Graduate Student Focus | Kate Benchoff
"Hood College’s humanities program is really designed to accommodate all kinds of students, including professionals who work full time (like me). The campus is convenient and the courses are affordable—it was a natural fit."
Kate Benchoff, M.A. Humanities
- Humanities (M.A.)
- English & Communication Arts
Kate Benchoff is a current graduate student in the masters in humanities program at Hood College. Outside of Hood, Kate is an associate professor in the English and Humanities division at Hagerstown Community College. She has her B.A. in philosophy and her M.Ed. in English. She spent four years teaching high school at Linganore before transitioning to higher education. She lives in Waynesboro with her husband AJ and her son Henry. Kate recently defended her portfolio as a part of completing her humanities degree.
Congratulations on completing and defending your portfolio! What was this experience like for you?
The portfolio project was interesting for me because I hadn’t planned early on what I would focus on, so I had to do a bit of reflection to find the common thread throughout my scholarly work.
Having said that, philosophy quickly emerged as a common denominator, and once I identified that in a general way, it didn’t take long to see the connections and build on them. My adviser, Aaron Angello, was a godsend, and his support and encouragement were helpful beyond measure.
I was also lucky to work with Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Allen as my other two reviewers, and while I went into the defense a little intimidated and nervous because of their expertise, they responded to my ideas with such interest and enthusiasm that I ended up really enjoying the conversation.
Why did you choose Hood College and this program?
I was immediately attracted to the cross-curricular approach to the humanities that Hood offers, and taking courses in a wide variety of disciplines was both challenging and world-opening. Also, Hood College’s humanities program is really designed to accommodate all kinds of students, including professionals who work full time (like me). The campus is convenient and the courses are affordable—it was a natural fit.
What do you enjoy most about being at Hood College?
The classes! Graduate school is such an amazing opportunity to connect with thoughtful, interesting, curious people. I may have occasionally dreaded writing papers during stressful weeks or procrastinated working on difficult or complex projects, but I always, always looked forward to class.
How do you think the program will help you in your career and life?
I can’t emphasize enough how useful and meaningful the humanities program has been to my teaching. There have been times when I take a reading, assignment or lesson from my coursework and adapt it for my students in the same week. Anyone in the field of the humanities knows that there are these enormous points of intersection between the various disciplines, and being able to explore those intersections is powerful. Students (including myself) love those moments of real connection—when they recognize a theory, work or idea that they encountered in a different course and see the connections to what they’re learning now.
But the most impactful way that attending Hood College has benefitted my work as a college professor is that it has reminded me what it feels like to be on the other side of the classroom. I know what it feels like to be intimidated or to worry if you’re good enough to succeed.
I know how overwhelming it can be to juggle work, home and school, and how even navigating things like finding your way around campus is uncomfortable at first. I hope that being reminded of what it feels like to be a student will help me more directly address some of those experiences that new students face and to translate that experience into compassionate, student-centered teaching.