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Alumni Profile: Calinda Shely

I currently am in the Ph.D. program in English literature at the University of New Mexico, where I work as a teaching assistant. I teach two first-year writing courses per semester. This position requires me to plan and execute the two courses so as to adhere to the university’s first-year composition outcomes. I am entirely independent in this planning and execution, which can be stressful, especially because I have my own coursework to do, but the training I received at ASU has prepared me well.

I chose to attend ASU for both my B.A. and M.A. degrees. The Carr Scholarship was a big part of my decision in choosing ASU for my undergraduate education; it paid for part of my tuition, far more than I would have received from any of the other universities I had applied to. I was also a charter member of ASU’s newly formed Honors Program, and the promise of further educational opportunities in that area influenced me to come there.

I chose to pursue my M.A. at ASU largely because I was comfortable with the environment there. I knew that staying at ASU would guarantee personal attention at the graduate level, the certainty of gaining teaching experience, and a welcoming environment for me to pursue my degree.

I would say that the most important thing I received from the English department was encouragement. I chose to become a Sociology major with an English minor early in my college career, but then I found myself taking all of my electives as English courses—there was just nothing else I preferred. After looking at my degree plan, I decided that I could double-major in English. I found lots of support from the professors. All welcomed me into the fold and took a personal interest in me. I quickly learned that I could talk to almost any professor within the department about literature, courses, or anything else. When I later decided to attend ASU for my M.A., I found that all of my professors were willing to help me in any way to further my education. They all knew that I wanted to go on and get a Ph.D., and offers of letters of recommendation, advice, and cheerleading were frequent and sincere. All of the professors in the department encouraged and helped me in the process of getting into and selecting a Ph.D. program, and without that assistance, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.

In order to get into the Ph.D. programs, I applied for a B.A., and in some cases, an M.A. was required. All also required me to have completed a significant number of English courses, which I had done at ASU.

Students should become English majors at ASU largely because they will learn how to think analytically and independently, a skill that can help people pursue any field.