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Undergraduate ETS Alumni

"English as a discipline trains you ... to seek out systems and understand how they operate ..."

— Sawyer Kemp, '11

Our majors have gone on to successful careers in publishing, journalism, education, law, academia, management, writing, and more. To read about how we prepare our students for life after graduation, read about our Opportunities in ETS. To see more about careers for English majors, read our Careers guide.

Read success stories from some of our recent alumni below:

Noelle Hedgcock (’16) graduated summa cum laude with distinction in English and Textual Studies, as well as a degree in Public Relations, and she was the recipient of the Jean Marie Richards Memorial Prize (2016). She will start the MA in English program at Syracuse in the fall of 2016, where she will study Victorian literature and popular culture. Noelle has appeared in multiple Syracuse-area live theater productions, including most recently the Central New York Playhouse’s Macbeth.

“When I committed to an ETS dual major, I couldn't imagine the skills, insight, and personal growth I would gain in just three years. Being an ETS major has taught how to think critically about problems and to approach scenarios with an open mind — to understand that there is always something else to learn and another story to hear/tell.”

Anastasia Selby (’15) graduated with an ETS major in the Film Studies track after completing her Renée Crown Honors Capstone Project, titled The Open Curtain: A Novel. Her project won both the Best Capstone Project (Creative) and the David Orlin Prize for Outstanding Capstone Project, and her research for the novel received funding from the Crown/Wise Capstone Award; she was also named a Remembrance Scholar. A transfer and nontraditional student with a background in wild-land firefighting, Anastasia worked for Literacy Corps during her studies at Syracuse. She is currently earning her MFA in the fiction track of the Creative Writing program at Syracuse University, where she is finishing revising her novel, and working on a handful of essays and short stories.

“My ETS major helped me to look at things more critically. I think it's especially helpful for navigating the world now, with news that is so biased. I find myself asking questions and thinking critically rather than taking things at face value. My ETS major has also given me the confidence to write essays, which I had never really understood before. I do everything differently, and better.”

Rachael De Orio (’15) with distinction in English and Textual Studies and a minor in Political Science. She is currently studying for her J.D. at the Suffolk University Law School (Boston, MA).

“The courses I took during my time at Syracuse University helped me develop my analytical and writing skills. I became efficient at reading and synthesizing large amounts material, which is very beneficial to my studies now as a law student. I am very grateful for education I received and for all the dedicated faculty of the English Department who have helped me get to where I am today.”

Eric Vilas-Boas (’12) graduated with a double major in English Textual Studies and Magazine Journalism (Newhouse); for his work in the English, he received the Newell W. Rossman, Jr., Scholarship in the Humanities. He is now Associate SEO Editor for Thrillist in New York City, and also writes about animated films and television for The Dot and Line on Medium.

“It's safe to say I've used the close reading and critical analysis skills I first formally learned in the English department on pretty much every professional writing or editing task I've undertaken since college. Being a successful writer is one of the most competitive life tracks you could undertake because it involves not just writing pretty sentences, but ensuring your thoughts and conclusions are sound and that you can engage with an editor with a degree of emotional maturity and discipline. It's never easy, but English classes can provide you with a very workable foundation to help you get there.”

Sawyer Kemp (’11) graduated with distinction in English and Textual Studies, as well as a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and a minor in Latin Classics. They received the Newell W. Rossman, Jr., Scholarship in the Humanities (2010), the Nu Sigma Nu Essay prize (2011), and the Jean Marie Richards Memorial Award for Excellence in English (2011). They are currently studying for their Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Davis, where they study Early Modern theater.

