Teresa Trout 09
Company: Harvard University
Title: Teaching Fellow
Field of Work: Education
What do you do?
I'm in my fourth year of a PhD program, leading discussion sections for students and working on my dissertation in 20th century British literature.
How did you become interested in your field?
I've always been a reader, but The Sound and the Fury stupefied me even though I loved it. I figured I should go to college and take some English classes. I enrolled in Maximum English my freshman year and Morris Eaves made us read Northrop Frye and I was totally hooked. Incidentally, I never took any American literature classes in college and Faulkner remains a great mystery.
What, if any, additional education (degree, discipline, institution) have you earned?
MA, currently a PhD candidate.
What skills are vital for success in your field?
Self-discipline and focus for my own work. For teaching, the ability to listen, reformulate students' ideas and connect them to the larger discussion, and turn around papers quickly.
What experiences, internships, study, or previous jobs helped you get to your current position?
Every single one of them helped in some way: a vigorous course load during college, teaching secondary school after graduation, some post-baccalaureate classes at UCLA, and even my time as a wilderness guide. I took three years off between undergraduate and graduate school and moved around between Arizona, California, North Carolina, and Virginia. I can never take anyone's word for it and always need to try things out for myself, so being adventurous and making a misstep or two was how I gained perspective on my own life and what I wanted to do with it.
What advice do you have for current students interested in your field?
Pursue a PhD if and only if you're as interested in the field as you are in your own ideas. It takes a lot of reading and research to situate your work in a meaningful way—and your own ideas will change, or you'll be out-published, or someone will note one fact that will completely devastate your theory. But if you learn to love the process, you'll just regroup and begin again.