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Kerstin TuttleKerstin Tuttle- Doctoral candidate and graduate instructor, University of Minnesota
Major: English, M.A.

The teaching experience I gained at USD has been invaluable in continuing both my career and studies in English. Teaching a 2/2 load while doing coursework in my MA proved excellent preparation for teaching jobs, and Dr. Formisano's teacher-training course was a fantastic introduction to teaching undergraduates.

The small department size made me feel welcome and part of a community rather than an anonymous interloper. I was able to build great relationships with professors both in my primary area of study and outside of my specialty, which encouraged me to lean into my interdisciplinary interests in a way that has widened my horizons and prepared me for further studies in English and the humanities.

In addition to valuable teaching experience at USD, I was able to present at conferences like the American Literature Association, facilitate Writing Center workshops, and be involved with graduate student organizations and leadership within the department. Overall, my education at USD prepared me well for my current PhD studies. I owe a lot of my successes to the excellent professors in the Department of English who both pushed and encouraged me.

Sara HenningSara D. Henning - Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas
Poetry Editor, Stephen F. Austin State University Press
Major: English, Ph.D.

The time I spent at USD was incredibly rewarding to my professional and artistic life. The variety of duties, from teaching literature and creative writing classes, to serving as associate poetry editor, circulations manager, and managing editor of the South Dakota Review, to interacting with renowned writers and authors through the John Milton Conference helped me to grow as a writer, as an academic, and as a professor.

The USD English community is small, but amazingly supportive. In many ways, they are like my second family. I can’t possibly name everyone, but the support I received from such individuals as Dr. John Dudley, Dr. Natanya Pulley, and Dr. Duncan Barlow was incredible. Yet, the support I received from former South Dakota Poet Laureate LeeAnn Roripaugh was immeasurable. She truly cared about me as a writer and as a person. Under her generous guidance, my poetry developed in ways I could never imagine. I truly believe that her individualized attention to and support of my dissertation eventually led to me winning my first major book prize, The Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award. Even as I write today, I still remember her advice to me, “Tell the Story!”

Jenny Yang CroppJenny 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.

Valerie KolbingerValerie Kolbinger - Assistant Professor of English, University of Mary, Bismark, N.D.
Major: English, Ph.D.

The range of teaching experience I gained while at USD was one of the most valuable parts of my experience there. Working with remedial to advanced composition students, honors students, business writing students, and literature students enabled me to grow and develop as a teacher. The breadth of teaching opportunities at USD also prepared me for my current work at the University of Mary.

I also greatly valued the collaborative atmosphere in the graduate program at USD. I learned much from my professors and fellow graduate students, and I appreciated the willingness of others in the program to share their experiences and work as guides on to how to approach my own teaching and scholarship.

Finally, the opportunities to present my scholarship in colloquia, to lead a workshop for the Writing Center, and to mentor other graduate students while at USD helped prepare me for my work in academia.

James SullivanJames Sullivan - Yankton, S.D.
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.

Nicole CiullaNicole 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.