An Interview with Elizabeth King

Elizabeth King is a MA student at Ball State in the English General Studies program. She received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Taiwan for the 2016-2017 school year. Since August 1, 2016, Elizabeth has been in Taitung, Taiwan, a rural county popular with tourists for its beautiful landscape. She has been spending part of her time working with local Taiwanese English teachers in elementary or middle school classrooms, and also improving her language skills and investing in the local community.


King

Winning a Fulbright is a big deal. What do you think made your proposal stand out?

I think there were two main things: one, I knew Taiwan was the right country for me to apply to, and two, I knew how my past experiences added up to make that the right place, and the ETA the right grant. I studied abroad in Xiamen, China back in 2011 and moved there to teach English for a year after I finished undergrad in 2012. After I came back to Indiana, I was a substitute teacher and was able to do some long-term subbing before I came to Ball State, where I have been a TA for the Writing Program. It was a lot of haphazard teaching experience, but when I started my application for Fulbright, I could see how it all added up, and how to demonstrate that experience in my essays.

Also, I worked with Dr. Andrea Wolfe to revise my essays, which taught me so much about that genre of writing. I’m not sure my application would have been successful without her help.

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Stars to Steer By Presents Paula Langteau

Paula Langteau, newly named interim dean at Northwest Technical College, has almost 30 years of higher education experience. She began her graduate education at Ball State, completing her Master’s degree and her doctoral coursework in English here. Keep reading to learn more!
Paula Langteau

Tell us about your Humanities degree. What was it in? When you first got to the university, did you always want to study the Humanities, or was there something else at first?

I received my Master’s degree from Ball State University in English, and I also completed my doctoral coursework in English at BSU. I knew from the time I was a preteen that I wanted to teach English. Following my undergraduate years, I decided to pursue a graduate education in order to teach Composition and Literature at the university level, and I picked BSU because my favorite undergrad professor had gone there. My major and career choice were driven by my joint passions for helping others and for the strength and beauty of the language, in general, and of narrative, in particular.

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Billi MacTighe Recommends “Bad Feminist” By Roxane Gay

English MA student Billi MacTighe recommends Roxane Gay’s nonfiction collection, Bad Feminist.

Why should we read this, Billi?

“I resisted feminism in my late teens and my twenties because I worried that feminism wouldn’t allow me to be the mess of a woman I knew myself to be” Roxane Gay, “Introduction; Feminism (n.): Plural”.

Roxane Gay’s recent book, Bad Feminist—a collection of essayscontains a sassy vigor reminiscent of grade-school war-stories told in ten-year retrospect; just enough time has passed to make the nostalgia wane into humor, but all of the details are still there, still potent. But the book is more than recollections and reflections, it’s a commentary on Feminism and Feminists, and, as Gay so eloquently puts it, the idea of an “Essential Feminismone true feminism to dominate all of womankind” (and the lack of existence of such an all-encompassing feminist community). Gay gives an insider’s view of what it means to be an outsider. As we follow the catalog of her experiences- tackling being an upper-middle class black woman in academia- we take a journey through cultural shifts and pop culture highlights (or low-lights, depending on where you think Chris Brown and Robin Thicke fall on the musical spectrum).

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Lisa Kemp: Partner Relationship Manager at Ontario Systems

Lisa Kemp is a partner relationship manager at Ontario Systems in Muncie. She graduated from the Ball State English Department in 1990. In this post, she discusses her work and how it connects to her studies in the department.

Lisa Kemp (STSB)

How would you describe your job?

I am currently a partner relationship manager with product management responsibilities at Ontario Systems, LLC in Muncie, IN. My job involves managing the day-to-day partnership activities for more than thirty partners. Most of these partners provide data services to our mutual customers. I also manage the product that provides our customers access to these services.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

My days are far from typical. My most stressful days involve acting as a liaison between our partner and our own support team when one or more of our mutual customers experience issues with a service. Other days I juggle writing user stories (requirements) for software enhancements, managing the product through all aspects of the product development and rollout of new product features and services, communications with partners, influencing our partners to support our annual user conference and facilitating that portion of the event, and much more.

How did your English major affect your career path?

I graduated with a B.S. in English, Secondary Education, but after graduation, I had no firm plans to pursue a teaching career. Now, with Ball State’s immersive learning initiatives and opportunities for students to dive into real-life career simulations early in their degree work, I would have realized sooner that I did not want to teach and would have pursued a different concentration with my English degree. Early in my career, I was a technical writer and later managed that team.

What skills did you pick up in your major that have proved useful in your job?

In every position I have held, I have used my English education. Most positions involve writing skills and communications skills, valuable to anyone in any position. I have gravitated toward opportunities to use those skills. Analytical thinking skills have helped me in projects where I need to analyze financials, industry trends, and data that will help influence decisions. I can scarcely think of any aspect of any position where my English background has not proven useful.

Is there a particular class or professional opportunity that you remember having a big impact on you?

I had a couple classes that had a great impact on me because of the professors’ passion for the topics. Those included any classes I took with Dr. Koontz including my favorite, Black Literature. I enjoyed a film literature class and a linguistics class with Dr. Sidney Greenbaum. While not in the English department, I enjoyed my folk dance class with Ya’akov Eden. Even though some might balk at general studies courses, they can be very fun and memorable.

What advice would you give current English majors?

I have four major areas of advice for current English majors:

  1. Hone your writing skills so that you can write in any way (not only academic) to any audience (for example, technical, beginner, or child).
  2. Force yourself out of your comfort zone. A lot of English majors like to hunker down with a good book or the keyboard and not speak outside of our friend group. If something makes you feel uncomfortable or gives you butterflies, practice it and put yourself in situations where you do it so that you can overcome your fears (or at least lessen them).
  3. Participate in extracurricular activities. Go to Ball State sporting events (there are hundreds!). Join a club (again, hundreds!). Grow your leadership skills by taking on an office in a club or organization.
  4. Network. Make eye contact. Smile. Shake hands. Learn people’s names. Talk to your classmates and professors. Get to know people. Keep in touch with them after your time at Ball State.