Senior (Spring '20 Grad) | Dallas, Texas
What made you decide to become an English major?
I came into NYU technically “Undecided,” but I don’t think there was ever a doubt that I’d pursue English. My family is one full of readers, and from a very young age I was taught that books are the most important material things in life. My childhood best friend and I spent hours writing poetry under our neighbor’s rope swing when we were young. I acted throughout middle and high school, and eventually realized that I loved the words I was performing more than the act of performing itself. By the time I reached college, it was sort of a no-brainer.
What was your favorite class in the English department, and why?
It’s a tie between the first and last literature courses I took at NYU. The first was Shakespeare with Professor John Archer. I have always loved Shakespeare, and I knew any course covering nearly a dozen plays would be interesting, but Professor Archer’s enthusiasm was infectious beyond imagination, and MC Hyland, the course TA at the time, had such unique ways of getting students intimately involved with the texts. The last was Some Contemporary Poetries with Professor Maureen McLane, a tiny class that ended up being formative beyond belief. I minored in Creative Writing so had read a lot of poetry prior, but never with the intensity or empathy encouraged by Professor McLane. Everything I have read since has been analyzed with greater care.
What has been the most influential work of literature in your journey as a writer thus far, and why?
This is a really tricky one, but my instinct is to say Citizen by Claudia Rankine. It’s a text I originally came across on my own but revisited for two NYU classes—one survey course and the aforementioned poetic theory class—and I think that speaks volumes to its importance as a work of literature. Rankine upends notions of genre, and she forces her readers to question their own definitions of and relationships with citizenship, privilege, race, lyric. Citizen is a book that challenges, and it's inspired me to use language to interrogate my own preconceptions and definitions, no matter what I’m writing about.
What do you consider the most rewarding part of being an English major?
I got to do what I loved every single day for four years! I think at its core English is really the study of how people, both real and fictional, communicate with one another. Analyzing how characters interact as well as considering various author/reader relationships has been the most fascinating part of my studies, and it’s helped me in every other facet of my life.
You completed the English honors program and your thesis--amazing work! How was your experience?
I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my senior year any other way. The biweekly-ish colloquium with Professor Dara Regaignon and the rest of the honors cohort provided structure to the process and comfort along the way, and I couldn’t have asked for a better advisor. I wrote about the presence of nightingales in the life and works of T. S. Eliot, so Professor Peter Nicholls (a modernism expert) was absolutely the right person for the job. We had many long chats, some disagreements, and a few desperate emails sent from my end throughout the school year, and I’m extremely grateful to have worked with such a knowledgeable and kind advisor. I made some wonderful friends throughout the process, and I learned a ton about myself as a researcher and a writer.
What advice would you give to students considering majoring in English at NYU?
If you truly love reading and writing and analyzing texts (see above!), do it. The skills I’ve acquired in the English major were and are applicable to jobs both on- and off-campus—the humanities are full of “transferrable skills” (communication, technical writing, synthesizing ideas…) that any position requires—and I always find ways to talk about my academic experience in cover letters and interviews.