This week, we’re continuing our series on our graduating English Dept seniors. Blogs Administrator Hannah Jones interviewed 3 more seniors: Celia O’Brien, Casey Schafer, and Samuel Vega.

Celia O’Brien

Celia O’Brien (’21)

What year do you plan to graduate? I will be graduating in the Spring of 2021.

What is your major? I am an English, Creative Writing major and a Studio Art minor. I think my English major has been a vessel for my other forms of creativity. I’m constantly looking for ways to combine my art and my writing!

What is your favorite book or author? I have a soft spot for the books of my middle school career: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye. I usually list them as my current favorites too because no others come to mind in time.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? I read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi for Intermediate Nonfiction with Rhoda Burton. Not one second of reading that book ever felt like homework. It captivated me.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I have found myself very interested in poetry. I don’t know if I would call it “research,” but I do know that I spend a lot of time delving into the world of Instagram poetry accounts and the “Poetry” aisle at Barnes and Noble.

What are your plans for after graduation? Ah yes, a much too familiar question these days. I don’t have a plan quite yet, but as I look for something, my goal has been to be open to a lot of different opportunities. My interests extend to several different creative fields: design, music, writing. I would love to find a collision of my artistic hobbies and call it a career, but for now I’m just freshening up my resume and occasionally scrolling through Linked In. If I HAVE to answer the question more bluntly, I would love to try and find a job or internship in either publishing or graphic design.

Why did you choose to study English? My mind processes the world in a specific way and it felt like English was the only subject that allowed my thoughts out in an accurate way. I think I also got a couple nudges from high school teachers that helped me officially choose it as a major. Maybe it’s a bad reason but I hated every other subject. Math and Science don’t go well for me since I can’t look at numbers for too long (Crossword>Sudoku).

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? I have read many different authors, styles, and voices that I would otherwise not have gotten the chance to listen to. It has also allowed me to think about who I am and learn about myself. I like that balance.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? Majoring in English has been rewarding in unpredictable ways. I believe it’s a unique experience for each individual and you get out of it what you put in. If you are willing to put time and energy into your writing/reading skills, you can and should major in English.

Casey Schafer

Casey Schafer (’21)

My name is Casey Schafer and I am a senior graduating in May of 2021 with a major in English Literature and a minor in History. I have known since high school, especially after taking AP Literature as a senior, that I wanted to major in English when I came to college. My decision to minor in History came a little later into my college career. I enjoyed the history classes I took in high school, and even came into Hope with a good amount of history credit due to my AP tests. I loved the way my education in English and History worked together during my time at Hope. Having a solid understanding of history made many of the texts I read for my English classes even richer and the writing skills learned in my English classes translated well when I wrote papers for my history classes. 

Reading has been one of my favorite pastimes from a young age and even though I am growing up, I still find myself drawn to young adult novels. One of my favorite books is The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer. In addition, Leigh Bardugo’s books, particularly Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, hold a special place in my heart. Series where authors create their own world are some of my favorites to read because of the attention to detail and the exciting escape they offer. In my time at Hope, my favorite book that I have read for class would be When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I came across this book while taking a memoir class with Professor Burton. The beautiful language and heartbreaking story immediately pulled me in and kept me enthralled throughout the entire book. 

After graduation, I plan on continuing my internship with Humanscale that I started working this semester while I study to take the LSAT. While working for a year, I plan to apply to law schools in order to start in the fall of 2022. My plan to attend law school made my decision to major in English an easy one. I’ve almost felt the most comfortable with a book in my hand and quickly learned in high school that I love talking about books as much as I love reading them. My classes at Hope allowed me to pursue my passion for literature and writing while also preparing me for law school. By including history into my studies at Hope, my eyes were opened to another perspective on literature. I became more aware of the past and how those events shaped the world we live in today. I learned to better understand people through their experiences expressed in history and literature. My time at Hope has opened me up to many worldviews that I had never been exposed to before. I have learned the importance of listening to others’ stories, especially the stories of those very different from myself. Throughout my studies over the past four years, I have grown as a person and as a citizen. I’m forever thankful for my time at Hope and all that I have learned from the wonderful professors.

Samuel Vega

Samuel Vega (’21)

What year do you plan to graduate? December 2021.

What is your major? Aside from an English major, the hope is that also having a Spanish minor will open up doors to experience creativity and storytelling from various other cultures, while also providing the opportunity to strengthen a personal connection with my own Latino heritage.

What is your favorite book or author? My absolute favorite book would have to be Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies. The plot is basically Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings with deer characters, but I believe that a well-told fantasy is always a welcome, refreshing thrill.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? It would have to be a tie between The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Cenzontle by Marcelo Castillo Hernandez. The quiet power of The Namesake was the very reason why stories about identity became even more fascinating to read. I also had the chance to meet Marcelo in person while being his campus escort for the Visiting Writers Series, and he changed my life after telling me that writing about hardship is actually a blessing, if one decides to view it as a moment of bliss and release.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? While topics such as culture and mythology are always fascinating because of how much they teach about uniqueness and believing in things that are bigger than yourself. Recently I have become obsessed with any story that deals with overcoming fear. There is something undeniably beautiful about the study of gaining courage.

What are your plans for after graduation? Despite being loose ideas, the hope is to explore possibilities involving work with the Episcopal Service Corps, graduate programs involving writing and linguistics, possible employment with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the more immediate hope of becoming a pet groomer.

Why did you choose to study English? The funny thing is that I’ve bounced around quite a bit. I considered about eight different fields of study before finally deciding on English. I was tired of hearing stories about how starving writers are the only kinds of people who come out of studying English, and my final choice to study English rose from a desire to become someone who changes the narrative. A desire to join and promote a new narrative: that studying and succeeding in English can look like anything as long as it incites passion.

In all honesty, ever since my ENGL 113 professor and I once had a conversation about how much potential he saw in me, that has been a driving reason behind my continued pursuit of storytelling. As I continue to study, it becomes more of a motivation to maintain a sense of curiosity, so that your sense of open-mindedness only grows with every story you hear.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? The major itself has taught me that great legends with timely lessons exist practically everywhere. I’ve fallen in love with being curious again, and with this growing curiosity, it became a desire to learn how to listen well before learning how to craft well.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? To anyone considering studying in English, my advice would be to invite opportunities that help you to accept change. It’s a field that requires one to be adaptable, but also know that this is a program where it’s incredibly easy to ask for help. Above all, people studying English should know that much like art itself, everyone’s creation styles should be encouraged to stand out and be unique. Such variety is only a part of the beauty that comes from expressing your creative voice.

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