Faculty Spotlight

Assistant Professor Lydia G. Fash Illustrates the Value of Humanities

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I did my Bachelors in English and American literature at Tufts University, and then I did a Masters and PhD in American Literature at Brandeis University.

Tell us about your role at Simmons.

I teach literature courses, and I also run the Humanities Internship Program in the Gwen Ifill College. That means that I help people find internships, and then I teach the credit-bearing portion of the internship experience for all students majoring in English, history, modern languages, philosophy, Africana studies, and women’s & gender studies.

In HUM 370 (the Ifill Internship course), we consider various career paths; we learn about how to write expert cover letters and résumés; we practice interviewing, networking, and negotiating. Through journal assignments and a final project, students also integrate disciplinary knowledge — their coursework — with their internship and professional experiences. After taking HUM 370, students know how to articulate the skills and learning of their time at Simmons in ways compelling to potential employers. And they're ready to face employment as more experienced and confident job-seekers.  

What's your favorite thing about Simmons?

I love the students here. I've taught at a number of other schools, and Simmons students are just really special. Inevitably, I become so fond of my students that I get a bit choked up when I say goodbye on the last day of class.

What is your #1 advice for students seeking internships?

Students should apply for multiple opportunities. And they should write cover letters and résumés that articulate not just that they want the position but how they can bring something — skills and attitude — to the employer. They should be specific and concrete in describing their experiences and abilities. The Career Education Center has lots of workshops and handouts — and even individual consultations — that can help with the process. I can help too!

What inspired you to work in your field?

I've always loved reading, and I believe strongly that reading generates empathy, that it allows us to experience other worlds and lives. In that way, literature builds social bonds as it teaches the essential skills of critical reading, analytical thinking, and thoughtful writing.

But I think that, given the way that humanities are spoken about in this present day, it can be hard for students to articulate the true value of their humanities majors. That's where internships and the internship course come in. Together they provide an opportunity for students to understand all that they've learned and how that learning and those skills are super valuable in the workplace.

How can students get in contact with you?

I'm always available via email and I'm happy to set up a time to talk.

If we visited your office, what would we see?

Lots of books! Also some photos of my two sons and a bunch of boxes of herbal tea. (I drink tea constantly when I teach. Chai rooibos is my favorite.)

What's your favorite thing to do in Boston?  

Oh, this is a hard question. In non-COVID times, I like doing lots of area things. We go on bike rides along the Charles or to the North End for pastries. We like hiking in the Blue Hills and the Fells. We sometimes play music with Honk, a community street band, in Somerville. We also attend area soccer games and play some soccer ourselves.

What's the last book you read?

I just read A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle in preparation for a new class I'll be teaching called "The Literature of Lies." It was fantastic.

What TV show are you currently binging?

My family and I are really into The Great British Bake Off. We love to imitate the judges' British accents as we admire the baked goods: "Those flavors are stunning!" And our current interest has caused lots more baking in our house. We just made (delicious) chocolate lava cake, or as they'd say on the show, a chocolate "self-saucing pudding."

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