“One of my colleagues said that UTPB is like a private university with the tuition of a public university. And that sort of encapsulates the value of UTPB.” – Dr. Sophia Andres, English MA program director and faculty  

As program director and a professor for The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online Master of Arts in English and undergraduate English program, Dr. Sophia Andres maintains a tight schedule. Her enthusiasm for her work is such that she gladly made time to discuss topics ranging from the role mythology played in influencing her career choice, to the key advantage of our “small” university, and the unique aspect of our MA in English program that offers tremendous flexibility. 

A Personal Legend and Mythological Motivations 

We started our discussion with Dr. Andres by asking how she became interested in teaching. “Since I was a child, I was an avid reader,” she explained. “And as I progressed through the different degrees, it was just inadequate. I mean, everybody was celebrating when they got their BA, and I thought, so what? And then the same thing happened to me when I got the MA. And then when I got my PhD, and had two kids in the process, I thought, okay, that’s it. I can write on my own. And I can teach on my own. I always had a clear vision of what I wanted to do with my life. And that was what [novelist] Paulo Coelho says [is] your ‘personal legend,’ and [teaching] was my legend from the very beginning.” 

As our conversation continued, Dr. Andres revealed more personal motivations for her career choice: “I was born and raised in Greece. And this is one of the reasons that I teach literature and mythology. As early as 10 years old, I would go to see Delphi. Our teachers took us to see Epidaurus to watch plays and tragedies. We’d watch something like Antigone. And it’s just part of my psyche and part of my culture. Needless to say, I’m really enthusiastic in conveying what I learned as a child to my students.”  

Cultivating Current and Future Student Success 

Whether teaching mythology or another subject, Dr. Andres does her best to assist and encourage students. “My classes are usually full to capacity,” she explained. “Both of my undergraduate classes now have 30 students, and scheduling conferences for, you know, 70 people is a challenge. But it’s rewarding, because I know where the students come from. I know some of their difficulties. I offer help when they need it, and also in the process recruit some of the undergraduates to the graduate program, because they are very astute, and I don’t want to lose them.” 

Dr. Andres explained that some students are in the MA program specifically because of her encouragement. “Some of them are thankful because nobody ever told them that they will be capable of graduate work. And some of them don’t know which direction to go. And I point out to them that with an MA in English, you can teach either at a community college or a university. We have lecturers who just have an MA in our program,” she said, adding that editing, publishing, and law are other potential career paths for the MA degree. 

Individual Attention Sets UTPB Apart 

Full classes speak to the popularity of the English major, not to a high student population, as Dr. Andres explained: “Because UTPB is small, students get the individual attention that they will never get in a big university. They get individual attention from admissions, from counseling, from advisors, from professors. We don’t have huge classes, you know, 200-student classes, where we rely on a teaching assistant to clarify matters to the students. I hear that in big universities, some professors don’t even show up in class to give lectures. They let the teaching assistants do it.” 

Dr. Andres shared a related example that was very close to her heart. “My son attended the first semester [at a large Texas university] and was living with me at the time. They accepted him because of his grade point average. Right away, he came back home and told me, ‘Mama, I’m a loser,’ and I said, ‘You’re going to stay here [at UTPB instead], you’re going to do your basics. And then if you like, you can go to a bigger university.’ And he just loved UTPB. Some of the kids cannot take the isolation [of a larger university]. They cannot take the huge classes where they get no attention. So that’s why I’d recommend UTPB—because of the individual attention that you get.” 

Four Capstone Options Offer Extraordinary Flexibility 

The individual attention UTPB students receive is complemented by online convenience, and in the MA in English program, tremendous flexibility in capstone or concluding studies—an uncommon benefit among graduate programs.  

“We cater to the students’ needs,” Dr. Andres stated proudly. “If someone tells me that they work full time and it’s really hectic taking two classes at a time I say, ‘Go for the portfolio option.’ Some of them will say, ‘I want to go on to a PhD, and if I don’t write a thesis, they won’t accept me.’ And I say, ‘I didn’t write a thesis and they accepted me.’ The project can be a longer version of a paper that they already wrote for a class. And if I see something unique, I say, ‘Hey, why don’t you consider turning this into an article?’ If people are enthusiastic about writing a thesis, fine.” 

If you have or wish to cultivate a passion for reading and writing and want to earn a degree that will empower you with skills applicable to a variety of careers, you may be a good candidate for one of our online English programs. Get full details and apply now. Dr. Andres would be happy to welcome you!