photo of professor Amy Mathur with students

English Program

Become a Better Communicator and Citizen of the World

At Juniata, you won't just recieve an education; you'll create one.

Why Study English at Juniata?

"Studying English is so important today because language shapes the world, and stories help us share the world. As you explore English at Juniata, you'll have the opportunity to study both language and stories to make you a better communicator and citizen of the world," says Dr. Amy Mathur, Head of the Humanities Division and Chair of the English Department.

"We're working to make you an emphatic and empowered individual and a very employable one."Dr. Amy Mathur, Head of the Humanities Division and Chair of the English Department

Juniata's English program provides each student with an unmatched personalized educational experience. "You won't just be receiving an education; you'll create one," says Dr. Mathur. You can choose the English POE or the Professional Writing POE; or you can combine your interest in English with another discipline on campus (communication, theater, history, psychology, politics, or any other) for an individualized POE with its own unique course list.

You'll receive personal attention—the kind you won't find at bigger schools. Dr. Mathur says, "As we work with you to empower you to find your voice in your writing or walk with you through analyzing great literature from antiquity to today; we're working to make you an emphatic and empowered individual and a very employable one. We keep classes small and are committed to feedback, knowing our students, and working with them very carefully on their development as writers and thinkers."

Along the way, there are many exceptional opportunities, from working as a writing center tutor or becoming a writing associate (working alongside a professor and helping students) to writing for Kvasir, Juniata's literary magazine, where you work on your skills and share them with the community. Career outcomes after studying English are varied and include secondary ed teaching, publishing, editing, creative writing, technical writing, marketing, professional writing across industries and digital media, and law school. Some specific career routes of alumni have included writing scripts for video games, marketing writing for prominent companies, editors at university presses, and becoming university professors.

Read more about Juniata's English program at the following link and our alumni and student success stories below.

Isabella Desko '24

Isabella Desko '24

POE: Secondary English Education

Isabella chose Juniata's English program because she knew she wanted to teach English/Language Arts and wanted to go to Juniata. "The ability to customize our POEs intrigued me, as did the variety of classes Juniata had to offer. English has always been my favorite subject, so I thought that the choices of very specific classes were really cool," Isabella explains. She is an excellent example of an individualized POE – hers is Secondary English Education, with classes in both English/Language Arts and Education.

"The latter is very set in stone. I have a list of classes that I have to take and a suggested schedule for the order that I take them. The only real choice in the education part of the degree comes with math. Everyone in the secondary education program has to take at least two math classes, and those can be any class you choose. English is where it gets more customizable. There are three classes that I have to take, or at least have comparable credits for, but everything else is up to me. I have to take at least one American lit class, and at least one ‘Brit lit’ class, but I get to pick what kind. I can take a class on either comedy or tragedy for the latter, and the former has way more options. A Secondary English Education POE strikes a good balance between rigid and flexible. It's nice to have half of my classes planned out for me, but it's also fun to take control of my education and make choices for myself," Isabella says.

She shares some classes she has enjoyed, including "Literature of Revenge," an English class that meets an Ethical Responsibility requirement. "We read revenge narratives throughout history, from the Bible to a novel from the '90s. We would go through each revenge story and discuss whether or not it was justified or when we stopped supporting the avenger and why. The class tackled a few issues that are still applicable today and have already changed how I look at revenge in media and real life.

Another course that changed my worldview is on the education side of things. It's called 'Introduction to Students with Exceptionalities.' It teaches different abilities and disabilities. It's something that I encourage all people to learn about, as it applies to everyday life," Isabella said. Her career goal is to be an excellent English teacher. Isabella said, "excellent in a way that means not only do my students learn and get good grades, but I want them to enjoy themselves and feel accepted in my future classroom."

Abigail (Abby) Madar, '22

Abigail (Abby) Madar, '22

POE: English

Abby changed her POE to English during her first semester at Juniata after taking "Forms of Literature" with Dr. Amy Mathur. "I realized that classes like hers, where I got to talk about books with other people, were what I loved most. I gained confidence in myself as a writer because of English classes and my first-year college writing course. I had always loved English, but after my first experience with Juniata's English department, I knew I would not want to pursue anything else," Abby says.

Her education path is the designated English POE. "I got to choose from a lot of interesting topics. I had a lot of freedom to choose which classes I wanted to take in certain categories within the English department." This kind of freedom is an example of a student creating their education. Abby goes on to talk about some of her favorite classes, "'Forms of Literature' was the first English class I took at Juniata, and it was what converted me to be an English POE. I became a better writer and improved my contributions to class discussions with each English class. In Hannah Bellwoar's Professional Editing class, I got practical experience by editing a document from our partner class," Abby says. She also learned a lot through valuable opportunities in the English department, like professor mentorship, workshops, and working as a writing tutor.

Ready to graduate in the spring, Abby's career goal is to edit books or other texts in the future, but she is happy with any position that she enjoys with an employer that she believes in. "Juniata's community feeling for me comes from the amazing professors in the English department. They all care very much about their students and the material they teach, and it shows. I am grateful for all the opportunities they have given me."

