Category Archives: English grads

The English Pro-Co: what is it and how can it benefit you?

by Samantha Van Norden, English Department Media Assistant,
in conversation with Dr. Reina Green, English Department Chair

Some of you may have heard about the English Professionalization Co-Curricular Record, part of the Mount’s Co-Curricular Record Program (or the CCRP), and wondered what it is and how it would benefit you as an English student. The “English Pro-Co” (for short) is a relatively new feature that English students can take advantage of to prepare for future careers. I sat down with English Department Chair, Dr. Reina Green, to ask her some questions that I thought might be useful in helping to explain the English Pro-Co.

In what way will the CCR shape a student’s preparation for their futures?

The CCRP recognizes students’ extracurricular activities and gives future employers knowledge of students’ involvement in events that may provide experiential learning and prepare them for future studies or a future career. Upon graduation, students can request their CCRP to show employers and others that they were involved in these extracurricular activities. The English Pro-Co recognizes the participation of students in our programs in designated activities in which they have engaged with the arts or scholarly community beyond the classroom.

How does the English Department decide what events count toward the English Pro-Co?

Each year faculty meet to identify and organize departmental and English Society events that can go toward the English Pro-Co. We include events that focus on scholarship and further learning such as attending the Honours Colloquium, or a presentation by a faculty member or guest speaker, as well as information sessions on our Honours program, graduate school, or possible careers. In addition, we include some English Society events and trips—attending a theatre production, for example.

Does a student need to be part of the English Society–to have a “role” within the group–in order to receive a credit on the English Pro-Co Record?

Students receive recognition through the CCRP for any executive position they hold within the English Society, but that is separate to the English Pro-Co. The only requirement to begin an English Pro-Co record is that students have declared an English Major.

 How does the CCR show on a transcript?

Students can access their Co-Curricular Record via MyMount.

 Who is going to look for the English Pro-Co: future employers, graduate school programs, or both?

Both future employers and graduate school programs are interested in what students do beyond the classroom to prepare for their future. The English Pro-Co documents that aspect of student experience.

 What sort of “edge” will a completed English Pro-Co record give a student applying for grad school?

The English Pro-Co gives students an advantage as it shows how they have engaged in the arts and academic life beyond the classroom. Attending these events is purely voluntary and the English Pro-Co demonstrates that students who have participated are willing to do more—on their own time—to further their learning.

How do students sign up for the English Pro-Co and how can they make sure that events they attend will count?

The Chair keeps a record of the students who have participated in each event and at a student’s request, can check on whether that student has qualified for the English Pro-Co which requires students to participate in at least six different kinds of activities with attendance at a minimum of one every year they are in the program. There are also checklists available so students can keep track of their own activities. You can download the checklist here.

 What do you want students to know about the English Pro-Co?

We want students to know that the English Pro-Co exists and that participating in activities organized by the department and English Society can make a difference. Students who do attend these events should also make sure that they sign in at each event so that their participation can be recognized.

We look forward to giving future graduates their English Professionalization Co-Curricular records. This May, we expect some students to be the first to receive it.

English Pro-Co checklist [pdf]








AAUEC 2018 at the Mount

LAAUEC 2018 Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conferenceast weekend, the English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University welcomed students and faculty from eleven universities across the east coast for the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference (AAUEC), which showcases the academic papers and creative works of the region’s top English students. Founded here in 1981, this was the sixth time that the Mount has hosted the conference. Co-organized by Dr. Reina Green and Dr. Diane Piccitto along with conference assistants Katie O’Brien, Hope Tohme, and Sam VanNorden, the AAUEC 2018 was a resounding success!

Mount students at AAUEC welcome reception

Mount students at the welcome reception: Hope Tohme, Katie O’Brien, Rebecca Foster, and Courtney Francis

The conference began on Friday, March 2, in Seton Academic Centre with a Welcome Reception, where attendees participated in a lively round of icebreaker bingo – facilitated by English Society co-presidents Katie O’Brien and Hope Tohme – and heard a presentation by Formac Publishing to announce “Write to Win!” – a writing competition aimed at Atlantic Canadians 18-30 years old.

