Senior Stories: Interviews with English Majors Each quarter, the staff of Undergraduate Studies in English interview graduating senior English Majors about their experiences in the department, how they decided on English as major, and what advice they have to offer students at earlier stages in their undergraduate careers. If you are a graduating senior who is interested in being featured here, please contact Ruth Friedman, Coordinator for Undergraduate Studies in English, at firstname.lastname@example.org / 614-292-6735.
Khari Grant Hometown: Houston, Texas B.Ed, Autumn 2011 English consists of reading and writing but serves a greater purpose. It allows one to think critically not only about literature but also about life.
What courses stand out as memorable? Why did you choose English as your major? People assume that because one chooses to study English, they must only like to read and write. Wrong. English consists of reading and writing but serves a greater purpose. It allows one to think critically not only about literature but also about life. My reason for pursuing English is so I can do what I love to do best; analyzing and trying to solve or explain something that is not clear. My passion and love for the English language also prompted me to pursue the preeducation track. Ever since I was in the seventh grade I wanted to be a teacher, and teaching English is the perfect career for me. They are both fields that I love and appreciate.
First off, all of my English courses were phenomenal. There are two courses, actually, that stood out for me. They are English 570 (the history of English) taught by Robin Markells PhD and English 522 (17th century British literature) taught by Luke Wilson PhD. These courses were more challenging, and intellectually stimulating. The topics presented by the professors really sparked my interest and prompted me to want to do outside research.
What advice would you share with other English majors?
What have been some obstacles? The biggest obstacle I face, and still face, is writing a solid paper on one specific topic. It is frustrating reading a text and being told to write on one specific topic. I often find many interesting things to write about, but can never come up with the one I want to focus on. Itâ€™s like you have a lot of great gifts in front of you, and they are all up for your choosing, but you can only have one.
Have fun and be proud to be an English major. Do not feel discouraged by an abundant amount of work. Everything we do is doable, just work hard, try your best, and in the end everything will be fine.
Daniel Louis Mann Hometown: Albion, Michigan BA, Spring, 2011 Advice for success at The Ohio State University Utilize the many resources that are at your fingertips, study, and get involved! The combination of these three things will help you find and create your own niche at OSU. GO Bucks!
What are you planning to do after graduation? Why did you choose English as your major? My decision to major in English was a late one. I began my undergraduate career as a journalism major, but switched to English during my junior year. I made the switch because an English degree is more general and universal than a journalism degree. I knew I was interested in writing in a business/ professional context, but I did not really desire a career as a journalist. After reading a flyer about technical writing, I decided that English was the major I needed. What course stands out as memorable? It is really difficult for me to pick a single course as my "favorite", but I would have to say English 305 with Jonathan Buehl is one of them. English 305 is an introductory technical writing course that introduces students to the field of technical writing. Through service, a learning component of the course, students gain actual experience as technical writers. The first half of the class is your traditional lecture style teaching. The second half of the class you are put in groups and the setting shifts from the classroom, to a professional work environment as the class is assigned a comprehensive project with the English department's D.A.L.N, or digital archives of literacy narratives. This experience is like an internship within the context of the classroom. English 305 was definitely one of my favorite classes in the department!
After graduation, I will be pursuing a Master of Science degree in Technical/Science Communication at Drexel University in the fall. I am excited about starting this new phase in my life and I can definitely say that majoring in English at Ohio State has helped prepare me for graduate level studies.
What other programs, organizations, or departments are you a part of here at Ohio State? This quarter I am not involved in anything, as I am just focusing on my final courses at Ohio State. I have previously been involved in activities at Ohio State such as the OSU athletic band (I play the alto saxophone), I have sung in several vocal ensembles such as the African- American Voices Gospel Choir (tenor section leader/chaplain), edify, and the school of music's gospel & spiritual ensemble. In addition to being involved in the performing arts, I have also served as a peer mentor through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, served in leadership of Kingdom University (student organization/campus ministry), and have volunteered with the Bell Resource Center's Early Arrival Program for incoming African-American males.
What advice do you have for new students? Advice for success at The Ohio State University Utilize the many resources that are at your fingertips, study, and get involved! The combination of these three things will help you find and create your own niche at OSU. GO Bucks!
