Student and Alumni English

Thomas Sipsey

What kind of professional work have you been doing since graduation?

Since graduating from Merrimack College, I have assumed a number of roles in secondary education. I began my career as a high school English teacher. While teaching, I also was a varsity head basketball coach at the high school level. During my time as a teacher and a coach, I enrolled in a secondary education school administration Master’s program. I completed my course work in 2011 and have been in various administrative roles since. I am currently an Assistant Principal at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA.

To what extent has the English major helped you do this work?

My experience as an English major has literally helped me every step of my professional career. There is not a day that goes by when I am not involved in meaningful written and spoken communication. Clear communication with my colleagues and parents of our students is so important to my role at my school. Without being able to appropriately and accurately express myself, I would not be very good at my job. Likewise, I feel that I am able to interpret and understand what people are trying to say when I am working with them. I feel fortunate that my experience at Merrimack College enabled me to become a better reader, listener, writer and speaker. I look back on my time as a student and I am thankful for the tools and skills that I gained at the College.

Have you earned any advanced degrees since your undergraduate graduation? If so, what are they? If not, do you plan to pursue graduate study in the future?

I graduated from American International College in May 2011 with a Master’s degree in School Administration.

What did you like best about the Merrimack English major?

I feel blessed when I think of my time at Merrimack College. The college as a whole was a very good fit for me. It met my needs as a young man academically, spiritually, athletically and socially. As an English major, I grew up quite a bit. I vividly remember some of the struggles that I faced as a sophomore student. Slowly but surely, those tough assignments and classes became fewer and fewer. Professor Scherwatzky and Professor Vatalaro were key figures in my development as a student, writer and thinker. If I had to pick one skill that I think was truly developed as a student it would be that I learned how to read correctly. Reading as an English major was no longer opening a book, skimming the pages and hoping I remember the important topics. Reading as an English major at Merrimack College meant that I needed to take my time, pay attention, immerse myself in the content and take thorough notes. I can say that I learned this skill through experience. Some of those experiences were challenging. Many of those experiences were rewarding. Ultimately, my relationship with Professor Scherwatzky and Professor Vatalaro pushed me to become the student that I wanted to be. My time as an English major was critical in helping me become the person I am today.

What advice would you give current English majors?

Take your time, pay attention. That would be my advice. As a student, take advantage of the literature that you are reading and enjoy it. Take your time to understand what is in front of you and use your new found knowledge to your best ability when drafting your papers. I look back on my time writing papers and I enjoy thinking about how much I developed as a writer when I finally slowed down and focused on what was in front of me. Professionally, my advice would be to be confident in your skills. English majors have the unique ability to listen, read and write much better than most people. I do believe that having an English degree is an asset. Use the skills you have gained to advance yourself whether it be at a graduate school or in the professional world. The skills gained as an English major have no expiration date.