Erika Renae Keith ’08
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My Story

Erika graduated with a BA in English in 2008. She started her college career as a journalism major at another university, but she realized it wasn’t the right path for her. After taking some courses at home in Connecticut, she fell in love with English and transferred to Northeastern to pursue her degree. Erika has gone on to forge a career in the non-profit sector.

Here is Erika’s Northeastern story…

“One of the things I loved about Northeastern is … it’s such a big school, but the English department is smaller. … For me, I had that experience of being able to be in these smaller classes where you get more focus from the professors, and you have relationships with your professors…. It felt like it was just the best of both worlds.”

My Path
Why English?

For Erika, Northeastern’s focus on applying classroom learning to the real world was remarkable. As an English major, she felt that the integration of real-life skills and more traditional textbook learning prepared her for the working world.

“It is really very simple. I love to read. I love to write. I wanted to be doing that all of the time.”

Transformational Coursework

“I just had amazing professors. I had really strong, smart teachers…lots of women professors who really showed me how you could apply having an English background in a lot of different ways. They’re all teaching, and on the side they’re doing lots of other things that are really fascinating and interesting.

“So I think that having those role models was really huge, and I feel like I made relationships with my professors and connections with my professors that I will always cherish and that was really unique as well.”

Snell Library's group study space. Photo credit: Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University
Experiential Learning

An experiential education course taught by Professor Beth Britt was a formative experience for her. In the course, Erika worked with a small group on creating an ethnographic study of married young people, which gave her the opportunity to collect data and construct a coherent argument from her primary research. She has found the skills she developed in this course to be essential to her jobs since graduating.

Next Steps

After graduating, Erika became an AmeriCorps volunteer in Boston, working for a nonprofit providing gender-specific mentoring for young girls. The experience instilled a passion for social justice work, and she specifically sought out jobs that would allow her to do similar work.

Degree in Motion

Erika moved on to Planned Parenthood of New York City, where her responsibilities are varied and diverse. Her communications-heavy position involves managing three boards, developing communications materials, organizing and running events, and interfacing with supporters, board members, and donors.

In addition, Erika handles marketing, communications, and graphic and web design for her mother’s organic farm and takes continuing education courses in graphic design at Parsons School of Design.

“I realized that working at this healthcare organization, I could do the communications work that I love. I could use my writing skills. I could use the creative side of my brain but in a place where it’s allowing me to advocate for things that I believe in, so fully. That’s who I am.”

Erika’s interview is part of a series produced and edited by Sebastian Alberdi, Elizabeth Kennedy, Elana Plimack, and Maxwell Jackson, with assistance from Chelsey Meyer, for Spring 2016 ENGL 2740: Writing and Community Engagement, taught by Dr. Ellen Cushman, Northeastern University’s CSSH Dean’s Professor of Civic Sustainability; Professor of English; Director, Civic Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives.

This was Erika's NU Pathway... Where will yours lead?

Northeastern Department of English

Photo credit: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University