Ryan Mulrooney - 2019

Position title: High School English Teacher

Pronouns: he/him

What career pathway have you pursued since your time in the UW-Madison English major?

Directly after undergrad in 2019, I pursued a Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction at UW. After finishing my graduate degree, I began working at Portage High School as an English teacher. After my first year, I began taking graduate courses in English at UW-Whitewater to be able to teach dual-credit English for them at Portage High School. Throughout the year, I teach freshman and sophomore English, AP Literature & Composition, English 101 for UW-Whitewater, and Honors World Literature.

What did you enjoy about the English major?

What I enjoyed most were the workshops and collaboration that English classes provided. Mary Fiorenza’s Advanced Composition class was my fondest experience with this, where we had great control over what we wrote, but where we also read everyone’s work to see how talented everyone was. I also enjoyed Lucy Tan’s Intermediate Creative Writing course for similar reasons, especially since I had never taken a creative writing course until then. Going to office hours was also very rewarding and fulfilling, as professors always were happy to see me, were supportive with the questions I had, quelled worries I had about being one of the least talented in the class, and asked about my future plans.

How did your time as an English major prepare you for your current work? What skills do humanities students bring to your industry?

I graduated with a Literature focus, and I believe this focus allowed me to help my students the most with their reading and analysis as a high school teacher. I had been used to writing argumentative and analytical papers for college, which were the same tasks students had to do, and this made me feel more confident in the skills I had. The discussion sections also provided great insight to how a dynamic could work for classroom discussions, how students can take charge of discussion questions for a week, how to facilitate without talking more than the students, and so forth.

What is one piece of career advice you would offer our English undergraduates?

Although you might be new and young in the company/organization you work at after college, don’t let this stop you from showing your expertise. People will be impressed by how competent and confident you are, which will strengthen relationships with co-workers, future students, or any others. This is something I still have to remind myself as a young, relatively new teacher at my school. But, because of the expertise I’ve shown, I have earned promotions and kind words from others. Also, keep finding spaces to discuss and share with others while at UW. Participate in class, compliment a peer’s work, listen to understand–all of these things show others glimpses of you and allow you to see glimpses of them. This will help you in a job, in your relationships, and with your understanding of the world. Thank goodness the English Department offers so many of these wonderful opportunities.

Other majors, certificates, or key points of involvement during time at UW:

Certificate in Education and Educational Studies, MS degree in Curriculum and Instruction, Secondary Ed