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Teaching

Although outnumbered by attorneys, the number of educators among our alumni is considerable, close to 18%. About half of these go into secondary education--either with a post-graduate degree in Education or through our collaborative program with BSC's Education department: the degree in English Language Arts. The other half go on to complete MAs and PhDs and teach at the college level (in English and other disciplines).


Charlsie Wigley"The English Department gave me the space to grow intellectually and develop my ability to rationally and critically examine issues from a variety of perspectives."

Charlsie Wigley, Class of 2011
MEd. Candidate at the Peabody College of Education
Vanderbilt University

After completing two years as Teach for America Corps member, Charlsie is now a graduate student at Vandy's top-ranked Peabody College where she will complete her MEd. in Secondary English Education.

When I arrived at Birmingham-Southern, I had many passions, including English, but was unsure of a specific career path. Looking back, I can pinpoint where I am today as a result of a choice I made as a freshman to take Dr. John Tatter's Literature and the Social Experience course. The readings, discussion, and field experience of this class prompted me to join other service-learning and leadership studies courses, interims, and experiences that have significantly shaped and altered my views on teaching and education.

Now, after working with nearly 150 8th graders in Greenville, Mississippi through Teach for America (TFA), I have two years teaching English under my belt and am pursuing my Masters in Secondary Education at Vanderbilt's prestigious Peabody College. Recently, my former students posted gains in reading growth on the MCT2 (Mississippi's state assessment) and were recognized as having the highest test scores for the district. More importantly to me, I still communicate with many of my students on a weekly basis and am blessed to see the many ways literacy has taken root in their lives.

Aside from a challenging curriculum, the English Department gave me the space to grow intellectually and develop my ability to rationally and critically examine issues from a variety of perspectives. This has proved invaluable as a middle school teacher for I am daily navigating and managing conflicts among students, staff, parents, and the community.

Additionally, the rigor and interdisciplinary background of my BSC courses provided me with the content knowledge needed to not only teach the basic tenets of literature, but, more importantly, to teach intellectual possibilities created by and through the study of literature. This has proved valuable not only with students, but also with coworkers and bosses who still come to me with all their professional editing needs.

Perhaps the greatest BSC takeaway I still thank my lucky stars for is the strong sense of community housed in and beyond its gates. The BSC faculty and staff go to great lengths to ensure that their students realize their potential. In fact, following my time in TFA, Professor Kent Andersen was the first to encourage me to look at the M.Ed. at Vanderbilt and supported me throughout the application process. You don't get that support in most higher ed. institutions, and, in my opinion, that's what sets BSC apart from the rest. If I am ever half the teacher for my students that BSC faculty and staff were for me, then I will know that I have made a positive footprint on my community.


Nicholas GaskilNicholas Gaskill, Class of 2003
Assistant Professor of English
Rutgers University

An English major at BSC, if taken seriously, can introduce you to questions that are too big to settle, once and for all, while you're still on the Hilltop. After graduating from BSC in 2003, I decided that I would keep pursuing some of the questions I'd developed in my English and Philosophy classes by attending graduate school (but only after taking a year to teach ESL in Hungary). I studied nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American literature and culture the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving my Ph.D. in 2010. From there, I took a postdoctoral fellowship in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago, where I taught just about everything but American literature, including Homer and Plato, Dante and Augustine, Shakespeare and Kant.

After eight years, I got a "real job" as an assistant professor in the English Department at Rutgers, New Brunswick. Here, I teach courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, pragmatism and aesthetics, and literature and visual culture. I also write about these topics and have published several essays on them in peer-reviewed journals. In 2014, my co-edited volume of essays on Alfred North Whitehead will be published by an academic press; it's no stretch to say that this collection would not have come about without the courses and conversations I enjoyed as an English major at BSC.

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