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EIU Master of Arts in English

English MA gave alum the 'competitive edge' to land a job one day after her thesis defense

Emily Ramage ‘07, Director of Grants Development
Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

Emily Ramage

Emily Ramage, on the right, helped facilitate at $50,000 GeoAlliance grant for Lake Land College to offset the cost of the highly energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system that was installed in Webb Hall.

Photo credit: Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

The skills Emily Ramage uses daily as the Director of Grants Development at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill. were sharpened while working on her MA in English at Eastern Illinois University.

“A few weeks into the job, my supervisor told me that my graduate degree was the competitive edge against other candidates; they knew an M.A. in English, especially the Presidential Graduate Assistantship, reflected the skill diversity they were looking for in a collaborative researcher, writer, and editor,” Emily said.

Emily defended her MA thesis titled “Black, white, and gray: the veiled politics of race and slavery in antebellum literature,” which won the Outstanding MA Thesis Award, at the end of the fall semester in 2009. She accepted her position at Lake Land College the very next day. However, grant writing wasn’t part of her long-term goal, as she hoped to teach composition and literature classes in the area.

“This position, though, was too good to pass up at the time,” she said. “I teach an English class every now and then, but I do feel that the unexpected career path I chose to take has been the right one for me and my family.”

Emily is responsible for administering, supervising, and directing all activities in proposing, writing, submitting, and managing competitive private and government grants for LLC. Some of the requirements of her position include excellent oral and written communication skills; effective management and interpersonal skills; the ability to relate to faculty and staff, as well as to business and industry personnel; advanced skills in project planning and working with deadlines; effective research and analytical skills to develop programs based on findings; and the ability to interpret and follow federal and state grant regulations.

“All of these skills and more were honed during my graduate work in the EIU English Department,” she said.

Emily says that a “typical” day in the world of grants is a myth, which is an aspect that she loves about her job.

“Every day is different, because I work with so many different departments and divisions of the College. While there are systematic activities such as monitoring upcoming grant deadlines and researching new opportunities, something new frequently pops up,” she said.

Something that still surprises Emily about grant writing for LLC is the broad spectrum of topics that she researches and writes grant proposals for.

“I’m content with the vast array of surface knowledge, because I can always research in greater depth if needed, thanks to keen research skills developed during my graduate coursework in the EIU English Department,” she said.

“I can speak dangerously on just about anything from the energy production of rack-mounted crystalline photovoltaics to the implications of bridge problems and developmental coursework in higher education.”

Emily’s advice to current MA students:

“Still don’t know what you want to do when you grow up? Join the club … we’re having T-shirts made. But, with many interests it’s remarkable just how versatile a graduate degree in English truly is. The development of critical thinking and communication skills are at the core of all English studies. In what field are those skills of little value?”


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