MA in English

Jamie Gergen, 2021

Jamie Gergen

Describe your dissertation, thesis, or capstone (if you completed one):

I completed two elective writing classes in food writing and the analysis and composition of short stories upon successful completion of my core requirements within the English Literature focus of the MA in English.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

I received a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from George Mason in Spring 2019, after completing a semester abroad at Oxford. In my return to Mason, I wanted to study the history of writing to continue to improve my abilities as a writer. The MA in English Literature provided me that environment and helped me to learn more about successful writers, both contemporary and those in the past.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

Prior to arriving as an undergrad student and now as a graduate student, my background and work history was limited to the IT field. I was unaware of any particular skill in writing until I had to choose an undergraduate concentration, and creative writing felt the least like writing for a technical/professional audience. My success as an undergrad at Mason allowed me to apply and be accepted to the Oxford Semester experience, where I studied Arthurian mythology and composed poetry while attending tutorials at Oxford. Upon my return and acceptance to Mason in the MA in English program, the study skills I learned abroad prepared me for the challenging nature of graduate work. When I began my graduate program, I had the research, library, bibliography, and writing skills needed to be successful on day 1. These skills have also improved my professional writing and composition skills, leading to professional success in my current career.

Of which accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud?

I am most proud of my early efforts to advocate for non-traditional transfer students and for students with disabilities. In 2018 and 2019 as an undergraduate student at Mason, I helped advocate for greater access to online learning classes that would benefit students like me. After a pandemic year in which online learning was key to all Mason students and their success, I am hopeful that the advocacy and advisement I gave as an undergrad and beginning graduate student was helpful to Mason's efforts to educate all students.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career?

Vice President Rose Pascarell, who provided me a voice to advise on transfer student issues and issues of disabled students when I first arrived at Mason. Thank you for listening and helping raise my voice.

Dr. Michael Malouf, for guiding me early in my MA progression and answering my odd emails about 'what next?' when class registrations came around. Your advice was always spot on.

Dr. Monea, Professor Mori, Dr. Koch, Dr. Gatling, Professor Brkic, and Director Wilhelm for helping to challenge me to always present the best version of myself as a student and in my writing. For advising me and nudging me forward, when I was completely terrified of that first step out the door. And lastly, for reminding me what was possible if I put my mind to it. It is never too late to do good or change someone's life.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

The work of a graduate student is rarely easy. Most have to balance work, school, life, and family. It is a grind and there will be times when it seems that success is elusive. But always remember that a half step forward is still progress towards your goals. As a cohort, you will find others in your cohort who will stand with you when times are difficult. Learn to accept help when it is genuinely offered, and be someone else's rock when they need you in return.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I plan to continue to write and develop new writing skills in my spare time. I intend to explore whatever career opportunities exist for me after graduation. Perhaps in a year's time I will consider a doctoral program. Long term, I hope to become a successful writer and entertain people with the stories I have to tell.