Amazing Students Profiles

Susan Bleyle

Susan Bleyle

As a graduate research assistant in the College of Education, Susan Bleyle is pursuing her passion to be a researcher and teacher educator in the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).


Originally Westport, Conn.; now Watkinsville

High School:

Staples High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in language and literacy education

Other degrees:

M.A. in Applied Linguistics, Georgia State University
B.A. in Russian and Soviet studies, Oberlin College

Expected graduation:

Spring 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I received a College of Education graduate research assistantship, which has been amazing. It allowed me to take a one-year leave of absence from my work at GGC so that I can complete my first year of doctoral course work as a full-time student.

Current Employment:

Georgia Gwinnett College-assistant professor of English for academic purposes

Family Ties to UGA:

My husband, Cliff, graduated from UGA with a B.S. in agricultural engineering in 2003.

I chose to attend UGA because…

I have been working with immigrant and refugee communities, primarily as an English teacher, for more than 15 years. I have taught at refugee resettlement agencies, in intensive English programs, and most recently in higher education. In 2007, I became one of the founding faculty members in Georgia Gwinnett College’s ESL program, and I have been working there with outstanding colleagues and students ever since. I decided to apply to UGA’s doctoral program in language and literacy education, because I am passionate about my field, and I want to develop the skills to contribute to the TESOL profession as both a researcher and teacher educator. UGA’s program has a great reputation, and studying here has enabled me to pursue a doctorate while maintaining my faculty position at GGC.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

to attend the wonderful guest lectures/performances—such as those given by Dr. Stephen Krashen and poet Anne Waldman—that my department has sponsored this year. I also like to be involved with our graduate organization LLEGO, or Language and Literacy Education Graduate Organization, and to serve on the editorial board of JoLLE, or Journal of Language and Literacy Education.

When I have free time, I like…

to read fiction, do yoga, watch my 14-year-old son’s soccer games, spend time with friends, and get outside with my husband—either on a bike or on a hiking trail.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

get lost as a high school student in East Berlin while carrying some subversive literature hidden in my coat pockets. The books were intended for some relatives of West German friends who decided I should carry them since I was young and innocent looking. We didn’t count on getting separated at the checkpoint and me having to spend the day on my own wandering around the East German city, petrified the entire time about getting stopped.

My favorite place to study is…

the Georgia Museum of Art. It’s a beautiful bright space, and the coffee is really good!

My favorite professor is…

each and every one I’ve had in the LLED department so far: my adviser Dr. Linda Harklau; the two professors I’ve worked for as a research assistant, Dr. Ruth Harman and Dr. Victoria Hasko; Dr. Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, who has awakened my creativity as a teacher and researcher; and Dr. Donna Alvermann, who led the doctoral seminar for my cohort and gave us a great introduction to graduate study at UGA.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

my paternal grandmother Caroline Bleyle, who I never got to know well, but who, as a teacher of French, Italian, and Latin, is someone many of my relatives say I favor. I would love to have one afternoon in which to share our love of languages and exchange stories about our lives as educators in very different times and places.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

not say no to any opportunities (classes, teaching, research, extracurricular activities, community activities, etc.) that come my way while I am at UGA. The only thing holding me back (just a little) is knowing that I have to set some limits so that I can do my very best at everything I commit to.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

take six months off from work and school and hike the Appalachian Trail with my husband.

After graduation, I plan to…

let myself be open to new possibilities in my field, whether here in Georgia, elsewhere in the U.S. or even outside of the U.S. I’m hoping my graduation coincides with my son’s high school graduation, so the sky should be the limit!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

is taking my very first poetry class (Poetry for Creative Educators with Dr. Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor) and reading my original work in front of a live audience at the Georgia Museum of Art. That is something I never imagined doing, and it has inspired me to open myself up to all types of new and creative experiences.