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Advice for Graduating Seniors

In just one short week we’ll be saying goodbye to our graduating seniors, though we hope they’ll come back to visit. In the latest installment of our Department Dialogue series, our faculty offers them advice on starting this new chapter of their lives, and our #bsuenglish seniors share their plans for the future.

Mai Kuha, Linguistics:

Make friends. It’s not easy at any stage in life, but your time as a student offered more opportunities, making you interact frequently with others who were going through similar experiences as you were. Your social network after graduation, in a new community and in a new job, may be one in which planning, initiative, and ongoing effort are required to cultivate connections with others.

Jennifer Grouling, English Ed:

Advice: It’s okay if the future is temporary.

Upon graduating with a B.S. in English Education, I was sure that I would find the ideal teaching position that I’d been dreaming of. Substitute teaching was something I resisted as temporary, and honestly, I thought it was beneath my abilities. But instead of stumbling into that perfect first job, I just stumbled. When fall came and I had no teaching job, I allowed my summer temp work to turn into my first full-time position doing data entry, not what I had dreamed, but it paid the bills. That fall, I left to go to teaching, but not the position I wanted. Rather, I started as a full-time substitute teacher, which led to a long-term maternity leave substitute where I not only taught AP classes but also directed the newspaper. That gave me the experience I needed to land a full-time teaching job. My take-away: don’t avoid temporary work when it has the potential to lead somewhere, but also know when to move on.

Eva Grouling Snider, Professional Writing:

Embrace those tricky conversations about what you do. You know the ones I’m talking about? Those times when a distant relative asks you what you’re doing with your life and you panic? They may be painful, but they’re also productive. Try to really truthfully answer, and listen to yourself answer. Don’t just answer with a few words, either: provide details. I do many things in my job, but when I have to articulate what my job is to other people, that’s when I find myself identifying my true passions, the things that I do because I love them, not because I have to. Knowing those things is the first step toward carving your own path in this crazy, crazy world, and talking it out is one of the best ways to know those things.

Lyn Jones, English Ed:

For our graduating English education students who are about to embark on what I hope is a long and successful career in secondary teaching,

  • Create and design a community, not just a classroom.
  • Engage your students in “tough talk” over topics of social justice; encourage civil disobedience.
  • Teach your students to read the world, not just the word. (Freire)
  • Model being a dreamer, a designer, and a user of the content you teach.
  • Believe in the power of student’s stories; make room for their stories in your classroom.
  • Design and delivery are both equally important when it comes to curriculum and teaching.
  • Discourse is everything. Always be mindful of what you say and how you say it.  Students hang on our every word.
  • Remain a learner… about literature, writing, and the profession.
  • Come back to Ball State… to learn more about your craft, to interact with students, or simply to visit.

Cathy Day, Creative Writing:

Way too many of you think that the path from college to career is a straight line, but English doesn’t map its curriculum to specific career outcomes, like other majors do.

You tend to think this way: 

As an English major, I developed the skill of writing research papers about villains in the plays of Shakespeare and the gothic imagination of Faulkner, which I’m sure will come in handy in this marketing position at Marketing Firm, Inc.

But the path from college to career is NOT a straight line. You have to think about how what we’ve taught you could translate to a variety of jobs.

Think like this:

My final project as an English major was a 25-page research paper on Faulkner, from which I learned how to independently manage large projects, appreciate other cultures, analyze and synthesize information, and form an original idea. I’d like to bring my communication and research skills to Marketing Firm, Inc.’s marketing department.

Rory Lee, Professional Writing:

People have told you, and they will continue to tell you, that the real world is like this or that. And in many ways, it is like this or that. In other words, their advice has value, and it can offer you insight. Advice–what this is–is important; I wouldn’t be writing this tidbit otherwise. But remember that such advice is always a way, not thee way, to see, do, and think about things. Advice comes from people’s accrued experiences. So use it as a means to guide and understand your own but not in a way that precludes you from doing and being you. So, in the spirit of this advice, feel free to completely disregard it. Oh, and have fun, be the change you want to see, be the pontificating third, and all that jazz.

Senior Mary Pat Stemnock will be attending Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

Senior Lauren Seitz is participating in an exchange program through the Ball State French department and will be moving to Nancy, France for a year to teach in the English department of the Université de Lorraine.

Senior Amory Orchard was accepted to Ball State’s M.A. in Creative Writing program, and will be returning to BSU in the fall. Hurray!

Senior Daniel Brount is applying for editorial assistant positions at publishing houses in NYC.

Senior Evan Andreae will be pursuing any job that can get him experience in design, public relations, or marketing. His goal is to fulfill that “2-3 years experience” requirement he is always seeing on job applications. We wish him luck!

Senior Krista Sanford will be sending her work to literary magazines and publishers.

Senior Adrianna Martin is moving to South Bend and looking for employment or freelance work.

Senior Luke Bell will be applying for writing positions in Indianapolis and getting a cat.

Congrats to all of our graduating seniors! We are proud of you!

An Interview with Lauren Cross

Lauren Cross is a Ball State junior pursuing a major in English Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. She plans to graduate in May 2017, and then hopes to attend law school and concentrate in Social Justice. When she is not spending time with friends and family, she writes pieces for her blog and dreams of moving near a coast.

