How might an English degree lead to a career in Health?
Join us for a “Health Humanities” conversation in Fall of 2023 through courses, events, and alumni mentoring sessions with former UT English majors who became MDs, DVMs, or work in health-related professions or non-profits. Choose from classes like Disability and Literature (English 254), Medicine and Literature (English 342), AI and Nuclear Security (English 360), Horses in Literature and Culture (English 398), a graduate-level Disability Studies in Literature course (590), or classes in gender and sexuality, like English 332, 402, and 425. The UT Humanities Center will be hosting a “Health Humanities” symposium from Nov. 1-3, and the department will bring back alumni to talk about their careers in related fields. Join the conversation by signing up for one of these classes, or check back for event details on our website.
Monica Brashears: From English Major to Novelist
Monica Brashears (‘19) double-majored in English (Creative Writing) and Africana Studies. Afterward, she enrolled in the creative writing program at Syracuse University, receiving her MFA in 2022. She grew up in Luttrell, TN, about 20 miles outside Knoxville. Her debut novel House of Cotton is set for publication by Flatiron Books in April 2023. She caught up with a former instructor, Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, for this interview, which has been edited for length and clarity.
English Alum Camille Renshaw’s Path from Literature to Real Estate
Camille Renshaw, UT English ’94, is CEO of B+E Real Estate, the first brokerage firm to offer an online trading platform for 1031 exchanges and net lease real estate. B+E has offices in 7 cities – NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Tampa. In 2019, B+E set the record for the largest commercial real estate transaction sold by a digital platform, a $324M portfolio. CREW National Network awarded her the “2020 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award,” and Commercial Property Executive awarded her both “2020 Innovator of the Year” and “2020 Net Lease Property Executive of the Year” honors. While she was a student at UT, she worked at the Department of Molecular Spectroscopy and she loved camping in the Smokeys and hiking the Appalachian Trail. She loved her English classes, especially those she took with Dr. La Vinia Jennings, whom she regards as a crucial early mentor and with whom she still maintains a friendship. After graduation, Camille completed an MFA in Writing from Bennington College where she deepened her love of storytelling. Today her training as an English major and storyteller help her lead Fintech companies. She graciously made time for an interview with department Head Misty Anderson as a way to share her success story with current students.
English Major to Teen Vogue: Claire Dodson’s Career Path
English alum P. Claire Dodson (‘15) has published stories in, among others, The New York Times, InStyle, O The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, and Fast Company, where she worked for several years before becoming an entertainment editor at Teen Vogue. Claire’s father, a journalist at Blount County’s The Daily Times, first inspired her to this career, but English helped her develop a poetic writing style, a critical eye, and an interest in different cultures. She caught up with Dr. Sally Harris, her former instructor and distinguished lecturer in English. They talked growing up in Knoxville, the teachers at Bearden High and the University of Tennessee who influenced her, and the work she currently does at Teen Vogue. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
English Major to Sleep Medicine: Dr. Leigh Ball’s Career Path
Dr. Leigh (Schlactus) Ball (’12) is an internal medicine physician with a specialty in sleep medicine. After an MD at East Tennessee State University and a residency at UT, she now practices in St. Louis, Missouri where she lives with her husband, a fellow UT alum. She spoke with Prof. Hilary Havens about majoring in English literature and how Virginia Woolf made her a better doctor. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
English Major to Business: Sarah Rainey’s Career Path
It was a chance meeting in her Technical and Professional Writing class that set Sarah Rainey (’22) on her path. She was a sophomore, concentrating in Technical Communications, and the student who sat next to her was a senior. “I just thought she was so cool,” Sarah says now. “She had a lot going on. She was very professional…And I was like I’m going to do that one day. I’m going to be like her.”