Catherine Hackney
English Major (Literature) with a Business Administration Minor
Graduated Cum Laude May 2012


Why did you choose to study English at CSU?

My sister went to CSU seven years before me. When I was in middle school and high school I was able to visit her in Fort Collins with my parents and quickly realized how beautiful and full of opportunities the city was. Then as I got closer to the age of applying to universities, my parents told me to choose a major that I would enjoy and not to worry about what kind of paycheck it would get me when I graduate. That way studying was not a chore. I took their advice and loved every minute of my time at CSU and in Fort Collins. And learned the income really does follow when you are doing what you enjoy.

Where are you now? What are you doing?

I currently work in the Denver Tech Center at Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), a national professional association for medical administrators. I have been with MGMA for about a year. I began in an assistant role but was promoted after just a few months to Membership Engagement Coordinator. In my position I act as liaison between MGMA and state affiliates across all 50 states, including over 100 local affiliates. My work with the MGMA affiliates ensures that they have the resources to do all that they can do to help further the medical practice management profession. I help in planning conferences where members and nonmembers of MGMA come to learn practical leadership and job skills. Also, I assist in managing an online networking community where over 9,000 members are active.

How did your major prepare you for the work, the life you have now?

English literature turned out to be the best major I could have chosen. As an English major I was allowed a large number of elective classes, which I took advantage of. Simply by majoring in English, I believe a person is taught how to be a critical thinker, well-rounded, and best of all, you are taught how to learn. My ability to enter a new environment and learn new skills is really the best asset I have, not just at my job, but for life in general. So many doors are open to me that I can choose and change my path as I desire.

Please share a favorite memory from your time with the English Department.

My favorite memory with the English Department was when I was a sophomore sitting in Professor SueEllen Campbell’s office feeling uncertain if I had chosen the best major for me because I was struggling to understand the theory being taught in her class. Professor Campbell talked to me about the possibilities that come along with an English degree, then I remember mentioning that I had read Paradise Lost on my own the winter before and she said, in that case, I was exactly where I should be. And she was right. I never again questioned my decision and am very thankful for the support and guidance that I received in the English Department.

Was there a specific class, professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you, helped you, or inspired you when you were here?

Professor Barbara Sebek. Professor Sebek was endlessly enthusiastic and challenging, bringing out the best in her students. I intentionally took a number of classes with her because of her energy and her ability to get me to appreciate writing that I did not previously understand (such as Shakespeare – not my personal favorite, but I have a true appreciation for him now). She was always encouraging, helpful, and available for her students.

Tell us about the internship you did while at CSU.

While at CSU I completed two internships. I completed a third the summer after graduation. First, I worked on, what was called at the time, the “A” literary journal. “A” showcased student writings and art and was published by the English Department. This internship lasted the duration of my junior year. For the literary journal we submitted our resumes and the advisor chose which position each person would have. I was given the job of overseeing advertising and fundraising. I was hoping for a more editorial position, but was not disappointed in my experience with the business side of producing a journal, and was happy to be able to also help with editing and layout.

During my second internship, with Wolverine Farm Inc. I was able to explore my journalism skills. Wolverine Farm produces a quarterly Fort Collins community newspaper and regular literary journals. This publisher is a nonprofit that receives funding from grants and from revenue generated by a used bookstore in the back of a local coffee shop. While working here I worked in the bookstore, interviewed members of the community for newspaper articles, and helped to select and edit submissions for the literary journal. This was a very unique and fulfilling experience.

Finally, just after graduation and immediately following my time with Wolverine Farm Inc. I began a paid summer internship with Interweave. Interweave is a publisher of do-it-yourself/craft magazines and eBooks. At Interweave I did a number of different tasks for the jewelry team. I was a proofreader, a mail clerk, social media poster, and organization specialist. I created reports, wrote material descriptions, acted as customer service rep for contributors of jewelry submissions, and even got to make some of the jewelry myself. I enjoyed my time with Interweave so much, it showed in my work, and I was asked to stay a few months longer than the regular internship term.

What did you learn from your internship experience? Did your internship impact where you are now?

I would say that each of my internships has impacted each job I’ve held since I completed them, including the internship that came next. Each one was similar due to my interest in publishing, but each taught me very different skills that carry over into my current position. Even though I am not working in publishing as I thought I would, I am with an organization that I had never even considered in the past. And I know that the skills I learned while at CSU and in my internships have helped me shine at work. Also, I know my internships helped me to realize my love of working for an organization with an admirable mission. As long as I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I will love going to work in the morning.

What advice do you have for other students doing an internship?

The best thing you can do is complete an internship while you are a student. Once you graduate, it gets much tougher. Kudos to you for being on the right track! CSU has so many resources to help get you into a great internship. Use those resources to their fullest extent! There is no way for an internship to be a waste of time. All it does is help you grow in your career and looks great on a resume. You might even be lucky enough to be hired after the internship.

Why is it important to study the Humanities?

The humanities are important to keep alive because without them, there would be very little progress or creative thought in the world. To continue moving forward as a species, we have to learn to be multifaceted learners, understand the past, and open our minds to possibilities for the future. Without the humanities the world would be rather stagnant, and not a very fun place to live.

What advice do you have for CSU English Department students?

You chose a good major. Now to find out what you want to do with it. English majors do not only have to become professors and writers (as everyone assumed I wanted to be when I would say I am an English major). I have held positions where I worked with grant writing, television commercials, magazine publishing, healthcare, big corporations, smaller nonprofits. There is a whole world full of interesting careers to consider for which an English major is ideal. An internship (or several) is a great way to explore and find a path that fits you best.

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I enjoy reading fictional novels and ancient epics every once in a while. I also love to ride my bike on the Cherry Creek and Highline trails, hike or snowshoe in the mountains, and attend every Oktoberfest our state has to offer!

 Any other news you’d like to share with us?

I just bought my very first home. It’s a small but fitting condo near my current place of work. The process has been an exhilarating step for me to explore my maturity, independence, and freedom. I wouldn’t be where I am now in life, three years after graduating from college, if I hadn’t taken complete advantage of all the opportunities that CSU has to offer.

If you are a current student interested in learning more about internship opportunities, please contact Mary Hickey, English Department Internship Coordinator, at for more information.