Nicole Ciulla - Plover, WI
Major: English, M.A.
I am grateful for my time spent at the University of South Dakota. The English department was a vibrant and supportive group of graduate students and faculty, and they offered my fellow graduate students and me many unique and rewarding opportunities.
I especially value my time spent teaching. I pursued study while teaching a 2/2 load, starting from my first semester as a graduate student. I had great experiences teaching composition and literature and working in the Writing Center. The department provides ample preparation to their graduate instructors, and Paul Formisano, writing program administrator, is knowledgeable and supportive. Not only did my teaching experience lead to desirable jobs post-graduation, but it also prompted my decision to pursue my doctoral degree. After completing my M.A. in English at USD, I continued teaching for a year and a half while I prepared myself for the Ph.D. program in rhetoric and scientific and technical communication.
Two aspects of the department that I cherished are the seminars and social events. I have good memories from events like the department potlucks, department meetings and Professor Darlene Farabee’s play readings.
While Vermillion is quite small, I found a lot to do there, from exploring the Missouri River to surveying the surprisingly good food selections and antiquing in neighboring Sioux City. I felt less financially stretched because of Vermillion’s low cost of living and I was happy to call it my home as a graduate student.
James Sullivan - Yankton, SD
Major: English, M.A.
Over the past two years, I have been teaching at a small, private English school in central Japan. The school employs only one full-time native English teacher at a time, so they are intensely selective. I believe my résumé stood out thanks to my experiences at USD and the ongoing support of superb faculty. The master of arts program helped me become well-versed in literature while also specializing in creative writing. The teaching assistantship program armed me with knowledge and experience that put me over other applicants and helped me develop skills to succeed in my position.
I use what I learned at USD in every aspect of my work. Whether it's helping to edit students' practice essays for English competency tests, teaching grammar to beginning students or guiding Japanese English teachers through Thomas Pynchon, Yiyun Li and Vladimir Nabokov.
USD has helped me not only professionally but creatively as well. In addition to classes, the English Department offered free seminars on publishing literary fiction, a process I had been clueless about prior to my graduate studies. After specializing in fiction writing and completing a novel under the guidance of the professors, I have succeeded in publishing both short fiction and creative nonfiction works that reflect my creative growth. Currently, I am applying for M.F.A. programs to continue focused creative work with an eye toward a publishable collection of stories. I am confident my credentials are strong thanks to the English Department.
Jenny Yang Cropp - Lawton, OK
Major: English, Ph.D.
Even more than the degree, USD gave me the time and resources to grow as a writer and a teacher in a supportive community. What I value are the experiences that prepared me for my current job of teaching English at Cameron University.
Outside of my studies, I had the opportunity to serve as editor for South Dakota Review, present at conferences and taught literature and creative writing.
I was initially drawn to the program because I wanted to work with Lee Ann Roripaugh, but with their courses, colloquiums and workshops, I benefited from the expertise of the entire Department of English faculty.