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MA in English Alumni Stories

Laurie Milford

Laurie Milford (1999), Director of Development, High Country News

Laurie Milford brings 16 years of experience in senior nonprofit and education management to High Country News. Previously, she was executive director at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, where she played a role in establishing the first state laws to regulate the flaring of methane in natural gas drilling operations and to require oil and gas companies to determine baseline water quality before using hydraulic fracturing. She was involved in the long-term protection of more than 3 million acres of BLM and Forest Service lands, including the landmark Wyoming Range Legacy Act and was instrumental in raising funds to achieve these successes. Laurie served as a production editor for Westview Press in Boulder, Colorado, and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English from the University of Iowa and the University of Wyoming respectively. She graduated from the Institute for Conservation Leadership in 2008; in 2010 the institute recognized her as an exemplary leader in the conservation movement. Laurie lives in Paonia with her husband and son.

The master's program in the English Department helped me to prepare for a career in nonprofit management by sharpening my skills in research, analysis, and communication, both oral and written. Most importantly the program bolstered my self-confidence: As a teaching assistant, I learned how to lead others. And as a student, I learned how to meet consistent deadlines for high-quality work. The master's program in English is rigorous. It would benefit those who are preparing to perform marketing and communications, fundraising, or management in the nonprofit sector.

Delissa Minnick

Delissa Minnick (2001), Field Manager, BLM Cody

At its core, a sophisticated legal practice demands the intellectual rigor fostered by the English MA program. The ability to delve beyond the words on the page to find and construct meaning is as essential to the practicing attorney as it is to the English MA candidate. The skills developed in the MA program --to identify and analyze threads of thought across various works, authors, genres, and periods--are the same skills required to identify clients' legal issues, to analyze the applicable law across various courts and jurisdictions, and to advise clients on possible courses of action. Every day, whether with my clients, opposing counsel, or the court, I rely upon the skills honed in my MA courses.

In 2009, Minnick joined the BLM as a planning and environmental coordinator at the Wyoming State Office. She served as an attorney-advisor with the Office of the Solicitor and as BLM Wyoming's litigation coordinator.

“As a Wyoming girl, I know how lucky I am to get to live and work in the Bighorn Basin,” said Minnick. “Managing our public lands alongside such dedicated public, agricultural, government and industry partners is a dream come true.”

Minnick has undergraduate, graduate and law degrees from the University of Wyoming. After graduating law school, she practiced environmental, natural resource and public lands law with Holland & Hart.

“Having grown up in Wyoming, I have both a passion for our wild places and an understanding of the importance of prudent development of our natural resources,” said Minnick. She and her 9-year-old daughter, Kik, are sport and outdoor recreation enthusiasts and spend the weekends trying to run, hike, bike, swim, ride, ski and explore as many miles as possible.

Kristen Thoen

Kristen Thoen (1999), Global Marketing Manager, 3M Technologies

While earning my Masters degree in English from the University of Wyoming, I attended the UW career fair and saw a sign from 3M that said, "Hiring Technical Writers." I thought, "I've never done technical writing, but I know how to write." I applied and was hired as a technical writer for the Corporate Information Technology department at 3M, a Fortune 100 company. Shortly after starting, I convinced my manager that I could put to good use the skills I learned while a teacher's assistant at UW, and my role expanded into global training for 3M's Corporate Marketing department. In that role, I delivered onsite & virtual eBusiness training for 9 corporate eBusiness systems & processes in US, Europe, Asia, & Latin America. In this role the communication and teaching skills I learned at UW were key, as every message needed to be customized for each region. Next, I became a Business Operations Manager for 3M's Medical Division. In this role, I managed a team of people responsible for customer verification, contract membership, incentive payments, and distributor communications. One of my largest projects was re-engineering information delivery models to fundamentally change how the 3M Medical Division shared and leveraged information internally and externally.

