UMF English Student’s Plans for after The Pandemic

By Robert Drinkwater

College seniors plans for the future have been altered by a great deal due to COVID-19. Classes are now online and for many seniors, their futures are uncertain. I had the pleasure of talking to a few English majors who are graduating this semester. Jacob Pilgrim, Andrea Swiedom and Vanessa Brown discussed their thoughts on the English degree as well as their plans for the future through email and Zoom.

Jake

  1. What are your thoughts on your degree?

I like the English degree a lot. Looking back, I also really enjoyed going through the process of getting it. I think that the English degree can be super versatile in its application after graduation. I think having a degree in English also gives you a very versatile skill set. It has taught me how to read more critically and think more abstractly. This degree has its hand in many other areas, too. Literature, philosophy, art, music, etc. To me, these areas all seem super applicable to each other and I think this degree has only pulled me deeper into these things.

2. What are your plans for after you graduate?

My plan right now is to keep working in construction for about a year or so. After that, I will have hopefully found a job that brings me into a field where I can put my degree to use. Maybe I’ll try to get my master’s degree in the future. I guess whatever I end up doing, I just want to keep writing. 

3. How has the pandemic affected your plans for your future?

It has made every plan a little more uncertain, that’s for sure. I am lucky that I am able to work for a good company, where we will be able to work safely despite the virus. I think the pandemic affected the end of my school year more than my life after graduation. I was excited for Symposium and a May term course that I was lucky to be a part of. So, it was disappointing that these things were shut down. I think we are all disappointed that school ended so abruptly. But, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and find the positive in the situation, whatever that may be.

Andrea

  1. For me, pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing and English was simply a way of doing what I love for the past three years, reading and writing.  Practically speaking, I am hoping the degree will make me a more marketable candidate for jobs.  But as of now, my degree is a whirlwind of memories, growing pains and perspective shifts.  

2. The short answer is, I don’t know.  If there is not another viral outbreak in the Fall, I would like to move out of Maine and look for work in Santa Fe, New Mexico working in some type of creative capacity that incorporates writing.  I want to take some time off from school, delve deeper into some of my personal writing projects and figure out what I want to pursue next.

3. In many ways, this pandemic has made “planning” feel utterly impossible.  For the past year, my goal has been to leave Maine the second I was done with school.  Now, I am considering staying here another year until we have a vaccine or medication to counter COVID-19.  Of all the places to be stuck in quarantine, Maine has been pretty sweet.  I can still walk in the woods everyday without passing a single person.  I don’t want to make any eager moves and be stuck in a major city or a place where I have no friend/family network and face another round of quarantine.  Right now, I am trying to adapt my mentality to this new reality and look for opportunities locally that will pay and continue to stretch me as a writer.  

Vanessa

  1. I love my degree, and I think that a lot of it comes from my concentration in my degree. Even though this last semester has moved online, I’m still working on things that I’m interested in in English. More specifically, I’m a TA for the Hip Hop class, so I’m working on a paper that tailors to my interests of contemporary art and music. I’m staying positive through all of this madness, even with all of this uncertainty, I’m certain the fact that I know what I’m interested in. I know what I want to continue to learn and educate myself about within this degree.

2. I plan on moving back home and taking a gap year before I decide on graduate school. A lot of my decision came from the fact that I didn’t want to jump into a program that I didn’t feel comfortable about or that I couldn’t incorporate what I wanted to do in it. So, I wanted to take time in a gap year to really explore my options to find the best fit for me and to expand more on things that I’m interested in.

3. I think that the biggest thing for me has really been financial trouble. It was difficult figuring out what to do job wise, and I was worried about how my grad school application would be affected. It’s affected me more now because I’ve been so stressed about everything. I think that once I’ve graduated I’ll be more at ease. It’s affected me emotionally, but mentally I still have the mindset of if I can do the things that I need to do the things that I’m passionate about and hold on through it, then I can still make it to the finish line and I’m still going to be able to do the things I have to do. I have to keep the mindset of it’s not the end of the world and I have to do what I have to do in order to make sure that not only myself, but the other people in my graduating class all succeed in time.

As of right now, Commencement for the UMF class of 2020 will be held on August 22.

Interview With UMF English Major Vanessa Brown

By Robert Drinkwater

Vanessa Brown is a senior English major here at UMF. She is currently one of the leaders in Clefnotes, and plans to be taking a travel course to Paris, France in May as her last elective course here at UMF before she gets her degree. In this interview we discussed her passions as an English major, why she chose her concentration, and her role in Clefnotes.

Every English major has a concentration. What is your concentration?

