I graduated from Appalachian State University with my undergraduate degree in December 2021, where I majored in English with a concentration in Writing, Rhetorics, and Technical Communication and a minor in Marketing. I also graduated from Appalachian State for the second time in December 2022 with a Master’s degree in English: Rhetoric and Composition as a part of the Accelerated Admissions graduate program. This unique program allowed me to take graduate courses while still working on my undergraduate degree, which helped prepare me even more for my post-graduate career. Now, I am an adjunct writing instructor in the English department here at Appalachian State. This is my first semester in this position, and I’m teaching RC 1000. I also work part-time as a Professional Consultant at the Appalachian State University Writing Center.
Over my three and a half years in the program, I developed an invaluable toolkit of professional skills and work experiences that I carried into my post-graduate life. My professional and technical writing courses provided me with practical skills that I regularly use in my current jobs, including document creation, project management, and professional communications. My senior capstone course also prepared me for life after graduation by teaching me how to write effective resumes and cover letters, along with helping me develop a portfolio of my best writing samples. Thanks to the program, I know how to make myself a standout candidate in job applications, which has been incredibly useful as I start my career journey.
My time in the WRTC program also helped me gain practical work experience through their internship requirement. For my internship, I worked with Mountain Bizworks, a local nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution offering business planning and coaching services to entrepreneurs in Western North Carolina. As their professional writing intern, I worked with senior staff to brand a new business venture and compile an investment narrative for a connected investment group, the High Country Impact Fund. I would not have been able to make that connection or have that incredible working experience without the Professional Writing program.
Truly, this program and this department offer you a range of unique opportunities for professional and personal development - as long as you take advantage of them! The classes offered focus on helping you develop the skills you need to thrive in your post-graduate career, no matter the path you choose, including writing in a variety of professional genres, editing and copyediting, proofreading, and researching. The internship requirement gives you a taste of what your post-graduate life might look like and offers a chance to begin networking within your intended career field. The instructors within the Writing, Rhetorics, and Technical Communication program and the general English department are also incredibly supportive of students’ needs and aspirations. They were some of my greatest allies during my time as a Mountaineer, and they continue to cheer me on even now.
I started at App State in 2014 and completed my undergraduate English degree in 2017 with a concentration in Literary Studies and a minor in Spanish. Even though I originally concentrated in Writing, Rhetorics, and Technical Communication, I needed to switch to Literary Studies for my Capstone so I could apply for the accelerated MA program. I completed all but one credit hour of the English MA, and after moving back to the Triangle from Boone I completed my Master of Library Science (MLS) degree with North Carolina Central University in 2022.
At the moment, I am working as an Adult Services Librarian with Wake County Public Libraries. I started working my way up to this position while I was at App State since I was able to use my undergraduate internship requirement to help with a deselection project at the Belk Library. Then, while I was working on my MLS at NCCU, I continued adding to my experience through an Assessment and User Experience practicum with Duke University Libraries, a graduate assistantship with NCCU's School of Library and Information Science, a graduate student assistant position with NC State's Special Collections Research Center, and an internship with Wake County Public Libraries. Having a diverse background in archives as well as academic and public libraries has been crucial to my job as a public librarian since the needs of the surrounding community in Wake County are similarly diverse. However, everything started with the education I received in App State's WRTC program.
In the Writing, Rhetorics, and Technical Communication program, I learned how to make information accessible to a broad audience. Ever since I learned about Information Literacy as a field of research and practice, I knew I had to discover how language and presentation factor into the creation of media. What better way to learn than to get an insider's perspective? Plus, concentrating in WRTC helped me hone my own media communication skills that I continue to use to this day when I plan, develop, and host programs at my library branch. I frequently create flyers and presentation aids in addition to conceptualizing methods of promoting our collections and services through displays and passive, interactive programs.
After graduating from Wake Forest in 2013 with a BA in the German language and a double minor in Linguistics and Psychology, I enrolled at Appalachian State University in 2018 to earn a second bachelor’s in Computer Science. One of the required courses was Technical Writing (ENG 3700), which counted as the Junior Seminar in Computer Science. I took this course with Dr. Sarah Beth Hopton during my first semester here at App and it was such a wonderful experience. We learned the ins and outs of writing in a technical manner to provide clear and concise information for whatever work we may have been doing. We completed a group project that involved usability testing for a local company. My group chose Hive Tracks and ran tests on its web and mobile applications. I gained a deeper appreciation for the work that goes into writing Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policies in this course. We also discussed intellectual property and I was intrigued that most companies and institutions have a policy in place that states that anything you create as their employee belongs to the institution and not the person that created it. After taking this course and my senior seminar course, I considered a career in patent writing. I thought that it would be fun to write documents to protect the intellectual property of someone.
As a transfer mentor in my department, whenever a student asks me about that course, I always tell them to take it with Dr. Hopton if they are able. Taking this course gave me the tools I needed to write well-formed technical reports for my capstone project and my master’s project. I still use these skills when writing assignments for my students. Being able to give clear instructions and communicate concisely has made me a better lecturer. I also tend to read the terms and conditions more regularly when I sign up for a service because of the lessons we learned reading WestWorld’s terms and conditions document.
During all four years, I was a member of the Women in Computer Science (WICS) club and traveled with the club to participate in hackathons at other universities in the state. While earning my graduate degree, I was in the STEM scholarship program and led a project with a group of undergraduate students with guidance from a faculty mentor.
After graduating with a BS in Computer Science, I did not have a plan moving forward. Then, one of my professors suggested graduate school and I applied the very next day. The skills I learned in technical communication came in handy for my master’s project technical report. About two weeks after I completed my master’s in Computer Science, I started teaching in the Department of Computer Science here at Appalachian. I love my work and I enjoy the students that I interact with each day. I teach three of the introductory computer science courses, Discrete Mathematics, Computer Science 1, and Computer Science II, along with their required lab courses: . I am also the lab coordinator for the introductory computer science course.
In the fall of 2022, I began working on a doctorate in Educational Leadership in RCOE concentrating in Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State. This dissertation focuses on increasing the number of female-identifying students and their success in the department of computer science as well as focusing on Computer Science pedagogy. My goal is to focus on computer science pedagogy and diversity, inclusion, and equity in my department. I want to enhance the experience of students like me in my department having been in their shoes not long ago. I am in my second semester of earning my doctorate with plans to finish in 2027, if not earlier. After earning my doctoral degree, I would like to pursue a tenure track position. I believe that the work I plan to do is necessary to improve the experience of marginalized students in my department and in the STEM field at large.