I Am Qualified

If you have ever experienced the joy of declaring yourself an English major, you will understand what it means to be on the defense. It is not uncommon to mentally prepare for the response after uttering the words, “I’m studying English.” This sentence is usually followed by overcompensated excitement or a forced lecture about how I will still be able to make money despite my (poor) life decisions. It often feels as though conversations revolving around the future of the English major are not rooted in reality. It is as though the career path itself is a fantasy. A fantasy which does not deserve a solid plan.

As an English major who is about halfway towards graduation, I have run into many of these issues. And after every negative conversation, I want to kick myself for feeling insecure enough to play that defensive position. That negative energy makes me feel as though the past three and a half years were spent twiddling my fingers. As though I did not earn the degree I am about to receive in May. In George Anders You Can Do Anything, he spends thirteen chapters diving into the versatility of the humanities degree. He describes marketable skills, anecdotes of academic and career success, along with different ways humanities can be useful under any job title. On page 47 Anders states, “In the noisy, jaded society of today, the ability to inspire other people is becoming more valuable than ever.” This is where the conversation about our studies needs to end up, in a realistic dialogue with the tools we need to create a successful career.

With this in mind, it can be extremely useful to look back over the projects from our college journey in order to observe and highlight the marketable skills we utilized. One of the major skills involved in my academic career has revolved around both creativity and intense analysis. With my concentration being English, Literature, Film and Cultural Studies, a lot of my courses and projects have relied heavily on this intense research. However, there was always some force pulling me towards the creative side of the major. It felt like a breath of fresh air when I would switch from the close readings of Daniel Defoe to the emotionally expressive writing prompts of my creative electives. 

One of these projects was in my Creative Memoir class which I had taken with the best selling author T’Kira Madden. In this course, I once again felt – for the first time in a long time – inspired within my major. While I was good at the deep analyses which made up my concentration, I felt creatively stifled, and at times jaded with the readings and projects I was assigned. But in this course, I was asked to search within my own life and create majesty among my own memories. For one of our quarterly projects, we were required to emulate a memoir titled Sticker written by Henry Hoke. This book is promoted as a memoir in 20 stickers, with the author taking the reader through his life with stories attached to these objects. We created our own version of this, going through some important memories in our lives, attaching each with an object of our choosing. Creating this short memoir was difficult, as I had not written about my own life at this academic level. This specific assignment did not only teach me to lean into my creative side, but it taught me the importance of planning, and clarification.

With that nod to my creative writing experiences during my undergraduate, I feel it is necessary to describe the benefits of my Literature analyses and the valuable skills I have learned through those assignments. One of my most valuable course projects in the English major was in my Introduction to English Studies class. This class was mandatory to any student in my course of study and provided me with the necessary knowledge and skills to continue on a successful path in my education. The main focus of the class was an essay that took a semester long to complete all necessary steps, with students encouraged to take as much time as needed to learn the ins and outs of each process. This paper ended up being around 12 pages, and something I dedicated months of my life to. This proved to be an extremely valuable learning experience, teaching me the importance of good analysis, careful editing, and accurate citing. With this process being done over the course of the semester, I was able to ask my professor any questions in order to learn as much as possible. 

My final assignment of value goes directly against my statements from earlier. In my Introduction to British Literature course I was assigned three large essay assignments for me to conduct close readings to various pieces of British literature. As you can probably tell, I am not too confident in my skills when it comes to classic literature. However, I completed one of these assignments and conducted close analysis on four different pieces of classic literature. I connected each of these pieces through the “price of knowledge.” This assignment taught me to have confidence in not only my writing, but my analysis skills as well.  I believe that confidence, in this world of professional imposter syndrome, can prove to be one of the most important things a new graduate could learn. 


With each of these skills I have learned through my English degree, I believe that I am well prepared in not only my professional journey, but in my life as well. As I graduate, and head into the “real world,” I will be able to utilize my talents and make this world better because of this. I hope to take my creativity and confidence along with me to the next steps of my life.

One Response to I Am Qualified

  1. Prof VZ April 6, 2023 at 1:11 pm #

    I love the phrase “create majesty among my own memories,” and I’m glad you had a chance to take a course with Madden while she was here for too brief a time! In each of these project, you set the context up well, but I was left wondering: what was the object you write about? What text did you research in ENGL 299, and where did your analytical energies take you in that survey course? The strength of these reflections lies in the details. Make sure you provide these kinds of key details in the portfolio reflections to make them even stronger!

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