Alumnus Brianna Dym

Master of Arts in English, University of Alaska Anchorage, Summer 2014

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Brianna Dym graduated from the English MA program during the summer of 2014. Her thesis, “Peer Review Goes Public” examined the interactions on the website, www.fictionpress.com; where anyone can post works of fiction and receive feedback from other writers. The thesis focused on how unprompted peer review can be translated into a teaching technique for the classroom. Currently, Brianna is the office manager at SWMC, a small economic development organization that brings “vibrant and livable communities to southwest Alaska” and helps the money stay local. As the office manager, her day to day duties include accounting, updating documents, website development, and engaging with people on a day to day basis. While half her time is spent doing managerial work, she spends the other 50% of her time writing grant proposals. Brianna says that her MA in English helped her to become a strong technical writer and that she would not be where she is now without her degree.

The English MA program not only prepared Brianna to be a skilled writer but it also prepared her for the technical writing required from her job. The program gave her the discipline to work through difficult problems by being able to say, “This is what needs to be done, this is how we’re going to accomplish it and this is how we’re going to report on it.” Learning to be able to rely on a network of individuals is another skill gained through the MA program that helps Brianna in the workplace. Courses such as, Dr. Stone’s “Advanced Research and Professional Practices” helped her become an effective researcher and writer. Dr. Bowie’s sociolinguistic course provided insight into how to submit manuscripts and write project proposals.

Looking back on her experience in the MA program, Brianna says that it was one of the most joyous and best experiences of her life. She cites the close-knit community of her cohort as one of the highlights of her time in the program and says that they are “still best friends.” She acknowledges Dr. Jennifer Stone as a big influence in her academic career and says that not only helped her with her thesis, but also helped connect her to job opportunities. She also credits Dr. Jackie Cason for helping her form her writing and teaching style as well as how to develop an argument. Finally, Brianna thanks Dr. David Bowie for nurturing her interest in linguistics by inviting her to a conference in Victoria, British Columbia, where she was able to connect with other young linguists. Her last piece of advice to prospective English MA students is to “go for it but be prepared to spend a lot of time in it.”

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