| December 5, 2016

Martha Musgrove, Researcher, Teacher, and Volunteer

Martha Musgrove, Researcher, Teacher, and Volunteer

BY: Catherine Nygren

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For her doctorate in English, Martha researched women and the city in novels of the Romantic period. Her path to grad school wasn’t as straightforward as some: she returned to university as a mature student following a successful and high-paying career in the public service. After her brother’s unexpected passing, Martha decided to follow her passion for English literature and hone her ability to approach literature from a scholarly and critical perspective. A BA ended up leading to an MA, and, then, a PhD at the University of Ottawa.

Martha taught and was a TA for multiple courses during her degree, which bolstered the internal and external funding she received, though her previous career had provided enough income. Helping with an edition of Charlotte Smith’s The Old Manor House and traveling for archival research and conferences were also valuable experiences. Her supervisor mentored her in terms of writing and research, and courses through Teaching and Learning Support Services strengthened her teaching skills and helped her ground her pedagogy.

Martha completed her degree in five years and a few months, which was the right amount of time considering the time required for coursework and writing. She didn’t look for a tenure-track job after finishing, since her family is in Ottawa, and the job market is bad, especially for mature students. Instead, she taught as a sessional instructor until a few years ago, when the number of contracts shrunk. Now, she does some consulting work with the government, teaches continuing education courses at the University of Ottawa, and volunteers with the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Dalhousie Community Association, and her church. She has also remained active in the scholarly community and is currently writing entries for a massive project aimed at cataloging and describing eighteenth-century novels.

Martha notes that graduate education is not a practical decision for many people, but her advice to future doctoral students is to work on a project that they are passionate about, to pursue teaching opportunities when they are available, and to take advantage of the resources on campus, like teaching courses. Maintaining a good work-life balance is also important, and can actually help you finish more quickly rather than burning out.

 


Poll: Passion

For her doctorate in English, Martha researched women and the city in novels of the Romantic period. Her path to grad school wasn’t as straightforward as some: she returned to university as a mature student following a successful and high-paying career in the public service. After her brother’s unexpected passing, Martha decided to follow her passion for English literature and hone her ability to approach literature from a scholarly and critical perspective. A BA ended up leading to an MA, and, then, a PhD at the University of Ottawa.

Martha taught and was a TA for multiple courses during her degree, which bolstered the internal and external funding she received, though her previous career had provided enough income. Helping with an edition of Charlotte Smith’s The Old Manor House and traveling for archival research and conferences were also valuable experiences. Her supervisor mentored her in terms of writing and research, and courses through Teaching and Learning Support Services strengthened her teaching skills and helped her ground her pedagogy.

Martha completed her degree in five years and a few months, which was the right amount of time considering the time required for coursework and writing. She didn’t look for a tenure-track job after finishing, since her family is in Ottawa, and the job market is bad, especially for mature students. Instead, she taught as a sessional instructor until a few years ago, when the number of contracts shrunk. Now, she does some consulting work with the government, teaches continuing education courses at the University of Ottawa, and volunteers with the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Dalhousie Community Association, and her church. She has also remained active in the scholarly community and is currently writing entries for a massive project aimed at cataloging and describing eighteenth-century novels.

Martha notes that graduate education is not a practical decision for many people, but her advice to future doctoral students is to work on a project that they are passionate about, to pursue teaching opportunities when they are available, and to take advantage of the resources on campus, like teaching courses. Maintaining a good work-life balance is also important, and can actually help you finish more quickly rather than burning out.

 


Poll: Passion

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