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The Grad Post Fall 2019, Student Spotlight, Abigail Hey

Master of Arts, English

What drew you to Georgia Southern for your graduate studies?

Before coming to Georgia Southern, I completed an Associate’s degree in North Carolina. I then received a scholarship that waived my out-of-state tuition and allowed me to complete my undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern. Although after transferring I had only two years of undergraduate work left, I quickly developed professional relationships with several professors in the Department of Literature and other faculty members. These professors guided my research interests and always encouraged me to take on leadership roles. They helped me take advantage of some incredible opportunities like travelling to different cities for research, presenting at conferences, studying abroad in Ireland for two summer semesters, and much more. While studying abroad, I became invested in Irish history, culture, and the transnational connections between Ireland and the United States. Additionally, as I completed my undergraduate studies, I learned that I really enjoy counseling and teaching others. I was therefore drawn to Georgia Southern because I felt confident that I could continue helping students and pursuing my research interests with support from faculty.

What are your Georgia Southern “points of pride?” What is one thing you are most proud of during your time here at Georgia Southern.

Within my time at Georgia Southern, I am most proud of helping other students acclimate and succeed academically. I have had the opportunity to work with transfer students, international students, new English majors, and first-year students. For example, I served as the Chair of Campus Outreach for Phi Theta Kappa and Tau Sigma, which are honor societies for transfer students. In this role, I helped foster a community for those who transferred from other universities, and I supported many individuals who were attempting to adjust to the new environment and find their place at Georgia Southern. I also worked as a Writing Fellow for the Department of Literature, assisting new majors with the writing and revision processes. Furthermore, I completed an internship in which I helped teach a class of 10th grade students from China who visited the university. Most recently, I worked as the Instructional Design and Faculty Support Graduate Assistant for the First-Year Experience department. In this position, I have assisted FYE 1220 instructors, designed curriculum, and taught two classes for first-year students. Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed each opportunity to help others at Georgia Southern grow more capable and confident.

Are you a part of any research or work projects? If so, what are you doing?

For my Master’s thesis, I am researching atypical responses to trauma and loss in 20th century literature. Coping with loss is understood as an often painfully distressing or sad experience, as individuals work through grief and try to come to terms with an absence, fill an emotional void, and move toward resolution. Elegies, or poems that express mortal loss and consolation, traditionally have similar aims. Yet not all mourners have positive feelings toward the dead or are able to resolve their grief. Some experiences are not as resolved and adaptive, and an author’s work may reflect an untypical, acerbic, complicated response that extends beyond “the five stages of loss.” I am researching authors like Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, and Samuel Beckett to explore the complicated responses to loss within prose and poetry of the 20th century, a period in which traditional consolations and comforts are called into question.

How is Georgia Southern preparing you for your future career?

Studying literature has prepared me to think critically about real-world issues, examine and interpret texts, and communicate effectively, which are skills that have definitely prepared me for future employment in higher education. In the professional positions I have held at the university, I have also gained experience leading, tutoring, and teaching other students. Specifically, in my graduate and teaching assistantships, I have learned how to navigate issues within higher education and work with other faculty to design a program that impacts a large population of students. Both academically and professionally, Georgia Southern has helped me acquire the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to succeed after I graduate.

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