In 2009, I returned to the University of WI-Eau Claire after taking a few exploratory years off. As a first-generation college student, I had little guidance on how to follow my heart when it came to selecting a career path, and so I declared a major in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology with the hopes of meeting familial expectations. I quickly learned on my first day of classes that the hard sciences were not for me. So, I pivoted and followed the inner path toward the English department. My initial apprehension stemmed from the usual trope that a career in writing is impractical, but the passion I had for writing outweighed the uncertainty of future job prospects. And it proved to be the right decision. From my creative writing workshops to literature courses, I enjoyed and loved every minute of studying Creative Writing in college. That is doubly reflected in my decision to pursue my graduate degree in the Master of Arts in English-Writing program at UW-Eau Claire. Among personal reasons, the supportive faculty is primarily why I decided to stay at my alma mater.
I would not be who I am today without the experiences of my undergraduate and graduate careers at UW-Eau Claire. These experiences strengthen my core values and principles, laying the foundation for the type of professional I wanted to be. I am in my fifth year at UW-Stout as a Writing Specialist and Advisor in Student Support Services, a federally funded TRIO program that serves first-generation, limited-income, and students with disabilities. I work with college students on a holistic basis, assessing their advising and writing needs and strategizing to provide resources. The work I do requires empathy and compassion; two traits strengthened by my college studies in the English Department at UW-Eau Claire. The exposure I received in studying a diverse body of historical and cultural texts forged a deep appreciation for storytelling and in turn a great respect for honoring the personal stories of my students. In doing so, I honor their identities. Beyond the technical skills, developing my curiosity, complexity of thought, and a critical mind are some of the most important takeaways that I apply daily in my current role. Additionally, in my line of work, a major aspect of my job is to advocate on behalf of my students. In learning to write and communicate effectively, I have the ability as a professional to help students recognize the power of their voices.
In reflecting on my time as a college student, I realize my positive experiences came down to the staff and faculty of the English department. They teach us but more importantly they guide us. One of my creative writing workshop professors once said, “We’re in the business of creating good, well-rounded human beings.” I couldn’t agree more. The English department is exemplary in this respect, carrying out the values and mission statement of UW-Eau Claire with the students in mind. Maybe it is the nature of the humanities, but, in my experience, it certainly was the nurture of my English professors that played a profound role in my life.