Beyond the Undergraduate Years
Hunter Coward, raised in Mobile, AL, graduated from the University of Alabama as a Communication Studies major and an English minor in December 2010. Communication Studies, a general overview of communication theory and application, inspired her to study why people act and think the way they do, and how this contrasts with different races. “You can make it fit your interest and then you just look at whatever you’re interested in through a communications lens,” Coward says when discussing Communication Studies.
Coward added an English minor towards her degree. “I feel like my education as a whole made me a more well-rounded, and knowledgeable person about the world and the arts. It just made me a better person. My education prepared me to do well and to be a thinker in any situation that I found myself in.” She believes an English minor can improve overall written and verbal skills. “English, as well as communication studies, helps develop my brain in the way I process things and the way I handle situations, because it makes you a critical thinker. If you can be a critical thinker, then you can do well, really in most fields.”
Before graduation, Coward did not have an “after” plan; however, her life blueprint mapped itself out. Upon graduation, the recent alumna worked at a summer camp. A month after camp came to an end, Coward acquired a job. She worked for two years, recruiting for the University’s undergraduate admissions. A couple of years later, Coward was offered the position as a graduate teaching assistant; she accepted. Through her time at undergraduate admissions, she was able to teach a class focusing on how to be a successful student during college, and the unknown resources needed for this. At this time, Coward not only knew teaching was her calling, but that achieving her Master’s Degree was a pivotal necessity.
Coward’s faith has brought her towards her calling. She revealed she was unaware of the long-term meaning behind coming back to the University, for she had no desire to be a recruiter, nor in a position in higher education. “When I graduated, I knew it was in my plan to come back to Tuscaloosa to work for the University,” she continued, “then coming to the University and working in higher education showed me I would be able to teach, which showed me that I was really passionate about that.” Coward currently teaches two recitation sections for Public Speaking four times a week. In addition to educating young minds, she takes three classes in order to earn her master’s degree. Her goal is to be a college professor, despite all the intimidating warnings to avoid teaching in today’s society. “It’s a lot, but I think that for what I want and for my goals that it will be worth it. I really enjoy my subject matter, and I enjoy the discipline I am in,” she says in retort to the cautionary advisories, including the obstacles and hardships that outweigh the advantages. Schools have downsized, budgets have dwindled, and class sizes have increased. These cons do not affect this aspiring professor. Coward wants to work towards a Ph.D. after finishing her master’s.
When asked what she misses most about being an undergraduate, she gracefully replies, “Probably the amount of time that I didn’t know that I had.” She continues, “Time is something that is really elusive for whatever stage of life you are in. As you get older, and as you step into new things, your capacities increase. So your time management increases along with your capacity to do other things.” Coward is fortunate enough not to have to worry about missing Alabama football. This graduate teaching assistant loves watching the game with the children she babysits. “Babysitting during the fall will help me afford to take the summer off.”
“Is there anything else you would like to say?” I asked as the interview drew to a close. “I really loved all my professors!” Coward responded with a grin.