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Having It All

Since its inception in the fall of 2010, CCU's Master of Arts in Writing (MAW) program has been a home for burgeoning writers of all kinds, offering an experience unlike those other graduate level institutions in the field.

While many programs divide the fields of English into separate degrees, MAW offers a range of courses from creating writing to composition and rhetoric, from literature to linguistics, from editing and publishing to pedagogy that allow students a wide range of choices for concentration of diversification in their experience.   

MAW students also benefit from an array of experiential learning opportunities including graduate assistantships, which include positions teaching composition courses alongside professors, working in the Athenaeum Press, and researching, marketing and tutoring in the University’s writing center as lead consultants.

    “I’m in a position where I can sort of have it all,” says Lanessa Salvatore, a first-year MAW student. “I can continue honing my craft in poetry while exploring the field of rhetoric and composition and teaching at the college level.”

    Joe Oestreich, coordinator of the MAW and CCU associate professor of English, directs the program, which has grown from only a handful of students in 2010 to a class of 25 in 2016.

    “I’m proud of the fact that most students are awarded graduate assistantships,” says Oestreich. “One of the best ways to learn anything is to be teaching it at the same time.” These positions also grant students work experience that makes them more desirable in the job market and in the application process to other programs.

    Sam Riley ’16, current Ph.D. candidate in composition and rhetoric studies at the University of New Hampshire, entered the CCU MAW program specifically to take advantage of the teaching assistantship opportunities.

    “I went into the program expecting to graduate and continue on for a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric. That was my plan since day one,” Riley explains. “I wanted to gain experience teaching in a college classroom to see if it was something I would enjoy doing in the future.”

    For the full duration of the program, Riley worked as a teaching assistant with Emma Howes, CCU assistant professor of English.

    “I watched her teach, taught alongside her and received individualized feedback every step of the way,” said Riley. “I still use many of the writing activities that Emma and I used together. I very much attribute the writing instructor I am today to the guidance of my mentor.”

    Krystin Santos ’16, currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Kentucky, says the flexibility and breadth of CCU’s MAW program allowed her to study multiple genres of writing, which has been a true advantage in her terminal degree coursework.

    “Cross-genre experience was encouraged,” says Santos. “The classes I enrolled in during the MAW ranged from fiction workshops to poetry forms to technical writing. The wide range that I was able to experience and see how my genre, creative nonfiction, fit into the others was vital in my MFA experience.   

    “In my MFA, I’m able to bring in various aspects of different genres and fields in order to not only strengthen my writing but also the conversations I am having in the classroom.”

    What makes MAW a valuable experience for students is that they get what they want out of it. Students in the program are offered opportunities that branch into real-world experience.

    Editor. Publisher. Teacher. Research consultant. These and more are potential career paths for graduates of the program who emerge with a blend of writing and teaching abilities in their professional arsenal.

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By Maggie Nichols