Tuesday, November 25, 2014

High School Workshop Welcomes Area Students

On Monday, November 3, the Ashland University English Department held its 29th annual High School Workshop. We sent invitations to 250 different schools, and 18 of these responded, six of which had never attended before. We ended up welcoming a total of 155 students and teachers from these institutions, ranging from Willard to Cuyahoga Valley Christian.

The day began with a gathering in the piano lounge of the Hawkins-Conard Student Center where coffee, juice, and pastries were provided. To start the day off, we gathered in the Hawkins-Conard Auditorium for a brief presentation by Kara Metcalf of the Ashland University Admissions Department who described for the attendees the programs AU offers to its students and something of what life is like on campus. Then we sent our visitors on their way to attend three of the six workshops being offered this year.

The sessions included discussions of Frost’s and Roethke’s poetry, a discussion of what film studies is, a discussion of writing very short pieces, a discussion of the value of the first sentence in a work, and a discussion of Elie Wiesel’s Night. After the workshops, the visiting students and teachers were treated to lunch at convo, and then some attended readings by creative writers Jasmine Dansler and Megan Porhts and some went on a campus tour.

We are proud of this event’s longevity, its continuing ability to bring students and teachers to campus as well as providing members of the department the opportunity to engage in serious discussions with many of the brightest high school students in the area.

Monday, November 24, 2014

English Minor Travels the World During Semester at Sea

By Sarah O'Connell, Strategic Communication and Public Relations major, English minor

My view from my bedroom on the lowest level of the ship.  That's right, I woke up to this every morning.  Sometimes I would even see a new country outside.
One of the greatest Christmas presents I've ever received was a giant styrofoam board map of the world. I was able to stick pins into it, to places I've been to and places where I wanted to go, and it was one of my top priorities to bring with me when I went away to college. It was a way to set goals for myself and to imagine what I would and could do in certain places when I would finally be able to travel. During my freshman year, I came across a poster for a study abroad program that would not only accomplish my set goals I had made on my map, but also change my life. 
Standing in front of the Largest Pagoda in Myanmar and surrounded by one of the most colorful of cultures encountered on the voyage.
The Semester at Sea program has been active for over fifty years, sailing around the world and serving as a floating college campus for its students. The program currently takes place aboard a ship called the MV Explorer and provides typical classes that could be found on campuses around the country such as arts, sciences, and even business. Of course we were given more of an opportunity being distracted and let our minds wander at the impressive views of new oceans or countries we could see from our classroom windows.

I had planned most of my college career around this opportunity to travel and study on the ship. When I finally found myself taking my last step off of dry land and walking onto the shifting vessel I would call home for the next four months, I felt a rush of excitement mixed with anticipation. What glorious adventures were waiting for me on that golden blue horizon? Back then I had no idea, but what I know now was something more remarkable than I could ever imagine.

Our itinerary included eleven different countries for us to explore. We ventured across the rough Pacific Ocean and made our way through Asia in; Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, and India. When we sailed down the Indian Ocean we found ourselves in Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco. We had accomplished so much before we made our final stop in England. Even now, the memory is still as fresh in my mind as spring. I can recall what it was like scaling the steep stairs of the Great Wall of China, or stalking elephants and giraffes in the wilds of Africa, or looking out on the deck of the MV Explorer and being unable to tell where the sky met the ocean. 

Henna artists at work during a home visit in India.
Every day that passes pushes me to try to remember every specific detail and commit it to my memory. I look at my map now, decorated with colored pins of the locations I have visited and dream about going back someday, but for now I am so thankful I was given this wonderful opportunity in the first place. And it all started with me having a goal on what I could accomplish with my small map of a very large world. 

My blog: http://saratsea2014.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recent Graduate Thrives in Higher Education Master's Program

By Erika Gallion, class of 2013

As an undergraduate English and Creative Writing major at Ashland, I knew I was going to have to think
eventually about graduate school. Majoring in what I loved as an undergraduate is a decision I did not regret and still do not regret at all. Getting to do what I loved the most for four years with professors and peers who also held similar passions was a privilege I will remember and treasure forever.

Working within the Admissions office at Ashland for four years introduced me to a career I never before knew existed: Student Affairs. I loved my on-campus job; it gave me crucial leadership and interpersonal communication skills. What I enjoyed the most, however, was actively helping someone make an important life decision. Hearing that I had impacted a potential student’s college decision gave me satisfaction, and when I realized I could do this as a career (mostly by inquiring as to what my supervisors held degrees in), I began looking for programs.

From my experience thus far as a first year master’s student within Kent State University’s Higher Education Administration & Student Personnel program, my past as an English major has been essential to my success within graduate level work. Graduate school expects students to know how to write well, a skill that is (sadly) very scarce amongst college graduates. Classmates within my master’s program seem intimidated and insecure about paper assignments whereas I feel confident and even excited to utilize my skills. I also feel some hesitation when class involves open discussion—coming from an English background, however, I am used to and happy to engage in discussion. My experience as an English major has given me academic skills needed to succeed in any graduate program, especially one such as mine that includes interpersonal skills, confidence in participating within class and/or group settings, and strong writing capabilities.

I have decided to specialize in Internationalization within Higher Education for my Master’s degree, a decision also rooted in my love of literature. With this focus, I will hopefully one day have a career as an Education Abroad advisor or a director of International Student Services at a university. Confronting social justice issues such as racism and immigration is something I began to do in my English classes. It’s amazing how much a book can truly change and inspire you. Travel and culture have become fundamental to my identity, and I can say with complete truthfulness that this transformation began in English classes at Ashland. I miss my English classes daily and often long to read Invisible Man again and discuss it for class, but I am confident that this path I am now on will be rewarding and fulfilling. I encourage anyone to major in English if he or she loves the subject. It will not only captivate your interest but will also revolutionize the way you think and potentially shift the very core beliefs within you. Thank you to the entire English department at Ashland—you have truly changed my life. Best of luck to all!