• Hannah Perry

Recapping the Alumni English Panel

On Oct. 20, the Career Center and the Department of English hosted an English Alumni Panel via Zoom with Mount alumni Andrew Calis (C’09) and Kayla Gourlay (C’17). Both Calis and Gourlay majored in English and shared their experiences in order to give current students a look at careers related to English studies.


The Career Center has a program called Career Pathways which connects current students to alumni. The first Alumni English Panel took place in the spring of 2021. Jillian Bradley, Assistant Director of the Career Center, said, “I wanted to do a Pathways Program and I was thinking about majors who might not always have clarity in their direction, where they want to go. It’s not like every student comes to the Mount and knows exactly what they want to do.”


Bradley noted that she has heard from students that when they think of the Career Center, they think of business majors. Bradley stated, “We help all students so when I was planning a Pathway program or pathway event, I want it to be a major that feels like maybe they are not as represented when in reality we do support them. So, I thought of English. Let’s get English students connected with English alumni so they can see just how broad their major is. There are so many things you can do with an English major.”


When speaking with the Echo, Calis, an English teacher at Archbishop Spalding High School, remarked, “I was thrilled when Dr. Bligh reach out to me. Even though I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do with my English degree as an undergraduate, I know that is not always the case. And because I love what I do, I am a teacher, I was glad for the chance to share what I love with English majors.”


Calis remembered that they discussed all the benefits of being an English major: “It’s exceptionally employable, since English students learn critical thinking and high-level writing skills.”


Calis’ thoughts on alumni speaking at panels such as this one is that “it is a great opportunity for the students to see a range of possible careers; I think it’s a wonderful way to stay connected to a school that I love deeply.” Calis added her appreciation for the Mount and how it had forced her to confront complex ideas and contradictory thoughts. She also mentioned that by having loving and dedicated teachers she was able to have a challenging yet wonderful time at the Mount where she is happy to stay involved even after graduation.


Both panelists advised attendees to explore different career opportunities. According to Bradley, Gourlay was a huge advocate for experimental learning like internships, having a good cover letter and resume and coming to the Career Center. Gourley also had a lot of good insight into how getting involved, asking questions, being curious and being ok with not knowing can be helpful. Bradley stated, “She was great on normalizing the mental health aspect.”

For further information about the Career Center and how it can help you visit: https://msmary.edu/academics/career-center/index.html