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English Department
First Floor, Wendell Phillips Center
Xiaojing Zhou
Department Chair
College of the Pacific

Success After Pacific

The Department of English is proud of the hundreds of living alumni who have their degree in English from University of the Pacific. Take a look at where some of them have taken their English degrees since they graduated from Pacific.

Christine Viney '16

Chief Scribe at St. Joseph's Medical Center

English alumna Christine VineyChristine Viney majored in English, minored in Biology, and concentrated in the Pacific Legal Scholars Program. Currently, she is the Chief Scribe at St. Joseph's Medical Center, Stockton's major hospital. She started off as a medical scribe in the emergency department, working part-time until she completed school in July. Scribes follow around the doctors in the emergency department and complete the medical charting for anything from patient exams to codes. Then, in August of 2016, she applied for and was offered the position of Chief Scribe. She now scribes full-time for the emergency department and manages the team of 25 scribes. She audits the other scribes, trains new scribes during their residency shifts, and acts as the major point of communication between the emergency physicians and the scribing team.

"I love the first-hand experience I get with patients at my job. I've seen everything from closed bone reductions to intubation to CPR. I've held a patient's hand while she was cardioverted. I've comforted a mother of a critically ill child. I've made weird faces at a pediatric patient so she wouldn't look at the IV going into her arm. More than anything, the experiences I've had with patients at SJMC has cemented my resolve to go into medicine for my career," Christine says.

To students who are interested in studying English, Christine says, "My biggest advice for students considering an English major at UOP is to keep your options open. An English degree is a gateway to a remarkable number of careers. With the right minors, you can open up even more potential careers for your future. Your college and career plans will likely change many times during undergrad. With an English degree and the right experiences, you can accommodate many changes to your original plans. (Case in point: I was going to be a foster child advocate when I applied to UOP. That changed, and my major made that transition easy)."

She adds that, "No matter what you major in, the best quality you can exercise in college is to be flexible. No matter what plans you have for yourself and others, something will deviate from the plan during your undergraduate years. I planned to be an English major with a concentration in pre-law. I took Bio 51 as a GE in my sophomore year, fell in love, and transitioned to pre-med. I studied medicine in Ecuador the summer after my junior year after I applied on a whim to the summer program at the University of Minnesota. While in the Amazon of Ecuador, I contracted a serious illness that eventually required 7 courses of antibiotics and antiprotozoans. I was so ill when I returned to the US that I had to withdraw from my fall semester of my senior year at UOP. That was completely against the plan I had for myself. When I eventually found it in me to be flexible with the new direction life was taking me, I found new things to do while I recovered. I tutored math and science at a high school, taught art at an elementary school, signed up for ballet, and took my GREs. Don't ever let your preconceived plans limit what you can or should be doing."

Kent Linthicum '09

University Professor

English alumnus Kent LinthicumKent Linthicum majored in English, with minors in Spanish and International Relations. He loves that his job provides the opportunity to learn every day, to confront and solve new challenges, and to manage his own time.

When asked what advice he has for potential English students, Kent says that they shouldn't limit their field of study to one or two time periods of literature. As each period builds off all the previous periods, you cannot understand modern literature if you do not also understand what has come before. It is also crucial to see how former periods are reinterpreted by later periods. His second piece of advice is to develop skill with another language. "For most of literary history, writers and artists have been reading and thinking about works in other languages," he says. "After English's ascent it became a colonial language, meaning there are writers all over the world who are still responding to English literary history, but not in English. Skill in another language is crucial to understanding outside influences on English and English's influences on the world."

Regarding his time at Pacific, Kent recalls two of his favorite memories, "One was a Thanksgiving in 2007. I had a circle of friends who would meet up in the dining hall for meals; we were all different majors, from different backgrounds. If it were not for the dining hall, we might not have met. So, when we moved off campus we continued to meet up for dinners. The best was a massive Thanksgiving potluck we had with close to twenty people; it exemplified the holiday with good friends and food. Were it not for Pacific's small environment, we might never have eaten together.

"My other favorite memory is with the Pacific Pep Band. In 2008 we won the Big West Battle of the Bands. What sticks out in my mind is the fun and camaraderie of that moment as we performed for the crowd, representing Pacific and ourselves in spectacular fashion. Again, the close-knit nature of Pacific brought us all together from around the university to represent our alma mater with spirit."

Kent encourages Pacific students to become the best learners possible. "I believe that one of the key skills a student can take from college is learning how to learn. The world is changing at such a rate that learning a skill or two, learning a program or a mode of thought is not enough. Citizens of the twenty-first century need to be adaptable and flexible, more-so than any previous generation. Our success as a society will be determined by our adaptability in the face of adversity and flexibility confronting new challenges. Pacific is a wonderful school because of the small, liberal environment it offers, one where students can develop as learners; one where there are manifold chances to learn both in and out of the classroom; and one where the close-knit nature of our community allows us to embrace and explore diversity."

Josef Nguyen '07

Assistant Professor

English alumnus Josef NguyenJosef Nguyen graduated with a BA in English and a BS in Computer Science. He is currently located in Dallas, Texas, where he works as an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at The University of Texas at Dallas. He teaches courses in game design and critical game studies, supervises student projects, and researches digital games as cultural phenomena. "What I appreciate about my job is the ability to combine both major trajectories in my academic training-- in English and in computer science-- in closely interrelated ways," Josef says.

