Major in English


See what our graduates have to say about how the Utica College English degree helped them in their careers.

Ben CouchBen Couch
Graduate School

I am currently pursuing my M.A. at the University of Arizona, and expect to pursue my Ph.D. here as well. I am focusing my studies on American literature from 1850-1950, and also on Biblical Studies. I am particularly interested in the intersection of these two fields; that is, I enjoy examining the ways in which the Bible has been read and "rewritten" in American culture.

How did the English major at Utica College prepare you for this work?

Mainly with an incredible set of professors. All of my ideas were encouraged, and my professors directed those ideas into scholarly avenues. Literature has always been intensely personal to me; my professors helped me to continue my appreciation of literature on the personal level while introducing me to the scholarly conversation surrounding literature. Instead of just listening to academics discuss particular books, I was made a part of that discussion.

I've been teaching composition this past year at the University of Arizona, and the voices from Utica College have come to Arizona with me. I have been given incredible models; my Utica College professors provided me with a very high standard to live up to. Because they expected a lot out of me, I learned to expect a lot out of myself. That is something that I retain in my own studies, and I hope to pass that on to my own students in the years to come.

Danielle BrainDanielle (Pendorf) Brain
Secondary Education

The day after I graduated from Utica College in May of 1988 I went to work as the English Language Arts Summer Program Teacher in a New York State Division for Youth facility in Annsville, New York. Ever since, I have not stopped working as an educator. Currently, I am an established English teacher with the Utica City School District and am working with the State Education Department with various projects involving the new English Language Arts Regents Exam. For the past two years I have been the Central Region Co-Director for the New York State English Council Executive Board and have presented at the council's annual October conference in Albany. Also, since graduating with my Master's degree in 1990, I have worked for Utica College as an adjunct instructor of English.

How did the English major at Utica College prepare you for this work?

The English major from Utica College prepared me for the rigors and expectations of everyday lessons in my English classroom. I still refer to my notebooks from my undergraduate years and try to emulate the effective teaching and writing techniques my professors used. For whatever grade I teach (seventh through twelfth) I rely on this background in literature studies which I received from being an English major at Utica College.

Dave Dudajek


I have worked at the Observer-Dispatch for 19 years, having served here as assistant news editor, news editor, feature writer, columnist, deputy opinion page editor and, for the past two years, opinion page editor. Over the course of my career, I have received numerous awards, most notably, perhaps, a New York State Award, presented by NYSARC (1996) for a series of columns and features on disabilities awareness. I won the print journalism award, while Diane Sawyer of ABC News won the broadcast media award. In 1997, I received a "Best of Gannett" award (companywide) for work on a special project, "Talking Proud," which addressed the rebirth of pride in the Mohawk Valley. In 1998, I received the David V. Veatch Advocacy Award for editorials and columns displaying "staunch advocacy and enhancing accessibility and usability in our communities." Finally, in 1998, I earned three awards from the state Associated Press, including a second place for columns and honorable mention for editorials.

How did the English major at Utica College prepare you for this work?

I believe the English major at Utica College prepared me for my career by providing a broad-based perspective on life. In a world that was changing dramatically--Vietnam, gay liberation, Black activism--outstanding professors not only taught the classics, but helped us understand them as they related to our diverse culture. English and liberal arts in general provided a solid foundation on which to build; it furthermore helped us to understand a bit better our diverse and sometimes complex world, nurturing an ability to explain it to others via the written word.

Joan Teuchert Shkane

Joan Teuchert Shkane

After graduating from Utica College, I received a law degree from Syracuse University's College of Law. After law school, I established the first legal aid office in Herkimer County. My work in the public sector continued as the second female Assistant District Attorney in the history of Oneida county. Since 1983, I have been in private practice, specializing in family law, negligence, criminal, real estate, civil rights (police brutality defense) law, and bankruptcy. I am an attorney for several local unions, and have, since 1997, shared my legal knowledge with the community in a biweekly legal question and answer call-in forum on WKTV. I have also had the honor to serve as the first female trustee of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York.

How did the English major at Utica College prepare you for this work?

The English major at Utica College played a central role in preparing me for my professional career. The practice of law requires extensive drafting of a wide variety of documents. The trial work requires creativity in writing and in speaking. I use the writing and speaking skills I learned at Utica College every day. I personally can think of no other area of study that would provide a comparable background.

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