English professor Alexis Easley (left) and student Shannon Kelly converse during a staged scene in the John Roach Center November 2, 2015. Taken to promote English department mentor programs.

English Department Introduces English With a Professional Writing Emphasis Track

The University of St. Thomas English department has rolled out a new English with a Professional Writing Emphasis track.

Amy Muse, chair of the English Department, said the new track allows students to earn a full English major that includes a concentration of four courses in professional writing. The program is focused on teaching students how to write for various work environments. Along with an introductory course, Environmental Writing and Community Outreach is also being taught this semester under the Professional Writing umbrella.

“When we’ve talked to our majors, we’ve seen the need for professional writing courses,” Muse said. “The number of students who meet with me when they’re high school students – or the students who come in and are trying to feel out a major and seeing what English is all about – everyone leads with, ‘I need to learn how to write and I want a wider range of writing on my resume.’

“We thought a professional writing track within English would be really useful to English majors, but it would also be this great complement to all students,” she continued. “They wouldn’t necessarily be English majors; they might be minors or they might just take a couple of professional writing courses to complement what they’re doing.”

Assistant English Professor Fernando Sanchez was hired last year by the university for his expertise in professional writing. He is currently teaching Introductory to Professional Writing and is set to teach Writing in the Health and Human Sciences this spring. He said people might be surprised at how much interpersonal work goes into professional writing and technical communication.

“I want students to get a sense of that interpersonal and intercultural work that’s necessary,” Sanchez said. “Because oftentimes you have to communicate with people who are in-house, who work alongside with you, and you have a very different viewpoint as how things are supposed to work. Or you will actually have to go out and get a sense of what the community needs are before you can proceed with some type of a policy.

“I want students to leave this track more confident in their abilities to actually go ahead and do all kinds of complex analytical work,” he continued.

Sophomore Cassie Froese is an English with a professional writing emphasis major. She’s interested in working with nonprofits and doing grant writing, two things she’s hoping the new track will help her achieve.

“What attracted me to the program was the flexibility it offers for my career,” Froese said. “I felt like there were a lot of different things I could do with a degree like that. What I heard from graduates and alumni, and just research in general, is that it was a degree that allowed you to go a lot of different places.”

Read more about English with a professional writing emphasis requirements and check out a four-year plan and checklist for the track.