The afternoon included the first panel of the conference and was followed by ArtFest, held in the MSVU Art Gallery. Emceed by Alexia Major and Sam VanNordon (co-editors, with other MSVU students, of the Speakman Press), ArtFest featured short stories and poetry of participants and the work of special guests El Jones (MSVU’s Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies and poet and activist) and Chantelle Rideout (writer and MSVU English alumna), as well as a welcome address by Dr. Elizabeth Church (MSVU’s Vice-President Academic and Provost).

Day 2 – Saturday, March 3, was held in the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre, giving visitors a chance to spend time in the only building at a Canadian university to celebrate the achievements of women, highlighted in the Women’s Wall of Honour. The second day included four panels, covering topics such as ethics, bodies, politics, and trauma, and even involved one presenter from the Mount, Michelle Russell, Skyping in from Florida where she is training with the Canadian paddling team.

The afternoon ended in the Atrium with the Bad Poetry Reading, which was first begun by Dr. Chris Ferns (Professor Emeritus) in his days as an undergraduate and then initiated at the Mount in the 1980s, having since become an institution in the English Department. Dr. Ferns selected among the very worst poems written by published authors and emceed the event, charming the audience with his entertaining commentary over the course of the hour. Readers included past and current MSVU English students,  faculty members such as Professors Emeritus Dr. Susan Drain and Dr. Peter Schwenger, who performed memorable renditions of “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight” and “The Tay Bridge Disaster,” respectively. Afterward, participants and volunteers celebrated the two-day conference with a closing-night banquet and dance party – with DJ extraordinaire Dr. Steven Bruhm (former MSVU English student and professor) in Rosaria’s Multi-Purpose Room.

Mount students at AAUEC 2018

Some of the Mount student volunteers. Front, left to right: Katie O’Brien, Nicole Martina, Alex Rudderham, Sidney Warren.  Back, left to right: Sarah Vallis, Darcy Eisan, Sam VanNorden, Megan Bruce, Hope Tohme

The conference was marked by a wonderful energy from beginning to end, creating a stimulating inter-university intellectual community for English students and faculty. See our earlier post here for a list of Mount presenters.

We would like to thank the more than 50 presenters who shared their work at the AAUEC 2018 and the faculty who accompanied students as well as our emcees, guest speakers, and DJ. Thank you also to the President’s Office and the Dean of Arts and Science for their very necessary financial support and to MSVU staff (Catering, Conference Services, Art Gallery, IT Services, Facilities, Communications, Marketing, and Recruitment, Research Office, Book Store, Print Shop, and Security). Finally, a very special thank you to our conference assistants, all of our volunteers, Tracy McDonald (English Department Administrative Assistant), as well as the entire English Department for their instrumental involvement and support over the last several months.

AAUEC dance

AAUEC dance

Fall 2017 Convocation

Congratulations to all who graduated on Sunday, November 5th. Fall convocation is always smaller than the spring event but no less important. This year, convocation also included the official installation of Dr. Mary Bluechardt as the new president of the Mount.

Kyle Cross, B.A. Honours in English

Kyle Cross, B.A. Honours

Kyle Cross graduated with a B.A. Honours in English. Kyle is now in the B.Ed. program at the Mount.

Barbara Cochrane, one of the morning Valedictorians, graduated with a B.A. in French and a Writing Minor. She gave a lively address, drawing on her life experiences to give some good advice to the graduates. You can read her profile here. A couple of the English Department’s Writing courses and participation in the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference are some of the highlights of her Writing Minor experiences:

She remembers her courses in creative writing and editing most fondly. In 2012, she received an award from the Department of English for one of her written works, titled “Passed Down.” The piece focuses on obsessive compulsive disorder, combining parts of her grandfather’s diary from World War I, a poem written by her daughter, and her own obsession with counting as she works. She later presented it at an undergraduate English conference at St. Thomas University.  (From the Mount’s online profile)

Barbara Cochrane Valedictorian 2017

Above: Barbara Cochrane delivering the valedictory address.  Image from the Mount’s Facebook page.

Congratulations English grads 2017

It was a lovely spring day for the 2017 B.A. convocation on Friday, May 19th. Congratulations to our newest English alumni.

