Some English majors enter graduate programs leading to careers in law, medicine, college teaching, and business management. Others go directly into advertising, public relations, journalism, publishing, marketing, scriptwriting, television, theater, or other fields that set a high value on literacy, imagination, analysis, communication skills, and an understanding of human motivation.
Recent graduates have pursued advanced degrees in English at Boston College, Boston University, Chicago, Durham (U.K.), Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, New York University, Penn State, and Pittsburgh; in creative writing at Alabama, Iowa, Sarah Lawrence, and Temple; in education at Columbia, Harvard, Hofstra, NYU, and The University of Pennsylvania; in film at Boston University, Chapman, and Trinity College (Dublin); and, in journalism at Columbia, New York University, and Northwestern. Others have pursued law degrees at American, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, New York, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Vanderbilt. An English degree prepares one well for graduate work in library science at Maryland, Pratt, and Simmons; in linguistics at Georgetown; in public administration at NYU; in theater at Tulane and the University of Washington; in speech pathology at Colorado; and in women’s studies at Michigan, among many other fields.
Lafayette provides energetic Gateway Career Center to students seeking internships or employment. If you are a Lafayette student interested in applying to graduate schools for English, this document may be of some help.
Since graduating with majors in English and Africana studies, M.K. Asante Jr. ’04 has not wasted a single minute. Asante is the rare student who published his first book before he even graduated. That book, Like Water Running Off My Back (2002), earned him the American Academy of Poets Jean Corrie Award. This, among a list of accomplishments, led The Philadelphia Inquirer to call him “a rare, remarkable talent that brings to mind the great artists of the Harlem Renaissance.” The Los Angeles Times calls his latest book, Buck: A Memoir (2013), “Frequently brilliant and always engaging…a powerful and captivating book.”
The Zimbabwe native, who was raised in Philadelphia, entered the world of film as a producer of Motherland, which won Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival and Zanzibar International Film Festival. He’s also garnered accolades for The Black Candle (2008), which he directed and produced, and 500 Years Later (2005), which received special mention from the United Nations and a “Breaking the Chains” Award.
When he’s not behind the lens of a camera, he’s teaching creative writing and film at Morgan State University. After graduating from Lafayette, Asante studied at the University of London, and holds an MFA from UCLA School of Film and Television.
“Lafayette prepared me by giving me a strong liberal arts core as well as the analytical and creative skills to design my own reality,” says Asante, who has published essays in major newspapers and had appearances on TV and radio programs such as CBS Early Show, NBC News, NPR, and a video feature on CNN.com. “I was certainly able to leverage my Lafayette experience to achieve career goals.”
Jen Gsell ’04 road-tripped with an aspiring surfer cross country for six weeks, filmed a girl mucking up manure in a horse stall, and conducted 12-hour interviews in a blackened room. It’s all part of the job for the television producer/director of MTV Networks, who has worked on such series as MTV’s MADE and Animal Planet’s The Haunted.
“Storytelling is such a big part of what I do,” she says. “In my last project, I was writing 30- to 40-page scripts. My strong English background from Lafayette helped me with that. Fleshing out a story and ‘arcing’ it out is second nature to me as a result of all the writing classes I took at the College.”
Gsell intended to pursue print journalism until a sophomore summer internship at Good Morning America swayed her to television news. After graduation, alumni contacts helped her land a publicity assistant gig at ABC Sports and, later, Fox News.
What matters to her? “Dynamic, interesting characters. Content that’s going to hold attention. And cutting edge,” she says. “The thing about TV is that it’s always evolving. It’s all about trying to stay cutting edge.”
“What you truly love to do will make itself known whether you want it to or not—be it through misery or spontaneous, intoxicating ecstasy,” says Max Minckler ’10, who has experienced much of the latter through his love of poetry. A Marquis Scholar and summa cum laude graduate in English, his many awards and honors include the MacKnight Black Prize for Poetry, the Lafayette Class of 1883 Prize, the Gilbert Prize, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Rhodes Scholar nomination.
Drawn to the University of Durham, U.K., Minckler appreciates the school’s rare creative component to a research-based master’s in poetry studies. In this way, he can continue critical studies while writing creative works. Five of his poems have been published by British poetry magazines and journals.
At Lafayette, Minckler served as a writing associate mentor in the College Writing Program. “Three years of employment with the program were simply invaluable,” he says in, “writing training, social skills, leading class discussions, and giving talks to large audiences.” In addition, he and Suzanne Westfall, professor of English, created a multimedia, online edition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“I feel like I’m living the dream,” Minckler says. “There is also a certain joy, after the rejection slips from poetry publishers reaches into the twenties, when the first few acceptances precipitate—a kind of vindicated, yee-haw, in-your-faces joy.”