English Department Career Mentors
When you’re picking a major in college, your first inclination might well to pick what seems like a practical major that is directly connected to a specific job after college. This is why students so often enter college planning on majors like nursing, engineering, or teaching: these majors make it easy to imagine what you’ll be doing once you graduate.
The fact is, though, that most people's careers take them to places that they never imagine when they’re in college. From employers we know that English majors help students get good jobs, and when English alumni are surveyed a few years after graduation, they’re overwhelmingly happy with their choice of major. But sometimes it’s hard for them to imagine their future careers. Our Career Mentor program is designed to help you imagine your future career, and how to get there.
We have assembled a group of eight professionals with an undergraduate degree in English whose careers can serve as an inspiration for our students. Our mentors will visit your Introduction to English Studies class (EN 1111) and will be available by email to answer questions that you have about career options.
Ms. Allen graduated from Mississippi State University (“MSU “) with a Bachelor of Arts in English in May 2006 and subsequently earned a Juris Doctorate from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in May 2009.
Following admission to the Alabama State Bar in September 2009, Ms. Allen began her career as a Deputy District Attorney in Montgomery, Alabama. In that capacity, her law practice was focused largely on litigation, managing felony cases throughout the various phases of criminal prosecution, such as grand jury proceedings, bench and jury trials, and post-conviction matters. Currently, Ms. Allen works an Attorney Advisor for a federal governmental agency, where her chief duty is drafting opinions for Administrative Law Judges regarding claims arising under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
Despite being the first in her family to enter a field notorious for its lack of diversity, Ms. Allen has enjoyed a successful career, including training certification from the National District Attorneys Association, cash awards for her work performance, and teaching certification from the Alabama State Bar for continuing legal education. Ms. Allen attributes her accomplishments, in part, to building positive relationships with others, and looks forward to continuing to do so through her role as a Career Mentor at MSU.
Melody Pittman Dale
Melody Dale is the Coordinator of Old Main Academic Center and Education Librarian at Mississippi State University Libraries. She received her BA in English from Mississippi State University in 2008. After graduating from MSU, she spent two years serving in AmeriCorps in Grenada School District, which piqued her interest in literacy and libraries. She graduated with her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2012. Her research interests include the library’s role in first year experience, open access, information literacy, and cataloging. Prior to her current position, she served as a serials cataloger at Mississippi State University Libraries.
Kristen Dechert directs communication, research, and evaluation at the Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU) at Mississippi State. In this role, she oversees production of several communications projects, including magazines, issue briefs, newsletters, websites, promotional toolkits, and a podcast. She also manages several research and evaluation projects for the center. Prior to joining the RCU in 2011, she was a technical writer and editor for MSU's Energy Institute. She has taught technical writing, literature, and academic-writing courses and has served on textbook editorial review boards and as an expert reviewer for linguistic research. Dechert holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Montevallo and Mississippi State University, respectively, and is working toward her doctoral degree in public policy and administration at MSU.
Maridith Walker Geuder
A West Point native, Maridith Walker Geuder served most recently as the Mississippi College for Women’s comprehensive marketing and communication strategies news Communicator, from which she retired last year. At the time of her retirement, MUW President Jim Borsig said, "Maridith's leadership has raised The W's print and digital communications and marketing efforts to a new level. Under her stewardship, The W's visual identity has been established, our university marks protected and licensed, and our university magazine, Visions, has become known for its exceptional quality. Her greatest contribution has been her love for the university, our students, staff and faculty." Her career has included positions at two Southeastern Conference institutions, including 22 years at Mississippi State University and four years at The University of Alabama. She also served four years at Southern Living magazine in Birmingham, Ala. She earned her bachelor's degree in English from Millsaps College and master's degree in English from The University of Alabama.
After four wonderful years, I earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Architecture from MSU in 2014. During my time as an MSU English student and writer/editor at The Reflector, I saw how invaluable the ability to read and write with clarity and skill was for all people, from PhD-holding professors to rural newspaper readers. Going forward, I wanted to use my English degree to serve the students of Mississippi and help pay forward what I was taught about reading and writing. As a result, in June 2014, I immediately entered the Mississippi Teacher Corps, a 2-year Ole Miss graduate program designed to train and place alternate route teachers in critical-needs school districts in Mississippi. I could never describe the world-opening joys and experiences of my brief teaching career here. I taught for three years at North Panola High School in Sardis, MS and will soon begin my second year at Byhalia Middle School in Byhalia, MS. I recently submitted all four components required to become a National Board Certified Teacher and will receive my results in December. I have no plans to leave the classroom; I have yet to find a more challenging, intelllectually-engaging, character-shaping, joy-building way to spend my days.
A native of Mississippi, Lisa McMurtray earned her BA and MA in English from Mississippi State University and her MFA in creative writing from Florida State University. She taught freshman English at the college level for five years, and her poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ninth Letter, West Branch, and The Journal. After graduating from FSU, she secured the McRae Publishing Internship at University Press of Mississippi, where she learned about academic publishing and acquisitions editorial. Since 2015, she has been an Editorial Assistant at UPM, working primarily in the fields of African American, comics studies, Caribbean studies, history and media studies.
Margaret Pitts graduated from Mississippi State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in public relations. During her time in the English department, she was president of MSU’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international collegiate English honor society, and found special joy in creative writing classes. Since she graduated, Margaret has attained employment with an investment firm and has enrolled in a graduate program for a Master of Business Administration degree.
After she left Mississippi State, Margaret moved to Jackson, Mississippi, and began working as an Executive Assistant at Ballew Wealth Management, a private investment and retirement planning firm. At Ballew, Margaret provides support for two of the financial advisors at the firm. Her duties include assisting with presentation preparation for and organization of client meetings, providing personalized support to clients regarding their accounts, and creating marketing content such as print products. More recently, Margaret has helped helm the efforts to implement new software for the firm. Semi-annually, she co-coordinates client appreciation events.
In 2017, Margaret began study for a Master of Business Administration degree at Millsaps College’s Else School of Management, where she was awarded the Allison Coggin Lee Memorial Scholarship. She also volunteers with the Mississippi Council of Economic Education’s International Summit, where she serves as a judge for a competition for middle and high school students that encourages them to learn important international economic concepts.
With a background in English and a deep love of literature, it was only natural that Sarah found her way to a creative and wordy career. As a copywriter for a full-service marketing agency in Atlanta, Sarah uses her skills to tell stories. After all, every brand has a story just waiting to be discovered, and it’s her job to tell those stories in ways that connect people and spark conversations. From website content and social media to magazine ads and billboards, Sarah loves the challenge of finding the right words for the right situation. Since graduating Magna Cum Laude from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Sarah has worked as a copywriter for various marketing companies including Momentum Consulting, Response Mine Interactive, and her current company, Brown Bag Marketing. Outside of work, Sarah loves reading, traveling, hiking the North Georgia mountains, drinking as much tea as possible, and exploring the Atlanta food scene.