English Department Alumni Panel Provides Insight

Jordan Gershman ’19
Contributing Writer
On the evening of Thursday Nov. 3, the English Department hosted its annual Fall Alumni Panel, which featured Alix Purcell ’04, along with David Foxley ’06 and Jason Fuhrman ’06. Each of the panelists studied literature and reflected on the ways in which their experiences at Trinity have shaped their current career paths. The panel was moderated by Professor Chloe Wheatley, who serves as Chair of the English Department, and taught each of the panelists during their time at Trinity.
As an undergraduate, Foxley completed internships at Time Magazine and NBC News, experiences which cemented his passion for the field of journalism. Foxley began his career as a staff reporter for The New York Observer, later becoming an editor for Vanity Fair, as well as the Features Director of Dujour Media.  He currently works as a freelance writer and editor and describes the process of working with fellow writers as “the best part” of the field. Foxley describes the ability to establish a perspective and communicate a clear opinion through the written word as the most valuable endeavors honed by the English major and “an essential aspects of re-energizing work life.” Foxley emphasized the freedom and flexibility as his favorite aspect of freelance writing, as well as its greatest challenge. Although he misses the daily routine and office environment of a more rigid work structure, along with “having a clear boss,” Foxley credits his experiences in the field with teaching him unique skills he would not have developed otherwise.
Fuhrman currently works as the Legislative Director for New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James, and strives to persuade city council members to co-sponsor bills. At Trinity, he pursued a variety of interests by registering for “random courses” outside of the English major, such as art history and politics. Fuhrman planned to pursue a career as a literary agent but became set on his current profession after interviewing with the Manhattan District Attorney, an encounter which led to an internship and developing career in the field.   He described the “ups and downs” of his career path and advised current English majors to “let themselves stumble” and “don’t be afraid to fail.” Fuhrman appreciated the community environment fostered by the English Department, describing the incomparable friendship and support among fellow English majors as “almost a fraternity in itself.” Fuhrman considers the ability to write and communicate effectively as “incredibly important for any field or career path,” along with the ability to recognize and create connections among common themes.
Panelist Purcell earned her Master of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in fiction and screen-writing from Fairfield University. Purcell established her own consulting firm, focused on marketing for businesses as well as nonprofit organizations. Before finalizing her decision to study literature in her junior year, Purcell pursued academic interests in several departments, joking that she was “every major before the English major” and that she “wanted to be Professor Wheatley.” She emphasized the importance of perseverance fostered by an English major, as “a subject where you can constantly improve and dig deeper,” and mentioned the sense of resilience associated with the revision process as an essential component of her personal and professional development, a quality that helped guide Purcell several years ago after she chose to quit her job at a non-profit organization. Purcell describes this as “the best decision of my life” as it provided motivation to reevaluate her aspirations for the future.
Purcell attributed the expertise taught in the English major with “preparing me to conquer every twist and turn of the road ahead,” providing inspiration and reassurance to current and potential English majors who hope to heed her advice while forging their own professional paths.

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