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Allison Matlack Pranger

I have worked as a technical writer in various capacities since my return from the Peace Corps in 2008. My first position was with NetApp in Raleigh, North Carolina. Due to the bad economy and a company restructuring, I had to seek employment elsewhere and found myself in the mountains of West Virginia working for a federal contractor.

I had been interested in graduate programs for a while, but I had not seen one that interested me until I found the PWE program at WVU. The course hours accommodated my full-time work schedule, and the amount of flexibility in terms of elective hours was appealing. I initially thought I would complement my PWE education with creative writing courses, but I ended up pursuing a track that married rhetorical theory to behavior change theory and health communication. My thesis—Rhetorical Bridges: How Rhetoric Affects the Gap Between Knowledge and Behavior Change—combines these in an attempt to tackle a problem I encountered during my Peace Corps service: if people know something is harmful, why don’t they change their behavior? I looked specifically at the HIV/AIDS risk behavior of the Basotho adolescents with whom I worked directly.

I can’t speak highly enough about my experiences in the PWE program. All of my professors were knowledgeable, supportive, and encouraging. They helped me grow in unexpected directions and pushed me to excel. They also eagerly took up the challenge of my interdisciplinary inquiries, learning about different disciplines right alongside me, even though it meant extra work for them.

After graduation, I moved back to Raleigh to work for Red Hat, the world’s leading open source and Linux provider. In my current role, I act as the owner and master editor of all of the content on our customer-facing support website, the Red Hat Customer Portal. My primary responsibilities include maintaining both the technical and editorial standards of published content on the portal, writing and editing customer-facing and internal communications, coordinating translations with our third-party translation service, and writing documentation as needed for policies, products, and initiatives. Red Hat is an awesome company, I work with amazing people, and I feel blessed that I have a position that is both exciting and challenging.