GradFUTURES Community College Teaching Fellowship Spotlight: Jessica Terekhov (GS, English)

Oct. 25, 2021

In the GradFUTURES Spotlight series, Princeton graduate students share in their own words about their experiences in one of the GradFUTURES Fellowship programs: the Community College Teaching Fellowship Program, the University Administrative Fellowship Program, or the GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowship Program. 

Where and when did your Fellowship take place?

I was a Community College Teaching Fellow in 2019-2020 at Mercer County Community College. My teaching fellowship took place during the spring and fall semesters of my fourth and fifth years, respectively, as a PhD candidate in English. At the time I taught my course at Mercer, I had only precepted for two sections of a lecture course in my department. 


I am a PhD candidate with a focus on Victorian fiction, not at all exclusively. My dissertation deals with wit in chapters that chart a course from the third Lord Shaftesbury to T. S. Eliot, refracting the term through Victorian and modernist social and literary criticism. I treat George Meredith as the novelist most germane to this work. Meanwhile, I am compiling a bibliography of originally part-issued Victorian novels in token of my long-standing interest in serialization and print history.

What drew you to the GradFUTURES Fellowship and this particular Fellowship?

I was interested in the opportunity to engage with a different audience from the one I was used to at Princeton - specifically, with students of varied educational backgrounds and professional goals. I was also eager to improve my teaching skills by leading my own course, and I approached the fellowship as a way of understanding whether I might be a fit for teaching community college in the future. 

Can you share a bit about the Fellowship and the kinds of experiences you had while a Fellow?

I was an adjunct instructor for one section of ENG 101: English Composition I at Mercer, which is an Associate's Degree-granting college. I had 18 students, most of whom were recent high school graduates, pursuing fields as diverse as game design and nursing. During my shadowing semester, I observed ESL writing and reading courses, as well as regular and ALP (Advanced Learning Placement) sections of ENG 101.

How did these experiences help you?

I gained terrific teaching experience and a developed sense of audience. There were definitely aspects of my course I would have changed on a second time around, and these resulted from my getting better at tailoring instruction to student competencies. I also experienced firsthand the difference between literature discussion and writing instruction, gaining a firmer sense of my own competencies in each in the process. 

Can you share some reflections on the mentorship component of the Fellowship?

To a certain extent, the mentorship component of the teaching fellowship can be whatever the student-faculty pair want it to be, so it's worth bearing that degree of adaptability in mind. My own mentor, for instance, arranged with colleagues to have me visit other sections of relevant courses in the department, so I might have a wider sense of teaching styles and student audiences. He also asked that I keep a teaching log during my shadowing semester, and we would discuss some of my observations and even constructive critiques. 

Best advice for Graduate Students considering a Fellowship through GradFUTURES?

If you have the opportunity to pursue this fellowship, provided you're interested in broader higher education, take it! My advice for students on the fence about whether the experience will be formative enough is that it absolutely is.

Apply for a Community College Teaching Fellowship 


Read more GradFUTURES Fellowship Spotlights here!