While most saw that project as one involving technology, I viewed it as one that allowed me to take my analytical and communication abilities into a different medium the Web. Currently, I am Lean Six Sigma Black Belt for 3M's Medical Division. This two year assignment is part of a leadership development program. Most of my colleagues are engineers, and many wonder how an English Major can perform this role that relies heavily on statistics and analysis. I am always quick to point out that my Masters in English taught me how to analyze: the same skills are required whether I am analyzing a poem or a manufacturing process. Literature, however, still speaks to me, and I have relied on extracurricular activities to continue to fulfill my love of the written word: I edited a book about day trading that was featured on the New York Times Bestseller List, wrote the lead article for an internationally published book about Early American Theater, and presented a paper that was adapted from my Masters thesis at a conference in Spain.

Wendy Matlock

Wendy Matlock (1997), Assistant Professor of English, Kansas State University

When people ask me how I came to be an English professor, I always credit my Master’s work at UW. Even though I was a student there for only two years, the intimate program allowed me to get to know professors as role models and not just as authorities. The course work provided opportunities for me to explore old passions and to discover new interests. In addition, the department offered new teachers excellent mentoring. Pedagogical support and intellectual discovery converged most productively when I served as a teaching intern in a Chaucer class at the same time that I took a course on medieval women. I was hooked.

My professional life since then has been devoted to the study and teaching of medieval literature and culture. I completed a Ph.D. at the Ohio State University, and I have held tenure track positions at two different universities: first at California State University, Sacramento, and now at Kansas State University. Making the earliest English literature accessible to modern students continues to inspire me, and I have published articles in Philological Quarterly, Studies in Philology, and the Journal of English and Germanic Philology. I am currently working on a book about how Middle English debate poems like The Owl and the Nightingale, Piers Plowman, and The Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools present households as contested spaces devoted to both family and work.

Amy Tigner

Amy Tigner (1996), Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas

After graduating with an MA in English at UW in 1996, I taught as a lecturer in the English Department for two years. Deciding that my true passion was Renaissance literature, I decided to get my Ph.D. in English and was accepted at Stanford University to begin doctoral studies in 1998. Working with Jennifer Summit, J. Martin Evans, and Roland Greene, I wrote my dissertation, England's Paradise: Horticultural Landscapes in the Renaissance, which argues that gardens dramatize issues of art, artifice, and global power in the early modern period. After receiving my Ph.D. in 2004, I taught as a post-doctoral fellow in the Stanford Introduction to Humanities program and in 2006 joined the faculty at the University of Texas, Arlington, which is located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Currently I am working on a manuscript based on my dissertation and plans to write my next book on the connection between the garden and the kitchen and the aesthetics of growing, cooking and eating in the Renaissance. I maintain my connections with the English Department faculty, meeting them at conferences and exchanging research ideas; recently I brought Susan Frye to UT, Arlington's campus as a plenary speaker for a graduate student conference.

Marlene Tromp

Dr. Marlene Tromp (1990), Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, UC Santa Cruz

My experience at the University of Wyoming was characterized by intellectual challenge and real professional support. My coursework as a student opened up new horizons for me, and the faculty engaged with my writing and thinking in ways that showed genuine care and thoughtfulness. I have genuinely wonderful memories of the classes I took at Wyoming.  Moreover, the support that the department offered as I moved on to a Ph.D. program and, later, into my career, was invaluable. They humanized the profession for me with their interest in my intellectual growth and well-being, and I will always be grateful for the support they provided. 

I have been named dean of Arizona State’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, effective July 1, 2013.  I was a Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Denison University. I served for six years as Chair of Women’s Studies, and I have also served as Chair of the Faculty and Chair of the Faculty Development Committee.  My service at the college and in the profession at large, on the Board of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association and in my work with junior colleagues in my field, is modeled on the generous support the University of Wyoming faculty always gave. 

In addition to a number of articles, I am author of Altered States: Sex, Nation, Drugs, and Self-Transformation in Victorian Spiritualism (SUNY, 2006) and The Private Rod: Sexual Violence, Marriage, and the Law in Victorian England (UP Virginia, 2000). I have written a new book entitled Force of Habit: Life and Death on the Titanic, which is under review. I have also co-edited and contributed to Fear and Loathing: Victorian Xenophobia (Ohio State UP, Forthcoming), Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in the Nineteenth Century (Ohio State UP, 2007) and Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Beyond Sensation (SUNY 2000). I am presently at work on a new book that considers the Victorian connections between murder and money.

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