Some would call her a rarity while others would call her a reality. Instructor and coordinator of the Department of English internship program Dr. Regina Sakalarios-Rogers is leading a successful career in the liberal arts field.
“I always knew what I wanted to do,” Sakalarios-Rogers said during an interview in her office with rows of books lining every wall and an opened notepad on her desk. “I knew I wanted to teach, and I knew I wanted to write.”
Sakalarios-Rogers graduated with both her undergraduate and master’s in English with a specialization in creative writing from UWF. She teaches creative writing and composition at UWF. She is the editor of a biannual anthology of local writers published by the West Florida Literary Federation “Emerald Coast Review.”
A petite woman with dark hair and a spunky attitude, Sakalarios-Rogers turned others’ doubts in her career field into her motivation.
“I was told about the idea that if I were to get a degree in English, I can only be a K-12 teacher,” Sakalarios-Rogers said. “They would say ‘You know you’re never going to become a professor’ or ‘That’s like pipe dream territory.’ I was stubborn enough that it became my motivation to take it through to the PhD.”
But even as fearless as she is, she came across bumps in the road, and the first one came from following bad advice. She said she was given the same piece of advice from magazines, editors and peers alike. They all told her that if she wanted to focus on her writing, she should become a creative writing teacher.
Sakalarios-Rogers followed their advice after getting her master’s and began teaching as an adjunct professor at Pensacola State College for almost a decade, back when it was known as Pensacola Junior College. The advice was incorrect. She didn’t have time to focus on her writing.
“I was stuck in this position where I knew if I stopped adjuncting and started something else, getting that full-time job at a university that I wanted was going to get further and further away,” Sakalarios-Rogers said. “So it was bad. I was unhappy.”
She said she found the strength in her unhappiness to get her PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi. Sakalarios-Rogers said she would commute two and a half hours to Mississippi and adjunct at PSC all while raising her two children. After taking that plunge, she was offered a job at UWF as a full-time instructor.
Since becoming an instructor at UWF, Sakalarios-Rogers has made an effort to provide the guidance she wished she had when she was a student at UWF. She finds diverse internships in the Pensacola area and nationwide to suit any English major. She started the Careers in Writing course to show English majors the variety of jobs their degree prepared them for and how to market their work to publishers.
“Every time I teach it, I wish I had something like this over the course of my three degrees,” Sakalarios-Rogers said. “That’s the primary reason I enjoy it. It’s preparing students for a constantly changing field.”