Career Mentors

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.

Sheena Allen

Sheena Allen

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 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

Kristen Dechert

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Kristen Dechert currently works for Ours to Change, a nonprofit agency based in Jackson, Mississippi. As director of women in leadership, Kristen recruits and trains women to run for elective office around the state. After earning her master’s in English from Mississippi State in 2007, she went on to work for the university for over a decade. Most recently, she directed communication, research, and evaluation at the Research and Curriculum Unit, a center focused on K-12 public education. In this role, she oversaw production of several communications projects, managed research and evaluation projects, and co-coordinated the Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program. 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 over the years and also 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

Maridith Walker Geude

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.

Daniel Hart

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.

Courtney McCreary

Lisa McMurtray

Lisa McMurtray

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.

Courtney McCreary

Courtney McCreary

Born and raised in Mississippi, Courtney McCreary earned her BA and MA in English (with an emphasis in Creative Writing) from Mississippi State University. Since writing the first few chapters of novels does not pay bills, she searched for a career that would keep her in the literary world.  In 2011, she began working as the Marketing Assistant at the University Press of Mississippi. Since 2017, she has been the Publicity and Promotions Manager at UPM where she promotes over a hundred books every year. She lives and writes in Jackson, Mississippi.

Margaret Pitts

Margaret Pitts

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.

Sarah Shields

Sarah Shields

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.