“I might be biased, but I still believe that an English major is the best major. Obviously, in grad school in an English program I’m working on articles and essays analyzing literary texts, which Syracuse prepped me for with the Honors thesis workshop and the patient mentorship of several professors who let me regularly invade their office hours (sorry/thanks/sorry!). English as a discipline trains you to make critical or interesting connections between materials, to seek out systems and understand how they operate, and to articulate those findings in direct, clear ways. This is an amazingly transferable skill set. I’m also teaching courses and mentoring undergraduate interns, and using those connections and systems to find ways of making new material relatable, or making familiar material interesting. I’ve also done part time work in promotion, game design, and brand outreach — this is all English! A couple of years ago, Margie Ferguson (whom I adore) described the project of the humanities as ‘teaching ourselves to communicate about the things we value’ and I’ve tried to get really earnest about that.”

Miranda Larsen (’11) graduated magnum cum laude with distinction in English and Textual Studies, as well as a minor in Religion and Society. She is currently a PhD student in the Information, Technology, and Society in Asia Program at the University of Tokyo, where her research focuses on transcultural constructions and appeals of masculinity in East Asian popular music, particularly male Korean idol groups and their female fans in Tokyo.

“The engagement with text and theory I found in the ETS program are still the guiding principles of my academic attitude today. I actually matriculated at Syracuse with a different major, and took Reading Popular Culture in my very first semester with Professor Emeritus Steven Cohan to fulfill the Liberal Arts Core requirement. It was transformative; I found out I could engage with popular media texts as seriously as any canon. I changed my major to ETS as soon as humanly possible and never looked back. My scholarly success in both film studies and my current program are directly tied to the ETS curriculum’s focus on intertextuality, historicity, cultural studies, gender/race/identity, and psychoanalytic theory. I feel absolutely comfortable taking a multimodal approach, which is a skill honed repeatedly in ETS courses.”

Christen Brandt (’10) graduated with BA degrees in English and Textual Studies and Magazine Journalism, and a minor in Political Science. She is currently the co-founder and Chief Programs Officer of She’s the First, a non-profit supporting girl’s education and empowerment in low-income countries around the globe. Since graduation, she has been named among the 21 Leaders of the 21st Century by Women’s eNews, a Global Laureate Fellow of the International Youth Foundation, and a Leader in Local Innovation by the United Nations.

“So much in life comes down to this: Can you figure it out? If you're skilled in analysis, research, and perspective, the answer is almost always ‘yes!’ That’s what my ETS degree at Syracuse taught me: How to evaluate problems through multiple points of view.”

Adrienne Garcia-Specht (’10, G’13) graduated from the ETS program (with a second major in political science) and the MA in English program. She is currently a Financial Aid Counselor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

“As an English graduate student, we spend our time reading and writing. And reading. And writing. And occasionally watching things. And writing. This turned out to be surprisingly relevant to my current career path working with federal and state financial aid, which require close reading and interpretation of sometimes byzantine regulations. The classes at Syracuse helped polish my skills in assessing texts and articulating responses. As an M.A. student, I also had to teach two classes a semester, and this teaching experience was invaluable at launching a career working with students. My time teaching at Syracuse really solidified my desire to work with students in higher ed. I loved teaching, and I am able to use this skill during financial aid workshops and other outreach events. Finally, one of my favorite parts of being at Syracuse were the professors, who were kind and generous with their encouragement and time. From each of them, I learned how to be a better instructor, how to be more compassionate, how to think about the world in a critical way. And they taught me a sense of social justice. This informs my involvement with campus issues at Cal Poly. Still fighting the good fight as much as I can.”

Meredith Hale (’09) graduated with honors in English and Textual studies and a second major in Illustration. Currently she is working as the Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship at Yale University. She is a member of the Art Library Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and has presented the findings of her information-science master's paper at the 2016 ARLIS conference in Seattle.

“It has helped in both my academic and professional careers. My English courses greatly improved my writing and critical thinking skills. I also really appreciated the flexibility of the program and the interdisciplinary nature of the department. The variety of ‘texts’ considered, from canonical novels to more popular images and films, made classes both engaging and innovative. I think the openness with which cultural products were approached in ETS made it easier for me to transition to studying art and also encouraged me to embrace works with popular appeal.”