New Master of Arts in Languages and Cultures

Graduate Studies

West Chester University


Brian Pakpour, Master of Arts Degree in Philosophy

Brian Pakpour

Law school can be a bewildering experience coming straight out of college. The quantity of material you must read, digest and comprehend, combined with the large quantity of writing you must do, adds up pretty quickly. Fortunately, I began my legal career by obtaining my Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from West Chester University. Every substantive legal course begins by learning the foundations of the area of law one is about to study and that foundation inevitably borrows from the philosophers I studied as a graduate student at WCU. When taking a law school exam, or writing a legal brief, you'll find that, while professors give points for knowing what the law is, they give far more for knowing why the law is what it is. That is because the most difficult issues on those exams, and the ones for which professors give the most points, are those issues where the law is not really clear. In that case, the only tool the student has left in his arsenal is the policy supporting the law in question. Delivering a cohesive answer that draws from that policy and the consequences of it is the difference between good grades and great ones, between getting on law review and not, between getting a top job or scrambling for what you can get.

Beginning my law career right after receiving my MA from WCU gave me a head start that has been instrumental in receiving the top grade in several classes, making law review, making honors moot court, and discussing the law in an intelligent way with judges during moot court competitions. You cannot get a better head start on a law career than first learning where the law comes from. Today, I am finishing my second year at Santa Clara University of Law and rarely a day goes by when I don't find myself drawing on Kant, Nietzsche, Spinoza or Aristotle for wisdom on a murky matter. None of them provide automatic answers. But they and the professors at WCU supply you with the tools to find them on your own!

David Mytych, Masters in Social Work (MSW)

David Mytych

David Mytych is a full-time graduate student pursuing a Masters in Social Work (MSW) here at West Chester University. He is currently in his second year of study and will be graduating in May, 2011.

While enrolled in the MSW Program, David has been given the opportunity to participate in multiple field practicum experiences that have allowed him to hone his skills related to working with different age groups and people of different backgrounds. Last year, his placement was at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern PA and this year his placement is at Seasons Hospice based out of King of Prussia, PA. David mentions that, "The ability for West Chester University to find exciting and desirable field practicum experiences is one of the highlights of the program. The chance to practice what you learn in the classroom is crucial to becoming a competent social work professional and the MSW program here at West Chester allows me to do this."

His main interest within the social work field is working on a larger, macro-level international scale. One day he hopes to find a position with Amnesty International, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), or the International Rescue Committee. However, for the time being, David will be focusing on finding work closer to home here in the Tri-State area.

Sal Alfano, Master's of Social Work


Sal Alfano is a graduate of West Chester University's Graduate Social Work Program, earning his Master's of Social Work in 2007. After graduation, he took a position as a Clinical Therapist at St. Gabriel's Hall, a residential treatment facility in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. While at St. Gabriel's Hall, Sal completed a post-graduate certificate program in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine under the direction of Dr. Arthur Freeman. Sal also earned his License in Clinical Social Work during his tenure at the Hall.

Sal is the new Clinical Coordinator of Family Based Mental Health Services at Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems. Sal maintains an office in Holcomb's Kennett Square and Exton, Pennsylvania locations. Sal and his teams of clinicians provide intensive, in-home and in-community individual and family therapy from an eco-systemic perspective to diverse populations throughout Chester County. Sal also sees clients at a private practice in West Chester in order that he might continue to develop his direct practice clinical skills.

Sal maintains that West Chester University was an important part of his professional development and is pleased to again work with Chester County residents. "West Chester truly prepared me for a career in community mental health. The classes were well taught and relevant."

"Perhaps most importantly, the professors were themselves individuals who had worked in advocacy, community organizing, teaching, research and direct practice. In effect, these are real social workers teaching their craft to future generations of social workers. All of this at an attractive price point makes West Chester a unique value among institutions of higher learning in the Delaware Valley."

Bradley J. Nichols, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Bradley J. Nichols

My name is Brad Nichols, and I am recent graduate of West Chester University. I received my MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies last winter, and am currently a Ph.D. student in the history program at the University of Tennessee. From my personal experience, I can say that the graduate program at West Chester provides a unique opportunity for students seeking further education after their undergraduate years, particularly for young scholars pursuing degrees in history and the study of genocide and the Holocaust. For the latter, I strongly recommend the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program run by Professor Jonathan Friedman, a mentor who provided me with inestimable wisdom on historical scholarship and professional advancement in his capacity as my thesis advisor.

My time at West Chester University was marked in general by intellectual stimulation and academic-professional training. Faculty and administration were extremely helpful, offering a congenial and collaborative atmosphere within which to engage my scholastic pursuits. Without the experience and expertise gained at West Chester, I would not be on track to obtain a Ph.D. in Modern German History and achieve my goal of becoming a university professor.

Todd Clay Soronen, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Todd Clay Soronen

While doing research for a class in 'Race and Racism' as part of my Masters degree at Pepperdine University, I became aware of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies graduate program at West Chester University. The program intrigued me, so I made a trip across the country to visit the campus. After meeting with Dr. Friedman and visiting some of the nearby sites, I decided to move from my home in Los Angeles and transfer to WCU.

