Alumni Testimonials

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Emily Thomas Meehan

Director, Editor-in-Chief, and Associate Publisher at Disney Book Group

Class of 2000

“I feel very fortunate that an early love of English and Literature led me to pursue a major in that field that led to a career that inspires me every day. It's a great privilege to be able to help create and publish books that kids love to read in the same way that I did as a child, and I owe that privilege, in large part, to the study of English at Appalachian State.”

Alumni News

Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 8:30pm
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 8:29pm
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 8:15pm
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 8:13pm

If you're an alumni of the English Department, we'd love to hear from you, and we'd be happy to post any current news you wish to share with others. Just email Mike Wilson ( with any news.


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Sabrina S. Stephens
Senior Vice President & Marketing President, North State Bank

Class of 1989

“My degree from the English Department at my beloved Appalachian State is one of my proudest accomplishments, and I have no doubt my success as a banker and an author was predominately shaped by my education there. 

ASU’s education is personal, familial, and genuine and I entered the working world prepared and eager with written and verbal communication skills that have helped me thrive in banking with a limited finance background.  The professional world belongs to communicators—six of the ten management trainees when I began my banking career were English majors.”

Books by Sabrina Stephens  
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Cary Anne Melton
Senior Vice President, Chubb Ltd.

Class of 1988

“The value of an English degree is its focus on the two most important elements of any business career: critical thinking and the ability to communicate ideas in a concise and thoughtful manner.”

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Faye A. Chadwell
Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian at Oregon State University and Director of Oregon State University Press

Class of 1984

“English was always my first love. Though I didn’t always know what I wanted to be when I was growing up, there was no better profession than librarianship for applying those critical thinking and writing skills gained from taking 8am medieval literature or Southern humor classes. Most critical to my success as an academic librarian and now as an administrator was broad exposure to diverse ideas and narratives. Reading all that fiction, drama, and poetry challenged and inspired me to be curious about the world beyond my North Carolina hometown. It instilled empathy and understanding about others. I guess I'm not just a better writer and thinker for having majored in English; I am a better human being.”

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Dr. Eric G. Wilson
Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English, Wake Forest University

Class of 1989

“More and more, business corporations and nonprofits alike are seeking employees who are creative, articulate in both speech and writing, and capable of rigorous critical thinking. Of course, these are precisely the qualities you will gain as an English major. Likewise, professional programs, namely medical and law schools, are increasingly interested in recruiting English majors, who can bring, in addition to the qualities listed above, an expansive humanistic perspective to medical and legal issues.”

Dr. Wilson's books:

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Jason Rhodes
English Teacher Balfour Education Center & 2010 Henderson County Teacher of the Year

Class of 2000

“We live in a wonderful age of technology.  Because of this, now more than ever people need to be discerning readers. A degree in English education is great for cultivating both critical thinking and an open mind.”

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Sarah Bolton
Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellow in Public Policy
Former Education Policy Director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee

Class of 2005

“My English degree from Appalachian State University has served me well during my work in public policy. At the core of my college education was a focus on critical thinking. That, coupled with classes that taught me to effectively develop written communication, provided a solid foundation for my future career.”

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Dr. Alan Brown

Assistant Professor of English Education and Director of Secondary Education at Wake Forest.

“The Department of English at Appalachian State University first introduced me to my passion for teaching adolescent and young adult literature, the pedagogical practices required to teach English in K-12 and university settings, and the knowledge and skills I needed to improve my own writing. I am the teacher and scholar I am today thanks in large part to the instruction, support, and guidance I received from many wonderful ASU English professors.”

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Matt Scialdone
English Teacher, 2015 Wake County Teacher of the Year

Class of 1997

“My years at Appalachian were pivotal in my development as a teacher and a person.  In the 21st century classroom, we often speak of fostering our students’ 4Cs skills—collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.  I can think of few other courses of study that develop those 4Cs more than English.”

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Dr. Laura Wright
Professor of English
Western Carolina University

Class of 1992

“My English degree from ASU provided me with much more than the incredibly valuable skills of writing, editing, and reading.  Studying literature taught me about a world both familiar and vastly different from my own and encouraged me to read about and explore that world more broadly.  Research recently published in Scientific American demonstrates that reading fiction improves the reader’s empathy towards others; therefore, understanding fictional characters encourages compassion and analytical prowess that benefit students in the classroom and in their professions, but more importantly, these skills make us better humans and better stewards of our very humanity.”

Dr. Wright's books:

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Jeff Morgan
Lead Product Marketing Manager at AT&T

Class of 1994

“My degree in English, along with a concentration in Secondary Education, gave me a great start in the professional world. Armed with the skills to both teach and provide clear written communication, I found a teaching job within a month of graduating. This degree quickly turned into a management job to lead a team providing technical support for MCI customers. From there I moved to BellSouth and eventually AT&T where I’ve done everything from training DSL support technicians, managing a team of email-based customer support for BellSouth, to my current role as a Product Manager for AT&T’s Cloud portfolio of products.  Without Appalachian State’s supportive and enriching English department I don’t think I’d possess the skills needed for today’s competitive work environment.”

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William “Biff” Farrell
Executive Producer – Mediashine Productions & Media Specialist/Director of Video, The University of Oklahoma

Class of 1996

“Good writing, critical thinking, and the ability to dream big, are attributes that employers are looking for.  English majors are often nonlinear, problem-solvers—creatives with the ability to prioritize, separating the wheat from the chaff, keeping the big picture in mind.”

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Charity Sutphin
2015-2016 Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Teacher of the Year

Class of 2005

“I cannot imagine a greater preparation for my career as an English teacher than the English program at Appalachian State University. My professors challenged and guided me and fostered in me a lifelong love of learning which I strive to pass on to my students each day. A degree in English can lead you in many directions – law, editing, journalism – but teaching is my passion. And I will always be grateful to the faculty at ASU.”

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Erin Iannacchione
MLS, Founding Director
IntellaTurn, LLC
Biopharma Research & Information Services

Class of 1997

“My English degree has positioned me well in several diverse career settings, from public librarian to biopharma research analyst to small business owner.  Every day I rely on my writing and critical thinking skills to communicate effectively with clients and prepare in-depth research reports.”

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Sean Dowell
CEO / Principal
Dowell Commercial Realty

Class of 2000

“Effective communications are the paste that connect and define our business, interpersonal, and personal lives.  The study of English is versatile because it is the intimate study of connection itself.”

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Shannon Fura Page
Partner, International Trade and Customs Law Firm, Page Fura, P.C

Class of 1993

“I specifically chose English as my major knowing that my end game was always to pursue a career in law.  My degree has served me very well as I ended up pursuing a master’s degree in International Transactions followed by my Juris Doctor degree.  Both of those programs required a strong foundation in professional writing which I received in Sanford Hall.”

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Gill P. Beck
Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina (Asheville)
Brigadier General, Army Reserve

I attribute a large part of my professional success to what I learned from taking classes in ASU’s English Department. I learned to think critically about great literature and to communicate persuasively. I found that the education I received in the English Department made me highly competitive with law students at Duke University School of Law.  Throughout my military career and career as an Assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, I have drawn on the lessons learned at ASU. I attribute any professional success in large part to what I learned at ASU. Even more important, while at ASU, I learned to love the English language and now enjoy every opportunity to read great literature and to write.

An Appstate interview with Gill P. Beck.