M.A. English ’12
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Fun Fact: His dog, Khloe, half poodle, half Bernese Mountain Dog, clocks in at 60 pounds and is best friends with Theodore the 6-pound Yorkie.
Alaska grown William Rannals can tell you something about the geography of Anchorage shopping malls—his grandparents homesteaded the land that’s now home to the Dimond Center. He can also tell you about snack food trends from the ’90s (“I remember when sour Skittles came out.”) since he grew up surrounded by prepackaged delights, the son of a statewide snack food and candy distributor.
“You’re real popular when you’re 10 because of all the candy,” says William with a laugh, “But I got pretty burnt out on it.”
What he can tell you about crafting a resume or proposal, though, just might get you a job or launch your small business.
William took the advice of Department of English Professor Dan Kline a couple years ago and parlayed his UAA graduate education in English into a career in technical writing. By day he works as a tech writer in business development at CH2M HILL.
By night he teaches for both UAA and Kodiak College. In recent semesters, he’s loaded himself up, teaching three classes—an online freshman composition class, an online world literature class and a classroom-based technical writing class.
It’s a full plate, but this lifelong soccer player seems indefatigable.
Teaching a classroom-based technical writing course at night keeps William eagle-eyed at work, noting elements of his own experience that he can share with students.
He regularly supplements his curriculum with fresh examples gathered during a full day of professional tech writing. “I feel like they appreciate that because this isn’t like geometry that you’re never going to use again in the real world; I guarantee you’re going to use this in some way.”
Upon graduation from Bartlett High School, William was ready for a change of scenery and chose University of Idaho in Moscow for his undergraduate education. “There were about 400 other students from Alaska there,” he says, and as a one-time recruiter for U of I, he can easily summon statistics and anecdotes. “You’d see the Alaska Grown sweatshirts all over campus.”
It’s tough to be homesick when you’re surrounded by neighbors, and he enjoyed his undergrad experience, returning to Alaska in the summers to work on an asphalt crew. When it came time to decide what next, though, his Alaska roots drew him north again.
“I was missing home after four years, that was enough of being away, so I looked at UAA for graduate school,” he says. He enrolled in UAA’s graduate English program and was selected for a teaching assistantship, stepping into the classroom for the first time as a teacher in freshman composition.
“The department is so strong. I feel like because we’re in Alaska people might not think we have the strongest faculty,” he says, ticking off faculty achievements and publications on his fingers. “They’re high caliber.”
“With the grad department being small, you’re friends with your peers, but you’re also friends with your teachers,” he continues. Studying at UAA gave him the chance to collaborate with his professors and peers.
“I think this is a great university and I’m glad to be a part of it still.”
When he’s not working, William makes time for soccer and time with friends. Two of his best friends from childhood conveniently live within shouting distance and his girlfriend is also a Bartlett High and University of Idaho alum. They were friends through high school and college and only began dating after they’d both settled back in Anchorage.
Alaska really is rich with natural resources: brainy professors, high-achieving alumni, cool girlfriends and great job opportunities. We’re honored to be part of William’s story.