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Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Meissner

What is your current position? Why were you drawn to this line of work?

Elizabeth Meissner, Cal Poly English Alumna
Elizabeth Meissner

I'm a senior technical writer at a software company. I wanted to use my English degree in my work (and I definitely do).

What accomplishments are you most proud of in your career/life?

I'm most proud of those times when I've taken a risk. I studied abroad for a year in college. That was a significant step for me; I'd never been out of the country when I left. As I write this, I'm preparing for another big change and a second possible move abroad: I'm leaving tech writing to work on my own creative projects, possibly in Mexico.  

How has your English degree from Cal Poly impacted your career/life?

My Cal Poly English degree and technical communication certificate gave me the knowledge and skills I needed to succeed in my career. Speaking more personally, a close study of literature challenged my unexamined ideas and broadened my outlook.  

Do you have any advice for current English majors at Cal Poly?

Be adventurous in your course selections. Cal Poly's English Department offers diverse programs covering creative writing, technical and professional writing, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, and teaching. Experiment to see what you like best.  

Favorite author/book and why? (or if you can't choose, favorite genre?)

My all-around favorite is Toni Morrison's Beloved because it's compelling and beautifully written. The professor of one of the classes in which I studied it said he chose it for his class on the basis of the first line alone: "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom." He was that struck by the juxtaposition of the seemingly antithetical words "baby" and "venom." I can recommend all the other lines of the book as well.

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