Success Stories

Writing grad studies environment

Hillary Fishler

When recent Grand Valley graduate Hillary Fishler starts working on her master’s degree in public policy — with an emphasis on environmental policy — at Oregon State University, she’ll already be thinking ahead to her career as a writer.

Fishler, 21, graduated in December 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in writing. She’s interested in nonfiction and poetry, but she didn’t want to go right into graduate studies related to writing.

“I was looking at MFA programs, and I didn’t think that I was ready at all, and I didn’t want to do it, really,” Fishler said.

But she was intrigued by an independent study she did with Assistant Professor Sean Prentiss on environmental writing. That independent study included a research paper that informed the final creative writing project. Fishler researched the public policy and economics of the coal industry. “All of the social economic environmental implications were really interesting,” she said. “So it was something that I thought I would like to learn more about.”

In her graduate studies, Fishler will be taking courses across disciplines as she pursues her interests in river restoration and energy policy. She’s not exactly sure what she wants to do when she’s finished with her master’s degree, but she knows what she doesn’t want to do.

“I have worked in a cube, and I learned that that’s not something that I’d like to be doing. I would like to do something that’s more fieldwork related. There’s a lot of opportunity for that during the program.”

And Fishler is sure that her work in environmental policy will inspire her future writing.

“I think the environment is really interesting,” she said. “A lot of people like to talk about it, and they like to yell about it, but they don’t understand it well. It’s like an enormous web that’s all interconnected. To write about something you have to understand it, so I definitely think this will inform my writing.”

While at Grand Valley, Fishler said she benefited from mentoring from Prentiss, Professor Patricia Clark and Writing Center Director Ellen Schendel.

“The professors I was close to always encouraged me,” Fishler said. “The writing program is an interesting little gem because it has so many professional and creative resources available to undergrads. The writing department doesn't just include creative writers, but professional writers as well.”

by Brian J. Bowe

This story was filed with the tags: Sustainability, Top Graduate School, Undergraduate Alumni