Building Bridges Through Writing with Derek Sherman ‘15, Ph.D.
Written by Travis Rindler, current graduate student enrolled in UF’s Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing
The University of Findlay has produced numerous success stories throughout its storied history. With the broad spectrum of programs and training, success might look different to each student and graduate coming into and leaving the University. The story of Derek Sherman, Assistant Professor of English, is one of discovery, change, and a future that has found a home with UF.
Sherman started his freshman year at Findlay as a biology major before switching over to marketing, and finally settling as an English major with the goal of teaching high school English. After graduating, Sherman found a position with his alma mater, Carey High School. Feeling as though he had accomplished his goal, Sherman then found out about a new master’s program in 2012, the Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing at UF. He enrolled as one of the first students in the MARW program while he continued teaching high school. “That was really a very interesting experience in the sense that I was able to see a lot of the pedagogies that we were talking about in class happen within the actual writing classroom at the high school level,” Sherman said.
Sherman graduated from the MARW program in 2015 and then pursued a Ph.D. in English, concentrated on rhetoric and composition, from Purdue University which he attained in 2021. Later in 2021, Sherman returned to UF as an assistant professor of English, bringing his success story back around to where his educational journey started. When reflecting on why he continued to choose UF for education and as a career choice, Sherman said, “Originally, I think, what drew me was just the small kind of atmosphere, the campus, you know people knew each other.” The feeling has carried over from being a student to his current role with the University. “You know each other, you work with each other rather than just simply going down the hallway and saying ‘Hi’ and walking past each other. That’s what really drew me to the institution, is that everybody seems to know everybody.”
The sense of connection that Sherman found within UF has helped with his goals at the University. He is working on building a transfer-based model for the writing program. “What transfer means is students being able to take the knowledge they learned in one class and apply it to other classes and other types of situations,” Sherman explained. He is working toward the goal of helping students bridge the gaps between the different courses available and being able to write toward those classes. “Understanding how an argument paper would look like for a History class, or how it would look for an Animal Sciences paper,” were some examples Sherman provided for clarity.
Sherman’s experiences at UF, as both a student and an assistant professor, have helped him develop a broad-thinking mindset which he hopes to see students develop and embrace while studying at Findlay. “As an English person, I never thought statistics would be helpful for me. But then I found out, around Ph.D. time, that I’d have to use statistics to figure out assessment data. Being able to think broadly, and being able to learn broadly, I think, is one of the core values that makes Findlay special.”