As a senior in high school, I thought about going to KU. That thought flew out the door the first time I sat in Naomi Woods’ office to discuss what being an English major at K-State would be like. While I was talking about books with Naomi, she recommended Un Lun Dun by China Miéville which was sitting on one of her many bookshelves. In the next 24 hours, I went on my college visit at KU, bought Un Lun Dun from KU’s bookstore, and decided that I was going to K-State.
Looking back on that initial visit four years later, it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
Being an English major at K-State has allowed me to build community, given me incomparable opportunities both in and out of the classroom, and given me a chance to develop necessary skills as I look towards my future.
As a freshman I became involved as an English ambassador to help promote K-State English to current and prospective students. I also was able to attend the occasional meeting of ChAlC, the Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community, when I wasn’t traveling on Friday afternoons as a member of the K-State speech team. Becoming part of these groups while in my first year at K-State also led me to join Sigma Tau Delta when I was eligible. I love being able to engage with my peers and tell others what I love about English.
One of my favorite community building moments was when I was hired as a student office assistant in the English department office. I started working in the office my sophomore year and gained an extra space in which to get to know my professors. This also let me chat with English grad students, and when I got into upper-level courses I felt right at home. The friendliness of the English Department has led me to value community in my educational experience. From reading my poetry at the “Poetry (and Short Prose) on Poyntz” event to engaging with others in conversation at meetings, I feel welcomed by a community of readers, writers, and scholars.
I would be remiss in my overview of my experience at K-State if I didn’t discuss some of the incredible opportunities that I’ve had.
Last year as part of ChALC’s Sixth Biennial Conference of Children’s Literature in English, Education, and Library Science, I was able to escort National Ambassador for Young People and Bestselling Author Jacqueline Woodson from her hotel to the K-State Student Union and ask her a few questions. This fall, I got to conference some of my creative work with outstanding poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil. My literary skills helped me gain a position at the K-State Collegian as a book review and desk editor. I even got to write an article in the fall of 2018 about all the books I’d read that semester.
I’ve also just been able to take some phenomenal courses with phenomenal professors that have helped shape my academic goals. Courses that rise to the top include a major authors course on Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie taught by Lisa Tatonetti, a major authors course on Louisa May Alcott team-taught by Greg Eislein and Anne Phillips, Karin Westman’s “Harry Potter” and “Hamilton” courses, and the wonderful poetry classes I’ve taken with Traci Brimhall. The support I’ve had in the classroom from these phenomenal professors really has been the icing on the cake of my time as an English major.
I also credit my English experience for my ability to excel in my internship opportunities. In the summer of 2017, I interned in the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress. This internship experience helped me realize that my career goal is to become a youth services librarian. In the fall of 2017, I was a research intern at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies and was able to research and write about sense of place and place attachment in my hometown of Scott City, Kansas. In the summer of 2018. I interned at Camp Kawanhee for Boys in Weld, Maine as the summer history museum curator. Without the work ethic, critical thinking skills, and writing skills ingrained in me by my English education I doubt I would have been able to gain and succeed in these positions
Additionally, my creative writing coursework has helped me feel prepared to submit my creative work for publication. I get to present some of my poetry in March at the Sigma Tau Delta International English Convention at St. Louis in March, and this past week I received word that my poetry was selected for publication in the I-70 Review. I have hope that this will be the first of many publication acceptances that I can receive. Working with Traci Brimhall and being encouraged to take a graduate level poetry workshop really helped give me a boost of confidence and a desire to keep writing poetry even as I purse other things in the future.
All of these experiences – from community building to courses and internships – have led me to where I am today. I’m planning on pursuing a degree in Library and Information Science with a goal of being a youth services librarian in the future. While I have yet to make a concrete decision about which grad program I’ll be choosing, I know that my education at K-State and my time in the English Department have prepared me for my future on so many more levels than just education. Without experiences outside of the classroom and relationship building, I would have much less confidence in myself to succeed in whichever environment I am placed.
While I’m excited to join a new academic community, I know that I’m going to miss the English Counseling Services Building and everyone in it when I graduate in May.
– Macy Davis (BA ’19)