PHC Alumni Alicia McCartney, class of ‘14, was the kid on the block who wrote and designed newspapers to circulate to families and friends and has been writing and learning ever since.
But fall of 2016, she was facing an intense semester of graduate school. Newly engaged, with her fiance living long-distance, she was planning a spring wedding, teaching two classes, and taking an overloaded course schedule so she could finish in time to be move after their marriage. Procrastination was impossible due to the sheer amount of writing (for only one class she wrote over 300 pages.) On Wednesday, her busiest day, she woke 5:30 and went nearly nonstop: writing, teaching (and attending) classes, and then meeting up with her fiance, to more writing and homework. Her day would not end until after 10 p.m.
“It was an intense season, but God used the four years of writing under deadline pressure in the Journalism program at PHC to prepare me for that semester,” McCartney said. “I look back amazed at HIs provision throughout my graduate experience and know that He has called me to this work with a purpose.”
McCartney became interested in PHC’s journalism program due to the rigor of the classical liberal arts focus and PHC’s commitment to Christ. “I wanted a job that would be different every day,” McCartney said, “a job where I'd be able to engage with a variety of people and use my gifts to make a difference in their lives.”
Her senior year she realized that what she really wanted to do was teach. “As I approached graduation, I realized that my love for communication, for writing, for conversations, for stories, and for investing in people fit not only the field of journalism, but also the world of academia.”
She worked as a teaching assistant to Dr. Les Sillars for his class Research and Writing that fall and that confirmed her desire. The classical liberal arts track of the journalism major allowed her to take enough literature classes to have an unofficial literature minor, and her skillset funneled into her acceptance of receiving full funds for Baylor University’s English Ph.D. program.
Currently, McCartney is a full-time doctoral student and is now on track to finish her Ph.D. in 2019. Her Ph.D. in English, with a focus on 19th-century literature, at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She has been a writing tutor and taught freshman classes at Baylor. Currently, she’s taking time off teaching to study for examinations, and begin her dissertation. She will be on the job market for a full-time college faculty position in English, and hopes to teach at a Christian liberal arts college, like PHC.
“Investing in students, getting to know them personally and watch their growth over the course of a semester, is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” McCartney said. “I'm excited to return to campus in February to teach.”
She married PHC Alum from the class of ‘14, Andrew McCartney and they currently live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In their free time, they enjoy practicing hospitality, plugging in at their church, training for races (they are training for their 5th half-marathon), and music.
Her time at PHC gave her a wealth of experiences and skills. She was involved with the Community Involvement Commission, and helped coordinate a town-wide cleanup day. She managed the PHC Learning Lab and tutored writing.
She wrote for the Herald, interned for PHC’s Communications Office and wrote for WORLD magazine. She also interned for Loudoun Times-Mirror one summer as a reporter. She wrote feature and hard news stories on events. Her main summer project was a series on child homelessness in Loudoun County, which is the richest county in the nation. (Read the two part here (Pt. 1) and here (Pt. 2).
Some of her favorite moments at PHC included a student led Bible study at Ballenger Farm, and Sunday night worship in Town Hall. She has learned much about the importance of rest, as Andrew encouraged her to adopt his habit of taking the Sabbath off of work as a time to focus on rest.
“I didn’t know how I’d get everything done...but God multiplied my time when I trusted Him enough to lay aside my work," McCartney said. "We’re human beings, not human doings--created for worship, relationship, and community.”
Though studying full-time, McCartney has kept her graphic design skills, learned during her time at the Herald, sharp. She works part-time the T.S. Eliot Society by laying out their newsletter, Time Present, which is published quarterly. She also taught a one-week summer journalism class for high school and junior high students in Waco. “Their final project was a class newspaper. They were so excited to see their names, photos, and stories in print!”
To all students who are interested in teaching, McCartney encourages them that the journalism program may be the right fit.
“Your degree in Journalism is flexible,” McCartney said. “PHC's rigorous core curriculum gives you an invaluable foundation, and the CLA Journalism track can prepare you to jump into just about any course of humanities graduate study. Journalism teaches a set of skills you'll always have, and these skills are useful in almost any position or field. Second, if you're interested in graduate school, use both your professors and the alumni community as your mentors. We're here to support you. If anyone wants to reach out to me for advice about applying to English programs, they can feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”