Alumni Spotlight: Career Paths in Higher Education

From left to right: Emily Minor (MA ’17), Maggie Borders (MA ’12), Cheryl Rauh (MA ’11), Shaunte Montgomery (MA ’08), and Mo Li (MA ’10)

On Monday September 16, we had the good fortune to hear from several of our alumni who are pursuing careers in higher education administration.

The catalyst: a site visit by Shaute Montgomery (MA ’08) and her team from Central Missouri State University.

Shaunte serves as the Title III Coordinator and Director of First Year Programs at CMU while she completes her Ph.D. in English at Howard University. Shaunte and her team spent the day with Greg Eiselein (in his role as Director of K-State First) and the teams here at K-State, exchanging best practices for student success and diversity and inclusion.

For 45 minutes of that day, thanks to the schedule that Greg designed, we also learned some best practices for English graduates as they consider the next steps for their careers.

Current graduate students in English heard from not only Shaunte, but also from: Emily Miner (MA ’17), Writing Specialist and Academic Program Assistant, Educational Supportive Services (ESS); Maggie Borders (MA ’12), Academic Specialist, McNair Scholars Program; Cheryl Rauh (MA ’11), Program Manager, McNair Scholars Program; and Mo Li (MA ’10), Academic Coach, Academic Achievement Center.

In addition to sharing how they each arrived to their current positions and other perspectives on their career paths (most discovered their positions by first working part-time in that unit or hearing about a position from someone who worked there), they also shared what they like most about their current job.

Their responses?

Shaunte values the creativity she can exercise when creating new programs or initiatives as well as the opportunity to work directly with students.

Cheryl particularly enjoys helping students “bounce back” when plans are heading in the wrong direction for that student’s goals.

Maggie likes being able to work closely with students on their writing, getting to know them over several years as their “academic big sibling.”

Emily is happy to be working directly with students and colleagues again after discovering that grant-writing can mean more time working on your own each day rather than collaborating with others.

Mo is happiest when assisting, as she is now, small groups of students in one-on-one sessions as they plan the best academic path, knowing that she can follow students’ successes beyond that one meeting into the future.

Many thanks to our five alumni for offering their perspectives on a range of topics — pursuing the Ph.D. alongside administration, the types of writing they do (including social media), how their past areas of study for the M.A. relate to their current professional and personal lives, strategies for creative engagement and “mindfulness,” and more. Thanks, too, to our current graduate students for their good questions for the panel!

Karin Westman, Department Head



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