Do you have any parting words or shout-outs to share with current students and faculty?
I have loved every minute of my grad school experience in the Writing Studies program. Experiencing genuine camaraderie from my very first semester of the program was more than I could have ever asked for. Then to make (hopefully!) lasting friendships with so many amazing professors and talented classmates truly spoiled me. Now that I have graduated from the program, I know that nothing will ever compare
Which Writing Studies course or course reading was most interesting or useful to you? Why?
Gosh, this is a tough one because I truly feel that every course I took has benefited and matured me in one way or another. I guess if I had to choose, I’d say I’m pretty darn thankful for Maureen Saraco’s Grant Writing course because without that I would not have gained the experience necessary for my internship last year and (fingers-crossed) a career in development.
But, of course I have to say that both April’s and Ellie’s poetry courses have proved useful to me. I often tell people that I got a degree in Writing Studies with an unofficial minor in poetry and I say that because I do feel that I received an MA and MFA experience all rolled into one. I know my poetry would not be nearly as strong as it is without the guidance of those two remarkable women.
How do you plan to use your Master’s Degree in your career?
Currently, I’m primarily applying for editing, development, and communication jobs; all of which I would not have felt confident doing before this program. My dream is still to eventually get my PhD (before 40) and teach at the University level– and in that way the program is a great stepping stone for me.
Do you have any tips for future students about choosing classes, juggling the workload, or writing a thesis?
Pick the courses that excite you the most– have fun with it.
Understand that your professors are also juggling a very large workload and a certain amount of grace should be extended to them as you take their courses.
Try not to skimp on the readings; they were chosen for a reason by some very wise people.
Krisann just graduated from the program in May of 2017. Currently, she is working on getting her thesis published, a collection of poems that explore the interconnections between home and homelessness. You can also see her perform her poetry at Fergie’s Pub on July 26th at 7 pm.
When I was approached to write about my experience interning at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, I could not think of what to write. It’s just that during my time with the Parks Alliance, I have already experienced so much and it’s only halfway over.
It’s actually rather bizarre how I got the internship in the first place. I knew that for my second year of grad school, I wanted to get an internship so as to make a smooth transition into the working world. After all, I’m still coming off from years of working at H&M and Starbucks, so I figured I could use the help. Little did I know that I would be finding such extreme value in an unpaid internship.
At the time I was applying for internships, I had just completed the SJU Grant Writing course taught by the very wise Maureen Saraco. It was the end of summer session II and I spoke to Tenaya Darlington about my interest in grant writing for nonprofits. And then, our lovely director forwarded me to the Parks Alliance intern request with the short message of:
Here’s a nonprofit that is seeking an intern…
So, I applied for the internship, went in for the interview, and received an offer later that very same day. I was elated. And after my first week of being at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, I knew it was a perfect fit.
It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you know an internship is a perfect fit. Often it feels, particularly as writers, that limits do not exist on the amount of internship possibilities, leading you in very different directions. Having taken so many courses in the Writing Studies program covering numerous areas of the writing world, they all can seem like perfect fits.
Before taking the Writing Studies’ Grant Writing course, I had only a vague sense of what grant writing entailed. It was only after the course that I realized that grant writing utilizes the power of narrative to fund the cause of whatever nonprofit you work for. It also helps if the writer is passionate and actually cares about the cause. Lucky for me, the Parks Alliance exists to serve Philadelphia’s public spaces because they see the power of having spaces with no barriers to entry– something I also believe in.
During my time at the Parks Alliance, I have not only written successful grants, but I have been further opened up to new realms. Primarily, I have learned the world of Development, the umbrella of grant writing and how nonprofits find funding. I have also gained a plethora of experience in social media management, massive event planning, organizing a donor phone bank, and engaging in community outreach.
I have absolutely loved my time at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance and can not wait to continue. Through this experience, I have already learned that if you have the valuable opportunity to take an unpaid internship, take it. It could very well be a perfect fit.
Krisann Janowitz is a second-year student in the Writing Studies program and current Editor-in-chief of The Avenue (submit!). For more information about interning at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, visit www.philaparks.org/interested-in-working-with-us/.
