Meet Leigh Blaylock
NC State was a big part of Leigh Blaylock's upbringing. Her father, uncle, and brother are all NC State alumni – and the Blaylocks are all strong supporters of Wolfpack football! So, it was natural that Blaylock would put NC State at the top of her list when it came time to choose a college. She claims that while she visited other college campuses, ". . . no other college football stadium compared to Carter Finley." But she also needed to concentrate on academics!
Her college career at NC State began in 2002, where she eventually earned two Bachelor's degrees -- one in English and the other in Communication -- plus a minor in Journalism. In 2007, she was accepted into the graduate program in Technical Communication and graduated in May with her M.S. "As for selecting NC State again for graduate school, I loved and valued my undergraduate experience and wanted more," she said.
While earning her M.S., Blaylock honed her professional skills by becoming involved in several of the opportunities open to NC State graduate students -- Phi Kappa Phi, the NC State chapter of the Society of Technical Communication (STC), and the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) program, one of the components of the Graduate School's Preparing Future Leaders program. CoAT provides training, support, and recognition to graduate students who teach at NC State University.
Through CoAT, Blaylock learned the importance of incorporating technology in the classroom, as well as staying current with the latest technologies. She emphasizes, "We learned about the 'digital divide' and how instructors lose credibility when they cannot demonstrate technological proficiencies. While teaching as a graduate student, I wanted to ensure that I was respected and that I spoke the students' language."
Blaylock taught three "Communication for Engineering and Technology" (ENG 331) classes while a teaching assistant. She said that the most satisfying experience during this time was watching her students transform. "I got to witness 66 engineering students transform – some from quiet to collaborative, some from scared about the 'real-world' to better prepared for it, and some from hating writing to appreciating it."
To better prepare her students for the college-to-reality transition, Blaylock hosted an engineering panel that gave her students the opportunity to have their real-world questions answered by engineering professionals. Each of her course assignments had a direct, real-world application and to maintain students' interests, she allowed her students to choose their subjects. "It's about much more than teaching students about dangling modifiers and subject-verb agreement, it's about convincing them that writing matters and thus better preparing them for their careers."
Blaylock realizes that many graduate students have the additional responsibilities of being spouses, parents, and/or employees. So, her advice to other students is to absorb as much as possible from the graduate student experience. "Soak in the education, and if you cannot fully appreciate your classes and your experience, scale back your course load to make the most of your time at NC State."
Currently, Blaylock works in the Corporate Communications department at Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions.
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