Benefiting from the community
Virginia Brackett, PSU alumna, has been honored by Booklist/Research Book Bulletin with an Editor's Choice Award for her book The Facts on File Companion to British Poetry, 17th & 18th Centuries. The book has also received a "star" highly recommended rating from the library journal Choice.
Dr. Brackett, who received a doctorate from the University of Kansas after having earned her MA at Pittsburg State University in English in 1991, is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Park University, where she is also Director of the Honors Program.
Her new book How to Write about the Brontës, was published in November.
Dr. Brackett has fond memories of her experience at Pittsburg State University.
"One thing that I greatly enjoyed was observing and benefiting from PSU's community atmosphere," she said. "Connections and support are highly valued, and the sense that everyone works together and depends upon one another made a great impression on me. I came to truly understand the phrase 'academic community' through my time on the campus."
In addition, Dr. Brackett appreciated the opportunity to work individually with talented professors offered by the English department.
"This is not available in every school," she says, "especially at the graduate level."
Individual instructors which she says had a influence on her include Walter Shear, Stephen Teller, Jo McDougall, Steve Meats, Charles Cagle, Kathleen Nichols, and Carolyn Hearne.
"Thanks in large part to Pittsburg State University," she continues, "I found a way to convert negatives to positives. I discovered a life through literature and writing that I had never known existed."
The opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant proved invaluable in convincing her that she did want to teach at the University level, a decision that motivated her completion of the Ph.D. degree at the University of Kansas.
More valuable than this was her interaction, both inside and outside of the classroom with English department faculty.
"I had completed bachelor degrees in both medical technology at the University of Arkansas and in business at the (then) Missouri Southern State College," she says. "And I had never met such a devoted caring faculty group."
According to Brackett, that attitude proved infectious.
"My time spent earning my master's degree was magical in many ways, with the opportunity to immerse myself in a study of literature proving crucial to a total personal transformation that would be completed as I earned my Ph.D. Any success I have gained I owe in large part to the English faculty at PSU for honing my skills and encouraging me to believe that I might complete in good form enormous undertakings."
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