The WKU Professional Writing Program kicked off the new school year on September 7 when the Professional Writing Club held its first meeting of the semester. The next day, Dr. Angela Jones’ Professional Writing Synthesis Class hosted a Professional Writing Alumni Panel featuring recent WKU Professional Writing graduates. The event and alumni reunion was open to all WKU students and took place on Zoom. The panelists took the time out of their careers or graduate studies to talk to Dr. Jones’ class about their experience of transitioning from WKU students to the next stage in their lives.
Speakers from the Alumni panel presented an eclectic range of postgraduate opportunities available to graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in English. The panelists specifically addressed the open houses for graduates with a professional writing concentration. The four guest speakers who attended the Sept. 8 alumni panel were Max Chambers, a WKU graduate from May 2021 with a major in professional writing and a minor in journalism. Chambers works as an editor for Synchrogenix in Nashville, Tenn. Emily Falica, who graduated from WKU in May 2020, majored in Asian religions while holding a double minor in professional wiring and political science. Falica works as an ESL teacher in South Korea. Aubrey Kelley, also a May 2020 graduate, had a double major at WKU – Professional Writing and Political Science. Kelley is currently enrolled at Columbia Law School in New York, one of America’s most prestigious law schools. The last panelist to participate in the September 8 alumni panel was Hunter Knapp. Knapp is a social worker pursuing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Louisville.
The first topic presented to the panel was how their time at WKU prepared them to enter the workforce or pursue postgraduate studies. Hunter Knapp answered this question by saying, “It really prepared me to work with other different people – who have different backgrounds, who come from different cultures, religions – all of those things. I feel like WKU is so diverse in the student body and staff that I am able to collaborate very well with others, and in my work as a social worker this is really important. All of the panelists highlighted the importance of creating a professional resume and how this aspect of Dr. Jones’ professional writing course prepared them for their post-WKU life. Aubrey Kelley spoke about the importance of learning to write correctly. “Like others have said, you learn so much – how to edit a resume and a cover letter – that you get really good at writing, and you get really good at paying attention to detail. […] While I was applying to law school, I think it helped me meet while I was preparing my application package. And then, just being in law school, in general, my specialization in professional writing helped me start legal writing courses, attention to detail. I really found that a major in professional writing really helped me in this class. All four panelists agreed with Kelley, noting that professional writing made their transition from WKU to the job market easier.
This panel not only discussed what they learned at WKU, but also what they wished they had paid more attention as an undergraduate student. Dr Jones asked the panel if there was anything they wished they had done at WKU. The four panelists had at least one regret, the majority of which came down to: “I wish I had been more careful. Falica answered this question: “Almost all of the PW (Professional Writing) courses, I wish I had taken them more seriously, but I’m glad I always took them seriously – to some extent.” Because every month I have to write about 82 business notes – one for each of my students – explaining what we learn in class. Knapp’s regrets weren’t just for taking the lessons more seriously. She also wishes she had realized how precious and fleeting her time at WKU was. Knapp commented on the importance of living in the moment at WKU, saying, “A take home message that I would probably give to all of you is: don’t take anything for granted. I learned very quickly over the past summer how I took it for granted to be at Western, to be in college, to be in person.
Each panelist left Dr Jones’ class with words of encouragement. Many have chosen to focus on how their time at WKU continues to support them on their postgraduate journey. Chambers said what they learned at WKU was invaluable in their chosen career. “Basically what I do all day are client projects. […] Do client projects in this class and do client projects in the editing and publishing classes, which you should all take no matter what you want to do with your English degree. It really helped me learn to translate what a client wants into what I can do, and what I think is sort of working for their situation. I would definitely say that building this class’s resume was extremely important to me. Like when I took this job I literally tweaked […] introduction. “Kelley perhaps gave the best advice, telling students to believe in themselves.” Students at WKU are some of the smartest, hardest working, smartest, and most resilient people out there. I have never met in my life. And everyone here is so special and deserves any success that happens to you in this world. So when you face this impostor syndrome it will inevitably set in, because I know everyone will be successful, and some of us, we all face different insecurities and different battles in life. Fight it and say to yourself, ‘This is not reality. the reality is I’m here. The reality is that I’m successful here and I’m smart enough to be here. Fight that off and just recognize that you’re super talented and capable of whatever you’re going to think about. “
Dr Jones thanks alumni such as Chambers, Falica, Kelley and Knapp for making the professional writing program a success, saying: I think we had a wonderful example of that with everyone here today. So, again, thank you very much. If you would like to attend a Professional Writing Club meeting, the next meetings will be on October 5 and November 2. Both will take place at 4:30 pm The Dr. Jones Professional Writing Capstone class will also host three other alumni panels this semester. These will take place on October 15, November 3 and November 10. Guest speakers for these panels have yet to be announced.