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Featured Alum

Brent SimoneauxBrent Simoneaux (06C, literature concentration) joined the Peace Corps after Berry; then, he worked for NASA; now he's ready to tackle grad school...

On March 26, Brent Simoneaux (06c) spoke to English majors and minors and Writing Center peer tutors about the many ways in which his time as a Berry English major and peer tutor aided him in his varied experiences beyond the Berry “bubble.”

After graduating from Berry in 2006, Simoneaux spent two years volunteering for the US Peace Corps in the People’s Republic of China. There he was an English lecturer to nearly 700 third-year English majors at Neijiang Normal University. Additionally, he supervised fourth-year students as they wrote their graduation theses and conducted seminars on English academic writing and Western teaching methodology for faculty thesis advisors.

Upon his return to the United States in 2008, Simoneaux began his graduate school search and eventually accepted a graduate assistantship at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In August, he will begin studying there in their Master of Arts program in Composition and Rhetoric. Until then, Simoneaux is continuing in his role of educator at the U.S. Rocket and Space Center in Huntsville, Ala.

At Berry, Simoneaux was an English major with a concentration in literature. He worked for the Office of Residence Life as a Resident Assistant and as a Head Resident. Simoneaux also worked for Berry’s Writing Center as a peer tutor and for Associate Professor of English, Rhetoric and Writing and Writing Center Director Christopher Diller as an office assistant. Additionally, he was an active staff member for “Ramifications” literary magazine.

When asked how his time at Berry helped him in his teaching in China, Simoneaux said it was “the very writing and teaching skills that were learned and perfected during my time in the Writing Center” that he used the most often in assisting his students and other faculty members. “I learned how to communicate and teach these skills in a clear and effective manner,” he said.

Simoneaux spent much of his visit answering individual questions from Berry students about everything from his experience learning Chinese to the herculean task of teaching seven sections of composition to his knowledge of rocketry. Much time was devoted to discussion of the graduate school application process, and the students in attendance warmly received Simoneaux’s firsthand accounts of his recent graduate school search.

When asked about the GRE, Simoneaux replied that the best thing one could do was take as many practice tests as humanly possible. Simoneaux advocated similar diligence and engagement in the graduate school search itself. He suggested that students regularly read the latest research in their desired field or specialization and find out in which programs and universities the authors of these articles teach. By contacting these individuals personally and by visiting these schools, Simoneaux said he felt he had discovered a lot more about these programs and had concurrently established himself as a serious prospective student, and he suggested that all students interested in postgraduate education should do the same.

Simoneaux expressed his appreciation for the scholarly opportunities facilitated by Berry faculty and reiterated how the writing and communication skills offered by Berry’s English major and minor were helpful in a number of occupations, sectors, and cultures. Speaking from his experience on the other side of the globe in China, Simoneaux said, “With communication comes a greater understanding and a deeper appreciation of the ideas and values that make our cultures and societies disparate and yet similar in many ways.”

written by Caleb Bloodworth 


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