At Mount Saint Mary College, it’s not uncommon to see Arts and Letters faculty performing side-by-side with students on stage in a play or the annual Vespers Christmas carol service, staying late to collaborate on a research or film project, or having literary conversations with their students over dinner.
That’s because faculty of the Division of Arts and Letters at the college see their students not only as pupils, but also as fellow colleagues in the creative process.
That family feeling
There are a lot of majors housed within the Division of Arts and Letters – English, Media Studies–Production, Media Studies–Journalism, Public Relations, Hispanic Studies, and Technology and Digital Media – but the office is connected by a common pursuit of creativity.
“Walking into the Division of Arts & Letters in Aquinas is such an uplifting experience,” said transfer student Tanner Tait, an English and Journalism double major. “To feel welcomed and home so quickly is a breath of fresh air, and the environment is totally stress free.”
Alumna Alyssa Watkins, who graduated in 2013 and now works as a marketing and proposal manager for KC Engineering and Land Surveying, couldn’t agree more. “The entire Arts and Letters department greatly shaped my time at the Mount. I still keep in touch with several of the professors and try to make time for annual visits.”
That family feeling goes both ways. The professors in the Division get involved outside of the classroom because they recognize and appreciate the effort that Mount students are willing to put into their studies.
“There are really two kinds of schools,” says Division of Arts and Letters Chair and Professor of English Daniel Shea. “Some are so large that students become part of something much bigger than themselves. Other kinds enable a single student to stand out, where a school’s identity and tradition and the student’s sense of self resonate. I much prefer teaching the latter, those kinds of students who see themselves as leaders within a community,” the type of students he finds at the Mount.
A solid foundation
An Arts and Letters degree from Mount Saint Mary College can prepare you to take on a number of varied careers, both within communications and in other disciplines.
For example, Kevin Reavey ’06 is utilizing his English degree as a data analyst for Crayola. Teresa Tedone ’93 uses the skills from her Communications degree at Mosaic, a utility training company. And Enny Pichardo ’06, who double majored in Media Studies/Hispanic Studies, works as a national news correspondent for Univision, a Hispanic multimedia company.
“Communication classes at the Mount give our students hands-on, real-world experience as a regular part of their course of study, giving Mount students a jump start in the workforce,” explained Assistant Professor of Journalism Regina Pappalardo. “Our courses in Journalism, Production, and Public Relations provide students the opportunity to use finished pieces from their coursework in job portfolios, assuring potential employers that Mount students can hit the ground running from day one.”
Dean Goldberg, associate professor of Communication Arts and Film Studies, wanted to ensure that his Media and Production students would have a plenty of experience prior to entering the field, which was part of the reason why he created Mount Media, a creative agency that provides production work for nonprofits. “This is real-world experience and everyone is hands-on involved,” he said of the projects. “Our mission is to produce videos, promos, and shows that reflect our diverse community.”
Not just for majors
The Division of Arts and Letters is also home to a number of minors that allow students to expand their creativity, even if they aren’t Arts and Letters majors.
Biology major Angelica Termine saw art as a creative outlet. Through the Mount’s liberal arts education, which allows students to nurture secondary passions unrelated to their major, she was able to declare art as her minor.
“I decided to minor in art to help me relieve stress from my challenging Biology classes,” she said. “Attending a liberal arts college provides me the opportunity to explore classes outside of my major and partake in the various mediums of art,” like painting, graphic design, and even photography.
Additionally, James Phillips, associate professor of Theatre, has seen a variety of students with a breadth of majors act on the Mount stage: Students like Jacob Donnelly ’10, a History major who found a home in the Arts and Letters Division.
“Acting at the Mount was a true blessing for me that changed my life. Theater was, and will always remain, the best thing that I ever did during my time at Mount Saint Mary College,” the alumnus remarked.
For Phillips, who spends many late hours overseeing play rehearsals for the college’s theatre productions, the best teaching moments come outside of regular class hours. “Working with students in this way, for hours and hours a week, is an intensity you just can’t get in a classroom,” he said.
Be part of the Mount family
If you’re looking to turn your creative passion into a career, become part of the Mount’s Arts and Letters family. Visit the Mount at the college’s upcoming Open House to meet with faculty and learn more about academic programs within the Division. www.msmc.edu/rsvp