Sarah Brown (MAWRD 2010) currently works as a technology administrator at DePaul’s Center for Educational Technology in the College of Education. Prior to coming to DePaul in 2008, Sarah taught for two years at a career technical high school in Dayton, OH. After refining her career goals, moving to Chicago, and graduating from the MAWRD program, she continued to work for DePaul in Faculty Instructional Technology Services, where she had been a graduate assistant.
What is a typical day “on the job” for you?
The thing I most enjoyed about teaching was the day-to-day changes and new challenges it afforded, and my current position provides the same type of shifting landscape. Some days, I’m more focused on course development and pedagogical issues, and on others, I’m in 100% technology mode to test and implement a new tool. This year, I’m also teaching a First-Year Writing course, which has been greatly beneficial in both re-upping my “street cred” around the College of Education and in revitalizing my own professional development as an educator. And, of course, I’m a much happier person when I have students to work with.
How have your studies at DePaul influenced what you’re doing now?
When I came to DePaul and entered the MAWRD program, the move represented a shift in my career focus. I loved my teaching position in Ohio, but I knew I also wanted to have the tools to do more—to do more research, to better understand educational and technological policies, to have the vocabulary and knowledge base to communicate on a broader level.
As such, the biggest benefit that the WRD program offered me was the option to mix and match classes that would meet my particular needs. Since I already
had a teaching background, I took the courses that would give me a firm rhetorical foundation (Ancient Rhetorics, Modern Rhetoric, Proseminar), and I combined that groundwork with courses that allowed me to explore my emergent technological interests (Computers and Writing, Technical Writing, Document Design, Text and Image).
What were the most helpful courses that you took while working on your degree?
One of the most beneficial skills I took away from the program, which I use constantly in my own position and which would likely transfer into almost any job situation, is the ability to create a framework for tackling a problem. Particularly in classes like Technical Writing, Document Design, and Text and Image, the projects we worked on involved a lot of problem solving: We need a technology tool that does X and Y. How will we decide which tool to use? Who are the stakeholders, and what are their needs? What will be the intended use of this tool? What are the potential pitfalls we might encounter?
I’ve found that being able to ask the right questions up front can make the workflow on a project go much more smoothly, and I feel like I have a firmer grasp on what the “right questions” are as a result of my studies at DePaul.
What advice would you give a WRD student who would like one day to do work similar to yours?
For me, the biggest benefit of the MAWRD program was that it allowed me to start with a set of objectives in mind, choose courses that would help me meet those objectives, and leave with a set of thinking skills and written products that I could transition into my career. The flexibility of the program allows for this type of path, and yet it also allows you to discover new learning interests and pursue those as you take classes in the program.