What Do You Plan To Do With An English Degree?

Shelly RomeroShelly Romero
Midwestern Region Student Representative
Alpha Epsilon Eta Chapter
Stephens College, Columbia, MO

One of the biggest questions English majors always face is, “What are you planning to do with that degree?” From family dinners to meeting new people, even fellow peers, it’s a question that feels daunting, but it does make you wonder. What am I to do with my degree?

It’s a question that I faced when I first arrived at Stephens College as a freshman in the fall of 2013. I always answered with a cheery, “Everything. I want to do everything I can with my degree.” That’s the beauty of being an English major; the possibilities and opportunities are endless.

In the words of the omnipotent Dragon from John Gardner’s Grendel, “Find your gold and sit on it.” In other words, ask yourself: “What interests me? What do I love? Why did I choose English in the first place?”

Harbinger coverIn the beginning of my college career, I didn’t know what career path to choose. I was interested in everything and took various classes including Scriptwriting and a Poetry and Fiction Workshop, but it wasn’t until I joined the staff of Harbinger, our literary journal, that I found my passion for editing. I realized I wanted to find, to edit, and publish, the next great American novel, not write it.

In college, you have four incredible years to learn, grow, and discover where you want to go after graduation. You don’t have to decide as soon as you arrive on campus. Take different classes that fit your interests, participate in workshops, even take an acting class. (John Hamm from Mad Men graduated with a BA in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia.)

Being an English major means having a flexible degree, one that can open up and spread over various fields, research areas, and careers. All you have to do is find your interests, write down your dream goals, and pursue them.

If you’ve already found your niche, comment below on what your focus as an English major is and how you came to that decision.

Finding Home in the Borderlands

Amber RoseAmber M. Rose
Far Western Region Associate Student Representative
Vice President, Alpha Tau Phi Chapter
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Amber’s blog was selected 1st Place in the 2015 Convention Story Contest.

Before the convention, I had never before traveled out of my time zone. The rest of my chapter left the University of Oregon for the convention the day before I did, so I traveled alone, attempting not to fall asleep in the Eugene airport before my 6 a.m. flight and running around Salt Lake City airport while panicking about potentially missing my connecting flight (which was delayed an hour).

I have a horrible sense of direction and a tendency to cling to the familiar so hard that I almost merge with it, so by the time I landed in Albuquerque I was desperate for familiarity. My Faculty Sponsor picked me up at the airport, and as we got closer to the hotel I silently hoped my fellow chapter members would help me feel more at home.

Alpha Tau Phi Chapter members

Alpha Tau Phi Chapter members (left to right): Alison Goodwin, Grace Shum, Amber Rose, Sean Pebler, and Neil Davidson

Little did I know that my definition of “home” was about to change. The sheer size of the convention overwhelmed me at first, but it didn’t take long before I was conversing with people about Shakespeare plays I hadn’t yet read and which Hogwarts house I belonged to. Even when I didn’t know where I was or what anyone was talking about, I didn’t feel lost; the passion for literature that everyone brought with them to the convention made me feel right at home. It was infectious–even if you had never even heard of a book that someone was talking about, you couldn’t help but feel excited about it because they were excited about it.

Though I was also able to identify things that reminded me of being back in Eugene–my fellow Alpha Tau Phi Chapter members would frequently “throw up the ‘O’ ” for photos and to help us find each other, and I even found some ducks swimming in the Rio Grande that reminded me of my school’s mascot–nothing felt more at home to me than those conversations that had nothing to do with the place I call home. At the convention, home didn’t mean where you came from; home meant where you felt you belonged. All the ducks in the world couldn’t take the place of the passion for literature felt in Albuquerque. For those few short days, Albuquerque was my home.

I still miss it.

Humans of Sigma Tau Delta

Crystal Stoneby Crystal Stone
Eastern Region Student Representative, 2014-2015
Alpha Mu Epsilon Chapter
Allegheny College, Meadville, PA

Challenged by the task of improving communications and inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project, I drafted a plan for our own Humans of Sigma Tau Delta page. Brandon Stanton’s project seemed like the perfect model for an English-loving society. In every picture, Brandon tells a story. He pays attention, not just to the person he’s capturing and the dialogue they engage in, but also the angle and setting of the encounter. Over time, each of his pictures creates a narrative about the community of people who live in New York City. I wanted to do the same sort of thing from a Sigma Tau Delta perspective

"All my degrees are from different institutions. I would suggest that to any graduate. You don't want to be too inbred." - Robert Crafton

“I’m a math major, but my minor is in literature and I work at a writing center. I don’t know how that worked out. What people don’t realize is that you need reading and writing in math.” -Jessica Moore

While our own project might not show the same artistic genius as Stanton’s, we do accomplish a similar goal: cataloguing experiences, moments, and insights from Sigma Tau Deltans across the world. The biggest difference between our project and Stanton’s is that we’re doing this together. It isn’t just one man behind a camera trying to tell a story. We’re all working together to answer the question: what does it mean to be a member of Sigma Tau Delta? As Stanton’s project is relevant to the city he so deeply cares for, ours relates to the Society and subject we love.

To keep the project going, we’re asking not only that you like the page, but that you participate. Do you have pertinent advice you always wanted to give? A funny story? A cool tattoo? Something entirely else related to the aims and goals of Sigma Tau Delta? We want to hear about it. Send a picture, a short story or quote (60 words or less), and the name of your school to stonec@allegheny.edu so we can tell your story on our page. “Like” Humans of Sigma Tau Delta and Humans of New York on Facebook to get a better idea of the kinds of pictures and stories we’d like to capture.

Robert Crafton

“All my degrees are from different institutions. I would suggest that to any graduate. You don’t want to be too inbred.” -Robert Crafton

Ariadne Capotis

“I don’t always feel like I’m the typical English major. I used to have class with this kid that was pretentious: not in the sense that he was always correcting you, but that he was constantly reminding you of what he’s read. One time he started quoting John Milton to me after class. I told him he should try to go out more.” -Ariadne Capotis