Worldview Words That Describe How I Feel on a Sunday Morning in November After the Election – by Maura Shenker
Stomachacha-pained and ravanaged
my blue I’d blurry self. Eyerainful.
Blerked with nuked coffee
Infinite simile, intestinally twistoptic
My thoughts turn entrospectif
In the quiet of my domestisilo
Safety becomes my primary concern in this
Society of trumpeeting divisination.
With out honor; with out humor –
just a malignificent terrortumor.
Corpse aquiver, mouth agape,
throat scorched with acid regretsting.
Unkind hindsight causes fleshtions
flashing: come up wanting (air)
Nerves blergomous in the silence
Ears straining for the clatterpanic of the
Their carnivagorging all consuming,
As a family we break freak feast
Ribbonibulous time streaming out.
Maura Shenker is the Director of the Center for Professional Development, an SJU alumna with an MS in Organizational Development and Leadership, and current Writing Studies student. Maura has an MFA in Glass from Ohio State University and a BFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is a current board member of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, a catalyst for sustainable development and community building in North Philadelphia, and lives in Kensington with her one-day-to-be husband, their two children (Maverick age 6 and Lucky age 3) and a very crotchety 17-year old dog.
Thank God it wasn’t hunting season,” was the last thing I could remember saying to Officer Bill before I blacked out. Usually, he wakes you with a clipboard smack to the forehead, but this morning it was the tapping of a No. 2 pencil. As I stirred, I could feel the eraser keeping beat out of time with the inherent beat of my hangover.
“What’s that song you’re tapping out?” I asked.
“Ain’t no song.”
Officer Bill stood and smiled, looking down as I rubbed my eyes. I squirmed on the floor of the holding cell, stretching toward the fluorescent lights. “
It’s Morse code for, you’re a goofy asshole. Your mommy is here to pick you up again. We’ve got another public intoxication award for you.”
“What do I win?” I asked, rising in the cell, rubbing my right eye.
“A court date.”
“A while since I’ve been on a date,” I said. “Who punched me?—Is it bruised? Feels a little swollen.”
“Murph did,” Officer Bill said. “In fact, he said you were trying to get a date with him last night. Want to see my rod, is what you said. It’s all in the report.”
“Oh!” I followed the officer down the hall toward booking. I remembered. “Fishing.”
“What?” He said, sitting down behind his desk with a squeaking swivel. I couldn’t see my mother standing two feet to my right, but I could smell her “out-and-about” perfume. My eye was swollen and nearly shut.
“It was a fishing rod. I have a new one. For catfish.” Officer Bill rustled paper. My mother sighed. I couldn’t look at her—literally or figuratively. “Graphite composite rod. Three bearing reel. Ergonomic design. Two-piece construction,” I said.
I didn’t see it coming, but pain suddenly blinded my good eye. My mom flicked the side of my head with her finger. “You’re a dumb boy. Fishing in the street?”
When the pain subsided, I remembered the night before, out front of the Spread Eagle Tavern, casting my fishing rod into the street. I remember the police approaching. I remember slowly reeling in, jerking the rod to bounce my jig worm on the asphalt. Officer Bill had asked for my license. “My fishing license?” I asked.
Officer Bill was gentle with me—the way he’s been since I was a teenager. My mother—not so gentle, but she has to “keep up appearances.” That holding cell is home for her just the same. We’ve left notes to each other carved on the rail of the cot.
After signing my rod out of the evidence room and placing it carefully in her sedan, down the center and out through the trunk, we sat in silence.
“What kind of bait were you using?” She laughed and slapped the dashboard. “Want me to drop you at the Spread Eagle?
“No,” I said. “Drop me off at the river. That jig hasn’t seen water yet.”
“You got your license?”
Ryan R. Latini is a freelance and fiction writer living and writing in the Greater Philadelphia Area. He received his M.A. in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph’s University, and is currently on the editorial staff of The Schuylkill Valley Journal. Contact him on Twitter, @RyanRLatini, gmail: email@example.com, and check out his website, The Narrative Report at www.ryanlatini.com.