Interview with Dr. Holly J. Wells, English Professor at ESU

Dr. Wells is new to the English department. Photo Credit / Jamie Reese
Dr. Wells is new to the English department. Photo Credit / Jamie Reese
Dr. Wells is new to the English department.
Photo Credit / Jamie Reese


SC Staff Writer 

As a new professor at East Stroudsburg University, Dr. Holly J. Wells teaches in the English department as a part of the faculty that concentrates on Professional Media Writing.

Wells will be a involved in creating the new Master’s program to be offered in Professional Media Writing at ESU.

Q: What did you do before you came to ESU?

A: I was living in Texas, not working, and looking to get back into the field.

Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: My first teaching job was in the fall of 2001. I never saw myself as a teacher, but I was talked into it by one of my old professors at Kent State. The first class I taught, I fell over a desk. I was so embarrassed, but luckily I played it off to be funny!

Q: What else did you do before teaching, and how did you become a technical writer? 

A: I was staying at home with my eldest son, who is now 19, and I was just so bored in my house. I found out that Kent State was offering a certificate in professional writing, and I thought it would be fun to take some classes. I ended up loving my theory class and got an assistance-ship that paid for my schooling. In 2000, I got my Master’s degree in Technical Writing. I worked in various types of jobs before I got talked into teaching. I have written manuals, software guides, and other technical jobs, but there is so much more out there!

Q: Why didn’t you think you would be a good teacher?

A: Because I was terrified to get in front of a class! My old professor, who is retired now, kept bothering me to teach. So I finally did it and after my embarrassing moment, I began to love it. I have taught at Youngstown State in Ohio. I spent most of my life in Ohio, but then I moved to Texas and taught at Texas Lutheran and Concordia University.

Q: What were your first impressions of life in the north?

A: It was a relief. I was used to living in areas with blue collared people, flat land, and very strong political and religious views. Coming here, I feel more at ease with the politics and it is also closer to my family in Ohio. I think this area is so beautiful, and I love driving down my driveway every morning. My youngest son said to me, ‘Mommy, we live in a postcard!’ I totally agree with him.

Q: What is going on with the graduate program?

A: The program was supposed to start in the spring, but because we are nowhere near ready, it will officially start in the fall of 2014. We are planning for it to be 80% online coursework. There may be one class on campus where the students can meet and become acquainted, but after that, they will go back to wherever they are from and can work while being a fulltime graduate student.

Q: Would you recommend students who are graduating in May with a Professional Media Concentration to apply for the program?

A: Although it may seem like a continuation of our undergraduate program, it is not really geared towards people without experience. I highly suggest for students to get some experience before going to graduate school so they can build up a portfolio. We already have two applicants, one with 20 years experience and the other with 16 years so you can understand my point.

Q: What is your favorite undergraduate course to teach?

A: This is so tough! I really love my composition classes. The freshmen are so impressionable and it is fun to see them changing all the time. Most of them come in with the predisposition that they know nothing about English and I love to see them flourish with their ideas.

Q: What can be done within the realm of technical writing?

A: There is so much to do it is insane! When I lived in Texas, there were two big jobs for tech writers. You either did medical writing or military writing, which is pretty intense. To be a military tech writer, you need special clearances and I was not qualified for that. It all depends on your location. Before you find a job, you have to think of what you want to do and where would be the best place to do it. New York is the publishing capital of the world. Columbus, Ohio is a test market. They always have new things and just plop it down for everyone to try.

Q: If you weren’t a professor, what would your dream job be?

A: I used to want to be a novelist. I wrote three novels. I wrote my last one in 1997, but I guess my muse has died out since then. I realized that I would never want to be slaving away at a book cooped up in my room. I also love research. If someone comes to me and asks me how to do something, I go straight to my computer. A few hours later, I come back to them with a boatload of information on the topic.

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies?

A: I have recently been obsessed with If I had known about it sooner, maybe I would have been a genealogist. I am adopted and did not know much about my biological father. I found out his name and where he was born. From there, I was able to find his birth certificate and military certificate. I traced his family back to England, and I went all the way back 400 years. I love it, but it is very expensive!

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