Zachary Harvat (BA ’13)
Degree(s) and graduation year:
ZH: I graduated in 2013 and I double majored in English and women’s and gender studies.
Overview of career after graduation and current position:
ZH: I applied for graduate school during my senior year at TU and them completed my master’s and Ph.D. work at Ohio State University. I was working on my degrees, taking classes and teaching English classes every semester, which I really loved. I finished my PhD in 2019 and started teaching at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. where I currently teach English at the high school level.
As I was finishing up my dissertation, I began thinking seriously about teaching at the high school level. I started volunteering as a tutor and shadowing at local schools to get a feel for the field. I sent out applications to schools all over the country and got an interview at Sidwell and have been loving it ever since!
What if I don’t want to teach?
ZH: Even if you aren’t going to teach English, a degree in English prepares you for a variety of industries because it’s so dynamic. English doesn’t prepare you for one specific career trajectory, which is exciting because it opens many avenues and gives you a set of skills that you can take into different fields. It also makes you more open minded. Just hearing different people talk about and react to topics during class discussion presents you with different perspectives and world views in a way that you might not get so openly in other disciplines.
What would you say to someone who is apprehensive about majoring in English?
ZH: The first worry usually deals with money, right? There are studies out there that show people with an English degree earn less in the first few years of employment than people with other degrees, but there are other studies that show over the course of a career, English degree holders catch up to people in other fields who maybe start out with more but remain consistent overtime. So, from a financial perspective, those gaps ended up being filled.
The other fear usually deals with English not being tied to a specific career path, but that is actually a strength. If you major in something that seems useful right now, who knows what the world is going to be like in 10, 20, 40 years. That degree might be less relevant. English is timeless and gives you a set of skills that are going to be useful no matter what field you go into. Bosses everywhere need people who can communicate well, who can think critically, who can participate and who respect others.
Highlight from college:
ZH: I had such a great experience at TU. I met a lot of my best friends there. In my junior year, Sean Latham offered a course on video games. He was teaching it for the first time, and it showed me just how applicable everything I learned in my English classes was. I ended up helping one of my friends create a video game studies course at Ohio State in the English department during graduate school.