Never Sets on
Student Publications: Just the Beginning
by Angelica Waters
When Emily Dickinson said, “Publication is the auction of the mind of man,” she probably never thought she’d be our millenium’s most-published poet. These days, publications do more than help authors find their audience. Real publications help your job portfolio stand out from the competition or get you into graduate school, and they come in many forms.
In tougher and tougher job and degree markets, graduates from Western’s English program say their publications and hands-on experience give them the edge they need. Amy McCall, ’00, works for the Mountain Area Health Education Center in their distance learning division. “I beat out 30- something other experienced applicants!” she says. Technical writer Summer Rogers, ’99, commands big salaries at international companies like Volvo. In 1998, prestigious graduate programs in New York and Massachusetts vied for editor Stacey Ruiz and poet Chris Carrier, while Laura “James” Stewart won a full ride at Wake Forest University’s masters program.
What made the difference? These graduates say publications—including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and web design—helped them look professional. “No one else knew how to make a web page,” says Teresa Spence, ’99. Employers who clicked on her class project, a site for the Jackson County Humane Society still in use today, found proof of her abilities—and an enthusiastic reference. Nichole Esmon created the web version of Western’s student newspaper. The English Department web site’s publication page contains links to Esmon’s professional web site, as well as those of other talented students.
Students interested in creative writing can collaborate with visual artists on Western’s literary journal The Nomad. Each year, students independently write, edit, and design its pages. “The Nomad honed my skills,” says poet Carrier, former editor and contributor. “It’s our chance to get our own message out,” agrees Earle Wheeler, ‘97, who created The Nomad’s first web site.
Other in-class and extra-curricular publications include The Inkblot, The Litterbox, and The Mad Catter, all the products of English 307: Professional Editing and Publishing classes. Students from Dr. Mimi Fenton’s course in 17th and 18th Century Literature have created a period-style anthology of travel narratives, and literature students in the classes of Drs. Eberly, Adams and Miller-Claxton have made web-based guides to the works they read. All graduates in English Education now publish online technology portfolios.
With these credentials, where can you go? Anywhere you want, say successful English graduates Nick Taylor (In Hitler’s Shadow, John Glenn: A Biography, and Sins of the Father,) and Suellen Bridgers (All We Know of Heaven, Notes for Another Life, Home Before Dark, All Together Now, and Keeping Christina). Taylor writes, “WCU helped me create and develop the skills I needed to make my writing come alive.”