Entering into her fourth year of university teaching, Texas State graduate and former MA Literature student Dr. Moriah McCracken is the Director of First-Year Writing and Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. Dr. McCracken was introduced to life in academia when she came to Texas State University as a transfer English major. She was hired to work for the Writing Center as a tutor, where she discovered a love for writing pedagogy and program administration. “So many of the students I worked with those first few years didn’t identify as writers—writing was this thing that alienated them from their thoughts and ideas—but our sessions gave us the time and space to talk about ideas and process without the constraints of grades and assessment.”
The hands-on work experience Dr. McCracken gained at the Texas State Writing Center working with Dr. Nancy Effinger Wilson (at that time, Director of the Writing Center) led her to meet Rebecca Jackson, Director of MA in Rhetoric and Composition, who introduced her to writing studies, history, and theory while also serving as her mentor. As Moriah worked on her degree, she focused her thesis on rhetoric and composition theory and the commentary practices of teaching assistants. Through these experiences, Moriah states that she not only learned “how to research a topic… but also how to revise (her) thinking and writing in light of what (she) was learning”- a method she shares with students in her classrooms today. After completing her undergraduate degree, Dr. McCracken went on to pursue an MA in Literature at Texas State, eventually earning a PhD from Texas Christian University.
In addition to teaching, Dr. McCracken is currently working on two collaborative scholarly projects. The first is an edited collection of articles describing how various college writing programs are helping students learn about writing rather than how to write. The second is a research project conducted by Dr. McCracken and Brittany Johnson, St. Edwards University Librarian and Texas State alumna, investigating whether the co-teaching of a topic, specifically incorporating conversation into scholarship and research, may improve student learning.
Dr. McCracken’s advice for students looking into or currently enrolled in the Texas State English program is simple: explore ideas deeply, ask questions, reflect and experiment with different possibilities, engage in the conversations you hear, and explore mentoring relationships with faculty. However, “most importantly, embrace the chance to think, write, and share with others.”