To students who are considering studying English at Pacific, Josef advises them to study widely within the field-- by reading and thinking critically about literature from a range of time periods, national traditions, textual forms, and subject matters-- as well as outside of English and literature. "While studying literature is an amazing core of studying English, studying English confers more than an appreciation or knowledge of literature. In primarily studying literature, English majors investigate processes of meaning making through the uses of narrative, images, symbols, and signs, among other components of cultural expression," Josef says. "Studying literature refines skills in studying how language and narrative operate in other cultural cultural phenomenon. The same investigation of language and narrative can help us better understand how we make meaning of historical documents, newspaper articles, scientific journals, and social media posts in addition to poems, plays, and novels."

As for his favorite memory of his time at Pacific, Josef recalls, "I found working closely with Dr. Camille Norton on my senior thesis exceptionally rewarding. Another contender for my favorite memory is the English Club Halloween Party that was graciously hosted by Dr. Eric Sonstroem at his home."

Matt de la Pena '96


Matt de la Pena

A former Pacific basketball player and reluctant reader, Matt graduated from Pacific in 1996 and went on to obtain his MFA from San Diego State University. His first young adult novel, Ball Don't Lie, was published in 2005, and became the basis for the film of the same name in 2011. Matt is the author of five young adult novels including Ball Don't Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, I Will Save You, We Were Here, and The Living. He is also the author of two books for children, and he has also published short fiction and essays in various newspapers and literary journals, including: The New York Times,, The Writer, Pacific Review, One Teen Story, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, George Mason Review, and Allegheny Literary Review.

In 2012, Matt returned to Pacific as the keynote speaker for Latino Heritage Month and spoke about how a self-professed "reluctant reader from the wrong side of the tracks" became an accomplished writer. He returned to Pacific in 2014 to further discuss the need for diverse voices in young adult literature. In 2013, Matt published a moving essay on that touched on his experiences at Pacific. For more information on Matt and his novels, please visit

Ross Freeden


While many students choose to study abroad for a semester or year, English major Ross Freeden chose the wilderness. He spent his fall 2007 semester taking the Rockies course offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a non-profit organization that teaches outdoor leadership and skills. He was able to earn credits toward his degree, but more importantly, Ross claims, "It was by far a life-changing experience for me and something that I will remember forever.” He shares his insights below.

"Nature has become the ultimate novel. It is rich with plots and sub-plots, conflict, symbolism, and character. Like a great novel that never ends, each new journey into the wilderness offers a new chapter, a new chance to learn and grow." 


Tarn Painter-MacArthur '09

Graduate Teaching Fellow

Tarn Painter-MacArthur, a 2009 alumnus of the Eberhardt School of
 Business, spent much of his last two years at Pacific studying English, more specifically, poetry. Tarn first began writing poetry in
 Professor Camille Norton’s Introduction to Poetry Workshop, and in
 his final semester completed an independent research project with her in poetics and writing.

Since graduating, Tarn has
 spent time traveling, living, writing and working throughout Latin
 America (Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina), China and
 Thailand. “This time abroad has proved invaluable to both my growth as 
a person and a poet,” said Tarn.

Tarn’s work has appeared in literary magazines, including: The Columbia Review, Willows Wept Review, Blue Earth
 Review, and has been anthologized in Leonard Cohen: You’re Our Man.
 His poem “To the Winter Woods” has been nominated for The Best of 
the Net Anthology (2010), which will be announced at the end of April 2011.

More recently, Tarn has been accepted to the University of Oregon’s MFA program, where he will be a Graduate Teaching Fellow. Tarn is extremely excited at the prospect of studying at
 such a prestigious program, and looks forward to the challenges he 
will face over the next two years.

Faye Snowden '03

Telecommunications Manager

I’ve been in Information Technology my entire working life and now hold the position of Telecommunications Manager in the university’s Pacific Technology. Enrolling in the College of Pacific’s English program allowed me to explore possibilities in writing that I had not considered.

My most recent novel, Fatal Justice (Kensington 2005, 2006), was actually inspired by a creative writing class in poetry that I attended at Pacific.

Small class sizes and professors passionate about the art of teaching produce an environment where students are encouraged to express ideas and discover new ones. Incredibly, I had professors who took such an interest in me as a student that they helped me find ways to pursue writing outside the classroom. Having graduated from the program, I feel more prepared than ever for a continued career in writing and the masters program I’m attending now.

Mara Title '04

Air Force Broadcaster

My British Authors professor, Dr. Camille Norton, recognized my love for language and literature, and prompted me to consider changing my major to English. I’m glad she did. I remember how shocked I was when she told the class we could use the word, “I,” in our papers—something unthinkable in high school. It was my first experience of truly claiming my own thoughts and ideas in my writing. I had to stand behind my words that were suddenly thrust out into the open, which came in handy when I joined the forensics (debate) team. I had to listen to criticism from the other students, and rely on my own convictions to make a point.

In high school, I used wordy, unnecessarily long sentences to sound more intelligent. Naturally, I carried this with me into college. Sophomore year, my English professor at Pacific told me that although I had some provocative ideas, they became lost in a sea of confusing babble. He handed me a book that helped me focus my thoughts into cleaner, tighter sentences. I would write a paragraph, and then go back and cut out any excessive wording—like cleaning out the junk in a closet. It was difficult when I realized I couldn’t hide behind stuff and fluff anymore, especially when I had to read my papers aloud to the class. But over time I began to enjoy these sessions where we exchanged ideas, because I always gained a wider perspective on any given topic.

As a broadcaster in the Air Force, the scripts I write have to be clear, concise, and creative—precisely what I learned at Pacific. Some might say that English classes, as well as other classes in the Humanities, aren’t very, “hands-on,” and that with the onset of technology, these degrees are becoming less and less important. I would argue that the ability to convey thoughts and ideas is crucial in any profession, and the confidence I gained at Pacific led to an almost seamless transition into the Air Force.