Elrick ’11M Pursues Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Communication and Information Design

July 28, 2012 Sarah Schwartz

Kathy Elrick ’11M was accepted to Clemson University’s Rhetoric, Communication and Information Design (RCID) Ph.D. program. She plans to teach on the University level, hoping to help students of all disciplines learn essential skills. “To succeed in anything, you have to figure out how to make an argument, how to negotiate, how to do all of the fundamental things you’ll learn in rhetoric," she says. "Rhetoric isn’t just based in some random thing Aristophanes said to Socrates—it’s everywhere.”

The Illinois native plans to teach on the University level and is excited about the opportunity to expand her methodologies in rhetoric, political studies, writing and more. She credits part of her success to her mentor, Dr. Richard Wertime, Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies in English and the Humanities. During her search for a graduate English program, Elrick knew she wanted a flexible program that would help to expand her writing skills and introduce her to the world of publishing. Out of eight different master’s programs, ranging from Brown University to Roosevelt College, she chose Arcadia.

“I’ve had nothing but good experiences at Arcadia,” says Elrick, a native of Illinois. “I got a call from Dr. Wertime—the first of the eight colleges to not only call me back but know my name,” says Elrick. “We scheduled an appointment to talk and he spent at least a half an hour if not an hour just shooting the breeze… He showed me that Arcadia is not only competent, it’s an institution that really cares.”

When Elrick moved to the Philadelphia area, unemployed and unfamiliar with the area, Wertime helped her secure a graduate assistantship with Professor of English Hugh Grady, as well as a part-time internship with the publisher Taylor and Francis. “He’s been an amazing advocate,” she says.

Wertime’s advice led Elrick to travel beyond the Philadelphia area. He encouraged Elrick to polish off her master’s degree through Arcadia’s Scottish Universities' International Summer School at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The combination of workshops and seminars on modernism and creative writing were demanding but proved to be a highlight of her academic career.

“[Modernism] required you to read a book a day—it was pretty intense,” she says, adding with a wink that she found extra writing inspiration from the genuine kilts, bagpipes and local fare. During her residency, Elrick traveled to Aberdeen and followed the notorious “Whiskey Trail.” Additionally, she participated in the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe Festival and the International Book Festival, which coincided with her program dates.

Elrick simultaneously earned a Master of Arts in English from Arcadia University and Master of Science in Political Science (Politics & Government) from Illinois State University (ISU). “If I remember correctly, I defended my ISU thesis through Skype a week before presenting my English thesis at Arcadia.” Elrick also earned a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from ISU.

With this sort of background, Elrick seems destined for the campaign trail. Already she’s been on the front lines of several political campaigns, most notably working with Jason Wallace, the Green Party candidate for the 11th congressional district in 2008. At just 26 years old, the veteran from Illinois won 7 percent of the vote while spending a fraction in campaign costs compared to his Republican and Democratic opposition. Elrick also met and spoke with President Barack Obama in 2004 when he was Senator-Elect.

Though she's not involved in a current political campaign, Elrick remains civically active. “I personally feel that the most help anyone could ever give is on a very personal and local level,” she says. “I’m very big on people investing in their communities.”

It is Elrick’s personal mission to connect with members of local communities to discuss sustainable economics. “It’s especially important now in this time of great need, when people are out of work and don’t have expendable income,” she says. “You can improve their overall quality of life if you can teach them how to farm from their backyards, or how to make a piece of clothing function in a different way—how are you going to use what you already have most effectively? We focus so much on the things that we don’t have, on the money we don’t have, but we have access to so many untapped resources.”

alumnicollege of arts and sciencescreative writingenglishinternshipsthe college of global studies