Ryan Miller

What is your current position?

I am an Associate Professor in TESOL at Kent State in Kent, Ohio.

When did you complete your MA TESOL degree?

I graduated the MSU TESOL program in 2009.

Tell us about a story, class, or person, from during your time in the MA TESOL program that had an impact on you or your career?

The first thing that comes to mind, and it isn’t a single incident, is how I came to the MA TESOL program after being out for school for many years and teaching EFL abroad. This made it a big shock for me to go back to school and have to deal with homework and studying again. It was a big shift and really difficult for me at first. It isn’t a specific story or anything, but I remember appreciating how much all of the faculty helped support me in transitioning between someone who was out of school for so long into being a student again. They made it easy to transition and also made it very fun to go back. I was afraid at the idea of having to go back and take tests again and memorize a bunch of stuff, but the faculty really helped with letting you learn things in creative ways and express your knowledge outside of just your typical standardized tests. Having a really strong cohort helped a lot too. We worked closely together and had a lot of social events together, and having all of that support from the faculty and students just made going back to school much more easier for me.

How did the MA TESOL program help influence your career path?

It really helped clear things up a lot in terms of what I wanted to do and what my real research interests were. You go into a program like that just hoping you survive and not really knowing what specific topics interest you, and I think the program does a great job at putting you on a career path that excites you. It lets you explore different topics and see which ones stick out to you.

What was your favorite class in the MA TESOL program, and why?

My favorite class would have been the reading and vocabulary class I took my first semester. It is the one that I think influenced me the most because it was a ton of work, more work than any class I have had during any time in my studies. The amount of readings each week was more than anything I have done during my MA or PhD! It being my first semester, and my first time in grad school, I didn’t know what to expect and just assumed it was normal. I think that helped me a lot because it set a high bar for me in terms of what needed to get done, and I really learned a lot in that course because of how much work I put into getting everything done. A lot of topics from that course carried over into my thesis and my PhD and even the work that I do now.

What advice do you have for current MA students?

My big advice for current MA students would be to remember that, in grad school, you have to remember that you aren’t only students to professors but also potential colleagues. It isn’t like the professor is someone who has all the answers and just gives them to you as a student. It is more collaborative and there will be problems that you and your professors will work out together. More of the onus will be on you, as a student, to take the initiative and explore things that interest you with the aid of the professors instead of waiting for them to tell you what to do or what to explore.