Current Featured Student

Sara Morby is a seasoned M.A. student who is approaching graduation here at UAlbany. She transferred here as an undergraduate to follow her heart and pursue her passion for English literature. She acknowledges, “I know that English won’t make me the most money.  But it’s fun to talk about things you’re interested in, like authors and language. You can get a lot of jobs just knowing how to write.”

Morby has been actively involved with extracurricular activities at UAlbany. “When I was an undergrad I did Sigma Tau Delta (English honor society).  I also did the transfer students’ honor society, and a transfer mentor program.” She is enthusiastic about networking and says, “It’s always good to reach out and get to know more people at the school.” One thing that Ms. Morby is sure of is that she wants to make a difference in the world. She takes pride in her activism: “I do a lot of volunteer work for the center for law and justice… that’s what I’m most proud of.” She says with conviction: “I want to do something with social justice and get involved with a non-profit group.”

Sara attests that the greatest challenge for grad students is trying to find a balance with the significant workload, especially while trying to keep a job and make money outside of the classroom. Everyone handles the stress differently, and there is no set-in-stone method of time management. Sara says that taking breaks periodically helps her to overcome mental barriers and rejuvenates her creative process. She acknowledges, “I think it’s good to walk away from your work at some point, if you’re really struggling just take a break. Whether it’s going for a walk or taking a shower. Just release all of that from your head. Then you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Because if you just sit there and stare at your computer, you’re never going to get anything done.” Sara emphasized the vast importance of time management in graduate school. She tries her best to budget time by utilizing a planner and a daily agenda. She stresses that “knowing what you’re going to do every day” is crucial, but realizes that things do not always go according to plan. Nevertheless, Sara tries to be proactive and leave herself some breathing room to prevent last-minute scrambling: “Planning out the weeks is the easiest way to keep on track for me; instead of waiting till the last minute, which is hard because even when I plan it out things never go as planned.”

Sara gives credit to the faculty members for helping her all along the way. “The faculty’s great, I don’t have any complaints. Everyone’s really supportive…they understand that you’re taking multiple classes. You’re working. You’re stressed…I’ve had a lot of teachers that were there to help.” A deeply influential faculty member that has shaped her graduate experience is Professor Helen Elam. Sara is currently taking her fifth class with Professor Elam, in which her project focuses on the use of failure in Kafka’s work: “I feel like every writer has that struggle, feeling like everything they write is basically crap, but people find it genius when they read it now and say ‘Oh my gosh, they’re brilliant’ but at the time they wrote it they thought it was crap” Professor Elam’s comprehensive background on Kafka left a profound impression on Sara and roused her critical intrigue. “Kafka expresses otherness… in such an eloquent way… I think we all struggle with that, as students, as people— feeling like you don’t fit in…like you’re not good enough…Feeling like you should be something else that you’re not—the life struggle.” Sara is fascinated by Kafka’s expressions of strangeness and alterity that connect with the struggle of humanity.

When asked what world problem she would solve, Sara said she would change people’s distorted sense of motivation. “We’re all sort of driven towards superficial things. I don’t how I would change that but it’s a shame that everyone just lives for temporary fulfillment. When you’re 90 years old and sitting on your deathbed you’re not really going to care about these stupid trivial things. I think our generation is so absorbed with these really trivial things and that’s what I’d want to see changed.” She realizes that the most important ‘things’ in life are not things at all. Her intellectual growth at UAlbany is an experience that cannot be attached to a price tag and transcends the material world. Sara asserts that embracing one’s true sense of self is a much more meaningful existence than keeping up a skin-deep façade, which is not particularly rewarding in the long run.

She advises future M.A. students in English to come here with a good idea of what they want to do.  She urges them to consider a specific area of focus so they have something to work towards: “I wish that I came into grad school with more of a plan, but I didn’t. Try to find something you’re interested in as early on as you can...Think about your master’s thesis and the kind of scholarship that you really want to work towards. It’s not good to wait until the last minute like I did…Grad school goes by really fast… Think about what classes you’ll be taking ahead of time. That’s my best advice.” Thanks Sara, and best wishes as you finish up your Master’s degree.