Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Paterson

by Carey Spence

Elon’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric program provides students with the skill set to succeed in the workplace. Whether communicating verbally, visually, or through writing, rhetorical decisions are essential. But if you don’t want to take our word for it, here is what Sarah Paterson, a 2015 graduate, has to say about her experience with PWR:

“PWR changed my personal and professional trajectory. I was a kid who loved to write but hated literature class; I took two years of journalism in high school to avoid having to do novel analysis. I wanted the things I did in school to have a PURPOSE, with some kind of real and consequential outcome. When a friend discussed her experience in Intro to PWR, I signed up and almost immediately declared my new major. Rhetoric seemed like a piece that had been missing from a puzzle for a long while.”

After declaring her major, Sarah has since worked in a multitude of jobs that require effective communication skills. She worked as a writing center consultant for Elon, and after graduation she says, “The practical skills I gained in Publishing, CUPID, Multimedia Rhetorics, and Writing as Inquiry translated directly to my work managing all things written and designed for a small training company, and I was able to make a pretty smooth and easy transition from college to the working world.” Her other jobs include working as a copy editor, a Communications Writer, a Multimedia Coordinator.

Sarah currently works as a high school English teacher: “PWR also inspired a passion for ethics and public service. Recently, I changed my career track to teach high school English. Document design and clear instructional writing, which I learned at Elon, are essential to any good teacher’s tool belt. This past semester, I even taught rhetoric myself to juniors at Northern High School in Durham.” Her goal for her students is to incorporate project-based and servicing learning experiences into her classroom that are inspired by her experiences in the PWR program at Elon. She “[wants] to create a high school English classroom that [her] own high school self would have enjoyed: a place where reading, writing, speaking, and listening matter and have an immediate real-world application.”


Carey Spence is the 2018-2019 social media intern for Professional Writing & Rhetoric. Carey is double majoring in English Literature and Strategic Communications, with a minor in Professional Writing.

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