Rebecca Case '22

Rebecca Case '22

POE: Professional Writing - Digital Track

"I chose Juniata's English program because they were one of the only schools I looked at that had a program specifically for professional writing. I was also drawn to Juniata's small size, including a small student-to-faculty ratio. I knew Juniata would be a good place for me to go because I would be able to get to know my professors and receive more one-on-one attention from them," Rebecca shares.

Rebecca's POE is Professional Writing: Digital Track. The POE includes classes in English, Communications, IT, and Art departments. Rebecca says, "I think it was unique to take classes in multiple different departments, which helped me acquire multiple different skills that I could apply to many different job opportunities. Juniata left the door wide open for me, so I didn't feel pigeon-holed in my career options."

Besides going through all of the required classes to graduate, Rebecca took special courses at Juniata that weren't offered every year, such as "Writing for Social Change," "Creative Nonfiction Writing," and "Writing for the Public," among others. "These classes, along with my required classes, helped me figure out the kind of writing I want to do professionally while expanding my worldview. They have helped me prepare for all different kinds of writing and appeal to many different audiences," Rebecca says.

She describes an opportunity that made a difference in her academic career. "Completing my senior capstone project this year has made a difference in my academic career. Not only did I have one-on-one weekly attention from my faculty advisor, but the English department offers a variety of different ways for seniors to approach the capstone project. Some students write a standard thesis paper, while others opt for creative projects. I created a website and a blog for my capstone project, which I was able to write with an Op-Ed tone. Completing this project over my senior year in such a creative way and having the opportunity to present it to my peers at the end of the year is an opportunity I never thought I would have. Having the option to choose how you want to approach your capstone project helped me to align my project more with my career goals," she explains.

After graduation, Rebecca hopes to write for nonprofit companies and help them distribute informational material accessible to a general audience. "I know that my time at Juniata has helped me understand the constraints of a given situation and how to best present information for any given audience. Juniata has given me the skills to be confident in searching for a job and knowing I have the skills to be considered a serious applicant for a variety of different jobs," she says.

Gretchen Stull '04

Gretchen Stull '04

Publisher, editor, and digital artist

Gretchen Stull is currently a small business owner and freelancer. “I work in publishing, doing a variety of different jobs for various clients based on need. Most frequently I work as a developmental fiction editor, and as a digital artist creating ads, book covers, and other promotional materials. Juniata prepared me for success by teaching me how to think critically, how to research and evaluate information, and how to build and execute my own programs for continued learning. Also, of course, the basic foundations of writing and communication that I use daily,” Gretchen says.

She feels the Juniata POE program is “nothing short of brilliant” and one of the main features that drew her to Juniata. “I loved the freedom of being able to tailor my ‘major’ to best suit my interests and goals (even if I didn’t know what those goals were, at first). Within the field of English, I was especially interested in writing. For my POE, I was able to take not only English courses, but writing-intensive courses from other departments as well. I believe the ability to customize my POE gave me the opportunity to have a more well-rounded education and expose myself to concepts and information that I may not have encountered in a more rigid program with mandatory courses that did not allow for deviation. My advisors were the best. I mean that sincerely. Both as educators and as people, they helped me in ways they’ll probably never know. They encouraged me to push myself and my writing; to broaden my experiences in academia and in life. If I couldn’t find a particular class covering the scope of information I wanted, they helped me create independent studies. I believe the quality of the education I received at Juniata was exceptional, and I have the professors in the English and Communication department to thank for that.”

Gretchen started out studying biology at Juniata, and quickly realized in her first semester that her aptitudes ran more towards the arts and humanities. “I sat down with the course catalog and started highlighting the classes that interested me the most, paying no attention to the department. I figured that if I treated it like a wish list, focusing on what I wanted to do instead of what I had to do, that would help me figure out what career field I should target. When I finished, I realized most of the courses I’d highlighted were in the English and Communication department. Since that was where my interests were centered, I decided that’s where I needed to be,” Gretchen explains.

After graduating from Juniata, Gretchen worked for two years for the Department of Defense before deciding to go to graduate school at Auburn University in the Communications department. She was contracted to write her first book that year and it was released during her first semester of graduate school. It spent a while on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal best seller lists. The book,’s What Will Happen In Harry Potter 7, introduced Gretchen to the world of publishing. Her career took off from that point.

“I loved going to Juniata. I love Juniata still. I don’t know if I would be the same person I am today if I had gone anywhere else. The professors challenged me, not just academically, but personally. They challenged me to ask questions and seek out answers, even if those answers were uncomfortable at times. To think critically and question things I'd always accepted as true. To go outside of my comfort zone and seek out experiences that were new to me. To recognize opportunities and seize them. To never stop learning and striving to be better. My time there wasn’t easy, but it was worth every bit of effort. After I entered graduate school, I realized how exceptional my education at Juniata was. I was prepared for the demands of masters-level course work in ways that some of my peers were not,” Gretchen says. Her advice for new Juniata students is “don’t be afraid to forge your own path, embrace change, and if there’s something you want, go after it.”

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