Alumnus Jessie Nixon

Master of Arts in English, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009

Jessie Nixon graduated from the UAA MA program in 2009. Her thesis, inspired by popular texts written about women from Afghanistan (think 1000 Splendid Suns), discussed how women in Afghanistan were being portrayed to western readers and the problems it created. Jessie is currently a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin Madison in the Curriculum and Instruction department with a focus on digital media. She states that her MA in english enabled her to expertly analyze any piece of literature critically, which has been extremely beneficial to her academic life as a PhD student.

Her biggest take-away from the MA program is how much of everything she learned throughout her time in it is applicable to more than just one area of study. For example, she is currently working with a group of people that are making an educational science video game for kids and is helping them write the narrative. She also really appreciated the small, comfortable, and welcoming atmosphere of the program and her cohort, many of whom she still in contact with to this day. During her first semester, Jessie took a theory course taught by Dr. Kline, which she describes as one of the most difficult but memorable classes of her curriculum. She says the class was tough and that she never had to work so hard for anything in her two-year experience as she did in his course. The fact that she was being held accountable for knowing the material made her strive to be a better student. Although some of the theories and concepts were difficult to comprehend, learning how to understand and analyze them was one of the most important things she could learn from the program because “you can apply it to so many different things.”

While Jessie’s faculty mentor was really helpful because she gave her useful feedback and answered any and all questions, she credits all of the faculty in the program as being equally helpful. Even though they were not all assigned as a specific advisor, they were good at catering to each student’s needs. One piece of advice she would give to someone considering the MA program is to “make use of it and embrace the fact that it’s a small group of people, that it’s a small close-knit community, not just with the cohort but with faculty as well. Know that nobody is out to get you and there are so many opportunities available if you take advantage of the faculty and peer help.”