Alumni Stories

The career possibilities for English majors are as numerous as they are varied. The statements below were written by a few of our alumni who now work in a range of fields and who are at various stages of their career development. A degree in English can be very valuable in achieving rewarding and successful careers. If you are an alumnus of the UCSB English Department are you are interested in contributing your story, please email us at englishinfo@english.ucsb.edu.

Priscilla Leung (2016)

Data analysts are often abuzz with the latest doomsday about English majors. They’re not entirely wrong. Many young graduates barely scrape by working at mind-numbing, woefully underpaid jobs. 

But don’t all majors undertake this risk? 

Pharmacy students, lawyers – now torpedo into fiscal ruin and dauntingly face the same occupational realities. English majors, however, graduate with wider career options.

It’s difficult to articulate the spirit of the English degree. After all, how can we precisely analyze what happens in the brain upon hearing a beautiful poem, or a moving lecture? So much is unknown, immaterial.

UCSB’s English Department is a rare place. You will meet wonderful professors who attend to your growth, who are supportive (academically and emotionally), and more than happy to fold you in. New friends will greet you every quarter.

I’ve held various jobs: I was an English teacher, shoemaking apprentice, piano tutor, and free-lance reporter; I’ve cashiered, photographed, installed exhibitions, and washed dishes at 3 a.m. as a pastry chef. I now teach art and rabidly write about style. Be proactive. Win scholarships. Life since university hasn’t been all sunshine and puppies, but I cherish my English degree. I’m sure most grads do.

Stacey Church (2011)

Being in the English Department at UC Santa Barbara allowed me to explore not only literature, but also culture, language, history, technology, and other aspects of the human experience. With such a versatile program, I was able to foster my own interests while gaining critical skills in reading and writing practices under the expert guidance of the English faculty. The numerous specializations and research opportunities available in the department prepared me for both professional and graduate work – and, of course, I had the chance to experience some of the best works of English literature. After graduating, I worked as an editorial research analyst at a video game market research firm. I have since entered the Master's program in English at Georgetown University, where I help design and test web-based educational platforms as a graduate associate for the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

Shayna Ingram (2008)

My time with the English department and my year studying abroad helped me become the well-rounded, engaged person I am today.

My incredible instructors and peers in the English department at UCSB exposed me to a diverse array of texts, ideas, communities, and philosophies. Our subjects ranged from medieval poetry to fairy tales to hypertext. Even though I was a double-major, I couldn't get enough of the classes the English department offered. The quarter I decided to take four upper-division literature classes, just because I could, was the craziest and best quarter I ever had. I really enjoyed English Club because we held great events like poetry slams, film viewings and discussions, and a 24-hour reading marathon that included a sleepover in front of Storke Tower. These fun and powerful experiences have stuck with me in the five years since I graduated.

The English department actually gave me my first real job after college. I feel really lucky because I was able to stay with the department for several more years, further pursuing my literary interests while learning more about higher education administration. I recently received a promotion in my position as the personnel/payroll manager for a large interdisciplinary research department at UCSB. I also have a significant leadership role with a local non-profit animal shelter: I formally run our outreach program, which includes IT infrastructure planning, photography, social media, and marketing; I write for and design our quarterly fundraising newsletter; and I also supervise a weekly shift of volunteers who clean cages, socialize the cats in our care, and help find the cats new homes.

While pursuing my English major, I developed a strong desire to create meaning in my life as well as the world. I have found many interesting job and personal opportunities that have informed who I am. My English degree is deeply connected to my professional pursuits in, and passion for, the arts and humanities, higher education, social justice, and non-profit management.

Jennifer Rickel

Assistant Professor, Department of English and Foreign Languages, University of Montevallo

UC Santa Barbara’s English department is where I learned that I could do more and be more than I had ever believed. I came to college with much determination, but it was the English department that provided me a challenging and exciting direction. From Professor Enda Duffy and the many other scholars whose rigorous lectures inspired me intellectually to the thoughtful department counselor who insisted I should pursue an undergraduate honors thesis to Professor Rita Raley’s thorough and insightful one-on-one direction of my research, my time in UCSB’s English department gave me the skills and the confidence to become an intellectual. The department enabled me to seamlessly integrate my study abroad experience in Barbados with my undergraduate research and course of study in Santa Barbara. In all, UCSB’s English department not only surrounds its students with impressive scholars but also allows for the sort of direct interaction that encourages students to pursue the boundless possibilities the University of California offers.