My concentration is Race Studies in literature and music. Mainly because when I made my proposal I wanted it to be something that had to do with my own personal identity as well as music. Growing up I had a white mom and a black dad so I’m biracial and I thought that race studies in general is something that always interests me and in the future I hope to write more stuff on mixed race children and mixed raced literature as well, and just contribute in that aspect. The music part is just that I grew up in a very music oriented family and I joined Clefnotes so I do a lot of singing. My dad also did a lot of music when he was growing up, so I wanted to incorporate music in that aspect. It has always been an important part of my life.

In May you’ll be taking a travel course to Paris. Can you elaborate on your decision on taking this course?

Kristen (Case) actually reached out to me last semester during a New Commons course because she thought that it would be a good fit, and I was like ‘yes!’, not only because it’s going to Paris, but it was an opportunity for me to learn about English language writers and their influences in writing stuff that is either based in Paris or has Paris influences, and I’m not completely familiar with and I thought it would awesome to go on this trip for, as well as find more writers, or artists, or musicians that were influenced by France or Paris specifically, and learn about that more. It’s also my final four elective credits, and it’s one of the opportunities that if you have the chance to travel, take advantage of that because you’ll never know how many of those opportunities you’ll get again.

This year you’re leading Clefnotes. Can you decribe what that’s like?

Leading Clefnotes has definitely been a new experience for me, it’s music so I’m very interested, and it’s also a student run group so you’re also dealing with people that are of your own age or slightly younger, so at times it can very difficult, but for the most part, it’s a great experience, it’s something I’m learning from. I’m learning leadership skills from it and being able to communicate with my peers very well as well as talk with not only people inside my group, but so people outside this group, about music and performance. This year we lost a lot of good people so we’re really looking for more people to join our group. Clefnotes was the first group that I joined on campus, so it holds a very special place in my heart because it was one of the things that helped me connect with the community. A lot of people can connect with music even if they think that they’re not musically inclined. A lot of people enjoy watching it or performing it. I’m also not the only one leading Clefnotes right now. Kate Graeff is also leading it. She is a sophomore and she is awesome. We’re doing our best to lead the group, and as of right now things are going really well.

Do you have any plans on what you’ll be doing after graduation?

The goal right now is to take a gap year and then look into graduate school. I want to look more into African American Studies. It’s really where my central interests are and in terms of career wise, I will always hope to do something that’s in that field. I don’t like to limit myself in what I can do, but if I can do something that’s either African American studies based or music based, that would be the best, but the hope is grad school.

How would you describe your experience here at UMF as an English major?

Enjoyable. I do enjoy being an English major, a lot. I initially came to UMF as a theater major. I knew I was always good at writing and reading, but I never had the confidence in believing that could be an English major, but second semester of freshmen year I changed because I realized that I have a passion for writing and I have passion for so many different things that can go along with reading and writing and we have so many passionate and great professors at this school that are so interested in what you bring to the table. Even if it’s something they’ve seen before, they want you to bring yourself into it, and I admire that so much. As an English major too, it’s been good because I’ve been able to stylize it in a sense so that I can be true to myself. Most majors, it’s hard to find yourself in it. You have an interest in something, but it’s not, like completely what you want to do, but having the opportunity to make your own concentration and being able to take classes that suit to your interests, or even taking an independent study. I haven’t had the chance to take that yet, but having that opportunity as an English major is amazing.

English Majors Share Capstone Projects at Symposium

UMF recently hosted its annual Symposium Day, a day where students across different majors can present work they have been spending anywhere from a semester to a whole year working on.

Symposium presentations run the gambit from creative endeavors to scientific research. Symposium allows students to present their research and their projects, as well as take questions from fellow students, faculty members, and other audience members.

For English majors, Symposium Day consisted of various presentations across a variety of topics. Some presentations included analyses of adaptation, such as Richard Southard’s presentation on Music as Adaptation, how novels and authors brought about the birth of a new genre, such as Jessica Casey’s presentation on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein being attributed to the birth of science-fiction, and reflecting on the lives and works of influential authors and writers, such as Anthony Lewis’s presentation on the life and music of Bob Dylan. English seniors also presented their Capstone projects in the Landing.

Capstone is the last class in every major in which students pursue a topic of interest in a project unique to the major, such as portfolios for creative writing majors, an art show for art majors, and for English majors, research papers. Capstone classes are a semester long and are almost entirely dedicated to research, which culminates in a presentation on the topic (usually Symposium, though there are other events depending on the semester and the class, such as the Senior Reading for Creative Writing majors).

The senior presenters consisted of Ciara Keene, Justine Walp, Anthony Lewis, Allison Turtlott, Jessica Casey, and Rosemary Penny, all sponsored by English professor Kristen Case.

Symposium presentations also include two one year-long Research Fellow award winners, one of which was held by English major Curtis Cole. Cole’s presentation, titled Enchanted Assemblages: Creative Pedagogy and Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, was sponsored by English professor Dan Gunn. There were also many Wilson Scholar awards, which are dedicated to shorter semester long, but still more in depth projects. These projects included Hannah Calkin’s poetry book and the process of creating and publishing it and Lauren Stetson’s practicum in intensive nonfiction.

