Graduate Alumni Interview: Christina Connor
MA in English (Literature)
Christina Connor graduated with a Master’s degree in English with a concentration in Literature from the University of South Florida in May of 2016. Following the completion of her degree, Christina worked as an adjunct faculty member at Saint Leo University and multiple campuses of Hillsborough Community College before accepting a tenure-track position at the Brandon campus of HCC in the fall of 2017. Her teaching load includes English Composition I and II as well as literature courses with topics such as monsters in British literature and literary fairy tales. Christina is the advisor for HCC’s Brandon campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Alpha Lambda Alpha, and she organizes a peer mentor program for first-semester students. Outside of HCC, Christina sits on the Board of Directors for the Florida College English Association and serves as second Vice President for the organization. She regularly delivers presentations at conferences on topics such as pedagogy and strategies for supporting student learning at the college level.
What is your position now?
Faculty in the English department at Hillsborough Community College, Brandon campus (tenure-track)
Why did you come to the USF graduate program?
To obtain a graduate degree so I could secure a permanent faculty position at a college or university
What was a unique opportunity you had at USF?
I organized the spring semester Graduate Student Conference in my last semester at USF. This opportunity gave me the experience and confidence to take an active role in planning the yearly conferences for the Florida College English Association, a commitment that helped me secure my tenure-track position at HCC
How did USF prepare you for your position?
At USF, I benefitted from the graduate course work, the experience of teaching as a graduate assistant, and the extra-curricular activities in which I participated such as planning the student conference and piloting an ELL-support program with the Academic Success Center. My graduate course work informs many of the classes I teach at HCC such as the poetry I learned in Professor Hawkins’ Modern Poetry course, ecocriticism from Professor Hewitt’s Studies in English Romanticism, and film techniques from Professor Moody’s Film and Masculinity course. I also took the Practice in Teaching Composition course which supported my growth into a college teacher. It was during my time in this role that I realized my passion is teaching, and I decided to focus on securing a position at a teaching institution when I finished my degree. Lastly, many of the events I attended outside of the classroom were beneficial in helping me land my permanent position because they gave me experiences that made me stand out from the other applicants. Putting all of these elements together gave me a solid foundation to quickly transition from graduate student, to adjunct, to tenure-track faculty.
What advice would you give to new graduate students in the program?
There’s so much! First, it’s important to recognize that graduate school is all-consuming. Having a well-rounded life at this point will be difficult, but you must absolutely find a little time to each day take care of yourself: exercise, meditate, socialize. Continue to do things outside of coursework and teaching that help keep you grounded. Next, be involved in activities outside of the classroom: attend conferences and get involved organizations. Even though your time is limited, these may be the very things that one day secure you a job. My final piece of advice is to make and maintain connections with your peers and professors. These are your greatest allies both in school and beyond. If you stay in academia, they may be your connection for future employment and perhaps even your colleagues.