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A Look at Duquesne University’s Master of Arts in English Program

By Jayda Benson, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

For many undergraduate students, deciding on a course of study or direction after graduation is a difficult decision with many feasible paths. Some students find themselves looking for jobs after graduation and others seek higher education such as graduate school or law school. It can be difficult to research and decide between all these options. Thankfully, Duquesne has great graduate programs and for those who want to continue studying English, the university offers a Master of Arts in English Program.

Like the undergraduate program, the MA program also has two tracks: English and Literature and Writing. On the English track, students have the option to complete 30-36 credit hours in required courses including early and late literary periods in American or British Literature, two additional courses of the student’s choice, and the completion of a final project. In addition, students on this track can also follow a second option which is 30 credit hours of required courses, a student-designed course of study complete with faculty approved course work, and a final project. On the Literature and Writing track, students must complete 30-33 credit hours in required courses divided between nine credit hours in literature courses, six credits in Department writing electives, six credits in writing electives in or outside of the Department, and a capstone requirement. Currently, MA students can enroll remotely and complete their course of study online and via Zoom.

Duquesne’s MA Program also includes an early PhD admissions process that allows promising students to apply for early admission to start PhD work early and eliminate the often-stressful application process. Students can apply during the summer between their first and second years in the MA program, after completing at least 15 credits of coursework.

In addition, undergraduate students in their final year of coursework toward an English major can apply for Duquesne’s Accelerated Master of Arts Program. Students in this program complete six credits in their last year of their BA and by completing two summers of coursework, can achieve their MA in just five years. A full list of admission requirements is available on the Department’s website.

Graduates of Duquesne’s MA program have gone on to careers in business, education, non-profits, journalism, as well as doctorial programs. Duquesne offers a variety of ways to enter the MA program and offers tracks that allow to students to follow a course of study that interests them. For more information about the Master of Arts Program, please contact the director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Tom Kinnahan (

Duquesne’s Master of Arts in English Program Alumna Interview: Rochel Gasson

By Jayda Benson, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

Like the undergraduate program, Duquesne’s Master of the Arts in English Program is full of versatile students with varied interests. In order to get a closer look at what the MA Program has to offer, it is important to listen to the testimony of current students and alumni of the program. One such alumna is Rochel Gasson, a current PhD candidate at Duquesne University. Rochel received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Toledo and Carlow University, where she studied early education before majoring in English and women and gender studies.

As a Pittsburgh native, Rochel was initially drawn to Duquesne’s MA program because of the location. The program was also heavily recommended by her advisor at Carlow University and her choice was solidified with the encouragement of Dr. Laura Engel. During her time in the MA program, Rochel was amazed with the coursework that catered to her interests. As a modernist and feminist, the coursework from classes taught by Dr. Faith Barrett and Dr. Linda Kinnahan were especially intriguing. Rochel also loved the ability to get back in the classroom environment with students, and now serves as the Assistant Director of the Writing Center.

In addition to the coursework, Rochel decided to move into the PhD program due to the connections she had made throughout her time at Duquesne. Rochel urges to students in the Master’s Program to join the English Graduate Organization (EGO), which works to keep English graduate students informed in professional and social aspects, through conferences, colloquia, workshops, mentorship, and social activities. Rochel served different roles during her time in EGO and urges students to be a part of the program where they can share their voices and be an active member of the graduate student community.

During her time in the MA program, Rochel was amazed with the coursework that catered to her interests.

Jayda Benson

Duquesne’s Master of Arts in English Program Alumnus Interview: Brad Britvich

By: Jayda Benson, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

Although many students expect college to be linear experience, more often than not, students find themselves on a path that has diverged from their initial plan. In conducting interviews with MA alumni, I have seen how students often discover new interests, courses of study, and life goals throughout their collegiate career. One such student is Brad Britvich, an alumnus of Duquesne University’s Master of Arts in English Program, and a current PhD student at Duquesne.

As a Pittsburgh native, Brad began his undergraduate career at California University of Pennsylvania. He began as an archeology major before becoming an English major with a concentration in journalism his sophomore year. With such varied interests and courses of study, Brad was attracted to Duquesne’s MA Program and saw a way to blend his passions. He took courses ranging from media writing to public relations, before being offered a spot to teach English and writing to undergraduate students. He began teaching freshman composition (BRDG 101 and 102), which allowed him to teach both writing and literature. Now in the PhD program, Brad’s focus is on genre theory and genre studies – a way to further blend his passion of writing studies and traditional literary studies.

With such varied interests and courses of study, Brad was attracted to Duquesne’s MA Program and saw a way to blend his passions.

