MA English student Jon Meyers wins PCAL Outstanding Graduate Student Award
- Dillon Miller
- Friday, May 3rd, 2019
Every year, the Potter College of Arts and Letters awards an Outstanding Graduate Student honor to a single graduate student within the college. This year, this prestigious award went to none other than Jon Meyers of the WKU Department of English.
Jon studies screenwriting, but he didn’t realize how well that would mesh with teaching until Kat Candler, a famous screenwriter from Austin, paid a visit to campus.
“Up until that visit from Kat,” Jon says, “teaching never occurred to me. I had never realized you could screenwrite and teach simultaneously. Having an MA and an MFA from our department will strengthen me in both those professions.”
The MA in English program, which he is now completing, gave him a strong teaching foundation on which he can build when he enters the MFA program this August.
Jon reflects on his time learning pedagogy from people like Dr. David LeNoir, Dr. Peggy Otto, Dr. Rob Hale, and Dr. Alex Poole. Jon is hesitant to even list names because he continually insists every professor has informed his pedagogy in one way or another.
“I could take what we learned in any given night class, and use it in the classroom literally the next morning,” explains Meyers. “To see something I had learned only twelve hours earlier actually motivate my students the next morning in the classroom was an incomparable confidence builder.”
Along with his pedagogy classes, Jon says that his TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) classes were surprisingly applicable to his ENG 100 students.
“I would learn a technique or a learning activity prompt from Dr. Poole in a TESL class one day, and actually try it out with my traditional ENG 100 students in the classroom the very next day,” Jon says. “I pretty much have my content planned out of course for my own ENG 100 class – but I am always innovating how I share that content with my students…. It’s such an incredible opportunity.”
Jon says that the one of the keys to his success and enjoyment in the graduate program has been this philosophy: “Say yes to everything.” Jon has a passion for helping people, and this philosophy helped carry him through this program and presented him with many great opportunities that made his experience the success and joy it has been.
“Any time anyone asked me to help with something, I said yes. Any time I overheard someone in the department voice a need, I opened my mouth and asked if I could help somehow. Anytime I had an idea, I shared it with whomever I thought could say yes. Usually they did.”
As for continuing his experience at WKU next year through the MFA in Screenwriting program, Jon is thrilled. He has already been excitedly planning his screenwriting projects for the next two years, and he has talked with Professor Jessica Folk about his future.
“We both try to help each other; and, we are both excited that we will have a third screenwriter around next year too.”
While a graduate student, Jon has gone from one uplifting experience to another. There was really only one challenging period in which he had to overcome, Jon says. He recalls a time of particular difficulty where he had several papers and assignments due all at once, he attended the English department’s November colloquium, was the coordinator of a Writing Project Conference in which he managed several guest speakers, and his birthday occurred – coming home one night to find his 13-year-old Yorkie, Tessie, passed away unexpectedly. All of these events happened in a period of three days.
“In hindsight, I have no idea how I made it through that weekend. Clearly, God was on my side,” says Meyers. “I survived, that’s the best I can say about that period.”
The vast majority of his time here, however, has been exceptionally positive. He loves many things about being a graduate student at WKU, but he pins it down to four main factors: he gets to work and study in Cherry Hall, an iconic building; he gets to teach an ENG 100 class and be inspired by his students; he has enjoyed every graduate class he has taken -- all of which has informed his teaching -- particularly a study abroad class in Scotland; and Brad Riddell, a famous filmmaker, told him he had a cool-decorated office.
Meyers notes that he enjoys walking past the statue of Henry Hardin Cherry every day where he reads the words “Educator, Inspirer of Youth, Philosopher.”
“Inspirer. I love that word,” says Meyers. “I do my best to be an inspirer, to try in some small way to be a little bit like H.H. Cherry himself.”
Other sources of written inspiration for Jon include authors such as Diablo Cody, Debra Granik, Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Stephen Krashen, and Chuck Barris.
To potential graduate students of WKU, Jon stresses that there is “no other organization that supports its students as consistently well as we do.” He then closes with words from Henry Hardin Cherry:
“Western does not consist of the campus and buildings. Beautiful as they are, they are dead things. 'That other thing' in the lives and hearts of the faculty, students, and alumni makes Western the great institution that it is.”
Jon Meyers would like to thank the following people for their significant contribution to his community of support:
Dr. Dawn Hall, Dr. Wes Berry, Professor Jessica Folk, Dr. David LeNoir, Dr. Dale Rigby, Dr. Alex Poole, Dr. Trini Stickle, Dr. Peggy Otto, Dr. Rob Hale, Dr. Hovet, Dr. Angela Jones, Dr. Trini Stickle, Dr. Sandra Hughes, Dr. Kelly Reames, Professor Megan Miller, Sarah DeGeorge, Hunter Little, Kat Candler, Travis Newton, Ben Elton, Brad Riddell, Ewa Banaszkiewicz, Mateusz Dymek, and all of his ENG 100 Students.