By Wes Cruse
Happy Tuesday, my friends! If you’re a senior English major (like me) who’s eyeing graduation with more than a pinch of anxiety surrounding that dreaded ‘what’s next?’ question, this post is especially for you.
For the third profile of the Humans of the English Department series, I caught up with Laura Misch, an alum who recently graduated with a BA in both English and Psychology this past May. Laura is a UP English success story; stories like hers quell my fretful thoughts of graduating college only to take up residence in a van down by the river (side note: if you didn’t catch that reference, do me a favor. Stop reading this right now and go watch this famous SNL bit). Originally hailing from Henderson, Nevada, she’s now in Virginia at William & Mary Law School, pursuing her JD (juris doctorate, the degree that makes one an attorney). I found her reflections on her time spent as a UP English major to be particularly poignant.
“Before college, I already had this amorphous idea of going to law school. (I think it was somewhat Atticus Finch inspired.) But, the idea didn’t go far beyond that initial thought. I was prepared to have this plan change in college, but it never did. Actually, I found that my English major helped shape my legal interests. Literature really exposes you to issues of social inequality—whether they pertain to gender, race, sexual orientation, SES, etc.—and many of them still persist today. And especially with first-person narratives, this exposure becomes very personal, as you live vicariously through these characters and indirectly experience the same social obstacles that they do. Thus, the English major further developed my sense of empathy, and this heightened empathy made me want to represent the underprivileged and those “outsiders” that we read about and love so dearly. I am not so naïve as to think that I can single-handedly change the world, but I hope to better someone’s life in even a minuscule way.
More practically, the skills you use and foster as an English major transfer over to law school really nicely! I write, read analytically, think critically, and always look out for the finer details.
The English major has played a big role in my life, so don’t let anyone tell you it’s useless or unimportant.”
As a bonus for those of you who read this entire post, here’s a book and some music recommendations based on what Laura has been reading and listening to:
-Book: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
-Music: the soundtrack from A Star is Born (my comment: go see the movie before listening!); Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois album, particularly the song “Casimir Pulaski Day”; and “Scott Street” by Phoebe Bridges.
Cheers to the week, lit lovers!
(Photo courtesy of Laura Misch)