Billy Hallal Highland Heights, Ohio BA, Spring, 2011 "Do more than your homework, that's my advice for English majors. Don't ever stop reading for pleasure; don't ever lose your intellectual curiosity."
What were some of the most memorable courses you've taken and why?
Why did you choose to major in English? I chose English, I'm sure, for the same reason most students do-I didn't know what I wanted to do after college (besides become a famous TV actor) but I knew I liked to read and write. Majoring in English has given me an excuse to do exactly that for four years. Not only that, it has helped me put my love of words into context. Majoring in English has put my reading preferences in a conversation with the whole history of literature. What stands out to you about the English Department at Ohio State? Maybe it's obvious to say, but the vastness of the department stands out as a great advantage. Ohio State's English Department is a great way to discover where your interest in English truly lies. We have a professor specializing in almost every conceivable field. Even when they're bogged down by papers and research, they are, without exception in my experience, more than happy to meet in office hours to discuss literature
My Salinger class with Matt Cariello gave me unparalleled insight into one of my favorite books (I know it's considered unoriginal and trite to list Catcher in the Rye as a favorite, but it is, so deal with it, ya phonies). My Catholic Authors class with Leslie Lockett helped better understand my cradle Catholicism. But my creative writing workshops, six of them, all told, are my most memorable class experiences. I've been fortunate enough to learn from some excellent authors and instructors-Abbott, Martin, and McGraw have become literary heroes to me. The classmates have been memorable as well, because it's hard not to develop a bond with your class when you're sharing something as intimate as a story. I've learned almost as much from classmates as I have professors. There's nothing like reading another's work and feeling that moment of recognition. It's why we read in the first place, really, to understand ourselves, and to know that we're not quite alone in the world. Do you have any advice to other English majors? Do more than your homework, that's my advice for English majors. Don't ever stop reading for pleasure; don't ever lose your intellectual curiosity. Read up on authors you haven't read and critical theories you haven't learned, even if it's only on Wikipedia. Tap your professors for reading recommendations-they are, by and large, pretty smart, well-read people. And for the truly pretentious out there, find a first or last line from a story that you love and memorize it, like that critic from Wolfe's "Bullet in the Brain." You really will be able to give yourself chills on command: They is, they is, they is. Try it.
Catherine Graham Hometown: Columbus, Ohio BA, Winter, 2011 I believe one good book can change your life.
Why did you choose your major? I have always had a passion for reading and writing. I believe one good book can change your life. I mainly wanted to improve my reading comprehension and writing skills, because I knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved writing. My friends in high school used to think it was weird that I actually enjoyed writing papers, so I took that as a sign that I should major in English. I also thought that being an English major sounded fun if you just got to sit around and discuss books with people. I envisioned that being an English major was like being in a big book club. It's not.
What have been some obstacles? My biggest obstacle was figuring out how to write a solid paper, and writing a paper without smashing my computer against a wall. If you can't stand writing persuasive papers, don't become an English major! There are basic rules to writing a paper, but every teacher seems to have slightly different expectations or grading criteria. Sometimes I would turn in a paper I thought was pure genius, but got it back with a mediocre grade. English isn't like many of the other majors, because things are never black or white. It can be frustrating, but incredibly rewarding in the longrun. I learned new ways to improve my writing and critical analysis skills with every class and every maddening paper.
What courses stand out as memorable? I loved my fiction writing courses (English 265 and English 565). I was happy that I was able to do some creative writing and receive actual feedback on my work. My instructors, Ken Nichols and Lee K. Abbot, were outstanding. I think the most memorable class I took at OSU was English 271: Intro to Rhetoric with Tim Jenson. English 271 should be mandatory for all students. I could actually apply what I learned in that class to my everyday life, like how to win more arguments with my mom.
What advice would you share with other English majors? Take advantage of office hours! Participate in class discussions, and don't be afraid to speak up in class. Choose your courses carefully. The Department of English has so many interesting courses, and you only get to take so many before you graduate. Chose courses with topics that really appeal to you, or that you know nothing about.