Graduate Alumni Interview: Susan Meeler
MA in English (Literature)
Susan Meeler is an Advisor for First and Second Year Experience at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. She graduated with a Master of Arts in English Literature from the University of South Florida in May of 2019. Along with her advising position, she also teaches courses on University Experience about resources and opportunities to take advantage of during a student's first year at Florida Tech while connecting with both classmates and the campus community.
What is your position now?
I am an Academic Advisor for the department of First and Second Year Experience at Florida Institute of Technology.
Why did you come to the USF graduate program?
Initially I wanted to stay in Florida, so I only applied to in-state universities. Honestly though, I chose USF because they offered a program that I could tailor to my own interests in multicultural literature with a focus on women and gender studies, great financial support, and opportunities to gain hands-on teaching experience.
What was a unique opportunity you had at USF?
It was actually through USF that I came to learn about academic advising as a potential career. During my first semester, I was enrolled in the Introduction to Graduate Studies course with Dr. Lennon. Part of that course required students to explore alternative, non-professorial careers that would be applicable with our degree. After interviewing the English department’s undergraduate advisor (thanks Mike Stowe!) I became very interested in the position and researched more about how to tailor my path through graduate school to becoming an advisor. Through this research, I learned about the various graduate certificate programs offered to students, including the certificate in academic advising. The certificate programs offered through USF are an amazing opportunity to expand your knowledge or training in a specific area, such as technical writing.
How did USF prepare you for your position?
USF offers many different graduate certificates for students! I completed the certificate program for academic advising and that directly impacted my credentials for this position. Also, through the graduate teaching assistantship, I gained valuable teaching experience that will translate both into the classroom and into my one-on-one student advising sessions. Part of my current position is to teach a course to incoming freshmen called University Experience. Before graduate school I had no teaching experience. Now having two years of teaching experience with English Composition courses, I can translate the pedagogical techniques and practices I gained from my time at USF to FIT.
What advice would you give to new graduate students in the program?
If you are unsure of exactly where you want to go in your career, it’s always a good idea to talk to those working in the English department! If you asked me what I wanted to be at the beginning of my program, I would have just shrugged my shoulders. Don’t think that you have to know exactly where you are going to end up right now. Exploring the possibilities helped me find the right niche that combined everything I loved about English, teaching, and advising.
Also, take advantage of the nice weather! Being cooped up in classrooms and offices all day can drain you. I found it very refreshing to occasionally take my laptop outside for a bit to work.