Jayda Benson

Brad acknowledges the support within the department and the opportunities he was given during his time in the MA Program. Although he did not plan on teaching during his initial time in the program, Brad is thankful for the opportunities and discussions that prepared him the future. The support from the faculty provided Brad with mentorship and guidance that left him prepared, and encouraged him to stay at Duquesne for his PhD. In addition, Brad emphasizes the way the department encourages career exploration and gives students a plethora of opportunities and job placements post-graduation.

The support from the faculty provided Brad with mentorship and guidance that left him prepared, and encouraged him to stay at Duquesne for his PhD.

Jayda Benson

Brad is currently the First Year Writing Committee Representative in the English Graduate Organization (EGO). EGO gives students the opportunity to have a say within the department and is a supportive community of likeminded individuals willing to mentor and support one another. Brad illustrates the way in which the English department at Duquesne is passionate about their work and the content they teach – a trait Brad now brings into his own classroom and will bring to all of his future endeavors.

Duquesne University’s Writing Center

By Kaya Cammerata, English Major, ENGL 447 Capstone

On the second floor of College Hall, room 216, the Writing Center can be found. As you walk in, the aroma of coffee is quick to detect, the chatter of students floats through the air, and the bright, colorful writings on that week’s poll draws attention to the eye. Created and curated by the center’s consultants and students, as explained by Rochel Gasson, this year’s assistant director, the space offers a unique and grounding environment for learning. The center’s mission is to function as a tool for students to use during their writing endeavors. It prides itself on not being a proofreading or editing service, but rather teaching students to learn from their mistakes and continue to improve their overall abilities.

“All you need is a writing task and a willingness to engage actively in conversation about your work.”

The Writing Center Pamphlet

Appointments can be scheduled in increments of 30, 60, and 90 minutes, Monday – Friday face-to-face in College Hall 216, virtually over Zoom, and virtually for those who are on Duquesne’s Dublin campus. The Writing Center also offers assistance to those in the community by having center consultants and interns work at a Community Writing Center. Both the Community Center and the on campus center provide assistance on projects from all disciplines and stages of the writing process including: academic papers, professional applications, resumes, presentations, and more. Students can engage with writing consultants both at the undergraduate and graduate level who are ready and excited to help students, faculty, and staff at any stage of the writing process. There are also a variety of specialty consultants available for sessions, including a Business writing consultant, one for Scientific writing, and English as a Second Language (ESL). These titles are listed under the names of the specific consultants.

Get involved! The Center is frequently holding contests for each holiday and every writing celebration, including National Day on Writing and National Punctuation Day. Students can stop by College Hall 216 or email the center to enter for the chance to win prizes.

Dr. Jim Purdy, director of the Writing Center, recently participated in a faculty interview where he speaks at length about his position as director and professor here at Duquesne University, as well as the Writing Center in general. On Friday, February 25th the transcript of the interview will be under the “Faculty Interviews” tab on the Building Bridges blog, and a short video segment of the interview can be viewed on Duquesne’s English Department’s Instagram page.

For more information, check out their website! If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment with The Writing Center, click here:

A Look at the English Major Literary Studies Concentration

By Jayda Benson, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

The Literary Studies track is the second of two concentrations available in the English major at Duquesne (the Writing Concentration is discussed below). These concentrations give students the unique ability to find and study a particular focus within their major. While the writing track encourages students to study the written word and hone their own writing skills, the literature concentration encourages students to analyze texts across multiple genres and periods. Before one chooses a concentration, it is important for students to give both equal consideration and look over the respective requirements for each concentration. For example, those on the literature track are able to minor in creative writing, while those on the writing track are unable to do so. Those on the literature track are also required to take more 400-level courses and often begin to do so earlier than those on the writing track. A full breakdown of the requirements is located on the department website.

In order to learn more about the literature concentration, it is important to hear from those on the track themselves. Two individuals on the literature track are Kaya Cammerata, a senior, and Emily Ambery, a sophomore. In addition to her English major and literature concentration, Kaya is pursuing a Creative Writing minor and will be graduating this May. After coming to college undecided with a love for forensic science, Kaya switched gears and decided to become an English major. Because of her love of literature and lifelong hobby of being an avid reader, the literature track was an easy choice for Kaya. Since declaring her major, Kaya has taken literature courses in a plethora of genres and periods, including British Literature, American Literature, and Global Literature. According to Kaya, Global Literature has been her favorite, due to the wide array of genres and cultures studied throughout the class. After graduation, Kaya plans on attending graduate school and is currently looking at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She has a particular interest in fantasy literature and fiction and plans to study these topics in the future. Kaya believes her major has adequately prepared her for the future because the literature concentration helped her learn about other cultures and identities, making her open minded and empathetic in a word with so many different people. Kaya recommends that all English majors find their niche and look at minors that could enhance one’s love of English even more.