Why you might ask? First of all, I found the campus and village of West Chester to be quite charming. The program itself was exactly what I was looking for. I liked the structure, which balances depth in Holocaust and Genocide core courses with support classes in other disciplines such as Psychology and Literature, as well as more topical Holocaust seminars like 'American Perspectives on the Holocaust'.

My first course at WCU was actually a field studies course that focused on the plight of the Jews of Thessaloniki that involved a week long trip to Greece and Poland. Visiting sites like Auschwitz, Plaszow, Krakow's old Jewish quarter, and many other sites left a tremendous impact on my fellow colleagues and me.

The following term when I started my studies on campus, I quickly discovered three additional strengths of the program. For starters, I found my fellow students to be extremely friendly and helpful which was especially important to me being an older out-of-town student. In addition, the faculty is awesome... Dr. Friedman is absolutely superb as an instructor and adviser. The other professors that I have worked with, such as Dr. Hewitt, are top-notch scholars who are dedicated to graduate teaching and professionalization. They all gave freely of their time and advice, helping me with research ideas and ways to prepare myself for finding a Holocaust field related job. Another strength is that the graduate student body enhances the formal structure. Although the program is relatively small in numbers, my colleagues had a variety of ideas and approaches to history and all were able to share their thoughts in respectful discussions. West Chester has been great, and I am glad I continued my studies here.

Grace Hunt Watkinson, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Grace Hunt Watkinson

I started graduate school here in the fall of 2008 after graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in History. I am currently enrolled in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program and hope to graduate Christmas of 2010 with my masters degree. I was initially very skiddish about coming to West Chester. I had wanted to move up north for a while, having lived in the rural south all of my life, and fortunately the experience has proved life changing. The people at West Chester, in particular my fellow graduate students, have become some of my dearest friends, even if they are" yankees".

I am currently working towards getting a specialization in Native American genocide and will soon be starting my thesis examining the role of Civil War generals in Indian War massacres. So far my educational experiences at West Chester as a graduate student have proved to be both educationally stimulating as well as much more relaxing than at my previous university. As I move on in the next couple of years towards my PHD I will certainly miss West Chester University, but I am grateful for the experiences and intellectual enrichment that this place has provided me.

Phil Holtje, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Phil Holtje

Phil Holtje is a Holocaust and Genocide Studies student. He is currently in his second year and is looking forward to moving on and obtaining a position at a Holocaust Museum in the Education department creating curriculums for high school teachers. He is specifically interested in the medical experiments that were conducted on concentration camp inmates and also in the medical ethics debate surrounding the use of the medical results in our medical field today.

"The biggest thing I have enjoyed about the program is the comprehensive classes offered by a variety of departments. I've taken everything from psychology to education to philosophy classes."

He is currently working at the Holocaust Awareness Museum in Philadelphia as the webmaster but is also involved in developing curriculums for Philadelphia teachers. He will be graduating in May 2010.

My name is Rosalind Mayo. I graduated from West Chester University with a M.A. in Communicative Disorders in August of 2011. I made a career change in mid life, and sacrificed a lot to do it. I sold my home and left an established career that was lucrative but not rewarding. Because I was a non-traditional student with limited resources, I had a lot riding on the decisions I made along the way. One of the most important decisions was choosing the right school. Fortunately, I was enrolled at West Chester University to complete the 30 credits I needed to apply for graduate school. Hence, I had the opportunity to become familiar with the faculty, the program, and the culture at WCU, which made my decision easier.

West Chester University's Department of Communicative Disorders fulfilled all of the criteria I had for selecting a school. Small class size was very important to me because I wanted a learning environment that provided opportunities to build relationships and share experiences with the faculty as well as with my fellow students. My experience as a student at WCU surpassed my expectations. Working on teams allowed students to maximize strengths and learn from each other along the way. From the faculty of WCU's Dept of Communicative Disorders, I received enthusiastic support and encouragement that helped me to believe in myself and develop confidence in my new skills.

An on-site clinic was another feature that was critical because I wanted my first clinical experiences to be with instructors and supervisors who knew my strengths and weaknesses and would help me develop professionally. As students at WCU, our first clinical experiences were structured to help us develop the skills to manage a case from beginning to end--from researching clients' conditions to developing treatment plans and writing progress reports. The experience gained in this structured setting prepares students to be successful at their school-based and hospital-based affiliations.

I wanted the school I chose to provide opportunities to network and build professional relationships with working professionals in the area. Again, WCU surpassed my expectations. Faculty and instructors represent a variety of specialty and interest areas working with adults and children, and school based or medically based practice. I was particularly interested in pursuing a medically oriented career. I had the good fortune to establish relationships with professors and instructors who guided my education and whom I still call when I have a question.

Finally, I wanted to be employable when I graduated. Again, my expectations were surpassed. I was hired in a medical setting almost immediately after completing my coursework. As a graduate, you hope to start your first job ready to learn how to be a therapist. With my degree from WCU I feel ready. My M.A. in Communicative Disorders gave me the foundation in theory I need to understand the disorders and the ability to do the research required to find solutions and treatment options. I'm still learning, but I now have a career that is both lucrative and rewarding.