Meet some of our alumni
Jennifer Sturr, Class of 1990
Jennifer Sturr graduated in 1990 with a B.A. in English Literature.
Progressive Classes Led to a Career in Writing
“I am the manager of technical communications at Gambro BCT, Inc. in Lakewood, Colorado (west of Denver). We manufacture blood separation devices for blood centers and hospitals. My department is responsible for writing the operator’s manuals, training materials, and regulatory compliance documents for our equipment.
“When I attended Plattsburgh State in the mid to late 80s, the computer graphics design and desktop publishing industry was in its infancy. The English department at the time offered a desktop publishing class on a weird little computer called an Apple. The class taught the basics of page layout and design, as well as how to use this foreign piece of equipment. This experience alone helped me to secure my first job in a printing and publishing company in Syracuse, NY. The rest, they say, is history.”
Excellent Curriculum and Lasting Friendships
“The curriculum was excellent. There was a wide range of choices of literature classes, as well as other more career-oriented classes. The classes were also quite progressive, and gave the students the current knowledge that was immediately applicable in the work place.
“I keep in contact with two very close friends, Bob and Maryellen Dodds (Lopez). Bob and I were on the same floor at Hood Hall, and Maryellen lived down one floor. We've kept in touch through the years and the many miles that separate us, but our best and fondest memories are of our times at Plattsburgh.”
Jennifer’s Advice for Prospective Students
“Don’t let anyone deter you from receiving a degree in English. It is a well-rounded education that allows you to develop skills such as reading comprehension, communication, and problem analysis that serve you well in a corporate environment. I am now in the position of hiring writers and communicators, and I find the candidates who have an English background are more likely to succeed as technical writers and project managers.”
Ian Ash, Class of 2000
From English Major to Documentary Filmmaker
Upon graduation with a major in English and a minor in Theatre, Ian Ash moved to Japan to work as a teacher of English as a foreign language in a junior high school. He lived in Japan for three years working and learning the language until he left his job to pursue a master’s degree in September of 2003.
Ian is currently enrolled in a one-year intensive M.A. course at the University of Bristol (Bristol, England) in film and television production. Upon completing his dissertation he plans to return to Japan and pursue a career in documentary filmmaking in Asia for Western audiences.
My Experiences at Plattsburgh State Shaped My Future
“Plattsburgh State prepared me for the future in so many ways. While the focus was always on study, co-curricular activities were always encouraged. I had the opportunity to take part in clubs, serve on committees and participate in theatre events. These experiences offered a chance to interact with other students and to accomplish goals through collaborative effort, a skill that continues to guide me through my post-graduate study.
“The courses offered by the English department were varied and required complimentary skills: ability to research, apply theory, write creatively. A wonderful relationship with the professors fostered further development of these skills while learning about my strengths and areas that needed further improvement.”
The Professors’s Love for their Subjects Inspired Me
“All of the professors I had the honor to study under at Plattsburgh State have influenced me. Saying this, however, I would like to mention several people who taught me things that I will never forget. Through playwriting Dr. Shout taught me to take risks; Dr. Corodimas gave me a love for the short story; Ann Kimmage gave my stories a voice in autobiography; I found a sheer joy through acting with Dr. Palkovic; Dr. Chatlos shared his enthusiasm for film and inspired me to seek a future in storytelling.
“Plattsburgh State offers many wonderful opportunities, both academic and co-curricular, and I have had the honor to recommend study at Plattsburgh both to friends at home and to prospective students I have met abroad. It is with gratitude and humility that I reflect on my time at Plattsburgh State.”
Samy Habib majored in English and is currently working at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens as a first year English teacher (after leaving both the business and the non-profit world). In each of his past jobs, he says that the writing, thinking, social, and analytical skills he developed at Plattsburgh have been his strongest assets.
Communication, Communication, Communication
“With the skills I’ve developed at Plattsburgh, I’ve been able to work with people ranging from the underprivileged population to vice presidents at a bank. Graduating from Plattsburgh with a degree in English, does not simply prepare you for teaching. It allows you the opportunity to market skills such as communication, writing skills, and a methodical and logical way of thinking that can be a great asset to employees in corporations and the non-profit arena.
“Originally, I had wanted to attend a large university for my undergraduate years. One of the best decisions of my life was going to Plattsburgh. Plattsburgh has a certain spirit about it. It's not a just a means to an end, but the love of knowledge and learning is apparent in the very fiber of the school.”
My Advisor Became My Role Model
“Dr. Anna Battigelli was my advisor and continued to help and guide me even after I graduated. Her ability to connect with students and her genuine and sincere concern for the welfare of her students have always remained with me. I now find myself trying to be the same guide and source of support for my students as she was and continues to be for me. There are few things more uplifting than having someone whom you look up to believe in you.
“Plattsburgh might be cold, but it is friendly, supportive, and social environment kept me warm during my four years. Being a short distance from Montreal, the Adirondacks, and Burlington, Vermont made it ideal.”
Samy’s Advice for Prospective and Current Students
“To current or incoming students I would say savor every moment (even the difficult ones) and become as involved as possible. Take advantage of study abroad programs. Try skiing or go on the many weekend trips that are available to students. Become an R.A. or get involved in associations and clubs. You are at the peak of your youth. This is the time to challenge yourself and diversify your interests. Take advantage of the theater department. You’ll never be able to pay such cheap prices for theater tickets again.”
Myfanwy Collins graduated with a double major in English and secondary education and now works primarily as a freelance writer and runs her own writing, editing and consulting company, Ignited Consulting. She also works as a fiction editor at a literary journal and small press, the Literary Potpourri. Additionally, she writes novels, short fiction and has tried her hand at screenplays (http://www.myfanwycollins.com).
Small Classes and Encouraging Professors Honed My Skills
“My English studies reinforced the importance of comprehending what I read, of understanding how to employ critical thinking in all situations and of writing clearly and consistently. Whether writing an email to a friend, or an article on kitchen faucets for The Boston Globe, I aim for clarity. I want to make sure I am understood and the skills I gained at Plattsburgh State help me to do that.
“I loved the breadth of knowledge of the faculty in the English department. I loved the small class sizes. And I loved the encouragement I received from my professors. I transferred to Plattsburgh State from a larger university because I wanted to feel more like an individual and less like a number. Even though there are many students at Plattsburgh, and though I attended some larger classes, I always felt that I had an opportunity to be heard and understood.”
My Advisors Taught Me Invaluable Lessons
“Dr. John Shout was my advisor and one of my professors. I remember most clearly the times I spent chatting with him in his office; he was always helpful and treated me with kindness, and encouraged me when I talked of attending graduate school. His humor and sense of fairness got me through many of the trials and tribulations of being an undergraduate student. Dr. Shout is not merely my former advisor, he is a lifelong friend.
“Dr. Ann Tracy was gracious enough to act as my advisor for my senior honor’s project. She was my professor in previous semesters, and I always enjoyed her humor and openness. The two semesters I spent working on and completing my novel under her guidance were the best of my academic life. The lessons Dr. Tracy taught me not only helped me to form the outline for my entire writing life, but for my professional and personal lives as well. What she gave me is invaluable.”
Myfanwy’s Advice for Prospective Students
“It is up to you to get the most out of your college experience. Take responsibility for what you want to learn and engage yourself in the process of learning so that you give as much as you take. Visit your professors during office hours and reach out to them on a human level. Read the books assigned to you. Spend the time studying. Learn as much as you can learn before you make your way into the working world.”
If you would like more information about English programs at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact
Genie Babb, Chair
Education: Ph.D. Brown University
Office: Champlain Valley Hall 203
Phone: (518) 564-5230