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Seek. Serve. Grow.

I had as supportive a mentor as a young scholar could hope for, who helped me attain research grants, guided me through the thesis-writing process and told me over and over again that academic writing could change the world.
Bekah Trollinger ’04

Literary Studies Outcomes

The department has an excellent record of placing graduates in secondary teaching positions.

Another common choice for graduates is to pursue an advanced degree, most often in literature or cultural studies programs, but with law school also a frequent choice. Still other graduates choose communications-related careers in journalism or public relations (for non-governmental organizations, museums, arts organizations, public institutions, and so on).

Winning Attitudes: Jacob Miller T01M14S


Nathan Bartel ’02

By the middle of his sophomore year at Bethel, Nathan says, his identity as a writer was established. His only choice: fiction or poetry?

He chose poetry. After he graduated from Bethel – magna cum laude, and with a prestigious Thresher Award for his senior seminar paper – he worked for a year as a teacher in the day school at Prairie View Mental Health Services in Newton while applying to graduate schools. He was accepted to his first choice, the University of Montana at Missoula, which he said he had picked in part because it seemed to emphasize community among the writers in the Master of Fine Arts program – an impression which he says proved to be true.

Halfway through his MFA studies, Nathan was one of the winners of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, an award of $15,000 apiece given annually to two young poets enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate institution in the United States who have yet to publish a collection of poetry. Upon finishing his M.F.A. in 2005, Nathan was one of 10 writers for that year accepted as a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. During his seven months at the center, Nathan completed the bulk of the work on a poetry manuscript, tentatively titled The Pangaea.

A scant four years after graduating from Bethel, Nathan began teaching there. He was assistant professor of literary studies from 2006-14.

He has now taken his education in poetry into the creative world of graphic and exhibit design, as a full-time designer and copy writer on a team that builds museum exhibits such as the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb addition to the Penrose Heritage Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado (the addition opened in September 2014).

Katy June-Friesen ’02

The Washington, D.C.-based magazine American Prospect offered Katy an internship as soon as she graduated. She’d been working as the student editor for LINES, Bethel’s occasional journal of student creative writing, and also as an editorial assistant for Context, Bethel’s alumni magazine.

Katy realized she had a penchant for publications and editing. However, rather than accepting the internship, she went to Albuquerque, N. M., for an AmeriCorps VISTA position with Americans for Indian Opportunity, a Native advocacy organization. She was attracted to the cultural mix of the region, the prospect of learning more about Native issues and the outdoor opportunities.

She spent a year doing writing, photography, research and editing for the publications of AIO, then applied for and was accepted to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she received a fellowship to work on a master’s degree in literary and cultural studies. With her eye on an academic career path, she delved into theory, tried to work musical culture into her papers as much as possible, and did ethnography at a Pittsburgh Polish bar. But in the middle of her one-year program, Katy wrote an article for No Depression music magazine and realized she enjoyed writing for this more public arena.

On a whim, she applied to the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and was accepted to the master’s program. There, she was able to combine her theoretical background in cultural studies – including media theory – with journalistic writing and editing training. The fit was right: she enjoyed being out of the office and classroom, meeting new people and hearing their stories. She wrote a master’s thesis and published freelance articles about the arts, American roots music, local culture and immigration issues. During the summer, she interned at the Alibi, Albuquerque’s alt-weekly.

After graduating from Missouri in 2006, Katy finally made that move to Washington, D.C., for a six-month writing fellowship with Smithsonian Magazine, where she wrote about the arts, history and nature. As a freelancer, she has published articles in The Dallas Morning News and The Christian Science Monitor and is a regular contributor to No Depression.

After working as an associate editor at Current, a Washington D.C.-based newspaper about public television and radio, Katy was recently accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism with full funding.

When she’s not glued to the computer screen, she’s singing in a choir, hiking, thrift shopping for things red, making travel plans, exploring neighborhoods and bars and spending time with her husband and her cat Floyd.

Adam Schrag ’01

Adam’s well-rounded education at Bethel has since paved the way for a range of scholarly opportunities in the field, in and out of the classroom.

As a Bethel student, Adam explored many facets of a literary studies education. He was the first recipient of the Dorothy Wedel Kaufman Honor Scholarship, with which he produced a creative writing journal called Yawp and started a writing salon, where writers could meet to share and discuss their work. Additionally, his jobs working as an editor for the campus newspaper The Collegian and as an assistant for Bethel College’s Office of Public Information gave him a chance to use and refine his writing and editing skills. His senior seminar project earned him a prestigious Thresher Award. In all his pursuits, Adam endeavored to make learning and questioning a social process.

One of the great aspects of Bethel is an environment where the intellectual and the spiritual are not exclusive realms of inquiry, he says. As a student, I could wrestle with big questions in a safe place, buttressed by patient and attentive professors in the classroom and by equally inquisitive friends and peers in late-night conversations at Newell’s [truck stop and restaurant].

After graduating, Adam spent a year in Buenos Aires. Based on that experience, he wrote a piece about the Argentine economic crisis which was published in The Common Review, a Chicago-based literary journal. He held an internship with that same journal for a year, where he learned about the magazine and editing business. Since then, Adam has had a book review published in The Common Review and had his interview with author Barbara Ehrenreich published in Conduit.

Adam entered a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota, where his specific area of interest was the literature and film of war, especially how the screen treats violence and how literature treats the screen in this culture of ‘shooting.’ After successfully defending his dissertation, he is now assistant professor of communication at Fresno (California) Pacific University.

Heather Esau Zerger ’96

Heather was a double major in literary studies and history. She earned her law degree from the University of Minnesota and practiced law in the Kansas City area before recently moving to Newton. She serves on the Bethel College Board of Directors.

Karen Siebert ’90

Karen applied her degree to a career in nonprofit communications and public relations. She has managed communications at such varied organizations as the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, the national headquarters of the American Academy of Family Physicians in Leawood, Kan., and Harvesters, Kansas City’s food bank.