PhD in Writing and Rhetoric

Sarah Johnson, 2021

Sarah Johnson

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

My dissertation empirically uncovers the Standard English (SE) paradox and dilemma in writing instructors' assessment practices and offers Synergistic English Work (SEW) as a paradigmatic way through the SE dilemma.

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

I experienced a kind of growth I could have never anticipated as I learned from and collaborated with colleagues, continued my studies overseas, and returned to finish my degree with a dissertation committee ready to challenge, collaborate, and learn with me as I came to see my academic journey as one of continuous growth and learning.

What accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of my work and time at Mason during the moments I find myself reflecting on the professors, colleagues, students, and writers I have been lucky enough to meet, work with, and learn from.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career? Please give an example of this impact if possible. 

My dissertation committee taught me what it really means to grow as a writer; my colleagues showed me how to support others by supporting me; and my students are still teaching and reminding me about the value of language, the power of voice, and the need for change.

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

See this journey as your own, as one that is unique to you and can't be compared to that of other writers because this journey belongs to you. Embrace the growth, the pain, the change and actively seek out the joy, the passion, the drive. Know that the dissertation is not only an ending but also a beginning, a chance for you to discover now and keep uncovering later.

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

Immediately following graduation, I plan to enjoy a well-deserved break. While I imagine working in higher education in the future, I know that my goal no matter where I work will be to continue challenging language ideology in all its forms and finding ways to value, uphold, and honor writers' language practices and identities.