May 25th, 2017 §
Graduating senior Alli Bautista looks back fondly on her days as an English lit major. “When I first came to SPU, I wasn’t sure what I was going to major in,” says Alli, like so many students, “but I was very sure of what I didn’t want to study.” She says her “decision boiled down to a few questions: What do I want to know more about and what do I love? And the answer to both was—and still is—literature.
“The English major is about more than just literature,” Alli explains. “I’ve found that it’s an intriguing intersection of history, philosophy, language, and life. I think I’ve learned just as many life lessons from my classes in the past four years as I have about sentence structure and Shakespeare.”
With her usual graciousness and sense of humor, Alli explains: “I’ve met with professors who care about more than just what happens in the classroom, who have taken the time to get to know and invest in me. The classmates I’ve met in the English major have diverse interests that extend outside our realm of study. The classmates that have become friends challenge me to think more deeply and, even more importantly, understand—and sometimes laugh at—my bad literature jokes.”
Congrats, Alli! We will all see you at Ivy Cutting and Commencement next month.
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.”