This spring, we will be featuring English Department Seniors as they reflect on their time in the department and look forward to life after Hope. Our first volume features Grace Alex and Jory Wynsma. These interviews were conducted by Hannah Jones (’21), who is our Blogs Administrator.
What year do you plan to graduate? I just graduated this past November 2020.
What is your major? English Literature
What is your favorite book or author? Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya for Dr. Ernest Cole’s Modern Global Literature course
What are some research interests/topics you like to study? Feminist and Postcolonial studies
What are your plans for after graduation? My current plan is to land a job in the publishing and marketing industries in the coming months.
Why did you choose to study English? I chose to study English because I have a passion for reading, writing, words, and beautiful speech. I also love historical studies and contemporary feminist studies in literature.
How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? My English degree has molded me into a highly perceptive person of cultures and society. I love exploring and analyzing literature through different literary lenses, which broaden my views and beliefs of religion and the world.
What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? Put effort into your passion for literature and writing. Let yourself explore your potential; there are so many amazing opportunities and experiences that await you.
What year do you plan to graduate? I plan to graduate at the end of the Spring 2021 semester.
If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? Aside from English with a writing emphasis, I have a second major in Sociology. Sociology studies societies, and how the groups within them function. With this knowledge at my disposal, I can better analyze a text as it fits into the world it came from. My English major makes it possible for me to empathize with the individual, and sociology helps me empathize with groups. Combined, I think this has given me a unique and valuable perspective on the ways of the world.
What is your favorite book or author? My favorite book is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern– I read it for the first time as a freshman in high school, and I fell in love with the varying narration within the story as well as her detail that created a dream-like world. As for my favorite author, I really admire the creativity Ransom Riggs utilizes in his writing. In his most popular series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Riggs uses old photos he has collected in order to create a setting and characters throughout. His book was one of the first that showed me the beauty in writing and style.
What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? I think my favorite piece I’ve read at Hope was the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I first read it in Creative Nonfiction with Dr. Rhoda Janzen, and the context she was able to provide us after our reading was immensely beneficial in both my understanding and my appreciation. The eerie tone of the piece kept me intrigued throughout, but moreover, the argument Gilman makes within the work is one I still think about often.
Why did you choose to study English? I was always an avid reader and creative child, and these attributes stuck with me. Ultimately, this led me to declare my English major sophomore year. Before I decided, I took a few classes the year prior to get a feel for the department, and really loved the content, practice, and conversations I had in those courses. I knew coming into college that English was one of the possibilities I would consider, and it only took a few classes to realize this was something I wanted to stick with.
How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? I think in a lot of ways my English major has given me a lot of confidence as both a writer and a person. When I first started out I had a hard time seeing any sort of value in my pieces, and I constantly worried about saying the wrong thing in class. It took a long time for me to recognize that I was putting myself on way too high of a pedestal and that I wasn’t meant to be perfect– I was a student in practice. I put in the work to get where I wanted to be, and looking back on my pieces through the years, I am proud to see my growth. As far as my worldview, like I mentioned before English has given me more of an ability to empathize with individuals, which in turn has made me more open-minded and shown me the necessity of meeting people where they are at instead of where you wish them to be.
What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? If you’re on the fence about English, I would recommend taking a class or two to check it out– Intro to Creative Writing is a great way to test the waters for English with a writing emphasis. Additionally, English is incredibly versatile, so don’t listen to all the jokes about never finding a job– every job needs someone with good communication skills!
Stay tuned for Volume Two!