by Olivia Van Wey
According the US Department of Education, graduate school enrollment is on the rise with an expectation of about 50,000 more Master degrees awarded from 2012 to 2016. To students of the UP English department, this is no surprise. I am confident enough to say that every single member of the graduating class of 2016 has considered, if not made plans, to pursue their higher degree in the future. For many of us, it makes sense given that we have spent the last 20 of our 22-year lives secured in a system that includes school, work, homework, and bed. For others, the knowledge is made apparent that more education equals a greater chance of securing a better paying job. A final reason stands as school being something to do. These reasons exist as strong truths that have held in our parents’ generation and will probably continue long after our time. However, the most genuine of reasons, as the old cliché goes, “comes from the heart.” We feel a strong willingness to pursue some specialized area of expertise and rely on that as motivation to persevere through intense years of study.
In order to connect with a more personal perspective, here are a few tentative plans from this year’s English graduates who intend on pursuing their higher education:
Nora Fogarty: Nora is getting her M.A. in Forensic Linguistics at Hofstra University in New York. She would like to work in linguistic analysis and is eager to find her focus once she becomes immersed in her program.
Erika Murphy: Erika has plans to stay in the Portland area as she will be enrolled in the 2-year PACE program here at UP. During her summers she (hopefully) plans to teach Language arts and Spanish at St. Mary Catholic School in Stayton, OR. After she receives her accreditation Erika hopes to keep teaching and do some independent writing.
Rachel Macklin: Rachel is attending graduate school for Library Sciences. Upon graduation she has a strong interest to be a research librarian but aspires to one day be in charge of a library.
These three strong women have worked rigorously to complete their undergraduate degrees at UP and further their love of learning thereafter. For those who feel up for the challenge, this can be a great add-on to the foundation of interests cultivated here. The reality though is that the future is wide-open after this and many people still feel they need to grow as people or figure out their interests before embarking on such an intensive feat.
This is where majors such as Melissa, Kevin, and most of the English majors of 2016 find themselves forgoing school next year to embark on a journey of discovering their interests and then channeling them into a career. Here they recognize the possibility of graduate school in the future but are deciding to take a break from learning in the classroom to do some learning in the world.
Melissa Aguilar: Melissa is traveling abroad to teach English in Spain. Her plans after are up in the air, but she has expressed that her dream would be to pursue a career in publishing. She shares,
“My heart’s always secretly been with publishing. As I’m sure many English majors would agree, the chance to work with books all day sounds like a dream job.”
Other majors, such as Kevin Chung, admit that finding the right working environment for his passion is the hardest challenge. As of now he is torn between doing something academic and taking time off. He has an inclination towards doing freelance writing or even some observation of monastic life.
As different as each plan is, a common sentiment is shared through them all- “I don’t know,” they say. It does not matter if a plan is conceptually fully formed, or a work in progress. These soon-to-be graduates know their future is not set in stone and are working to be okay with that. All we can do now is take proactive steps for the future and rely upon our fellow majors, friends, and professors to help us construct a future of our own.