John Pascal '08 MA: "I Am Grateful to Montclair State"

John Pascal ’08 MA credits his Master’s Degree from Montclair State with helping him to be a better teacher and for professional acclaim and success as a writer and lecturer. His Master’s thesis on Artemus Ward, arguably the first humorist in the United States with a national reputation and a strong influence on Mark Twain, was published as a book, and he lectures nationally on the topic.

John earned his Master’s Degree in English with a concentration in American Literature from Montclair State in 2008. He has been an English teacher at Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange for 10 ½ years. He also finds time to lecture on his Montclair State Master’s thesis, “Artemus Ward: The Gentle Humorist and his Lecture Influence on Mark Twain,” which was published by VDM Publishing House Ltd. in 2009. John spoke at the Inaugural Samuel Clemens Conference in Hannibal, Missouri, and at the sixth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College in New York. His thesis abstract has just been accepted for presentation at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Convention in Boulder, Colorado in October 2012.

John is also a loyal Annual Fund supporter and is proud to give back to the University that supported him in his professional growth and advancement. “I support Montclair State because it’s the right thing to do,” he says. “They helped to mold me as a professional and teacher. I could not be as effective in the classroom if I hadn’t gotten my Master’s Degree. I am grateful to Montclair State and to the professors and librarians who supported me in my efforts. I gladly give back because of that.” John adds that “The graduate school gives each student an enormous chance to better himself professionally.  Its rigors make him what he is: a highly academically credentialed professional who is now better able to contribute in his chosen field and so reap the benefits. Why would he not want to give back in thanks to the school that molded him to be what he is now and will continue to be?”

John chose Montclair State for his graduate education because “I knew that they had the reputation for turning out the best teachers,” he says. “Those who taught me from elementary to high school were trained at Montclair State.”  He began his graduate studies in the summer of 2003 and knew right away that he had come to the right place. “I had so many wonderful professors, including Monika Elbert, Laura Nicosia, Jonathan Greenberg, Daniel Bronson, the late Paul Arthur, and Fawzia Afzal-Khan,” he says. “They pushed me to be the best I could be in my field and they gave me lots of encouragement. I am indebted to these professors for all they’ve done for me, and that helps me to give more to my students. They made me use my brain in ways I’d never have thought possible! I literally lived in Sprague Library for five years, but it was all worth it. I also got to know many of the reference librarians at Sprague Library, including Bill Vincenti and and John Zieleniewski, and they do a wonderful job. They helped me a great deal.” In April 2006, the English Department selected John to receive the Lawrence Conrad Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in the Study of American Literature.

John wrote his thesis on humorist Charles Ferrar Browne, who wrote under the pen name of Artemus Ward during the American Civil War era and was a favorite author of President Abraham Lincoln.  His “Artemus Ward Letters to the Editor” series, published in 1858 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, achieved great popularity in both America and England. Browne later became editor of Vanity Fair and achieved renown as a lecturer. His distinctive style of public lecturing directly influenced Mark Twain.

At Seton Hall Prep, the oldest Catholic school in New Jersey, John teaches grammar, writing, vocabulary, reading, and other analytical skills to 9th and 11th graders.  He also serves as co-moderator of the Museums Club, the Future Lawyers Club, the Mock Trial Team, and moderator of the Student Council. “I have had the privilege and responsibility of being a Confirmation Sponsor to four different young boys in my eleven years of teaching,” he adds. He received the school’s Salvatore N. Caprio Award in 2010, for “A Teacher, A Moderator, and a Counselor Who is Generous in Time, Patience, and Concern.”

John graduated cum laude from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, where he majored in English. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, with a concentration in marketing. He has had many interesting jobs in his career, including working in marketing for Bell Communications Research, Inc. and Macy’s — where he even had the chance to be a clown in the 1987 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Later he worked for the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), which regulated the NASDAQ Stock Market and had the opportunities to work closely with the FBI in Newark to successfully prosecute several important white collar crime cases. “It was the most important work I’ve done along with teaching,” he says. “It was a humble privilege and an honor doing the people’s work.” But teaching is clearly his true vocation, and combines his love of literature and his talents for writing, communication, working with different kinds of people, and his extensive marketing and business experience.