Last semester Lauren was a Legislative Intern for State Senators Lonnie Randolph and Greg Taylor. She was recently awarded the Senate’s Gudal Memorial Scholarship

How did you land your internship? What sorts of responsibilities did you have?

Lauren CrossI was cleaning out my inbox one day when I saw one of the internship emails from Cathy Day. I was determined to find something related to law because that is what I want to pursue after I graduate next May. Then, I came across the Democratic Caucus Senate Internship two weeks before applications, résumés, and letters of recommendation were due. I scrounged together everything I could, received a call granting me an opportunity for an interview, and then I received my congratulatory call on the last day. There were only ten Democratic senators, which meant competition was high for the thirteen available intern positions. I was assigned to Senator Randolph, Senator Taylor, and their Legislative Assistant, Andrew. I answered calls, responded to emails, met with constituents, met with people from various industries, tried to stay alive, and researched for pending and future legislation. Before this internship, I had no idea Indiana was one of only five states without penalties for bias crimes. How insane does that sound? Even so, Senator Taylor still fell short when trying to pass his bias crimes legislation simply because of his party affiliation. Needless to say, researching for bias crimes and bias-motivated crimes was my favorite responsibility, and without my research, this discussion in the Senate Chamber may not have even taken place.

What was a typical day like for you?

I had to be at my desk by 8:30 every morning, which did not sound tough until I commuted from Muncie every day during ice and snow. Once I got there, I immediately checked in with Senator Randolph, Senator Taylor, and Andrew. Typically, I ensured they all were aware of their daily meetings and committees, and I completed tasks as I was asked. Each piece of legislation is assigned to a committee before it reaches the Senate Chamber, and I was assigned to the Local Government Committee and the Criminal Law Committee. During these meetings, I took notes as bills were heard, and it was my responsibility to send them to the members of the Democratic Caucus. Then, during session days, I put together bill packets for each day’s calendar. Even though this did not seem like a huge responsibility, without these bill packets, the senators would not have each proposed piece of legislation in front of them during each vote. I was given an hour and fifteen minutes for my lunch each day, but if tasks needed to be completed in order to prevent the office from falling apart, I had to eat on the go or grab a quick meal at our favorite concession stand, The Snack Shack, in the basement near the intern offices. The end of each day slowed down a bit, and we used this time to respond to emails and phone calls before we left at 4:45. Rarely did this happen, though. We were lucky if we left on time.  But even though it was tiring and demanding, I would do this internship again without hesitation.

How did your English skills help you in your internship?

As English majors, we have to enjoy reading, writing, and research, but we also have to be precise and eager to improve. Being critiqued on our writing is pretty much a daily occurrence so when Andrew edited my drafts of letters to constituents, it was easy to not take any suggestions personally. It also meant I was quick to pick up on recommendations. Most of my time was spent researching, though, which was helpful because I am used to analyzing language and literature. I did not realize how helpful this was until I was asked to find similar language from legislation in other states concerning the bias crimes legislation. While I did not possess the hard skills other majors generally have, I was eager to learn, and would like to think I picked up on what was asked of me relatively quickly.

How did you receive your scholarship? What made you stand out?

The Gudal Memorial Scholarship is awarded to an intern each year for providing a promising attitude, a willingness to work hard, a high enthusiasm, and a smile. The staff spoke fondly of Rick Gudal, and this award was basically for someone who always came to work with a good attitude, which was my goal. I was one of the youngest members with most of my fellow interns being in their mid to late twenties, and some of them had even completed graduate school. While a strong résumé and years of experience may look better to some employers, I am thankful I was able to bring a little bit of cheer to the office during some of the most grueling days of my professional life.

What has this internship done for you professionally?

Before January, I was pretty quiet in professional settings. I am someone who would rather talk one-on-one with someone or with a small group, but I found this internship gave me more confidence than I ever could have imagined. It seems as though people in politics are viewed as crooks by most, but it was relieving to see these members come to work and put everything they had into trying to help their constituents. I was a witness to a true underdog moment every day in the Chamber, and there were days we streamed sessions from the intern office for the sole purpose of cheering on our employers. I also found my need to help others grew stronger along the way, and I am grateful as I near the day in which I begin applying to law schools.

Any last advice for #bsuenglish majors?

Enhance your résumé, but being stellar in your profession will not make an impact nearly as much if you cannot make people feel comfortable around you or if your coworkers think you would rather be anywhere else but your job. Wear a smile, and you will see the way it affects those who work with you. I promise.

Visit our Jobs & Internships page for the most up-to-date opportunities for English majors.

Looking Back on In Print XI

As many of you know, this year we celebrated our eleventh In Print: Festival of First Books, and we are proud to say we had one of our best turnouts yet!


On March 22, after an introduction by professor Sean Lovelace, writers Gabriel Urza, Sarah Einstein, and Sarah Blake gave a reading from their recently published books.

On March 23, Urza, Einstein, and Blake were joined by editor Keith Tuma for a Q&A panel on the publishing process and industry. In addition to the readings and the panel, The Broken Plate unveiled their new magazine and handed out free copies!


We’d like to thank everyone who came out and made this the best In Print Festival yet! You can visit our blog post for more information on the writers, and visit our Storify to see all of the social media buzz surrounding the event.