I am currently an English Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University, writing my dissertation on the rhetoric of dignity in Anglophone literature and human rights discourse. I am also teaching a web-based class on technical writing for the university. Before coming to A&M, I spent two years in ASU’s English master’s program, graduating in the summer of 2003. I had learned about Angelo State from Dr. Chris Ellery, an ASU professor of English who was at the time a Fulbright lecturer at Aleppo University (Syria), where I was a recent graduate searching for work or graduate school opportunities.
During my time at ASU, I had the pleasure of working with outstanding teachers who soon became very good friends. I was pleasantly surprised at how the department was committed to promoting intellectual inquiry and cultural literacy challenging students to become better thinkers and writers. The faculty offered me the familiarity and friendship of a small college yet held me to the challenge and discipline of a large university. I enjoyed my classes in composition pedagogy, American novel, linguistics, research and bibliography, film, and poetry. As a master’s candidate I was able to work one-on-one with faculty on my research and teaching, an opportunity that would at larger schools be mostly limited to doctoral candidates.
I was also impressed by the way a language/literature department can foster an organic relationship with the local town and culture. This warm and engaged sense of community, led me, an international student, to become very interested in the West Texas lore, and I wanted to research the literature and culture of the region. I eventually wrote my thesis on the novels of San Angelo novelist Elmer Kelton.
The English department aggressively sought to involve graduate students in its events. I was encouraged to participate in the production of the department’s sponsored journals such as the Concho River Review and the Oasis. Also, regular department events such as the Annual Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton give students an insight into organizing and managing an academic convention.
When I started working on my thesis, my committee of faculty advisors was extra diligent and attentive to my progress. They ensure that I was proceeding in a timely fashion and worked hard to help me deliver the best final product possible. And when I expressed interest in applying for a Ph.D. program, my teachers suggested the institutions that meet my expectations and did their best to facilitate my acceptance.
For a lover of literature, Angelo State is an idyllic place. Moreover, and on the technical level, the program is designed to make students excel as teachers or become well-prepared candidates for further graduate studies. It is there that I learned enough about the principles of literary criticism and became familiar with the basic bibliographical tools. I did not have to take any further research or bibliography classes for my doctoral research.
I have many fond memories from my time at Angelo State. Over the past 5 years since my graduation, I took every opportunity to go back to visit and learn. I participated in the Annual Writers Conference twice and attended other less formal department events. For some reason, Angelo State and the people there always look fresh to me.