Kaya believes her major has adequately prepared her for the future because the literature concentration helped her learn about other cultures and identities, making her open minded and empathetic in a word with so many different people.

Jayda Benson

Similarly, Emily Ambery became an English major due to her love of reading and writing. She particularly loves the process of analyzing a text and hearing different perspectives about a work. Not only is Emily pursuing an English major, she is double majoring in English and Public Relations and is currently studying abroad in Dublin. Because of her double major, Emily’s coursework in Dublin is rooted in public relations. However, she spends her free time visiting literary centers in Dublin, including the pubs used by many Irish authors. Back in America, Emily has taken several literature courses including Science fiction, American Literature II, and World Literature. So far, her favorite course has been American Literature II due to the variety of authors studied and the individual focus each text received, allowing for engaging discussion. Although she is only in her sophomore year, Emily feels the career options within her major are endless. Emily hopes to one day use her double major to write press releases and other media for companies. She believes she has been prepared for her future career due to the analyzing, writing, and other helpful skills she has learned in her classes. With each class, Emily feels as though she is continuing to learn and being challenged in order to help her grow as a student.

With each class, Emily feels as though she is continuing to learn and being challenged in order to help her grow as a student.

Jayda Benson

After looking at both concentrations, it is evident that both tracks help students grow as students and literary enthusiasts. Both concentrations allow students to focus on a particular area of English and encourage students to find their love and explore multiple genres, periods, cultures, and opinions. Potential English majors should look into both concentrations, but cannot go wrong with their choice. Both concentrations leave students feeling prepared for their careers and intellectually stimulated in and out of the classroom. Like the students mentioned above, the English major is diverse and allows for many areas of study, minors, study abroad opportunities, and the potential for a multitude of careers.

:Lexicon | Duquesne University’s Literary Magazine

By Kaya Cammerata, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

Are you looking to submit a piece of your creative work? To read or see the work of your peers? Or even get involved in formatting and running a magazine? Then you should get involved with :Lexicon! :Lexicon is Duquesne University’s literary magazine where students, alumni, and faculty can submit short fiction and nonfiction stories, poetry, and photography for a chance to get featured. The Magazine was founded in the Fall of 2005 and has been thriving ever since! This magazine is published and distributed every semester by Duquesne’s undergraduate and graduate students along with select English faculty. This semester’s edition is already underway and the deadline for submission is this coming Friday, February 4th. 

:Lexicon is accepting submissions until this coming Friday, February 4th.

Submit through :Lexicon‘s website or email them directly!

:Lexicon encourages students to participate in the arts at Duquesne University and actively celebrates creativity through its publications. This organization is built around and run by students from a variety of disciplines across campus. Once the submission deadline is reached, :Lexicon’s committees will begin to look through and vote for the pieces that they want to see published in the magazine. The three committees: fiction, poetry, and photography, are made up of current undergraduate and graduate students. (If you’re interested in becoming a part of any of these in order to vote for specific pieces, email :Lexicon for more information). Once the pieces are selected, an email will be sent out detailing the authors and their pieces that will be included.. Then, at the end of the semester, there’s a magazine release party where the newest editions are distributed. At these parties, writers are able to read their work aloud while also being able to snack on food, sign up for a raffle, and mingle with other writers and artists.

:Lexicon is not only an amazing way to display your creative work and meet new people, but it’s also an amazing accomplishment to put on your resume for future publications and projects!

Limited editions of last semester’s editions (Fall 2021) are now available around campus! The Writing Center (College Hall 216), the English Department, and Professor John Fried (, College Hall 624) all have copies currently. Archives of older volumes can be found on :Lexicon’s website or through Gumberg Library.

For more information, check out their website! 

If you’re interested in getting involved with :Lexicon, all questions and submissions should be directed to the literary magazine’s email address: . Per request from the editors, please include what type of submission you’re sending (poetry, non-fiction, fiction, photography, etc.)

