Mary Elizabeth Allen

Display Date
August 26, 2020
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Mary Elizabeth Allen

Mary E. Allen is a seventh-year PhD student in the Department of French in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Mary’s dissertation explores the 1699 marriage proposal of Mouley Ismaël, King of Morocco, for Marie-Anne de Bourbon, Princesse de Conti, a daughter of the French King, Louis XIV. Her dissertation research offers readers a social and historical study of a marriage proposal that crossed cultural, linguistic, religious, and geographic boundaries, a proposal oft compared with the stories of One Thousand and One Nights.

Mary was a PhD Plus intern in the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach at the University of Virginia in 2018-2019 under the mentorship of Louis P. Nelson, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach.

What is your post-PhD career aspiration?

I plan to continue my career in research and teaching in a liberal arts college or public university.

How would you summarize your PhD Plus internship?

I applied for this PhD Plus internship because I was very drawn to the work and mission of the Academic Outreach Office at UVA. This team strives to strengthen UVA’s relationships with our local community and our partners around the world. They are bridging divides that exist all too often between institutions of higher learning and their local communities.

 The work of the office of Academic Outreach supports a thriving community and democracy. During my time in the office, I had some particular duties, such as maintaining the Engaged UVA website that documents community engagement activities across the university. I also attended Professor Louis Nelson’s excellent course on theories of community engagement. I regularly contributed to the shared work of the office, offering my ideas, and working on different short-term projects, as they arose. To that end, I attended weekly meetings to stay abreast of my colleague’s work, and we worked through any number of questions as a team. Thanks to my internship in the Office of Academic Outreach, and the mentorship of Vice Provost Louis Nelson, I learned a lot about the history of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. This opportunity enabled me to think deeply about the necessary considerations to build healthy and mutually beneficial relationships between universities and communities.

What professional skills did you develop during your internship?

I learned to use Drupal (a digital platform for building websites), as I managed the University’s Engaged UVA website. I also developed a communications strategy for Vice Provost’s office so that we could manage communications between the office and the many “engaged” faculty collaborators and university partners. I gained insight into the processes involved in higher education administration, and I learned about community engagement theory and practice at UVA and other institutions. I learned about the university’s work towards equity and creating collaborations that are mutually beneficial for all involved.

How has this internship assisted your career preparation?

The skills and experience I have gained are transferrable to a number of careers. For the moment, I hope to find a faculty position, and I’m confident that my experiences will be relevant to the diverse work within departments: service, administration,  and teaching.

What advice would you give peers on utilizing PhD Plus internships for career development?
This is a tremendous opportunity to stand out as a highly motivated and diverse candidate. I am delighted UVA is offering graduate students this kind of opportunity.   The skills and experience gained from this type of learning are indispensable, and I am sure you will find the PhD Plus internship to be beneficial in your professional development for diverse career aspirations.  

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