When people ask me why I’m an English major, or what English is good for, I find it difficult to answer because there are so many different moving parts to the subject. The study of reading and writing well teaches us patterns of thinking, skills of expression. Fiction teaches us empathy. Poetry teaches us to be wide-eyed observers of the world and of ourselves. The study of words is indispensable to the politician, the speech-writers and ad-makers, but also to the pop star, the chain-smoking poet. It is utilitarian and beautiful as water. I live for the two or three books a year that change my soul: Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler, Richard Adams’ Watership Down, Perelandra by C. S. Lewis. I think that if everyone read like very wise, very curious children, the world would be a much richer place.
I remember distinctly reading John Donne’s poem “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” in Methods in Literature, and everyone getting it completely wrong. Then the professor came around to our group and whispered a hint, and while discussing it together as a class it all fell into place. It was a very beautiful moment for me: to see the meaning of the poem emerge by degrees through a veil of mental sweat. There is something intensely pleasurable about a poem well worked for.
Fiction Writing was another class I enjoyed, bringing the realization that I could craft things longer than half-page poems. I learned the personal necessity of writing from the shadow of my own life, of being the speaker, and the equally visceral need to edit, to embellish, to lie.
The plan right now, looking ahead, is teaching English in high school.
I’m on the staff the Lantern (literary magazine) and a regular contributor. I occasionally draw cartoons for the Grizzly (the newspaper). I helped establish the Writing House, part of the Special Interest housing program, and I live there this year. I’m a regular at Lit Soc (Literary Society). I run the “Ursinus Squirrels” and “Ursinus Condiments” Facebook pages, exposing the smallest members of the Ursinus community to the public eye and funny bone. I’m a co-editor for the Creative Writing newsletter. I’m a regular at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and am on the leadership team. I attend meetings for Active Minds, a club on campus committed to fighting mental health stigmas.