Graduate Alumni Interview: Georgia Jackson
MFA Creative Writing
Geographically speaking, Georgia is a Florida girl with a habit of trading sunshine for fresh bread and palm trees for pomme frites. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of South Florida, and she teaches English in l'Académie de Paris. You can find her jogging in the forest or on Twitter @Georgia_Jackson
What is your position now?
Starting in October, I'll be teaching English at Lycée Racine, which, if you're familiar with Paris, is just a bit north of Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées. It's a teaching assistant position with TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France), so my job will be to engage the students in activities that encourage them to practice thinking and speaking in English.
Why did you come to the USF graduate program?
It's kind of a circular story. When I graduated from USF with my BA in English back in 2014, I knew I wanted to pursue grad school, but because I'd taken summer classes throughout undergrad, I found myself graduating a full year earlier than anticipated. Surprise! Thankfully, I'm super fortunate to have a big family full of really loving and supportive people, so when my aunt offered me the spare bedroom in her house just outside of Paris, I jumped at the opportunity to spend a year living in a new city while I applied to MFA programs.
Funding is a big reason I chose to return to USF. I feel very privileged to have been able to dedicate three years to my writing, and without USF's generous funding package, I wouldn't've been able to swing it. The opportunity to gain three years of teaching experience was another reason I chose USF. Plus, I was familiar with the English department's supportive culture, and I was looking forward to working more closely with many of the faculty members.
What was a unique opportunity you had at USF?
This is going to sound pretty sentimental, but because I was able to tailor so much of my experience as a graduate student at USF, the entire process felt unique.
Another reason I returned to USF is that cross-genre study is a must. So as a fiction student, I was able to supplement my required coursework with nonfiction classes, and I even had the opportunity to take a handful of literature courses, which then allowed me to teach Introduction to literature in my final year.
The department's internship program helped me to broaden my experience off-campus by connecting me with a Tampa-based branding agency. That experience later opened the door to a position in USF's Office of the Provost, where I've worked for the past year, and will continue to work until I leave for Paris.
How did USF prepare you for your position?
Learning to stand in front of a class of 20-plus students and move articulately through a lesson is probably the most valuable skill I've gained over the last three years, especially as it will relate to my position as a teaching assistant at Lycée Racine. It's something I had almost no experience with prior to entering the graduate program at USF, and I'm grateful for the way the English department integrates pedagogical training into the graduate curriculum.
What advice would you give to new graduate students in the program?
Do your best not to compare your experience to that of everyone else. As long as you're following your passions and getting involved in ways that excite your curiosities, you'll cultivate an experience that fits you. The rest doesn't matter.