English grads and faculty 2017

We managed to gather almost all of the English grads for this photo, along with attending faculty. From left to right, Dr. Reina Green, Dr. Karen Macfarlane. Back row: David Wilson, Luke Hammond, Kevin Smith, Andrew Potter, Ryan Terry, Dr. Anna Smol. Front, left to right: Cassadie Day, Sarah Vallis, Allyson Roussy, Gavin Rollins, Dr. Diane Piccitto, Dr. Susan Drain.

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Allyson K. Roussy (with first-class honours)

Sarah K. Vallis (with first-class honours)

Bachelor of Arts (Major)

Duaa Chamsi Basha

Cassadie F. Day

Luke P. Hammond

Michael Luciano

Andrew Potter

Gavin L. Rollins

Ryan K. Terry

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Major)

Kevin Smith (English and History)

Congratulations also to Professor David Wilson, who received the MSVU Part-Time Teaching Award and to Dr. Susan Drain, who was awarded the rank of Professor Emerita.

Graduates, please keep in touch! If you haven’t already, please join the English Society Facebook group or follow us on Twitter or Instagram to keep up with our activities. Or subscribe for email notifications from this blog (scroll down on this page to find the subscription form). However you do it, let us know where your future adventures take you!

Watch this blog for more convocation pictures in the days ahead.

Congratulations to graduates!

Convocation 2016 faculty and students

We managed to gather a number of our happy English graduates last Thursday, May 19th, along with English faculty in their colourful finery for this group photo.

Congratulations to all English graduates!

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Jennifer MacKinnon

Jason McKenna

Colton Sherman
(with first-class honours)

Hailey Stapleton
(Internship Option)
(with first-class honours)

Honours Certificate in Arts

Charlotte Kiddell (Valedictorian)

Bachelor of Arts

Jillian Cull
(with distinction)

Michael Isenor

Courtney MacFarlane

Mikella McNulty
(with distinction)

Alexandra Parsons

Nicole Wagner

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Major)

Taylor Smith (English and Family Studies)

convocation 2016 student file

Spot the English students!

Convocation 2016 Charlotte Kiddell Valedictorian

Valedictorian Charlotte Kiddell

One of the Convocation highlights was English student Charlotte Kiddell’s address as Valedictorian.  You can read a profile of Charlotte here.


Convocation 2016 candids Susan

Dr. Susan Drain, recipient of the Senate Award for Service in University Governance

Another special moment was Dr. Susan Drain’s Senate Award for Service in University Governance. This award is given to “recognize faculty members for extensive, consistent, and valuable contributions to the academic governance of the University.”

Congratulations to all!




Convocation 2015 — Congratulations

May 14th was a glorious spring day in Halifax — the lawns greening nicely in the sun and the forsythia striking yellow sparks in all corners of the campus. The brightest sparks, however, were the graduates of the English Department, and their faculty are justly proud of them.

Convocation Day

Not all of them were able to assemble in the English Corner afterward, but you have to agree that those who did are a very fine lot.

You may notice a very unusual sight in the annual graduation photo: Dr. Chris Ferns attended Convocation to be named Professor Emeritus on his retirement. Congratulations Dr. Ferns. It’s a very distinguished honour and a well-deserved one. And he looks good in academic regalia!

Congratulations to all our graduates, in the BA and the BA (Honours)

Bachelor of Arts
Stacey DeMolitor*
Katrina Haight *
Drew Jackson
Tika Marie Jakobsen
Christina Kempster
Charlotte Kiddell*
Una Lounder*
Antonia Marynowski
Samantha Roy*
Grace Shaw*
Emma Smith
Thomas Jared Whitman*
* with distinction

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Jessica Herritt
Geena Kelly
Shelby MacGregor
(with First class honours)

Honours Certificate in Arts
Rebecca Power

An entrepreneur in English and Education

With MSVU Professors photoshopped

Wendy (back row centre) with THR!VERS and some of her own Mount mentors

Wendy Birt graduated from the Mount with an advanced major in English, worked in fundraising for a while, then returned for a BEd. She left the school system to pursue her own vision of elementary education, founding her own business called THR!VE Education. We asked her to write about the project in her own words.

THR!VE is a brand new, entirely unique 10-week after school program for boys and girls in grades 4, 5, 6 and 7.  Created and led by a licensed school teacher, the THR!VE experience motivates, inspires, and reignites the joy and wonder in children that comes with authentic, lifelong learning.

