Thursday, October 20, 2016

Why Study English at AU?

Why Study English At AU?

By María Cardona, Creative Writing major

As I start my senior year here at Ashland University, I can’t help but think of my time here and all the great memories that I’ll always treasure. I’ve made great friends, I’ve grown, and changed, and matured and I owe a lot of that to the English Department. I’ll be honest—in my first years here I wasn’t as involved with my Department as I should have been, but I finally began to click with it my junior year and I found a home.

Walking into Bixler on freshman year made me nervous and excited. I remember my first English Comp class with Dr. Brown and how stressed I was about having to write papers for the next four years. Soon enough though, my worries were put to rest. I didn’t feel intimidated by my professor; I actually felt encouraged to reach out for help. When the semester was up I felt super-prepared not only to write essays but to really think critically and voice my opinions in paper, and eventually, in class.

While outside of class I’ve become a bit of a chatterbox, I was never one to raise my hand and say what I think. I always felt like my answers and opinions would be judged, like I wasn’t as smart as the other students, or just scared or intimidated by teachers and classmates. One of the greatest things I owe to this lovely department is that I’ve found the courage to use my voice and speak up in and out of class.

It took until my sophomore year but when I took Postcolonial Literature with Dr. Mondal, I started to feel more comfortable with expressing my ideas – even if I knew they might be controversial. Eventually, I went back to Dr. Brown in Modern Novel my junior year and the days when I didn’t raise my hand and spoke up in class were few. However, if it hadn’t been for the support of my professors I know I wouldn’t have made it that far.

It started off with paper conferences when I’d meet with Dr. Mondal, first for English Comp II and later for Postcolonial Literature, and share ideas I wanted to put down on paper but was shy to still express in class. Then I’d find myself talking in the halls with them or dropping by their offices to talk about a class reading or my opinions on a novel or play (just ask Dr. Waterman!)

With each passing class, I felt more and more comfortable and continued to fall in love with the English program at AU. I love Dr. Weaver’s jokes in class – how he always tries to modernize Greek Literature for us and forces us to really think about the intentions behind a character’s actions. I love Dr. Flemings’ passion for poetry – especially her love for Yeats, which led me to studying abroad in Ireland this semester!

I love how I can simply drop by Dr. Donatini’s office to say hello and how comfortable I am talking to her about actual English department stuff or books, or life in general. I love walking into Dr. Waterman’s office and joking or venting but I also love how her classes and book choices give me headaches with how deep we get into discussing them. I love that the books, essays and plays I’ve read in my classes have made me passionate about so many causes and have allowed me to find a voice. I love Dr. Brown’s open-mindedness, her encouraging nature and the amazing directions she takes in both reading discussions and paper ideas.

I love Dr. Mondal’s world views and how she takes us outside our American world and shows us other realities. I also love how she really motivates us to analyze texts down to periods and commas because it all has intent. I love Dr. Mackall’s lightheartedness in class but also his advice and encouragement to pursue ideas and go far with them. I love Dr. Grady’s energy, her passion and drive and her ability to make us think outside the box.

I am beyond thankful to my department for their encouragement, support, hard work, dedication – and most of all, for sharing their brilliant minds with us. While I have not been blessed with the opportunity to have a class with each professor in the department, I’ve met many of them and they are superb human beings and even better professors. I no longer get nervous upon entering Bixler because when I cross that threshold I am home. Come study English at AU, because you will not only leave with a great degree, but also a great understanding shaped by great minds.