Seven years after graduating from Oregon State, Jessica Bartlett (MFA, ’06) is the Department Chair at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM), one of the best high schools in the country. Her work has helped to transform and expand the humanities program, which included just one full-time English teacher when Jessica began in 2007.

She hadn’t planned on working with high schoolers, but it has turned out to be a rewarding experience.

“Leaving OSU, I was really uncertain about taking a position at a high school, even a high school for the gifted where I knew the students would be prepared for a challenging curriculum in the humanities,” says Jessica. “However, it was the best decision I could have made, and it is one that I’d strongly encourage other graduates to consider.”

Jessica is currently teaching English at MSSM, which was named the 13th best high school in the United States by US News and World Report this year. She arrived there in 2007 after completing her MFA and a year as a bridge instructor at OSU, and was originally hired by MSSM to design a comprehensive composition program for gifted and talented high school students.

Six years later, her department has gone from one full time English teacher to three, which has freed up a bit more of her time for curriculum development and course design. Jessica became the Humanities Department Chair three years ago, and last year served as the Academic Support Coordinator, overseeing the academic well being of MSSM’s student body and ensuring that students’ needs were met both in and outside of the classroom by our faculty and residential staff.

In addition to her administrative duties, Jessica teaches a mixture of composition and American literature courses, some of which receive credit from the University of Maine through an agreement brokered two years ago.

“Working at MSSM has given me the opportunity to utilize the education, experience, and mentorship that I received at OSU to make a difference in the daily lives of young people, while continuing to challenge myself as an educator and writer,” Jessica concludes. “I couldn’t ask for a better job with more academic freedom or sense of community involvement.”

Jessica Bartlett

Above: Jessica Bartlett, MFA ’06

Friends, family, teachers, and colleagues will gather at Central Park in Corvallis on Tuesday to honor the memory of Alexis White (MFA in Poetry, ’12), who passed away one year ago.

All are welcome. Feel free to bring a memory, poem, or song to share.

Central Park Gazebo, 650 NW Monroe

Tuesday, June 11, 4-5 pm


by Alexis White
So if extrapolation from our own case is involved in the idea
of what it is like to be a bat, the extrapolation must be incompatible.
We cannot form more than a schematic conception of what it is like.
        -Thomas Nagel, What is it Like to Be a Bat?
Every poem must begin like this: an objection
to the impossibility of being a bat.
It is true that I am writing night-
blind, sounding
you out. Singing
in the dark, I am casting my lot
with impossibility, hoping my voice
might strike a form, resonate, and echo
back to me, so I might know your
speed, position, and trajectory. I am hunting,
hungry for the flying morsel
of what it is like to be you.

An update to the developing third year program: poet Sally Parrish (MFA ’14) has been selected as the 2013-14 Third-Year Graduate Teaching Assistant at Fishtrap in eastern Oregon! In addition to continuing work on her thesis, this third year will allow Sally to build her real-world experience as she teaches composition and creative writing to Wallowa County students.

The third-year GTA position is supported by the School of Writing, Literature, and Film, the Graduate School, and Fishtrap. Congratulations to Sally and third-year GRA Jon Ross – we’ll look forward to hearing more about your adventures out east!

by Sean Crouch (MFA in Fiction, ’14)

As soon-to-be graduates shift their focus from thesis defense to career plans, they face a tough job market and dwindling tenure-track teaching positions. Two recent graduates, Jackie Luskey and Andrea Ardans, offer their thoughts and advice on life after Oregon State.

When it comes to job hunting, both grads advocate networking. Ardans advises, “Don’t hesitate to ask professors for help with your CV and cover letter before you graduate.” While initially skeptical of LinkedIn, Luskey found the online community a great tool for fine-tuning her CV and cover letter following graduation. “From ‘Publisher’s Lunch’ to ‘Social Media Today,’ I was well-read on topics that coincided with potential jobs.” Additionally, Ardans found success with the website and the job listings at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Though it may seem that a master’s degree in English doesn’t directly translate to relatable job skills, Luskey found the versatility of her OSU experience to be an advantage. “Teaching and learning for the past two years is an asset, not a set back,” she says. “Don’t be deterred from applying for a job you are excited about just because the past two years in graduate school don’t exactly match a job description.”

And, as Luskey suggests, don’t be afraid to experiment. “There’s value in being able to demonstrate personality and humanity in application materials.” Ardans, too, commented on the importance of finding a way to stand out in a job pool with so many applicants.

For both graduates, the obvious may still be the most useful advice of all: be realistic, but patience and positive thinking go a long way.


Andrea Ardans (MFA in Fiction, ’12) teaches writing and English at Linn-Benton Community College. Jackie Luskey (MFA in Fiction, ’12) is a Communications Specialist with NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation.