In November, four SUNY Old Westbury graduate students in the Masters of Arts in Teaching, Adolescence Education – English Language Arts program traveled to Minneapolis, Minn. to attend the 105th National Council of Teachers of English annual convention, “Responsibility, Creativity, and the Arts of Language.” Under the guidance of Professor Nicole Sieben, the students prepared presentations and were eager to share their work, and network with more than 5,000 K-16 English teachers, graduate students, and scholars in the field. Kristin Cacchioli, Michael Filoramo, Lindsey Palumbo, and Dexter White were joined by graduate students from 20 other universities across the country as they presented their research projects at the conference session “The Future is Now: Exploring 21st Century Teaching Ideas with the Next Generation of English Teachers.” Read more at https://www.oldwestbury.edu/news/2918.
I’ve made it to the halfway mark and let me assure you, the work load is not slowing down! In fact, it’s only quickening its pace. It is important to remain vigilant, and remind myself that as I work through intellectually, emotionally, and physically trying times, I am the best version of myself.
Professor Torrell would always reassure our summer Senior Seminar II class of this as we worked tirelessly through the hectic conclusion of the English undergraduate program while most of our classmates from the previous semester were elsewhere on vacation. Old Westbury English undergraduates who take Senior Seminar I and II will be given a taste of the extent to which the graduate program goes to educate its disciples, and should continue practicing effective time management, as it is arguably the most important aspect of keeping anxiety low and staying on track. Especially for those who plan to pursue an MAT in English, be sure to collect reading lists as soon as possible, and read on! In some cases, certain content may need to be read multiple times which can become quite time-consuming, so be sure to pace yourself. As English majors, we love the many processes involved with literature, but in the graduate program, we must allow ourselves more time to ensure proper retention and reflection of the literature we read. Reading and analyzing at least two books per week sounds easier than it is in the midst of working and attending to obligations outside of campus. While I don’t find the curriculum to be much more difficult conceptually (the English undergraduate program does a grade job preparing its students), it is undoubtedly more work at a faster pace.
Jonathan Noyes recently received his B.A. in English from SUNY College at Old Westbury and was accepted into our MAT in English graduate program. His 3-part blog series, “From Bachelor to Master” will cover his experiences transitioning from undergraduate to graduate student. This, his first installment, discusses the decision to apply to the MAT and his expectations about both the program and what it will mean to be a grad student.
It hasn’t even been a month since I presented my senior thesis on mental illness in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and now I’m beginning the M.A.T. program here at SUNY College at Old Westbury. I’m still wondering if this is really happening. After taking classes part-time at Old Westbury for almost three years, I’ve finally completed my undergraduate degree, but it still hasn’t quite set in. Perhaps I just need to receive my shiny diploma in the mail for it to finally feel official. I’ve decided to continue my education immediately by beginning the Masters in the Arts of Teaching (MAT) program, which I’m attempting to complete in two years. I know will be a difficult task, but I have confidence in both myself and the professors at Old Westbury.
Why the MAT program? I’ve known for some time now that I want to be an educator. As an adolescent who experienced a lot of anxiety within the realm of high school, I feel an obligation to help those who may be experiencing similar anxieties in their adolescence through the process of learning. An English teacher named Michael Schwendemann, a name I will never forget, is precisely how I managed to finish high school, and why I ended up applying for higher education in the first place. I often think about how my life would have been different if he never mentored me. Perhaps I wouldn’t even be writing this blog. English is a subject in school that bears great potential to teach individuals a lot about themselves and those around them, and I plan to take advantage of that. I regularly envision facilitating meaningful discussions pertaining to topics that are important for young adults to contemplate, while making the process of learning enjoyable. Adolescents need guidance, and I feel my energetic personality will help me to become a great ally to my students, and them to me.
Why Old Westbury? The English department at Old Westbury has always been extremely accommodating. The professors are incredibly active in their roles — they make themselves available often, they seek out students to present their work on conference panels, and they even host career chats to convey the many benefits of being an English major. Not to mention, my experience with Dr. Sieben, coordinator for SUNY Old Westbury graduate programs in English Education, confirmed for me that the English Department genuinely cares about their students’ success. Mentors like Dr. Williams, Dr. Dissinger, and of course, Dr./Mama Torrell in particular have been extremely influential in my decision to continue my academic journey here at Old Westbury. I feel like a member of the English Department family now, and I plan to continue facilitating that relationship!
I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive financial aid for my master’s education. While the price of tuition is an undeniably great deal, accumulating roughly $6000 for each semester would still be extremely difficult for me to achieve without some form of assistance. Luckily, the Financial Aid Office has been extremely helpful, and thanks to them, my application process has gone smoothly. I should also note that Dr. Nicole Sieben has been incredibly helpful. Up until recently, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford my education, so I was late on applying. Dr. Sieben contacted the appropriate professors requesting overtallies and kept me informed via email and phone calls along the way. She didn’t have to go the extra mile for me, but she did, and I’m extremely thankful for it.
To be honest, while my educational experiences at Old Westbury have been nothing less than amazing, my transition into the sphere of becoming an educator myself is another feat entirely. While I’m aware that the English course curriculum is going to be considerably bulkier than the undergraduate English courses, I believe the undergraduate program has done a great job of preparing me for what’s to come. I have yet to take a course with the infamous Dr. Hobson, so I’m excited about that! The educational (ED) courses on the other hand, I have yet to experience. However, I’m hoping that the quality of the Education department is similar to the English department that I’ve come to know and love. My experience at Old Westbury thus far has been promising, and I’m sure my upcoming endeavors will be equally influential on my personal growth as a future educator. Here’s to a wonderful semester!