Back in 2014 when I graduated from high school (which is somehow getting further and further away!), I joined the Marine Corps, in part to give myself four extra years to determine what I wanted to do with my life. Well, nearly eight years later I found myself entering my senior year of college with many of the same questions about what to do next. Plus, I was getting a degree in the humanities. What in the world can you do with that, anyway?
As far-flung ideas crossed my mind about what to do after May, I received a serendipitous email advertising a new course offered by K-State’s English Department that specifically addressed these concerns. All of a sudden I found myself enrolled in the inaugural ENGL 599 “Career Paths in English and the Humanities.”
The course was led by Allison Kuehne, and it was evident she truly cared about her students’ wellbeing. She went out of her way to work through our dreams for the future. As we completed activities from Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Allison guided us through different paths we might take with our degrees to ensure we have a well-lived life.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the course was hearing from K-State alumni from the English Department in the Alumni Connections Career Panel. The careers represented ranged from academia and professional writing to blacksmithing and working at an animal shelter. While some of those occupations didn’t seem to come out of an English degree, the panel discussed how much their degrees helped them in their careers. Hearing that made me think about all the places a degree in the humanities might take me.
In all, this course is one of the most applicable of my college career because it forced me to sit down and really consider what the next step is. Two of my passions are writing and sustainable agriculture, but I’ve always had trouble understanding how they might fit together. Thanks to what I learned in ENGL 599, I’ve figured out how to reconcile these two careers by applying to creative writing MFA programs and developing a business plan for the farm my wife and I hope to start in the coming years. The course also enriched my college experience by giving me the opportunity to connect with other students in the humanities and with professors in the English Department, while proving that a degree in the humanities is not a liability but instead a door that opens up so many possibilities.
ENGL 599 will give you direction, guidance, and excitement about what you can do with your degree. For me, that will be a lasting impact of this course and what I am most grateful for!
— Alexander Hurla (BA ’22 in Humanities, with a minor in English)