Meet Kelli Pryor, US Army Officer currently teaching English composition and literature at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She earned an M.A. in English Literature from NC State in 2021, as part of the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling Program. She is also a contributor to an ongoing research project, led by Dr. Jason Miller, called Backlash Blues: Nina Simone & Langston Hughes.
How did you learn about our program?
When given the opportunity to attend graduate school through the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program, it was most important to me that I give my family some stability for the next two years. We were interested in being near family, so I looked at schools between Virginia and South Carolina. NC State became an easy decision based on the courses offered and the support I received from staff during the application process. Pryor says she’s enjoyed studying Shakespeare during her time at NC State.
What was your experience during your first semester in the program?
I applied to NC State while I was deployed to the Middle East. Needless to say, it was difficult not only to find time to complete the application but also to call or email, based on the time difference. The NC State English department staff were extremely responsive. They never took more than 24 hours to respond and were even able to help me register for class, when I was having connectivity issues.
Transitioning from my last duty station was very difficult, but starting school was a welcomed change of pace. Having been out of the academic setting since I received my bachelor’s degree in 2011, I was nervous to start class that fall. When classes started, I immediately felt at home in all three of my courses. The professors were eager to answer questions, and they provided clear guidance for what they expect.
What advice would you share with active military students considering this program?
My best advice is to think about how you want to spend the next couple of years. You’ve already proven that you can rise to a professional challenge. You can do the same in an academic setting at NC State, with a faculty and staff that care about you and your family.
How were you able to fund the cost of attending and completing this program? Also, after graduating, what are you planning to do and how do you plan to apply your degree?
I was a part of the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program. This is a program that Army Officers are able to apply to, in exchange for an additional service obligation. Upon successful completion of my M.A. in English, I am now teaching English composition and literature at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
What topics have interested you at NC State?
I really enjoy Shakespeare! I hadn’t read much Shakespeare since high school, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the class. I hope to continue learning about not only Shakespeare but more of the Renaissance genre of literature. Aside from actual studying, the campus gym was awesome! Fitness is so important to service members, so if you do attend NC State, you will certainly be able to stay in shape.
What surprised you most about living in North Carolina?
I am actually surprised at how small the city of Raleigh began to feel after only a couple of months of being there. It’s the capital of North Carolina, but you will not feel lost in the shuffle. After only a semester of being there, I would see people that I knew at church, at the grocery store, and even at the gym. It really felt like home.
What is your favorite restaurant in the Triangle?
I’m vegan so this is hard! Sitti is a great choice. I also love Fiction Kitchen. I was most excited to finally live near a Trader Joes. You don’t see many of them in military towns!