“Fearlessly” blending a love of teaching and writing
When Brittany Clark, a student in Longwood University’s graduate program in English, was researching graduate schools, she ordered books written by professors at the different schools she was considering.
"After reading ‘Real Politics of Lipstick,’ written by Mary Carroll-Hackett, [associate professor of English], Longwood was where I had to go, and it was the only school I applied to," Clark said. "I was attracted to her style of mixing poetry and fiction together, and I just knew she had things to teach me."
Clark’s experiences in the program and with her professors haven’t disappointed. She said her professors get excited about the material they’re teaching and about their students’ work. She also likes that the diversity of the program accommodates students with a variety of career interests.
"Every graduate student is here for a different reason," she said. "Whether you want to be a published author, a teacher, or both, the program can be beneficial – there’s a good mix of literature and workshop classes, along with practical business classes."
Describing her work as a hybrid of poetry and fiction, Clark focuses on writing about "small moments that are often cast aside."
"I believe that everyone has a story, and all of my work revolves around this idea," she said. "I write those little moments that say, ‘you are important.’
Clark, a Victoria, Va. native who graduated from George Mason University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in English, taught high school before deciding to pursue her graduate degree. She says she feels most at home when she is teaching and writing, and at Longwood, she finds that her teaching experience and scholarly interests are blending.
Clark’s writing has been featured in several literary publications, and she’s also the co-founder and writing editor of an online literary journal, "The Artist Mystique." Her research poster, "Bridging the Generations: Teaching to Generation Z," was featured at the Read.Write.Act Virtual Conference, which was held in Chapel Hill, N.C. in November.
"As a high school teacher, it always baffled me how disconnected everyone was – the school administrators, the teachers and the students were all on different pages," she said. "You always hear that kids today are lazy or disrespectful, but I think part of the problem is that we aren’t growing with them. The different lesson plans I presented at the conference showed ways to use technology and media to our advantage instead of looking at them as the enemy."
Clark’s eventual goal is to earn her doctorate and teach at the collegiate level.
"If you want to be a writer or a teacher, you have to be fearless," she said. "We can all sense fear, and if your readers sense that fear, they aren't going to trust you, and they won’t read your work. Students aren’t going to take you seriously and learn from you if trust isn’t there. It’s trust in yourself and trust in people that make you successful in both of these professions."
For more information on Longwood’s graduate program in English visit http://www.longwood.edu/english/11463.htm.