By Sally Mellina
When I first met Dr. Judith Phagan, I was a shy freshman who was a little scared of the new chapter in her life that was beginning. However, slowly but surely, Dr. Phagan was able to draw me out of my shell. Dr. Phagan is the head of the English department; she is a hard-working individual who is dedicated to helping each and every student who crosses her path. Her unique perspective and teaching style make her classes enjoyable and interesting.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Dr. Phagan and ask her a few questions.
Talon: How long have you worked at St. Joseph’s College, and why did you decide to work here?
Dr. Phagan: I began working at the College in 2001. Actually, I believe the first day of classes was September 12th, the day after 9/11. I remember it being an intense time, as the country was still reeling from what happened. I started out as an adjunct professor; in 2003, I received my doctorate and became part of the full-time faculty. I was initially attracted to St. Joseph’s College because of the excellent reputation of integrity and high standards it had and still has.
Talon: Any advice for incoming freshmen?
Dr.Phagan: I would tell incoming freshmen to not underestimate the value of a liberal arts education. Lately, there has been much discussion in the public sphere regarding if higher education and a liberal arts education are worth it. I think it is a misguided discussion. A liberal arts education is the cornerstone for a good job and life. A liberal arts education prepares an individual for more than any job they may hold in the future; it prepares them for the challenges of life.
Talon: Why should someone consider majoring or minoring in english?
Dr. Phagan: Someone should become an English major or minor because we teach all the soft skills necessary for work and life. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have published several articles about English majors having better problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Besides, the English department has the coolest faculty on campus.
Talon: One of the many literary areas you are interested in and have studied is disability studies. What initially attracted you to this area of study?
Dr. Phagan: The reason I chose to study this area is personal. My daughter, Meghan, went progressively blind over several years. She became politically involved in advocating for those with disabilities; this really opened my eyes to this area of study and I decided to pursue it.
Dr. Phagan is always around campus and available for anyone interested in anything related to English or literature.