Second-year English student details her student assistantship at Acadia


Abby's work in process

Second-year English major Abby Secord has always wanted to work closely with professors, and through the student assistantship program at Acadia, she’s been able to do this.  Abby is currently working with Dr. Richard Cunningham on a Digital Humanities research project, transcribing classic pieces of literature, such as John Milton’s Paradise Lost to help create a website. This website will enhance learning experiences and make research more accessible for students.

Abby explains there’s several steps to the project’s process, “I have access to a scanned version of the first edition of Paradise Lostand I’m taking it line by line and turning it into a Word document, as accurately as possible. Then, we are taking what I type up and putting it into code so that it can be a website accessible version.”

Transcribing and turning literary material into website content could redefine how classic pieces of literature are taught and studied.

“When studying a long piece of literature like Paradise Lost, you often have to read the entire poem in order to find certain quotes,” she says. “But because this is a searchable typed version on the website, people will be able search up key words and it’s so much easier for students and other people to use as references.”

Before enlisting Abby’s help, Dr. Cunningham had already worked on transcribing the second edition of Paradise Lostinto its Web version and now with Abby’s help, when the website is completed, people will be able to access the first and second editions to easily compare and contrast them.

For Abby, having the opportunity to assist her professor directly has been ideal because gaining hands-on experience was always her priority when searching for universities. She was pleased to find out student assistantships were an option for her at Acadia.

“I asked about this at an Acadia open house. They assured me student assistantships were an option at an undergraduate level,” she says. “It was great news because usually you get this kind of experience once you’re a graduate student”

Having access to opportunities like these has allowed her to learn more about her future career choices at an early stage of her studies and see what her field of study has to offer once she graduates.

“I know the kind of work I can do in my field now because I’ve worked on it directly,” she says. “I didn’t have to wait to complete a Bachelors’ degree to find out.”

Learn more about our Acadia’s English department here.


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