English isn’t just about where to place commas and apostrophes or how to avoid run-on sentences. At Olivet, the English major is so much more.
While some may question the rationale of pursuing an English major, Laura Barlond-Maas, associate professor of English, thinks otherwise.
“We need English to do anything else!” she said. “Reading, writing and critical thinking all go hand-in-hand to make the world go round. Other people tend to question those who want to pursue English because our majors do not have a simple, knowable job track — for example, insurance majors know that they will probably work for an insurance company. But employers are always looking to hire people who can communicate well.”
Professor Barlond-Maas notes a number of careers English majors can pursue, and the list seems to go on and on. Olivet English graduates become social media managers, newspaper columnists, editors, copywriters, marketing specialists, screenwriters and so much more.
Junior Jack Caporuscio echoes Professor Barlond-Maas’s sentiments.
“Most people believe that being an English major means you have to be an English teacher, which is not true,” Jack said. “I believe that this major well prepares students for a professional career, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Professors Barlond-Maas and Hendershott-Kraetzer.”
Professor Barlond-Maas stresses the importance of teaching communications skills, critical thinking and how to look at an issue from multiple perspectives. Professors in the program also help students with resume and interview preparation and career exploration. Students are put in touch with graduate students or other professionals in the field. Ultimately, English professors help students think through what they value and what they want out of life.
According to Jack and senior Rae Claramunt, their professors have allowed them to grow and become better people.
“The most valuable lesson I have learned so far from my professors is to be uncompromising in the pursuits of my passion,” Jack said. “Professor of Humanities Kirk Hendershott-Kraetzer, Ph.D., and Professor Barlond-Maas have instilled in me the value of pursuing what will truly make me happy in life, instead of just chasing money in a career. Making money is essential to living, but it is truly more important to love what you do and see the importance in your work — which is what both of my professors have taught me time-and-time again.”
Rae agrees that support from her professors has transformed her college experience.
“All of my professors within the English department have taught me much more than how to write a better essay,” Rae said. “They’ve taught me how to be a better person. Quite often, Professor Barlond-Maas shares her ‘Life Lessons With Laura’ and with each of those lessons, I’ve learned how to be a better professional as well as a better individual as a whole.”
Rae and Jack credit their technical knowledge and professor relationships as catalysts for change in their futures.
Next year, Rae will attend the University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England, for a master’s degree in literature and culture. She credits Professors Barlond-Maas and Hendershott-Kraetzer as key influences in her educational journey.
“They gave me the motivation and skills that allowed me to be accepted to five prestigious graduate programs in the United Kingdom,” Rae said.
“Having an expertise with the skills of writing and communication will allow me to have my pick of jobs after graduating from Olivet College — including my career goal of becoming a television screenwriter,” Jack said.
Rae stresses that OC’s English major is like a family.
“The English major is a group of individuals that all have their own aspirations, but as we go through each class together, we become more and more close-knit. The English major allows students to find community as well as the ability to be an intellectual on a daily basis.”
Professor Barlond-Maas echoes the family feeling in the program.
“The students get a lot of personal attention, and they get to know each other very well,” she said. “They learn how to work in groups to discuss a story, see alternate points of view and solve a problem. They even come to my house for brunch every semester!”
For those who still doubt one’s choice to pursue an English major, Jack has one message.
“The English major allows students to not only pursue what they are passionate about in their studies, but also for the chance to develop a highly underappreciated set of skills that can translate to so many different professions,” he said.