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Rodney Castillo, B.A. English Literature, 2015, M.A. English Literature, 2019

by Monica Smith

Aug 22, 2022, 11:00 AM.

A firsthand look at the versatility of the undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from an alumnus who works in IT by day and teaches at night.
Rodney Castillo
Rodney Castillo

As an FIU student in the fully online Bachelor of Arts in English: Literature track, Rodney Castillo liked studying within a program steeped in diversity that featured unique opportunities to help feed his love for the written word. Castillo liked his degree so much, he returned to FIU to complete his master’s degree, also in English literature. With both FIU degrees in hand, he went on to pursue an adjunct professor position teaching college-level English, but he insists that his English degrees help him daily with what he does as his day job in IT. 

Of note, Castillo believes his degrees have provided him with necessary and transferable skills, have made him a better communicator and can offer graduates many applicable skills to a wide range of positions. He offers his thoughts on being an alumnus and what he learned in his program.

When did you graduate?

I graduated from FIU with a B.A. in English, Literature track in 2015. I also finished my M.A. in English Literature at FIU in 2019.

Why did you decide to study this area and choose this program?

Passion. Ever since I was a child I have had a passion for reading and writing. For me, books are portals that open endless worlds and lives in amazing ways. Literature is the study of human experience and I find this pursuit to be empowering and rewarding. I selected FIU’s B.A. in English: Literature track as my program of choice for several reasons. FIU is one of the most diverse universities in the United States. The program is home to the Exile Studies Certificate, the only one of its kind in existence. I had a deep interest in immigration, transplantation, the exilic experience, and what better place to study about it than at FIU?

Also, taking courses on Shakespeare and transgressive literature with Professors James Sutton and Kenneth Johnson made it so I would rather be at FIU than anywhere else. 

What was your favorite class and why?

That is a tough question. Each class I took was special and amazing in its own way. However, if I had to pick it would be Exile Studies Literature with Professor Asher Milbauer. This class provided me with the vocabulary to articulate my own identity as an immigrant as well as the social dynamics of transplantation. It also made me a better human, able to empathize with the plight of others, regardless of their place of origin, language, race or religion.

What immediately applicable skills did you learn? How does your degree help you in your work?

The various classes I took while pursuing my B.A. in English at FIU provided me with great tools I have been able to implement in most areas of my life—skills such as close reading, critical thinking and writing, and the ability to perceive how the endless layers of the human experience intertwine.  

As far as how these skills help with my work is a rather interesting question. During the day, I work in information technology as a network administrator. However, I spend my afternoons as an adjunct professor of English composition and literature. 

As a network administrator, having an English degree has empowered me with excellent interpersonal skills, allowing me to effectively communicate with my coworkers and those we provide service to. As not everyone is technology oriented, the ability to analyze content and unpack it in accessible ways is essential to my job. As one of my former professors would say: “There is nothing more beautiful than a well crafted sentence,” to which I would add, not only beautiful but also useful. 

As an adjunct professor, I do my best to transmit the skills I acquired while in the program at FIU to each of my students. 

What are the benefits to having an English degree?

From working as editors or writing grants for institutions, to some serious crossovers into STEM areas, such as facilitating technology implementation within education environments, a degree in English will open many unexpected doors. 

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

How all things in life are interconnected, and how literature is both a key and a shortcut to the human experience, making individuals into better humans. 

Would you recommend this program to other students?

Yes. This program has a lot to offer to many seeking to venture into the world of literature, critical thinking, and writing. Beyond that, I found in this program lasting friendships that I cherish to this very day.

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