Bex Hoffer (any pronouns) works in fundraising at the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre in Indianapolis. She lives there with three of her favorite people and three weird yet darling cats. Her writing has been published in River Teeth, Ball Bearings Magazine, Dive In Magazine, The Odyssey, and The Broken Plate. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Note: This interview was conducted by Zoe Hagymasi.

What does a typical week in your position as an Advancement & Campaign Associate look like? How do you assist with fundraising specifically?

What I’m working on varies a lot from week to week. Right now there are a lot of upcoming grant applications—some just a couple pages long, some over a dozen pages long and requiring all sorts of additional budget information—so getting those put together is the main thing on my plate. A lot of our funding comes from foundations like the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and the way we request that funding is through grants. I’ve also designed flyers and signs for a Christmas-themed fundraising event, organized a chaotic file library, helped write and design newsletters and sponsorship fulfillment packets, and I’m continually keeping many spreadsheets updated. I almost always work from home, so a steady stream of emails is the one thing that stays consistent.

What are the most valuable skills you learned as an English major at Ball State?

Writing in a variety of styles is the first thing that comes to mind. I need to write in a formal style for grant applications, a more casual/personable style for newsletters, and very succinctly when taking meeting notes. Another thing that comes to mind is the ability to keep track of lots of deadlines at once and keep my priorities sorted.

What did you struggle with the most as an English student?

I never really struggled with my classes, but I guess I did struggle to make friends in the English department. I liked and admired my classmates, but it was hard to form lasting connections when we only got fifty minutes together three days a week. So most of my friendships were formed outside of class.

What is your one piece of advice to current English students? 

If you’re into tracking the books you read, StoryGraph is so much better than Goodreads. Check it out. The recommendations feature is amazing.

How do your English studies help you succeed in your current occupation, and how do you think it will help you succeed in the future?

I wouldn’t have the job I have if not for the recommendations of my professors. The connections I made through a few key mentors have been just as valuable as the skills they helped me develop.

Morgan Ann Aprill is an Indiana native who graduated from Ball State in 2015 with her Bachelor’s in English Literature and again in 2017 with her Master’s in TESOL. After teaching English/Language Arts at a high school for adults in Indianapolis for a few years, she now works as an English Learner Collaborative Teacher at Noblesville High School. Her pronouns are she/her. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Note: This interview was conducted by Anthony Herring.

What drew you to pursuing English Literature as your major?

During high school, my English classes were always my favorite. I loved reading and writing and talking about literature. I even loved grammar lessons! I loved discussions where there was not necessarily a right answer but possible answers that you had to argue and support with evidence. When I first went to Ball State, I started as a journalism major. However, after my freshman year, I just missed English literature classes so much I decided to switch so I could do what I loved the most.

What are the most valuable skills you learned as an English Literature major? 

The most valuable skills I learned as an English Literature major were research, analysis, and argumentation. These are really the core skills necessary for anyone pursuing an English Literature degree.

What drew you to pursuing a Master’s in TESOL?

After I earned my Bachelor’s, I was interested in learning more about the science of language through linguistics. Language absolutely fascinates me. I was also interested in pursuing a career in education as I had worked as a tutor in the Writing Center for much of my undergraduate years. I had a minor in Spanish and worked as a Spanish writing tutor at the Writing Center as well. My passion for language, interest in different languages and cultures, and strong belief in public education led me to considering TESOL.  I met with a professor to discuss my interests and they told me how I could pursue a master’s in TESOL/linguistics and work at the Intensive English Institute to get experience. I ended up just pursuing the Master’s in TESOL but it has led me to my current position as an EL teacher and I couldn’t be happier!

What advice would you give to other English students, whether they be fellow English Literature majors or not?

Get involved in things that you think might help you pursue your career and personal interests. For me, I wasn’t sure if teaching was something I would like so I tried tutoring. I found out I loved it, and that helped me know more that teaching may be right for me. I also took opportunities to try things that pushed me, like my Spanish writing tutoring and becoming involved in leading a student organization. These things helped me figure out what I was truly passionate about and what could make me feel fulfilled in a future career.

Being an English Learner teacher, what does a typical week look like for you?

We have block classes alternatively between Black and Gold Days (Noblesville’s school colors). On Black Days I teach English as a New Language (ENL) to level 1 and 2 students, help beginner and advanced EL students with homework during two support classes, and then have my level 1s and 2s again for extra English language learning at the end of the day. Gold Days are similar except I have a prep period and my ENL class is for levels 3 and 4.

Throughout any day of the week, I may be helping a new student who recently immigrated, helping a senior with a college application essay, giving feedback to a nervous student on a presentation they have for a class, or helping kids navigate the big emotions that come with being teenagers! I translate, grade, plan, support, and advocate for my students all day every day.

How did/do your English studies influence or contribute to your current career? Do they also influence your life outside of work? 

I definitely use a lot of what I learned during my Master’s program every day in my job. I have a firm background in the theory and logistics of being an effective teacher of English as a New Language that I am thankful for receiving through Ball State.

Since you’ll be returning to the English Department, how do you hope to advance your studies? 

I am taking a Practicum in TESOL course to help me finish a final requirement for earning my Indiana state EL teaching license. This I am adding to my license in teaching secondary English/Language Arts.

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