On Friday, Feb. 19, the Roanoke College English Department hosted a meet and greet for newly declared English majors, complete with complimentary pizza and refreshments. The turnout was fairly decent and it was great to see fresh faces excited about their future in the English Department.
The English Department has recently become an umbrella that covers three different majors: Literary Studies, Communications, and Creative Writing. These majors tend to work well together and help students develop skills in reading, writing, and interpersonal relationships.
As a third year Literary Studies major with a double minor in Creative Writing and Communications, I have spent a fair amount of time within the walls of Miller. Most people come into college without an idea of what they want to study, but I had known what field I wanted to go into since I was seven. The English Department at RC, though, has given me more than just an idea of what I want to do but also who I want to be.
The past few years, I have encountered multiple professors in this department that care about me individually. I will never forget my freshman year when I had the flu and one of my professors contacted me first to ask if I was doing alright.
The department is home to amazing professors such as Dr. Heller, who loves his work and gets students to expand their interests with his peace studies courses, or Dr. Turpin, who checks the paper for student mentions in order to congratulate them personally on their achievements. It is mentors such as these that English students look up to and praise.
There are often times when my friends will make fun of me for my major, saying that I will never get a job unless I’m a teacher. However, after being a student in this department for so long, I know that this is not true.
The department works hard to make students aware of opportunities available to them. Professor Rosti runs the internship program for the department and she diligently makes sure students know of internship opportunities available to them, as well as checks in on her interns regularly to make sure they are enjoying their positions. There is a variety of jobs available to these students and the professors make sure they realize the real-world applications of what they are learning.
In addition to this, the courses are truly interesting. Before coming to RC, I had a deep love of literature. However, here is where I learned how to appreciate it. There are stories we read in class that have stuck with me and there are some that have, in all honesty, changed who I am as a person. The literary studies classes look deeply not only into language, but the emotions, history, and impact literature can have on a culture and on a person.
The Communications portion of the department is just as strong. Here we have professors who know exactly what they’re teaching without ever having to look the information up. In my classes with Dr. Khoo, I knew that I could ask him any question about his subjects and he would know the answer on the spot. That skill is something that I appreciate in my professors because I expect them to be experts on the subject. Communications also offers courses that have actual applications to the work force, such as public speaking or professional communication.
In the Creative Writing courses, students can find a comfortable space to share their work and get to know other students. For example, Dr. Schulz’s poetry class ended up having a small get together at his home where he made dinner for the students. Activities like this allow students to make friends in their major and learn more about each other through different types of creativity.
Recently, the department has been creating an even wider span of areas for students to study. Now there are six different concentrations from which a student can choose, ranging from Peace and Justice Studies to Film Studies.
The department is one that allows for students to grow along with it, as well as takes a great pride in all of their students. Newly declared English students can look forward to studying in this department and having a wide variety of opportunities, as well as the space to enjoy their studies.