Supportive Community, Faculty Connections Key to English Graduate Student’s Academic Growth and PhD Program Acceptance

English master's student Theo Campbell presents “Customs Handed Down to Us: Empire and Public Health in Glimpses of my Life in Aran,” at the 2022 Graduate Student Research Symposium in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
English master’s student Theo Campbell

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Whether it is because of similar research interests, connections within the field or other, more nuanced factors, faculty play a large role in students’ choice of graduate school and are also instrumental in shaping the graduate student experience. Villanova English master’s student Theo Campbell '23 MA points to the kindness, generosity and support of Villanova faculty for helping them to flourish as a scholar and to gain acceptance to the English PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they will be starting in the fall.

For Campbell, building connections is essential.

“I recommend that prospective students reach out to faculty members who work in the area they are interested in, even if they are not teaching a graduate seminar in their first semester,” Campbell says.

Campbell has worked closely with Mary Mullen, PhD, as a research assistant, which strengthened their research skills. Campbell was also able to do an independent study with Dr. Mullen, which allowed them to conduct in-depth research and study an area of literature of their choice. Campbell also credits the support of Travis Foster, PhD, who helped them revise a paper to be submitted for conferences and journal publications, and Heather Hicks, PhD, who sponsored their Graduate Summer Research Fellowship application. With funding from the Graduate Summer Research Fellowship, Campbell spent time in Dublin and London, examining archives. Campbell presented that work, “Customs Handed Down to Us: Empire and Public Health in Glimpses of my Life in Aran,” at the 2022 Graduate Student Research Symposium in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and that research has become central for their master’s thesis.

Talking to Joseph Lennon, PhD, led to Campbell’s involvement with the Villanova Irish Studies program and a 12-week study abroad experience in Ireland and the United Kingdom, which included a funded internship at the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina, Ireland.

“My time abroad was my most memorable experience during my time at Villanova, and I grateful for the many opportunities,” Campbell says. “In addition, Villanova’s English department was especially helpful in providing guidance on writing, researching and professionalization in every seminar. From sharing how conferences are conducted to how to find conferences and publishing opportunities to build our CVs, Villanova’s focus on professional experience and preparation has been rewarding. The connections I have made with multiple Villanova English faculty and the outstanding support from Villanova has enriched my scholarly experience, helped me solidify career goals and provided a foundation for lifelong success.”

Learn more about Villanova’s Graduate Program in English.


About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

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