Multifaceted and Multi-Genre: A Look at the English Major Writing Concentration

By: Jayda Benson, English Major writing concentration, ENGL 447 Capstone student

Deciding upon a major is often a difficult process that requires a college student to self-reflect upon their interests, strengths, and goals. Many find this process rewarding, but others find the task daunting due to the overwhelming number of options available to students. Even after a decision has been made, majors can often delve into specific avenues and concentrations that require additional decisions. Specifically, within the English major at Duquesne, students are asked to pick a concentration, either in writing or literature. Most English majors find literature and writing equally as rewarding, making this task a difficult decision. These tracks require different demands of students and teach students various skillsets. However, students in these tracks are diverse and have a wide range of interests and goals, so there really is no wrong answer if a student picks what interests them most.

 The first track we will discuss is the writing concentration. This concentration places emphasis on the written English language through a variety of genres. The writing concentration requires English Survey courses and 18 credit hours of 300/400 level writing courses. These writing courses must come from two genres, of which students can choose from Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Critical, and Professional Writing among others. Despite the wide array of subjects, students in this concentration can hone their individual craft and take courses that fit their writing interests. However, students are also encouraged to explore several genres of writing in order to produce writers armed with varied skill sets and interests.

Personally, becoming an English major with a writing concentration was an easy decision and one I made early in my collegiate career. Since then, I have taken several poetry workshops because poetry has always been a love of mine. At first, the workshop courses seemed intimidating due to the constant discussion of our personal works. However, I fell in love with the workshop format and found myself growing as an author and editor. The workshops are arranged to promote peer review, collaboration, and revision. Although I currently do not plan on going into a creative writing field, I believe these workshops have prepared me for my future. In addition to my major, I am a philosophy minor and getting a pre-law certification as well. I plan on applying to law school in the fall and believe my writing concentration has adequately prepared me to succeed in a variety of classes and refine my own creative and professional writing skills through the peer-review and revision processes.

I fell in love with the workshop format and found myself growing as an author and editor

Jayda Benson

The great thing about the writing concentration is the versatility of those following the track. Others on the writing track include Kaitlyn Nicholson, a junior, and Hannah Dietrick, a senior. In addition to her writing concentration, Kaitlyn is also pursuing a film studies minor. She chose the writing track due to her longtime dream of becoming an author. So far, Kaitlyn has taken fiction and poetry workshops. She values the workshops due to the diversity of her peers, which allows for varied critiques and suggestions. Kaitlyn believes the workshops have a professional atmosphere and allow students to really grow as writers. After graduation, Kaitlyn plans to move to Chicago and seek employment in the publishing industry, specifically as a literary agent. She believes her writing major has prepared her for her future career by allowing her to see the input and output of writing – specifically throughout the revision process.

Similarly, Hannah Dietrich is also seeking a job in the publishing industry. Hannah is a dual degree secondary English education and English major. They decided to pursue the writing concentration due to a love of creative writing. So far, Hannah has taken nonfiction and multi-genre workshops. They believe the biggest benefit of the workshops has been learning to overcome writer’s block in order to organize their thoughts on paper. Because of their dual degree, Hannah has the unique ability to pursue a career in teaching or publishing. In any case, Hannah believes the writing concentration has prepared them for their future. Hannah is currently student teaching and acknowledges that the workshops have helped them edit and grade student’s papers with constructive criticism that will also help them grow as writers.

The writing track encourages students to experiment

Jayda Benson

Because college students are multifaceted individuals who often pursue several passions and interests during their undergraduate years, the Duquesne English department encourages students to be versatile in their studies. The writing concentration specifically allows students to polish their writing skills in a variety of genres, emphasizing the importance of individual study as well as peer review and collaboration. Whether one is pursuing a career in publishing, teaching, or the legal field, the writing concentration encourages students to experiment with different genres and become a writer as multifaceted as the concentration itself.

L’Esprit du Duc | Duquesne University’s Yearbook

By Kaya Cammerata, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

A yearbook is an integral part of our elementary and secondary schooling, but it’s rare to think of it at the collegiate level. A yearbook is an excellent record of a school year’s events and Duquesne’s yearbook, L’Esprit du Duc, is a prime example!

L’Esprit du Duc is published yearly by a group of student editors and collaborators at no cost to graduating seniors. Archived in Gumberg Library, the earliest edition on file is from 1926, but the book wasn’t published regularly until after 1956’s edition. Since then, L’Esprit du Duc has been given out before each graduation to the senior class. The yearbook features spreads on individual schools and colleges, major events on campus, groups and club activities, candid pictures from around the university, senior portraits, and more. At around 100 pages long, it’s an excellent record and celebration of each school year.

This year’s edition will be distributed at the kickoff to graduation, Thursday, March 24 from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM in the Africa Room (Student Union 3rd floor). All remaining books will be passed out after graduation on Friday, May 13.