Regardless of their current success in school, THR!VE is for children who are well-behaved, polite, and eager … but craving a challenge.  With its focus on ‘raising the bar’, it’s for kids who are ready for more: more inspiration, more interests, more goals, more dreams, more opportunities.  Twice a week, THR!VERS receive personalized mentorship and ‘whole child’ enrichment: first, in our magical Dartmouth classroom, and second, on an inspiring field trip!

Over just 10 weeks, kids get 8 incredible life experiences that teach them “what learning – and living – should feel like”.  Distinct and diverse, trips include destinations such as Blue Beach in Hantsport to collect fossils, Neptune Theatre to experience the performing arts, Government House to meet and interact with the Lieutenant Governor, Mount Saint Vincent University to begin exploring the term ‘post-secondary education’, the Burke-Gaffney Observatory to see the moon and planets with their very own eyes, and so much more.  The program also includes the opportunity to experience new cuisines and cultures at gourmet restaurants, meet and interact with high profile guest speakers and receive effective, non-intimidating public speaking and performance training.  A dazzling closing ceremony at a local concert hall is followed by the offer of ongoing seasonal reunion events that reinforce the relationships and inspiration felt during the program … all included.

Testimonials from current and former THR!VE parents and children include:

  • “This program is absolutely amazing.  My daughter is so excited for days that she has THR!VE … she beams with excitement!” – THR!VE parent
  • “I am more confident in myself and no longer scared to speak in front of a million people. Thank you for everything!” – THR!VE child

THR!VE offers children what no other program, club or event can: it would absolutely ensure that your child truly believes they have special interests and talents they are admired for and can turn into success, that there is an amazing and exciting world out there to experience, and that they – as individuals – can thrive in life and in learning.
If you want to learn more and spread the word about THR!VE Education, visit or contact Wendy at 902-223-9023.

A Portrait of a Student as a Young Grad

Mordecai Richler Reading Room, Concordia University. Photo by

Mordecai Richler Reading Room, Concordia University. Photo by Lizy Mostowski

by Courtney Church

It’s been just over a year since I crossed Seton Auditorium’s circular stage and, as my first year in graduate school has come to its end, I’m finally beginning to process all that’s happened in that time. One might assume that grad school, like undergrad, can be characterized by a lot of sitting with your nose pressed into a thick volume of essays with many more scattered about—which is, in part, accurate—but, as always, the truth resists simplicity. I arrived at Concordia University last fall feeling the same tight knot of anxiety I experienced when I first began at Mount Saint Vincent in September of 2009. A lot has changed in the past eleven months, though, and I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating graduate school. So, here goes.

Classes and Research
The thing is, as a Mount English student, you’re already well prepared for graduate school. You’ve been given the freedom that comes with questioning paradigms and thinking critically. I’ve been afforded similar freedom in my work at Concordia—and that freedom enables me to explore topics that interest me. In the Fall semester, for example, I was taking a course on American frontiers—the sea, the west, and space. Although I would hardly call myself a western enthusiast, I was incredibly excited about the work I was able to produce in that class. I did a seminar presentation on masculine rhetoric and semiotic theory in Owen Wister’s The Virginian and my final paper was on the body as flickering signifier in Consider Phlebas, a paper I presented at a conference at Oxford University in mid-July. As a graduate student, you’ll be able to tackle questions and topics that really interest you—and, on top of that, conversations with your professors and classmates will open up other areas of inquiry you may never have thought of exploring. Those relationships are incredibly important; your supervisors, professors, and classmates are all right there with you and are excellent resources.

Classes will be structured depending on the professor: some will have a 100% final paper; some will have a presentation and accompanying paper as well as a final essay; others will have multiple smaller presentations, online forum postings, and a final paper. I’ve had a taste of various styles of graduate seminar, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Some classes with multiple assignments will make you feel overwhelmed with work, and other classes with one or two assignments will add additional pressure the closer you get to the deadlines. That said—and I cannot stress this enough—start your papers early. As an undergrad, you can (sometimes) get away with procrastinating, but your papers in graduate school are often worth 60, 70, sometimes 100% of your final grade and can be upwards of twenty-five pages long. You need to give yourself time.

