During the program did you have any relevant part-time employment?
I worked as a grader for an Ethnic Women's Lit class with Caroline
Rody...relevant and enjoyable, as I was very interested in teaching as
well as technology.

Please describe briefly your major forms of schooling and/or employment
since your time in the program (giving dates, name of organization, and
chief activities there):

UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) Web Center: Content Specialist,
Trainer and User Support. I do the writing and editing for a university
Web site, as well as teaching software classes and handling user support
for the software we use to run the Web site.
I have also been teaching a 200- level Introductory literature class here
at the university in the evenings as an adjunct instructor.
I have just recently been hired by Allegiance Technologies as the Director
of Web Training and Technical Support and I will begin work there in a few

Did you find advising and placement support in the program to be adequate?

I found it to be very helpful, and from what I heard from my friends
graduating with a regular M.A., remarkably helpful and far and beyond the
help they were (or were not) receiving. I still feel that I would have
liked more help that was M.A./liberal arts specific from the UVA career
center itself.

Has your involvement in the program made a discernible difference in the
subsequent steps of your career?

Absolutely. I have high demand technical skills along with my stong
writing and communication abilities, giving me an edge in technical fields
where the bulk of hiring goes on these days.

How might the program be strengthened?

Funding for students would be a real help. Possibly offering some sort of
a technical catch-up class the summer before (either in VA, electronic
course, correspondence style) to help get people who are not already
technically savvy up to speed on some of the basics and background of the
Web and the software that we use for graphic design, etc.

Any other reflections?

I would be glad to be contacted for more information, etc...my home phone
is xxx.xxx.xxxx.