OPINION: English majors: We’re not all teachers

Kalyn Johnson


On Friday Aug. 25, The Department of English hosted its first ever convocation. The ceremony successfully showcased the different concentrations that the Department of English has to offer. The Head of the Department of English, Robert Hale, invited many students who have successfully used English degrees inside and outside of the classroom to speak on the topics of scholarships, internships and even study abroad opportunities.

Having the chance to hear upperclassmen from every concentration of English speak on their experience was uplifting. Not only did students talk about their experience within the department, but they validated their degrees by discussing publication opportunities. The Ashen Egg and Zephyrus, both university publications, allow students to hone their craft outside of class. This event showcased all of the opportunities that are located within the English department, such as the Film Club, Korean Pop Culture Club, Professional Writing Club and The English Club. What I found most striking about the event, however, was the amount of passion with which everyone spoke.

With an English degree it can be easy to get bogged down with the uncertainty of a crooked job market, or thinking that we can only be editors and publishers. This convocation showed that an English degree is diverse and necessary.

My experience within the Department of English has been filled with uncertainty as I’ve fallen completely out of love with editing and into an intense relationship with the realm of Student Affairs. I felt that my degree was useless and a waste of time or I’d spent thousands of dollars only to fall out of love with something that was my passion. But that isn’t what happened. I was looking at the situation through a dirty lens and the convocation was the clarity I found. I, like many others, found a way for my English degree to complement my new passion.

I spoke at the convocation and could only echo what those before me had said: a degree in English is one of the most valuable degrees a person can receive because it can teach us so much about the world and ourselves. With all due respect to these occupations, I believe it is important for everyone to know people with English degrees are not all editors, publishers or teachers. We write speeches for government officials. We are lawyers and medical professionals. We run conventions, write screenplays and even re-write technical manuals for NASA.

The many students who spoke at the convocation did something for the incoming class that I wish I’d had as a young professional writer: validated a degree that gets very little respect.