Hometown: New Milford, Conn.
Major: English Literature
WCSU Degree: Master of Arts, English
Internships: WCSU graduate assistant instructing undergraduate literature and writing classes, work in the campus Writing Lab tutoring students who need help with writing
Activities: Writing Lab tutor, graduate teaching assistant for undergraduate English, stage actor
Honors and Awards: 3.9 GPA; International English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta
Christopher Bolster majored in English as an undergraduate student at Albertus Magnus College and wanted to continue studying literature at the graduate level for two reasons: "I love studying English and I eventually wanted to get a job teaching English, and a Master of Arts seemed like a good step in that direction." Bolster says he loves every part of studying English: reading literature, reading criticism about literature, writing his criticism. "Every form of writing appeals to me, from the poem to the short story to the novel, and so does every historical period, from the ancient Greeks to the Victorians to the present day. But I love studying plays most of all, perhaps because I'm an amateur actor. I love the way that every aspect of our experience as humans can be stylistically represented on stage for the enjoyment of a live audience. That's what drama is all about."
There are many places Bolster could have pursued his master's degree, but he chose to study at Western. "WCSU offers a quality education at a reasonable price," he explains. "It's not too far from where I live, so I saved money by living at home as well."
Bolster says almost every professor who teaches graduate-level English at Western had an impact on his development. "Professor Usekes, as my thesis adviser, guided me through the most intellectually challenging work I've ever undertaken. Associate Professor Pruss, who supervised my duties as a graduate teaching assistant, helped me grow as a teacher immeasurably. I will count myself a successful teacher if I can bring even a fraction of her energy, passion, and wisdom to the classroom."
Asked what he will remember most about his Western experience, Bolster recalls an early-morning phone call he received. "I had just submitted my end-of-semester research paper for Dr. Pruss's Critical Theory class," Bolster recalls. "The next morning, my ringing phone woke me up, and it was Dr. Pruss. 'Listen carefully,' she said. 'This is almost an A paper, but you've failed to consider a few key points.' She went on to tell me exactly what I needed to do to improve my paper, while I sleepily took notes and tried to rouse myself into wakefulness. She concluded by telling me that I had to make these changes quickly, because grades were due at the end of the day. I never had a professor before who cared so much about my success. Once I fully woke up, I realized what a remarkable and inspiring experience that was."
Bolster also gained a great deal in his role as a G.A. "Working as a graduate assistant has been even better than a conventional internship," he says. It's real experience teaching at the college level, and I could do it while still a student in the graduate program." In between the two years he spent at WCSU, Bolster also traveled to South Korea, where he worked for one year as an English teacher for a private language academy called Chungdahm Learning.
After graduation, Bolster says, "I want to get a Ph.D. in English Literature, with a focus on dramatic literature. Eventually, I want to teach English at the university level. Before starting my Ph.D. studies, I may return to Asia to teach English at a university there."
Bolster’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Don't be a zombie! WCSU has amazing professors and opportunities at your disposal, so use them! Don't go through your first year on auto-pilot, and don't forget that you're at college to be educated, not just to get a piece of paper at the end. Engage with your work; engage with the faculty; just engage."