Department of English Possible Careers

According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, over the course of their careers, liberal arts majors in fields such as English out-earn their college classmates who trained for a specific profession. ( Source: This College Professor Has a Message for Liberal Arts Majors" by Hunter Baker)

CEOs of major companies such as Xerox, General Motors, Disney, and Goldman Sachs were English majors themselves and/or prefer to hire and promote English majors. ( Source: "Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires" by Bruna Martinuzzi). Moreover, the Vice President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities states that the financial instability of recent years "has put a premium on college graduates who are really multifaceted . . . people who have both broad knowledge and skills, as well as field-specific skills" (qtd. in Martinuzzi). Following are WJU English alums who have chosen these differing career paths:

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Erin Casto

Associate Major Gift Officer, Maryland Public Television

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 2002

Successive degrees: MA in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University

A major in English dovetailed with my interests in anthropology and sociology and laid the groundwork for graduate study that combined those interests with history and political science. I knew that WJU's rigorous English major would prepare me well for a variety of careers, and it would be up to me to narrow the field of possible choices. Nonprofit development has been a great match for me, and the critical thinking, writing, analysis, and presentation skills that I honed in the English department are crucial to my career today.

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Dr. Steve Criniti

Associate Professor of English, West Liberty University

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 2000

Successive degrees: M.A. from University of Dayton; Ph.D. from University of Cincinnati

Overall, I think the spirit of inquiry instilled in me through my Jesuit education was really what propelled my work in graduate school and my career. While at Wheeling Jesuit University, I was encouraged to think of myself not as some kid doing school work, but rather as a budding scholar with important ideas to develop and share. As a result of that attitude instilled in me at WJU, I often felt "ahead of the curve" in graduate school. Wheeling Jesuit really gave me the jumpstart I needed to excel in graduate school and a career field that is highly competitive, and I think it really all goes back to that spirit of inquiry that is so ingrained in the Jesuit mission.

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Lori Marie DiBacco

Speech Language Pathologist

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 19

Successive degree : MS in Speech-Language Pathology at WVU

My WJU English degree/education taught me how to think and learn in any situation I've faced since that time. Through grad school in a more science-oriented field, having gained the skills to read and question critically were invaluable. The breadth of knowledge I was able to encounter at Wheeling prepared me to take on topics and classes that did not come easily. In my work, having a solid foundation in reading, writing and communication has been essential in working successfully with students and colleagues.

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Jamie Jorden Johnson

NBCT Language Arts Teacher at Wheeling Park High School

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 2006

Successive degree: Masters in Communication Studies, West Virginia University, 2008

In 2012, I achieved the distinction of National Board Certified teacher and was then selected as a leader in the Ohio County Schools transition to the Common Core curriculum. I was recently nominated by the Wheeling Park faculty for Exemplary Secondary Education Teacher in RESA 6 and received the award after being judged by a panel of my peers. I currently do adjunct work in the Education Department of West Liberty University, and I hosts a Book Club for the parents of my high school students. I am thankful every day for my Wheeling Jesuit University education from which I draw much of the knowledge I now share with my students.

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Jennifer Kellner-Muscar

Academic Advisor at Ohio University's Eastern Campus

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 1999

Successive degrees: Masters of Public Administration - Ohio University

Perhaps the greatest knowledge I took away from my major in English at WJU was insight into the human condition. As an academic advisor for probationary students, I must employ empathy on a daily basis as I strive to help students meet their greatest potential and earn their degree. The English faculty were marvelous and the academic rigor of the program prepared me well- for graduate school.

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Emily Michelle Martin

Graduated First In Class At Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law; Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Parkersburg, WV

WJU graduate: B.A. in English and Philosophy, 2013

Having my English Degree from Wheeling Jesuit University has been invaluable to me. The program really helped me to form and refine my writing, reading comprehension, and analytical skills, all of which are absolutely critical to success in law school and the legal field. Because of the intimate, detailed discussions I had with my professors and fellow students everyday in class, I was better able to consider viewpoints that were different from my own, which helped me to approach problems from a multitude of perspectives. The professors within the department are not only highly knowledgeable, but also make it clear each day that they are there solely to assist in each student’s learning in any way they can. The faculty and staff at my law school frequently commented on the quality of the education I received at Wheeling Jesuit and the prestige that my degree carries, something that will undoubtedly continue to help me succeed in life.

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Scott Stead

Systems Engineer @ CNN; promoted to manager at CNN: IT Supervisor

WJU Graduate: B.A. in English, 2002

I've covered many massive national events including Presidential Debates, the State of the Union, and two Presidential Inaugurations. My literature background from WJU has made me a much better communicator than most of my peers. I'm always asked to create inner office communications, news letters, etc. I'm the technical wordsmith for our department across all the cities. Also, I think people forget how much of being a literature major is being analytical. I haven't just acquired the superpowers to analyze Moby Dick from the angle of a structuralist literary theorist. Being a literature major has helped me to be an outside of the box thinker, who approaches things from different angles arriving at the best, practical answer to the question or problem.

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Jacob Strautmann

Managing Director of Boston Playwrights' Theatre; Poet, including recent publications in Spoke, Poetry Northeast and Salamander Magazine.

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 1999

Successive degree: MA (terminal) in Creative Writing from Boston University, 2000

2018 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Artist Fellowship for upcoming book of poems

I double-majored in History and English. While I wouldn't trade what I learned in either course of study, my English degree has provided broader practical applications in the field that (I suddenly discovered) became my career. A good deal of my day-job is adding and subtracting, but the fulfilling parts are always drawn from this deeper well. Both of my majors, combined with acting on WJU's stage and tutoring for the Academic Resource Center, gave me everything I needed to stumble into a strange and wonderful vocation. Because of my English degree at WJU, I can now collect a manuscript of poems I've written over the past 15 years, I've produced nearly 50 new plays, and taught over 300 students.

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Danny Swan

Co-founded Grow Ohio Valley, a nonprofit that works toward food justice and food security in the upper Ohio Valley

WJU graduate: B.A. in English, 2009

2016 recipient of the Moira Erin O’Donnell Emerging Leader for Justice Award, which honors young adults who have received an undergraduate degree from a U.S. Jesuit university and have demonstrated significant social justice leadership in their communities.

Most people are surprised when they learn that I have an English degree from WJU. My work in environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture, mostly outdoors, does not seem to fit the image of dusty old tomes and musty libraries. And, to be honest, scholarly excellence has never been my path. But the content of our reading, the messages buried in Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson, Melville, Whitman, formed my worldview. More accurately, they opened my eyes to the potential for a truth-seeking and exciting lifestyle that stretches typical societal boundaries and definitions, and that gives room for the ardent pursuit of far-fetched dreams. I have the English department at WJU to thank for exposure to those great minds, and for instruction on how to engage the words of "old dead people", and make them live in my life.