​”Yearbook is a fun way to get involved with on campus events and to stay connected to the Duquesne community. Members also get to express creativity in things like photography and journalism. I cannot wait for you to see this year’s book!”

– Maura Fischer, Editor in Chief of L’Esprit du Duc

The yearbook’s staff is always looking for volunteers to work with editors as they create page layouts and photograph events on campus. Volunteers can also have the opportunity to shadow an editor before applying to one of the paid positions on the team the following year (these positions are typically compensated through stipends). Editors are asked to use their skills in writing, copyediting, journalism, photography, artistic design, and more. At the end of each year, all of the student publications (L’Esprit du Duc, the Duke, The D.U. Quark, :Lexicon, and the University TV & radio stations) have a get together where they can celebrate their accomplishments through socializing, food, and entertainment. Students who are interested in getting involved are encouraged to email faculty advisor Dr. Sarah Breckenridge Wright at, 412.396.6630, or visit the L’Esprit du Duc office which is located in the Duquesne Union 339.

Follow them on Instagram: @duquesneyearbook and on Twitter @DuquesneYb 

Sigma Tau Delta Conference | International English
Honors Society

By Kaya Cammerata, English Major, ENGL 467 Capstone

Sigma Tau Delta is an International English language and literature Honor Society for undergraduates, graduates, and professional studies, and they are having a panel on April 20, 2022 on campus where three students from Duquesne University will be presenting their work, and students and faculty can come by for snacks and celebration. Haley Radcliffe, a senior Secondary English Education major with a minor in History, is presenting a paper titled, “Models of Social Productivity in A Gest of Robyn Hode,” which was written for Dr. Sarah Wright’s Medieval Romance course. Jessica Perry, a junior English writing major, will be presenting poetry that was previously constructed in one of Dr. Linda Kinnahan’s poetry workshop classes. Finally, Hannah Goss, a junior English Writing major with minors in sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, is reading one of her fiction pieces that she previously wrote for an advanced Fiction class.

Picture of some current members at a meeting this past semester, Fall 2021.

Hannah Goss [Pictured in the bottom left corner in the the left photo], is one of the conference presenters and President of Duquesne University’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. She agreed to do a short interview with me about the conference for the blog.

So, Hannah, what is Sigma Tau Delta for those that don’t know? 

Well, the formal definition is that Sigma Tau Delta is an international English Honor Society that emphasizes fostering literacy and literary studies within the community, but we’re really just a community of English students on campus who love English and get to partake in activities related to the field, like this reading.  

You’ve been president of Sigma Tau Delta since the Fall of 2021, how has this role in the organization been so far? 

It’s been an interesting ride taking over for Sigma Tau because the organization only really got up and running on campus in 2018 and then COVID happened, so it’s been challenging but also really rewarding to get to be a part of shaping this organization. This year we’ve mainly been focused on trying to gather more membership and just create awareness about Sigma Tau Delta.

 Is that a part of the reason why you guys are doing this conference?

Yeah, so, Sigma Tau Delta’s mission statement is to promote literacy and literary studies and help provide opportunities for English students, so we thought this would be a good way to do that. It also gives an opportunity for undergraduates to present their work in a space that is a little less intimidating than others while being surrounded by supportive faculty and peers. This is something that we really hope to continue in the future as an annual event. 

What will you be presenting at the conference? 

I’ll be reading a fiction piece entitled “Say You’re Okay,” although that title might change, and it is an experimental second-person point of view story, my first I have ever written, about a girl who is processing the fact that her mother might be dying. It’s also about her watching her support system and everything around her crumble. 

What do you typically enjoy writing about? 

I write realistic fiction. I found that my interest is very much interpersonal conflict especially in transitional stages of life, such as coming of age stories. I’ve written a lot of stories in the past where characters are in conflict with family members or close friends, and it’s really about trying to navigate those relationships, especially when they are put under pressure. 

Okay, so, for the last question, how can students get involved in Sigma Tau delta and or the conference? 

Okay, so if you want to join, you do have to have a 3.0 GPA and have to have taken more than two English courses beyond the first-year writing requirements. Then we review your application and there are dues but with that you get access to publication and internship opportunities (as well as graduation cords). You can contact me or you can contact Emad [the faculty advisor] to see about getting an application. For the conference, there’s not really much to do except attend to support us – also there will be food! 

For more information on how to get involved contact the chapter’s president, Hannah Goss at or the faculty advisor, Dr. Emad Mirmotahari at

For more information about Duquesne’s chapter, check out their website:

For more information about the organization in general, check out their website:

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