May 28th, 2015 §
David, like many seniors “walking” in a few weeks, finds frightening the open nature of his possible next steps. Graduate school? Ministry? A writing career? Then, too, there’s the matter of “vocation” more generally considered: how to live a meaningful life while not on the job.
The English major, David says, developed his worldview and broadened it. He now sees the world through lenses provided by authors, and the result has been greater “sympathy, compassion, and understanding” for people, real or imagined. David isn’t sure he would have gained such emotional capacity in a major like, say, history or political science.
One of the best parts of the major? Getting to know the profs. David feels his professors have affirmed his “gifts, skills, and talents.” Their knowledge base has meant the world to his intellectual growth and moral understanding. Access to his profs is one of the characteristics David has valued about the English Department and SPU generally.
SPU has also offered David opportunities to connect his major to ministries, using his volunteer work to help people tell their stories. He especially loves courses that “interconnect” and the way campus culture invites students from various majors to relate their learning to each other’s. “It’s easy to become an insular English major,” David says, “but SPU makes possible, through its liberal arts curriculum, lots of other classes” and thereby helped him become “a broad-minded, generous person.”
Any departing advice to newbie English majors? Balance methodologies courses like The Sentence and Creative Nonfiction with lit courses, says David. Take the lit-survey courses early. And take a career class, like the one the career center offers that helps English majors translate what they’re doing in classes into marketable skills. “Reading, making claims, working with people,” David says, are the things the major has given him to take out into the world.
April 16th, 2015 §
Riley Dopps says that graduating this spring is “scary but exciting,” a feeling many of her classmates surely share. It’s the prospect of “no limit or structure set for me,” says Riley, that elicits both emotions.
A senior creative writing major, Riley feels that her writing classes “opened doors” and made her “confident that I can sell myself” in all sorts of areas when she goes on the job market in June. Best things about the English major? Class sizes and structure, says Riley. The discussion format of English courses “made information easier to absorb” and allowed the opportunity to get clarification of facts and ideas if needed. The upper-division courses, like Middle Eastern Literature, made the major relevant to current issues too.
As a former SPU soccer standout who passed on playing her senior year, Riley finds this year “bittersweet.” She’s happy to have moved on but misses the structure and “extra purpose” that athletics added to her college experience. Nevertheless, making the transition from “student-athlete” to “student” has prepared her for the equally challenging transition from “student” to “employee” that’s on the horizon. “Not everything happens for a reason,” says Riley, “but every situation has takeaways that are valuable.”
Riley has loved the small size of SPU because it’s allowed her to make friends from different areas of the university. She misses the time she spent living on campus as freshman and sophomore because it made getting where she needed to go easy and offered opportunities for casual social interaction. Now, Riley says, she needs to be more intentional about seeing, outside class, the people she’s had courses with over and over—“friends and study partners with lots to talk about.”
February 19th, 2015 §
Kelsey Chase (senior English major, University Scholar, and track and field athlete) spent part of last summer in South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia living with African Christians, interviewing them and writing about their stories of faith.
Kelsey has loved Ethiopia since she first visited seven years ago (and not just because of the coffee) and feels it’s important that the stories of Ethiopians are told with faithfulness to their history and literary tradition.
So, for her senior honors project, she’s collecting the stories of Ethiopian Christians and juxtaposing these stories to Ethiopian folk tales. Kelsey’s relying on her experience reporting for SPU’s The Falcon ,and as many English classes as she can squeeze in, to guide her in conscientiously reproducing these stories, with special sensitivity to the imagery and symbolic content of the narratives.
Kelsey doesn’t know yet where this project is leading but is hopeful it will allow her to return to Ethiopia or pursue graduate studies in African Literature. And if all else fails, she thinks being a librarian in a library with old books and big wide windows (preferably at Oxford University, where she studied for a semester) sounds pretty great as well.
June 2nd, 2014 §
Kelly Pantoleon is a graduating creative writing major from Oak Harbor, WA. When she started college, she knew she would want to go into book editing and publishing, so she joined the English major. Kelly says that she is “like most English majors” in feeling that “books are my best friends.”
During her time at Seattle Pacific University, her favorite course has been American Ethnic Literature with Dr. Middeljans. “It made me realize that even as accepting as I am, and as much progress as we as a society have made, there’s always more to learn, more to understand about people who are are different from you, and more room to open your mind.” She added that Dr. Middeljans’s humor is also a great part of her classes.
Fitting for an English major, Kelly is “obsessed with everything about grammar [….] If I could have majored in just punctuation, I would have.”
Since her dream is one day to own an independent publishing house and make books by hand, Kelly hopes that her first post-graduate job will be in the publishing industry. Her suggestions for new English majors are to “be open-minded in the types of classes you take. Take some philosophy classes; they go very well with literature/writing. Do the reading for every class. It may be a lot, but it’s always worth it. Participate in class discussions as much as you possibly can—English majors are kind people.”
May 22nd, 2014 §
Ashley Boucher, from Beaverton, Oregon, is majoring in creative writing, focusing in non-fiction, and minoring in French. Though it took her a while to find her major, she settled on English because she always got good grades in this area (improving her graduate school options) and had always enjoyed English and literature. Ashley says she is minoring in French because “Je suis francais and I love the culture and language.”
Since her time at Seattle Pacific University, her favorite classes have been Elements of Narrative with Dr. VanZanten because it is a chance to get into the “nitty-gritty” of story-telling and Shakespeare with Dr. Reinsma because of the emotion and–“what else?–tension” created by the plays.
Outside school, you will probably find Ashley dancing, which she has been doing since she was 12. For her, Ashley says, dancing “is a release, like writing can be, and I definitely could not live without it.” Her dream job would be as traveling yoga instructor, writing about yoga retreats, and later editing either a fashion or a dance magazine, so she plans to move back to Portland for the first step in that direction: training to be a yoga instructor.
Her advice to students, “It is important to balance being a student with being a person, which is surprisingly easy to do.” She also recommends taking advanced grammar and to study abroad as many times as possible. “Now is the time to go. So GO!”