One Theme, Endless Possibilities for English Majors

July 18, 2016


Dan Cormier ’15, Allen & Gerritsen Advertising Agency, Boston, MA

Dan Cormier ’15 had a dilemma. By sophomore year, the 6-foot-4 thrower on Stonehill’s track and field team knew he wanted a career in advertising, but he was also completely captivated by the English courses he was taking. “I couldn’t stay away,” he says.

So he didn’t.

He says he wasn’t thinking about tactical advantages when he decided to double major in English and marketing, but it is something he has certainly come to appreciate since launching his career last year at Allen & Gerritsen, an advertising agency in Boston whose clients include the Boston Celtics, Beats by Dr. Dre and the Museum of Science.

One of the great benefits he sees in his English degree is that it refined his writing skills to focus on quality, not quantity. “This is huge as it relates to my life today,” says the native of Methuen, Massachusetts. “Managers don’t want to read a 15-page report; being able to synthesize the information is crucial.”

A Key That Opens Many Doors

Few degrees provide the breadth of options available to the English graduate. Stonehill’s English Department – which recently added a creative writing minor and new courses in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and African-American literature – has seen recent grads go on to top-tier graduate schools and a broad array of careers.

“The skills that English majors acquire – specifically critical and creative thinking, persuasive writing, and the ability to see connections across a broad range of cultural forms – are always in high demand,” says English Department Chair Jared Green.

Many students and graduates credit the department’s success to its vibrant community of rigorous and engaged professors, literary scholars and creative writers.

“The professors are the highlight of the Stonehill English program,” says Joseph D’Amore ’16 of Groveland, Massachusetts. “Every English teacher I’ve had at Stonehill has been not only incredibly passionate but infinitely supportive.”

 Green says the department is also well served by a strong internship program that has placed students at some of the most successful organizations in the country, from TIME magazine to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, from Channel 5 Sports to the Boston Ballet, Massachusetts General Hospital and Rounder Records. Graduates have gone on to pursue successful careers at Boston Children’s Hospital, CBS Radio, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Massachusetts Dept. of Health and Human Services, Siemens, U.S. Wealth Management and Yale University, among others.

A Challenging Curriculum That Inspires Confidence

Ashley Robinson ’14 says the flexibility she gained as an English major has been central to her success as a communications associate. A key part of her job at Newton Montessori School is to “tell the school’s story in a variety of ways – in email and print communications to parents, in advertising, on our website and via social media,” says the 23-year-old native of West Greenwich, Rhode Island. “My English background is important to my work every day, as I ensure that our written content is professional, informative and supportive of our mission.”

For some, the gravitational pull of studying English comes as a surprise.

Jason Homer ’09 says if you asked him during his first year at Stonehill if he was going to be an English major, the self-described “reluctant reader” would’ve laughed at the idea.

Now the assistant director for the Marlborough Public Library, he says his life changed when he took Modern Literature and “fell in love with James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners.’”

English faculty “pushed my thinking further than anyone ever had before,” says Jason, a native of Brockton, Massachusetts, who earned his master’s in library and information science from Simmons College in 2011. “I expected to be overloaded with coursework in grad school, but I felt very prepared by Stonehill. The demanding classes of the English Department made the transition from undergrad to grad an easy one.”

“The skills that English majors acquire – specifically critical and creative thinking, persuasive writing, and the ability to see connections across a broad range of cultural forms – are always in high demand.”
Jared Green, chair of the English Department

A Tool That Facilitates Lifelong Personal and Intellectual Growth

Some go so far as to say being an English major changed their outlook on life.

“Being an English major at Stonehill teaches you how to learn for the rest of your life,” says Ashley, citing as an example Green’s Critical Theory course. “This course exposed me to many new ways of thinking and empowered me to read and communicate in more nuanced ways.”

Brittany Frederick ’16 of Billerica, Massachusetts, has similar sentiments: “The faculty members are dedicated to creating challenging courses that force us to think creatively, write beautifully and think about social issues through art.”

Prithak Chowdhury ’15 says cultural norms in his native India often lead young people to avoid liberal arts degrees such as English, but says his decision to resist such pressure was among the best he has ever made.

“Pursuing a degree in English was not held to be practical or realistic, especially where I come from,” he says. “All my friends went on to get degrees in engineering and/or medical sciences.”

Now pursuing his master’s degree in higher education and student affairs administration at the University of Vermont, Prithak says his English degree was transformative.

“It gave me the opportunity to … develop more holistically as the person I am today.”