Again, as a Mount student, you’ve already been given an opportunity to attend the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate Conference (AAUEC), an event structured like graduate and professional conferences. Having been to the AAUEC, approaching my first graduate conference was a lot less stressful than it could have been. For your first conference, I’d advise working with a paper you’ve already spent some time on—maybe an essay that has come out of a class, or a chapter of your undergraduate thesis. Also, most graduate schools will give you funding opportunities for conferences, although sometimes you’ll have to apply to multiple places (your department, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the dean’s office, the graduate student union, etc.).

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend two conferences this year as a delegate: the Concordia Colloquium and the Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture conference this summer. I’ve had excellent experiences and positive feedback at both presentations—if you practice your paper and anticipate what questions are likely to be asked, you’ll be fine. I also attended two graduate conferences as a spectator, one at McGill on masquerades and the other at the University of Ottawa on the printed book. These events are excellent opportunities for learning as well as meeting people and networking. You may also run into familiar faces—at Ottawa I was staying with Lisa Templin (UOttawa masters candidate, BA, BEd, Honours MSVU) and briefly met up with Alicha Keddy (Carleton PhD student, BAH MSVU, MA Carleton). I also attended both the Concordia Colloquium and the Visions conference with Selena Middleton (McMaster PhD student). The academic world, like the Mount, is proving to be small, yet you’ll make significant friendships.

If you’d like to get a taste of a graduate conference, Dalhousie’s English Department is running one on decadence from August 15-17th. More information can be found at:

At most graduate schools you’ll have the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant or research assistant. Most TA jobs will involve a smaller tutorial or conference that you’ll run as a TA, and then the larger lecture that the professor will give. In the first semester I was a TA for an introductory survey class from the medieval period to 1660. I ran a 45-minute tutorial followed by the two-and-a-half hour lecture. I treated the tutorial as a seminar, preparing by reading the texts for the week and coming with discussion questions and topics. I usually began by asking for my students to offer topics that interest them, though, and tried to use my own thoughts as a catalyst to get them talking to one another. As with everything in life, TAing gets easier as you go along—I definitely over-prepared the first few weeks. As a TA, you’ll most likely mark papers and quizzes. At Concordia, and probably elsewhere, there are other opportunities to TA that may or may not involve a tutorial. In the second semester I worked for the Department of Irish Studies as a marker; I’d attend lectures, but there was no tutorial involved. An important piece of advice I was given, though, is to focus your energy on your own research before turning to TA work. I was fortunate enough to be working with professors who had the same mentality.

Have other passions
Although last on this list, extracurricular activities are no less important than starting papers early or attending conferences. As with undergrad, there’s a culture of stress in graduate school that can consume you and if literature is your only passion you can burn out pretty quickly. Allow yourself to have other commitments: for some that’s partners and families, for others crafts and hobbies, and for me, it was indoor soccer and jiu-jitsu. Having that time away from the library and your work is essential to remaining not only productive, but happy as well.

Graduate school can be daunting in theory, but it really is quite similar to the work you’ve already been doing at MSVU. It’s easy to let impostor syndrome get to you—you’re coming from a small, tight-knit department where people know you and moving into a bigger environment where everyone is seemingly much more prepared and well-read. Try not to compare yourself to others and do your best to add to a collegiate, rather than competitive, environment. If you have any questions about life as a grad student feel free to send me an email at, and if you’d like to learn more about Concordia’s graduate program you can contact the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Manish Sharma, at

Courtney Church

Courtney Church

Courtney Church is an M.A. student  at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. She graduated from the Mount with a B.A. (Honours) in English in May of 2013.  Her undergraduate thesis was on identity and space in Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy and her current research on space and cybernetic theory in Samuel Beckett’s short theatre is funded by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholarship. She plans on continuing in academia and will be applying to Ph.D. programs that begin in Fall of 2015.

More convocation photos

The Mount has posted a whole album of convocation pictures on its Flickr site. Spot the English students in this one:

Mount convocation  May 2014Here is honours student Nolan Pike giving the expression of gratitude to the honorary degree recipient, Dr. Ada Yonath:

Nolan Pike Convocation 2014And here is Nolan receiving his degree:

Nolan Pike Convocation 2014If anyone has any other Convocation pictures that we can post, please send them along to Anna Smol or Susan Drain.  And don’t forget that we have another pic of some of our English grads and a list of all graduating English students in our previous post, O Frabjous Day!