Ben

Class of 2014

Hometown: Unity, Wisconsin
Majors: English: Literature Concentration
Involvements: Eagle Scholars Honors Program, Sigma Tau Delta, Teacher’s Assistant, Intramural Sports

Why did you choose Northwestern, and why did you choose your concentration or major?

I chose Northwestern because I realized right away that it is a place where truly Christian faculty and staff express genuine interest in each student. Even in my first campus visit, I saw that I would not merely be a number at UNW. It was important to me to study under professors who are experts in their field but yet care about their students’ personal learning and success. I knew that I could find this at UNW.
I chose to major in English: Literature because I plan to attend law school after graduating from UNW. Some people are surprised to hear that English is a very popular pre-law major, but it actually is both popular and even recommended.  It teaches students to read, write, and think critically and proficiently. These are skills that are vital in the law field. Beyond simply future career reasons, I chose to major in English: Literature because I have always loved reading. To me, there is nothing more fascinating and exciting than exploring the ideas and experiences of others through books.

How have you been stretched and challenged by your concentration or major at UNW?

One of the ways I have been most challenged is in my critical reading and writing. My classes in the past couple of years have forced me to dig into the text, realizing that major literary works often have implicit and covert themes that require more careful study to uncover.  Expressing these themes in focused and supported writing is something that I have improved at, but also something that I am continually challenged to achieve. Doing this in a timely manner is also an area in which I have improved and hope to continue improving.

What do you value most about the English Department at UNW?

I really value the English Department faculty here at UNW. In my experience, I have found all professors to be both experts in their field but also wholeheartedly interested in their students. Professors here are always willing to spend the extra time to help each student individually. From giving further assignment clarification to reading and suggesting how to improve a paper to seeking out and helping struggling students, the faculty are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that their students are succeeding in and benefitting from each course.

How have you changed as a result of your concentration or major at UNW?

Majoring in English: Literature has given me a broad perspective of the diverse world in which I live. It has exposed me to the plurality of the social, political, and economic ideas that has existed in the past (and still does exist) and which still shapes our current perceptions of reality. This understanding of past and present ideas has given me a more comprehensive perspective of the world.

What is something that surprised you about your concentration or major at UNW?

Going into college, I imagined classes as simply lecture based. I have been both surprised and pleased to find that English classes are more based on discussion and student interaction. English and literature classes that I have been in have included small group (as well as whole class) discussion, debate, and even the acting out of certain scenes in literature. English classes use a plethora of fun and different strategies to engage students and encourage learning.

Tell us about your favorite or most influential class within your concentration or major?

My favorite class within my major has been Introduction to Literary Studies. This is a required course for all new English students and is designed to give both an overview of what to expect in English courses and give students a basic groundwork of knowledge and skills to succeed. This class definitely fulfilled its purpose in my life. It really taught me how to read, write, and research at the college level. What impacted me even more though was the broad variety of literature that we studied and the way in which the professor helped it come alive. He used modern illustrations and comparisons and interactive activities to help me see the interesting and even funny nuances of works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

What opportunities have you had that resulted from your concentration or major?

The main opportunity that I have had because of my major so far is being a teacher’s assistant in the English Department. This position is obviously helping me financially, but it also is giving me valuable work experience that will be beneficial in the long run. This job is helping me improve my computer, editing, and other work skills while also giving me great material to put on my resume.

What would you share with other prospective students considering applying to be a part of the UNW English Department?

I would encourage anyone who loves reading and is interested in exploring the marketplace of ideas to major in English: Literature. If literature is something that you are really interested in, pursue it. Do not allow false rumors that English majors are unable to get jobs to deter you from majoring in this field. There are many viable career directions to which an English major can lead.