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Alumni Spotlight: Anna Forrester and Jennifer Martin


Anna Forrester Head ShotAnna Forrester earned her PhD in May 2021. She is now the assistant editor at The New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE), the nation’s first born-digital state encyclopedia. 

What inspired you to become an English major?

In truth I became an English major more so out of necessity than by choice. At the University of Tennessee, my major was studio art until my junior year, when some nerve-related issues led me to lose partial control of my dominant hand, and I could no longer draw to fulfill my coursework. I changed my major to English because I adored the Shakespeare survey I was taking, and my professor was a huge advocate of my shifting needs and permitted me to incorporate creativity into my assignments. This isn’t a journey I often share, but it’s the one that happened, and I don’t wish it otherwise. I went on to fall in love with early modern literature, and after graduate school I’ve since found my way back to a creative world, too. I also now work in illustration, which feels both like a happy return and an extension of my academic background: I love working in monoline aesthetics, derivative of early modern woodcuts, and densely stylized maps, characteristic of seventeenth-century cartography.

What is a good memory you have of a UGA English class?

Picking just one is exceptionally difficult! A simple moment that was formative early on in my graduate study was an exchange with our beloved Dr. D. Her “Shakespeare, Media, and Appropriation” class was my very first seminar, and in the first week we had what felt like a month’s worth of reading compared to what I was accustomed to as an undergraduate. I devoured it! I remember feeling totally on fire yet totally overwhelmed. Those feelings must have registered plainly on my face in that second week of class, because Dr. D said “Forrester, you look totally lost. Did you know that’s the best place to be?”. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dr. D was telling we that there was a great intellectual worth in curiosity, uncertainty; to be lost was to ever be in a place to find. That exchange stuck with me as a motivator for finding my footing whenever I felt stuck in my work during my doctoral study.

How did the work you did as an English major prepare you for your career/life?

What feels most significant among all the lessons I learned from my English major is the skill of writing. Writing skills so often decide crucial opportunities for us, whether that be jobs, fellowships, graduate schools, or other markers of professionalization. For me, I was trained and encouraged by one professor in particular to study grant writing, cover letter writing, and writing for general audiences. That training led me to secure fellowships, awards, some financial security, and even creative opportunities later in my life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Writing is a skill that never ceases to be asked of us, whether that be in workspaces, social media spaces, or basic spaces of communication. And I think (and hope) English majors are better able to leverage that skill to see through some pretty cool opportunities.

What’s one of your favorite books?

Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers (2018) has stuck with me as the most memorable read of my adult life. The book unfolds around a queer community in Chicago during the AIDS crisis and explores how that tragedy shapes their lives as they search for meaning, goodness, resolution, and joy in its aftermath. It ticked my boxes.

What is the most recent book/short story/poetry you have read?

I recently finished Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (2022) by Gabrielle Zevin at the advice of a very trusted Avid worker. I am not and have never been a gamer, but there was and is a major appeal to me in the world-building side of playing games that, also as a creative, I am totally enthralled by (that and of course the Macbeth reference in the title!).



Jennifer Martin
Jennifer Martin and her daughter Yuki, a current UGA Bulldog

Jennifer Martin graduated from UGA with a Master's in English in 2011. Currently, she serves as an English instructor in a Title 1 High School - Peach County High.  She teaches American Literature, Advanced Placement, American Sign Language, and Journalism. Jennifer has been recognized as Star Teacher 2020, Donors Choose Recipient, "My Teachers Is Tops" on Channel 13, and is a Bright Ideas funding recipient. Her short story "The Notes Between Shalom" was recently published by Syncopation Literary Journal. 

What inspired you to become an English major?

When I was in ninth grade, my high school gifted English teacher--Thomas D. Orr--taught true critical thinking with the literature we read.  I encountered characters and questions that I never would have previously considered.  I fell in love with the possibilities and escapes that reading can provide. 

What is a good memory you have of a UGA English class? 

Dr. Reg McKnight treated me more like family than as a mere student. All these years later, I still attribute much of my success to Dr. McKnight; to say he was both supportive and inspirational would be an understatement.  

How did the work you did as an English major prepare you for your career/life?

Through my own professors, I learned different styles of teaching.  I also learned American Sign Language at UGA with Judi Oliver; I now teach that as well. 

What’s one of your favorite books? 

My favorite book is Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. 

What's the most recent book/short story/poetry you have read? 

I just finished Educated by Tara Westover.  It is riveting and shows that nonfiction reading is not just boring history and facts.  It also provides inspiration for teachers and lessons for parents.   



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