An Interview with Emily Skeens


Emily Skeens is a second-year graduate student in the English department and is a part of the Graduate Teaching Fellowship program. As part of her Fellowship, Emily teaches two sections of CORE 101 this semester and will teach two sections of CORE 102 next semester. We recently had a chance to sit down with Emily and learn a little bit about her background and her time in college before coming to Radford, as well as her teaching style and the type of classroom she works to cultivate in her CORE courses.

Emily is from Grundy, a small town in Southwest Virginia. She says that she and her half-sister are the first two people from either side of her family to attend college beyond obtaining an associate’s degree and that her family is always excited to hear about her experiences. “It’s one of those things where I go back for the holidays and talk about it and people are cheering me on and things like that.” She says that she was always the kid who was reading and that her English teachers were very helpful in cultivating her interests. Emily attended Southwest Community College in Tazewell, Virginia where she received her associate’s degree in general studies before coming to Radford University.

Emily said that her main goals in the classroom include a lot of group discussion. She says that teaching students professional communication and practicing that communication is very important. As well as that, Emily says that practicing writing is important as well. “I do a lot of in-class writing. You know, you can talk about writing forever, but practice is what is really helpful when it comes to that specific subject. You have to do it; you have to sit down and write.”

Emily says that she was never very good at math and that she had a teacher at the community college-level who helped her to make sense of it. She hopes that she can accomplish that for her students who may be uncomfortable with writing in the same way. “Different people have a different writing process and you should be focusing on your process and how it works for you. So, talking about why we do things; why we do freewriting, why we do all these different things, why we use MLA instead of APA. Discussing the reasons behind the different aspects of the class instead of ‘It’s just because I say so.’”

Emily finished the interview by mentioning that she was proudest of her ability to empathize with her students. “Students tell me that something I’ve done is helped them or a resource that I’ve provided was really helpful. Students can come to me with something that is bothering them, and I can give them some advice or direct them to where they can go next to get more help.”