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New Class Gives Students Real-World Professional Writing Experience

A new grant writing class in the SUNY Plattsburgh English department is helping humanities students build professional — and immediately relevant — writing skills.

Adjunct lecturer Julia Devine said, “A humanities education is great for every career because it gives you a broader view. This class shows that we can offer real job skills too.”

Devine, who teaches in both the English and theater departments, has more than 15 years of grant-writing experience for domestic and international nonprofit organizations. She encourages her students to familiarize themselves with the nonprofit world.

“There are so many nonprofits in so many areas,” she said. “Out of college, students have this on their resume. It shows that they have professional writing experience. It can even help them write grad school applications.”

To supplement her teaching, Devine brings guest speakers to class, like SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling, who has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He spoke from experience, explaining to students the qualities that make a grant application successful.

Devine also connects her students with organizations in the community. She said the class is working with Mountain Lake PBS to do the groundwork for the station’s National Endowment for the Humanities grant application. Additionally, students wrote a statement of need for the City of Plattsburgh.

“It’s run like a professional class,” Devine said. “I told them I want them to treat this like they would a professional internship.”

Devine said the class will be offered each spring and that she hopes it will expand to attract students from majors outside English and the arts.

“There are all sorts of grants in different fields,” Devine said. “Today, it’s all about science, engineering and math. I understand that, but humanities shouldn’t get lost.”

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