The 4+1 BA/MA in Writing Arts program allows students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years. Students Tara Grier, Scott MacLean and Eric Uhorchuk give us great insight into the benefits of the program and why it is helping to support their goals.
On discovering the program
Scott MacLean, a first-generation college student from Wenonah, NJ (Gloucester County), recently graduated from the program this spring. He originally learned about the program through a professor. “Professor Rachael Shapiro was the first person to tell me about the program. We met when I took Intro to Writing Arts, and I really thrived in her class. At a later time, I ran into her in the hallway, and we chatted about the opportunity. When I looked into the program I saw that they offered classes focused on aspects of the publishing industry as well as internship opportunities. I knew I had to apply!”
Eric Uhorchuk, a third-year student in the program from Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County), found out about the 4+1 program through professors and classmates. What ultimately lead him to apply were “how many career opportunities and internships the program offered.” So far, Eric has seen the benefit of taking the challenge. “I’ve been working on research for my master’s project, and with luck, it’ll be something I can actually publish. With Rowan University’s program specifically, the degrees can help me see what local presses or businesses are looking for employees, and actually allow me to interact with them.”
Tara Grier, in her third year of the program from Newark, Delaware, learned about the opportunity as a first year student. She ultimately chose Rowan University because it was one of the few schools that offered Writing Arts as an actual major.
Benefits of the 4+1 program
Tara explains: “The program is great because it allows you to begin your M.A. degree as an undergrad while still paying undergrad tuition. Not only does it save time and money, but it’s a unique experience that allows you to explore a graduate program as a senior.” She adds, “Taking graduate-level courses was initially very intimidating, but I’ve learned so much from them already and I feel they’ve even given me new skills that have improved my quality of work in my undergraduate courses too. Another benefit is that you get to know more people in the program!”
Scott is happy about the time and money he is saving while being enrolled in the 4+1 program. “When I was at RCGC I got into the ISP (Internship Scholarship Program), which allowed me to work in Gloucester County Social Services as an intern in exchange for tuition. Since I finished half of my master’s degree while still in my senior year thanks to the 4+1 program, I managed to save a lot of money. It also just saves me time in the long run. Rather than spending two or three years on my master’s, I am only spending one.”
Eric identifies faculty and classes that have enriched his experience at Rowan University so far. “Megan Atwood’s Writing the YA novel and Genre Fiction classes helped me learn what major mistakes I make while writing and how to best improve them. Heather Lanier’s Writing Creative Nonfiction course helped me understand that my life is important and that I can use writing to express my personal experiences, and her Creative Writing II course gave me the concept for my current MA project. At the same time, Lisa Jahn-Clough’s Writing Stories for Children and Young Adults is helping me understand which audience I’d be most comfortable writing for, and giving me a special environment to work in.
“All of my professors have made a huge impact on how I write, why I want to write, and how I want to grow while doing it.”
Experiences outside the classroom
Along with classes, Tara is involved in extracurricular activities that have made her experience well-rounded and meaningful thus far.
“I have been an intern and volunteer for Singularity Press since Spring of 2020, a start-up self-publishing service that will help authors edit and promote their work, create cover art, and other services when they self-publish, which is launching this semester. I have loved all the work I’ve done for Singularity Press, from social media management to graphic design, administrative tasks, and all of the creative work that goes into it too. Last semester, I also worked as Managing Editor of Halftone, a new pop culture magazine on campus, which was a great experience. As a freshman, I interned for the Writing Arts department, which allowed me to gain skills that have helped me gain other opportunities and internships.”
Scott has also gotten valuable experiences outside of the classroom.
“I was an intern for Glassworks Magazine, working under Katie Budris in Fall 2021. Through that internship, I was able to gain experience as an editor for a literary magazine! I learned more about social media management, newsletter writing, website development, and how to best represent Glassworks and the Writing Arts program in general. I was responsible for reviewing and voting on submissions for the magazine and participating in packet meetings where we discuss which pieces we’d like to accept. I also was charged with helping the people taking the Editing the Literary Journal class at the time, editing their editorial content that would be going on the website (book reviews, op-eds, and author interviews). I think one of the main reasons I feel confident graduating from Rowan and entering the workforce is because of my time with Glassworks.”
Currently, Scott serves as an intern for the Singularity Press. “Through this internship, I’ve been able to do more social media management. My favorite part of the internship has been the public events. We went to the AWP conference and I was able to represent both Glassworks and Singularity Press. Lastly, I’ve been able to read and evaluate manuscripts for an agent who is associated with the press. All of these experiences have helped me feel better prepared for the future. I’ve come to realize that I am more capable than I once thought I was, and I’ve managed to push myself out of my comfort zone and thrive in new environments.”
Along with the coursework, Eric is also involved in extracurricular activities. “I worked as an intern for Singularity Press when it was first being conceptualized, where I helped organize events and social media posts and helped out with the website. Currently, I’m working as an associate editor at Glassworks, where I read, and vote on submissions, interact with social media, proofread and edit accepted works, create newsletters, as well as participate in events that the publication runs.”
In the future, Tara hopes to have her books published. “I’ve been writing a Fantasy novel for several years, and would love to see it published and successful someday. While I was always aware of my passion for storytelling, my experiences at Rowan also helped me discover a passion for helping others tell their stories. This is why I’d like to pursue an editing career as well.”
Scott’s ultimate goal is to make the world of literature more inclusive and represent people of all identities in his work. “In high school, I read constantly but I rarely ever found gay characters in the genres I loved. Then I stumbled across I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, the first book with a gay character that didn’t involve the character dying/suffering greatly/being gay-bashed. Reading that book made me realize how little representation was present in literature. That has changed a lot these days, but it’s still very hard to find gay characters at the forefront of genre fiction: fantasy, thrillers, etc. and I plan on changing that. Along with this, I would like to either become a literary agent, or an acquiring editor in the publishing industry.”
Looking ahead, Eric’s dream goal is to be a published author. “I’m also thinking of possibly going into the editing field, specifically for novel writing or becoming a Writing Arts professor at a university, so I can help others grow and hone their craft. I’ve always wanted to teach, so why not teach the thing I love?
Like what you see?
Loredonna Fiore, senior public relations and advertising major
Select photos courtesy of:
Tara Grier (credit: Christian Browne) and Scott MacLean