Graduate Alumni Interview: Alysia Sawchyn
MFA in English (Creative Writing)
Alysia Sawchyn is the nonfiction editor for Sweet Lit and a features editor for The Rumpus. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from Ball State University and an MFA in nonfiction from the University of South Florida. Her essay collection, A Fish Growing Lungs, will be published by Burrow Press in June 2020. Her writing has also appeared in Fourth Genre, Brevity, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere.
What is your position now?
I'm a lecturer at the University of Maryland (College Park). I teach a mix of different classes, mostly professional writing and academic writing. This upcoming semester I'm teaching courses in technical writing and the rhetoric of social media.
Why did you come to the USF graduate program?
One of the professors from my MA recommended it when I started my search for MFAs. It was fully-funded and three years, both of which were absolutely necessary for me. I was also glad of the opportunity to teach different types of classes (especially creative writing). In terms of the program itself, I was impressed by the nonfiction faculty and wanted to continue taking courses in rhetoric and composition. When I came to the campus to visit, I found the graduate students to be incredibly welcoming and felt like there was a strong writing community and that the students supported one another.
What was a unique opportunity you had at USF?
I served as the managing editor of Saw Palm, USF's literary magazine, for a year. It was a very hands-on experience, and I learned a lot about the publishing process—from the very start to promoting the finished product. I also managed the other graduate student genre editors and undergraduate intern.
How did USF prepare you for your position?
USF has a great PTC (professional and technical communication) program, and I was able to take both the teaching practicum and theory graduate courses. These provided a solid foundation for the various professional writing classes I taught as a grad student, and all of these experiences have been helpful in preparing me for my position at UMD.
In terms of the hiring process, I've had several faculty members look over my application materials and also schedule mock interviews with me. When we hired tenure track professors at USF, I was also able to sit in on their job talks.
What advice would you give to new graduate students in the program?
Go talk to your faculty members. Graduate school is about so much more than the coursework. By getting to know my professors I learned about new opportunities, professional organizations, and experiences.