Graduates of the English Department are helping to build its reputation through their own accomplishments in industry and academia. The best way to learn the value of a Saint Peter’s Jesuit education is from those who have experienced it. Here’s some information about a few recent grads:
Dimana Neykova, ’11 & MBA ‘14
Recruiter, Executive Search Firm
Majoring in English was one of the best decisions I ever made in college. Not only was I able to take exciting classes like Gothic Literature, Modern British Novelists, and Shakespeare: Page to the Stage, but I also had the opportunity to be taught by brilliant, dedicated, and caring faculty. My experience as an undergraduate student helped me obtain job in the Office of Admission at Saint Peter’s where I was Assistant Director of Admission and Communications. I traveled extensively to recruit prospective students and regularly gave presentations to a variety of audiences about the value of a Saint Peter’s education.
I’m currently a recruiter for a boutique executive search firm in New York City. My job entails identifying talented professionals, develop meaningful relationships with them, and help them succeed in the job market. My path may not have been a typical one for an English major. I believe, though, that there’s no such thing as a “typical” career when it comes to someone prepared with the diverse skill-set with which an English major graduate. The skills I acquired as an English major at Saint Peter’s are skills that I use every single day – critical thinking, attention to detail, logical and organized thought, and most importantly, ability to communicate clearly and engagingly. I will always be grateful to the English Department at Saint Peter’s and for that one Fiction core class that opened my eyes to the beauty of English Literature.
Charles Lassiter, ‘03
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Gonzaga University
Studying English literature at Saint Peter’s taught me to savor literature. One of my favorite groups of writers is the Beats; “Howl” and On the Road are among my favorite works. Learning to find pleasure in reading literature — reading it just because it’s fun to read — breaks down the barrier between the person reading and the work being read. The universe in the literature becomes your own, and the everyday world of student loan repayments, misplaced car keys, and coffee stained shirts becomes in its own way enchanted by the literature you read. There are, of course, practical benefits to studying English: reading and writing as much as English majors do makes you a better and faster reader and writer. And writing clearly is always a valuable skill, no matter what you’re doing. Practical benefits aside, loving literature on its own terms is what sticks with me from studying English literature at Saint Peter’s.
Lisette Santiago, ’14
After graduation, I decided to pursue acting and musical theater. I’ve just recently returned home from a six-month national tour of a musical called Junie B. Jones. I toured through all of the United States and Canada performing for children and it was one of the best experiences of my life! Not only was I able to see the entire country, I was also able to bring theater to children who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to see live theater. We performed for special needs children, cancer patients, and kids who had never seen a musical in their lives. It was my first professional acting gig and unbelievably rewarding. This theater company also provided me with my Actor’s Equity card, so I am now a part of the actor’s union. I attribute my success to my time at Saint Peter’s as an English major. I chose to study English because I love literature and I love reading and analyzing plays and poetry. I would not have the skills and the knowledge needed to perform adequately if I had not taken so many Shakespeare and Elizabethan/Jacobean drama classes, or Arthurian literature and countless poetry classes. I often feel that my English major has been more useful for my acting career than many of my colleagues who went to school to study Musical Theater or Acting. In fact, my Honors thesis was about the difficulties of staging Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. As an English major, I was able to combine my love for literature and theater and bring that into every aspect of my career. I had some of the best professors to help me along that path.
Matt Cheplic, ’95, ’07
English Teacher, Ridgewood High School (NJ)
As an undergraduate, I wasn’t planning to become a teacher, so I didn’t take education courses. Years later, when I decided to teach English, I realized that my writing and literature professors at Saint Peter’s had prepared me exceedingly well. My preparation during those years made the career transition quite smooth.
Tom Driscoll, ’06
Law Student, University of Toledo
Law school is a daunting challenge. The long hours at the library and sleepless nights leading up to final exams cannot be avoided. However, law school is a challenge I am prepared to meet because of my English studies at Saint Peter’s.
Essentially, law school is a test of reading and writing skills. Law students have to read (A LOT), and they have to understand what they read. Wrestling with great works of literature was excellent preparation for the lengthy legal reading assignments I am faced with now.
As an English major, I also had many opportunities to improve my writing skills. I have come to rely heavily on these skills; they allow me to attack monumental exam essay questions, and communicate with potential employers, with confidence. Law school final exams, as well as the state bar exams all law students must pass to become attorneys, are based primarily on essay questions. Good writing skills are essential to success in law school and the legal profession. A major in English is great preparation for law school because English students develop the two essentials for success in law school: reading and writing skills.
Maria Janelli, ’03
Assistant Outreach Producer, Channel 13 (PBS)
Majoring in English at SPC was the greatest decision of my undergraduate career. The in-depth literary exploration in which I participated honed my analytical reasoning skills, strengthened my writing ability, and gave me a vast repertoire of cultural capital from which to draw during numerous social and professional engagements. Few undergraduate majors can pave the way to success as smoothly as English literature. It is an investment in both the past and the future.
Mary Ann McGuigan, ’72
Editorial Director of Bloomsberg Press, Novelist
Back in the 1960s, when I wanted to major in English, most people I spoke to told me the choice was a bad idea as far as career possibilities were concerned. They were mistaken. Majoring in English taught me to do the one thing that few people — in any profession — can do: write. I’ve worked as an English teacher, a communications consultant, and a magazine and book editor in business and finance. My English degree also gave me the foundation I needed to do the thing I love most — write fiction.
Bill Price, ’91
Director of Corporate Communications, Johnson & Johnson
I like to think of my career as being a corporate storyteller. Every company I have represented has had a story to tell — a message about its image, its industry, its crises and successes. As a public relations professional, I have found my English degree to be an incredibly valuable foundation for that pursuit. Whether it is turning a memorable phrase, painting a colorful image, or conveying news in a clear, concise manner, my education plays a role in what I do every day. Reading and enjoying great writers … seeing the world through others’ eyes … learning how to influence, educate and touch people through the written and spoken word. All of these are fundamental and lifelong lessons of studying English.
Robb Santos, ’91
Director, Alternate Investments, Credit Suisse
This is my 17th year in the banking industry, and I often have people ask me how I have gotten this far in my career with a degree that has nothing to do with Finance. At the end of the day, the jobs I’ve held all came down to the comprehension and communication of subject matter, from internal bank processes to the workings of financial markets. Distilling and sharing this information onwards, either verbally or in writing, to my bosses and my teams is a large part of what I do every day. Majoring in English prepared me to do just that. The many poems, short stories, plays and novels that we had to read, re-read, explain and re-explain were vital training for my job today. I’d still choose Poe over private placement memorandums, but the skills applied are largely the same.