Coffee and Connections: Showcasing the Flexibility of English Major


Speakers at the English Department’s Coffee and Connections event. From left to right, Dr. John Black, Megan Decker Szvetecz ‘08, Stephen Gross ‘11, Kate Cohen ‘14.

On November 6, members of the English department welcomed three Moravian College English alumni to the Afterwords Café for a few hours of food, conversation, and community. 

Prompted by Dr. Black, English department chair, the alumni first provided general information about what they currently do and what their connections to Moravian College are. 

Kate Cohen, ‘14, graduated from Moravian with degrees in both English and leadership in human services. During her time here she helped create the now annual “Take Back the Night” march, an event held by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to protest all forms of violence. Cohen went on to work in non-profit development, which she describes as “asking people for money-with good causes!” She is currently the chief development officer for the Greater Valley YMCA, where she does fundraising.

An English major and political science minor, Stephen Gross, ‘11, currently works in the communications department at Lehigh University. Gross spent 12 years, several of which spanned his high school and college career, at The Morning Call. He started there in high school as a sports agate clerk, and, after college, as a sports reporter for 5 years. At Lehigh, he writes a “little bit about everything.” His work includes but is not limited to writing for a research magazine, a magazine for the college of business, and an alumni magazine. During his time at Moravian he had a radio show, which he credits with helping him with a Sunday show he co-hosts on Lehigh Valley Fox Sports. 

Meghan Decker Szvetecz, ‘08, was an editor for the Moravian Manuscript and had four internships during her time at Moravian. One with Lehigh Valley Style magazine led to a job in the editorial department. The current chapter of her career revolves around working as a freelance writer for Moravian’s Office of Marketing and Communications.

Each of the guest speakers had positive things to say about their English degree, specifically about skills they developed in their English courses and how those skills followed them into their adult lives to help them succeed in their chosen careers. 

Cohen spoke about how classroom discussions in her English classes made her a better listener and communicator, which is what largely guides her work today. “Through those dialogues you really build the ability to connect with people, to truly listen to what they are saying and to take it, to synthesize it,” she said. Gross said that the multitude of genre and writing intensive courses he took at Moravian, especially the ones that weren’t his forte, helped him create a versatile voice in his writing. Szvetecz emphasized, “If you are a good communicator, you can do almost anything.” She went on to stress that English degrees are foundational. “Being a good communicator is essential, especially in the workplace,” she said. “People will take you seriously.” 

When a question was asked about the best way to market yourself, Szvetecz spoke about her multiple internships at Moravian and emphasized the need to get yourself out into the field and make connections as often as possible. “The networking starts in college and you build upon that,” she said. Stephen Gross agreed, saying, “make connections with as many people as you can. I lost count of how many times I was told no. Be persistent.”

Carrie Gradin, director of annual giving at Moravian, commented on how important websites like LinkedIn are for networking and connecting yourself not only to potential employers, but to fellow Greyhound alumni. This sentiment was corroborated by all three guests, who all use LinkedIn as a way to connect with potential employers and also as a way to chronicle their respective achievements. 

Above all, Coffee and Connections showcased the flexibility of English as a major. All three alumni work in different careers around the Lehigh Valley, but the common thread is writing. The alumni expressed their gratitude for the intensive English education that Moravian College was able to provide them in their formative undergraduate years.