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Two Degrees and Counting

When Shawna Partridge first came to Algoma University in the fall of 2008, she was unsure about her future path. However, in only three years’ time, her growing passion and interest in writing and literature made clear her bright and brilliant future in English Literature. Two years after graduating in 2011, Partridge continues to explore her talents with words and phrases. Today, she is preparing herself mentally for her third degree, her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, which she will begin in the fall of 2013.

Partridge is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, and graduated from White Pines Collegiate and Vocational School in 2006. After graduating from high school, Partridge attended Sault College of Applied Arts and Technology for a two year diploma in Liberal Studies, General Arts and Science. Graduating with distinction from the program, Partridge after came to the University for three years before graduating with a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in English, cum laude. While at the University, she became an avid writer, learning about her talents with words and phrases, something that was unbeknownst to herself.

In the course of her three years at the University, Partridge became well-known around campus for her creative thought process, unique writing style, and contributions to the Department of English. She volunteered as a Copy Editor in her last semester, editing the University’s literary journal and anthology Algoma Ink: Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. Her works were also later showcased, including her short story “All for the Love of Music”, and her poem titled “No Again, Itsy-Bitsy Spider”. Her passion for writing flourished, and was widely recognised by professors and students in her courses, including the Gothic Novel, Canadian Literature, Creative Writing, and the Nineteenth-Century Novel. Aside from becoming published in her undergraduate degree, Partridge also regularly attended semi-annual poetry readings at the University, providing captive audiences with dramatic readings of her latest works of art. “Being able to get involved at the University as an editor and with poetry readings really helped me become a much more mature and confident speaker and writer. I was able to find my own voice and my own personal writing style,” Partridge adds. “I know at a bigger university my writing would not have improved as drastically as it has.”

Partridge decided to pursue a Master of Arts in English. With the help of various professors, including Assistant Professor Dr. Michael DiSanto, Associate Professor and Chair Dr. Linda Burnett, and Assistant Professor Dr. Alanna Bondar, Partridge applied to graduate programs at universities across Canada, and for various scholarships and grants to fund her continued education. “I am so thankful for all the help I have received from the University, especially from the professors in English. They have written countless personal letters of references for me, continue to edit my work, and help me craft applications. I think Dr. DiSanto and Dr. Burnett have written over 10 letters each now for me! And I have Dr. Bondar to thank for reenergising my passion of creative writing.”

Although the process took several months and added onto her already hectic full-time student schedule, Partridge was successfully accepted into graduate programs, and later became one of the University’s first students to win Canada’s most prestigious Master’s level scholarship, the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, more commonly known as SSHRC. And this was only the beginning of her success. Once having accepted her offer at Queen’s University, which included a paid position as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Partridge won countless other awards, including the prestigious Jim Gibson English Award from Algoma University, and the Department of English Entrance Award and the Tri-Council Recipient Recognition Award from Queen’s University.

Within one year, Partridge successfully finished her Master’s degree, and began planning her next goal: completing her Masters in Creative Writing. This year, Partridge gained acceptance into her top choice of school, the University of Windsor, where she will complete her degree over the next two years. The degree will culminate with a final writing project in which Partridge will craft a postmodern, literary adaption of the conventional travel narrative, which will focus on Sault Ste. Marie. Partridge has also been given a paid Graduate Teaching Assistant position for this degree, and has won another prestigious award, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS). Partridge’s studies at the University of Windsor will help her reach her long-term goal of become a novelist.

Today, Partridge is often spotted around campus. She has recently finished taking two courses at the University in French to help with her upcoming degree. She is also often found in the library, surrounded by countless literary titles. A self-acclaimed book worm, who “reads like crazy,” she says with a laugh, Partridge is currently reading M. M. Bakhtin’s The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. It is just one of the hundreds of books on her to read list over the coming months, before setting off to Windsor for the next leg of her learning.

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