I had the opportunity to retire early and wanted to do something completely different from my engineering/management career in nuclear power. I was always a reader and loved literature, poetry, and art. Plus, I wanted to teach. The MLA program at Arkansas Tech was the perfect match for me. In the English Department, I found great graduate professors and small classes, where real discussions and learning took place. My field of interest is southern literature, especially Faulkner, and psychoanalytical/gender theory, especially masculinities. The texts we read in my literature classes and a great course in literary theory prepared me to write my thesis on Faulkner’s Joe Christmas in Light in August. My thesis work turned into a conference paper that I presented at the South Central Modern Language Association Conference in New Orleans in 2013. Since my graduation, I continue to study and write, and this fall I presented a paper on Faulkner’s Go Down Moses at the SCMLA conference in Austin. The MLA program surprisingly opened up for me an interest in film studies. I use film theory more and more in my literary analysis and writing. Also, the MLA requires 6 hours of study outside English, and I took art history classes that fed my passion for the visual arts.
As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to begin teaching beginning writers in the classroom and in the Writing Lab. After graduation, I became an Visiting Instructor in English and now teach Composition II/Introduction to Literature and supervise the Writing Lab. I have also taught Foundational Composition, Composition I, and Technical Writing.
The MLA program is the perfect program for non-traditional students who are making a career change or who need an advanced degree to move up in their chosen professions. For older students, like I am, there is a scholarship program for students sixty and older that offers generous tuition assistance. It’s never too late to get that new degree and change your life. The MLA program gave me my “renaissance” career that lets me teach young writers and do my own work as an independent scholar.