Callie Coker ’16’s Future Rests Solidly on Her Saint Mary’s Liberal Arts Degree

Callie Coker smiling at the cameraEnglish Department alumna Callie Coker ’16 has gone far in just a short time, relying on the liberal arts education she received at Saint Mary’s. After her stellar undergraduate career here, Callie attended William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va. She was recently selected to be an Honors Attorney for the Federal Communications Commission and now works on the FCC’s Rural Health Care team, which focuses on improving access to telehealth technology in rural areas across the country. But it all came together for her at Saint Mary’s, where she got to engage with her first love, reading.

“I chose to study English at Saint Mary’s because it was the natural choice for me,” said Callie recently. “I thought an English degree would allow me to invest in my passions while expanding my worldview and teaching me valuable lessons about critical thinking, storytelling, and communication. I was right. Studying English taught me how to engage with others, read closely, and communicate an analysis clearly. Beyond the tangible skills I gained, I appreciated the knowledge and care with which each class was taught. The English faculty fosters growth in their students’ writing while also deepening students’ analysis."

 These skills eased her way at the highly regarded William and Mary Law School. “When I graduated from Saint Mary’s and moved to the East Coast to attend law school, I employed the skills I learned as an English major every day during my three years of school. The ability to think precisely is a necessary skill of the legal profession, and I believe that without my experience as an English major, law school would have felt noticeably more difficult.”

Beyond academics, Callie’s finely tuned language skills played an invaluable role at interviews. “In various interviews during law school, people asked me about my experience as an English major, asking ‘Who is your favorite author?’ or ‘What have you read lately?’ I always relished the questions because they allowed me to discuss a topic I was both familiar with and confident in discussing.

“I now work at the Federal Communications Commission as an Honors Attorney, and interviewers inevitably asked who my favorite author is. I explained that John Steinbeck became a favorite when I took a course on the American Novel at Saint Mary’s. One interviewer agreed with me, and we instantly began discussing The Grapes of Wrath. The other interviewer lamented how long and complex the story felt when he read it in high school, and said he admired my dedication to what he felt was a bit of a boring story.

“All this is to say: Stories connect us, and even in a formal setting like a legal job interview, the ability to converse about literature is relevant and may just get you the job.” And indeed, it did.