English Society Tackled the Big Question: What To Do With An English Major

Apr 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus Events, News

Kristen Cypret

April 1, 2009, was not a day just for fooling around.

English Society hosted one of its central programs in the Plaster Student Union on April 1, where they served cookies, soda, and delectable information,

Faculty members of the English department and other speakers discussed the possibilities  of what a student can do with an English degree.

A total of six speakers made presentations, kicking off with junior Tyler Snodgrass.

Through poetry and pure humor, he set the ball rolling and entertained the students and faculty that attended.
Tracey Glaessgen, academic advisor at the Advisement Center, followed with a spectacular presentation of her own.

She got to the heart of the issue, directly asking the students why they wanted to be English majors. Many of the answers were vague, like, “I love to read. I love to write. It’s all I can see myself doing.”

Glaessgen challenged the students to think deeper. She said English is a gray major because there are so many channels that one can follow.

She emphasized the critical thinking skills English majors attained through their various literature and writing courses.

Danielle Evans, an instructor for the English department, followed with information about publishing and creative writing. Evans received an M.F.A. in Fiction from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

Her short story, “Virgins,” was published in The Best American Short Stories of 2008. She was also published in the Paris Review, Phoebe, Black Renaissance Noire, and the L Magazine. She discussed the ins and outs of publishing, shared her experiences of M.F.A. workshops, and described the sacrifices one must make as a creative writer. Evans also touched on editing and agent opportunities.

Technical writing followed, with a presentation by Lyn Gattis, an assistant professor for the English department. Technical writing was described as the world of writing that’s invisible, but that people see every day.
Technical writers are responsible for the labels on toothpaste, proposals in the corporate world, and all the important stuff people tend to overlook.

Gattis discussed job opportunities that are available to technical writers, and her advice was supported by the speaker that followed.

Robert Blevins, a graduate student at Missouri State University, gave a show and tell presentation of his position in college. “It’s a lot of work. You are reading and writing about twice as much as you did in undergrad,” Blevins said. He discussed the big “GRE” and gave tips to proper preparation for it.

The event ended with an education section by Mara W. Cohen Ioannides, an instructor for the English department teaching professional writing. Her book, A Shout in the Sunshine, was published by the Jewish Publication Society in 2007. Besides discussing the facts of teaching English, she gave advice about what not to do as a graduate student. Ms. Ioannides advocated that, despite everything, English majors should love their jobs. If they don’t, then they’re in the wrong place.

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