Symposium Day is overseen and organized by the University Culture Committee. English professor Misty Krueger serves as the chair, with professors Paul Stancioff, Patti Bailie, and Olivia Donaldson serving as the other members.

Symposium Day is named for UMF alumni Michael D. Wilson, who graduated UMF in 1976 and was killed in an accident shortly before beginning a teaching position in Aroostook County. Presentations are made possible by Wilson Research Fellow Awards, Wilson Scholarships, and the students and faculty advisors.
For this year’s symposium program of events, visit http://www2.umf.maine.edu/symposium/wp-content/uploads/sites/107/2018/04/Symposium-Book-2018-1.pdf.  

Humanities Spring Reception

The Humanities Division at the University of Maine at Farmington recently help its annual spring reception to celebrate the end of the school year and the honor the the past year of accomplishments by students in the Humanities. At the ceremony, we recognized a variety of student accomplishments:

SIGMA TAU DELTA (English Honor Society) newly inducted members:

  • Thandiwe Andrade-Foster
  • Tegan Bradley
  • Carrie Close
  • Christina Kouros
  • Heather Leet
  • Wenyi (Nyx) Lu
  • Dale Rappaneau, Jr.
  • Alison Turtlott
  • Sarah Veilleux
  • Henry Wanat

SIGMA TAU DELTA members who are graduating:

  • Jessica Casey
  • Nicholas Cross
  • ​Christina Kouros​
  • Elizabeth Thompson
  • Alison Turtlott
  • Hannah Zimmerman

 

SIGMA TAU DELTA officers for 2018-2019:

  • Aurora Bartley (President)
  • Tegan Bradley (Vice President)
  • Curtis Cole (Secretary)
  • Thandiwe Andrade-Foster (Treasurer)

WILSON FELLOWS AND SCHOLARS:​

  • Curtis Cole (Wilson Fellow), faculty advisor Daniel Gunn
  • Hannah Calkin (Wilson Scholar), faculty advisor Shana Youngdahl
  • Richard Southard (Wilson Scholar), faculty advisors Michael Johnson and Steven Pane
  • Lauren Stetson (Wilson Scholar), faculty advisor Eireann Lorsung

RECOGNITION FOR LIFE-LONG LEARNING: Dorothy (Dot) White

SUCCESSFUL GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICANT: Cassidy Marsh (pursuing an M.A. in English at the University of Maine)

VARIOUS WRITING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

Alice James Books Director’s Chair Fellowship for fall 2018: Carrie Close

Islandport Magazine Writing Contest winner: Aimee Degroat (for “Where He Ain’t”)

University of Maine at Augusta Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival Poetry Contest:

  • Third prize: Gail Bello
  • Second prize: Billie Rose Newby

​Urban Apprenticeship Grants​ (funded by Proctor and Gamble):

Tegan Bradley

Zoe Stonetree

BFA SENIOR AWARD:

Fall 2017: Willy Doehring

Spring 2018: Hannah Calkin

BETH EISEN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Dale Rappaneau, Jr.

HONORABLE MENTION FOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE FIELD OF ENGLISH (finalists for Parks Award and Wood Scholarship):

  • Jenna Arcand
  • Conor Crandall
  • Ashley Forshaw
  • Joshua Heath
  • Meagan Jones
  • Elizabeth Kane
  • Emily Marquis
  • Dale Rappaneau, Jr.

MAUD L. PARKS AWARD: Annie Moloney

ELEANOR WOOD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Belanna Morales

 

Belanna
English major Belanna Morales

“Does inspiration exist? Is there some kind of guaranteed way to be inspired, to produce ‘good’ work?” Junior English major Belanna Morales aimed to answer these questions in her audio essay on what inspires writers.

“I was curious if it was random and luck, or if it was hard work or if there was something in the world that causes inspiration,” Morales said.

Throughout Misty Krueger’s English 201 class, “Public Writing,” students have learned what public writing is and how to become engaged with it. Public writing is exactly that: writing for the public, and more targeted audiences. The course emphasizes writing for the Web and public relations, and includes work in producing audio essays.

Morales, a member of the class, was unsure of where to begin. “I was stuck, so I thought to myself, what do I have in my toolbox? I study English/Creative Writing, I work as a writing tutor [at Mantor Library] and see people struggle, so I thought of ways I could help them write essays.”

From there, she delved into navigating between investigating her questions on inspiration and the software used to compile the finished product.

“One of the hardest things was figuring out how to use the software; the longest process was putting it together and making sure it sounded pretty flawless,” Morales said.

For her essay, Morales interviewed English professor Kristen Case and two students. They agreed that yes sometimes things do come to you, and especially things from your past can inspire you, but you have to make it work

“One quote I highlight is from Kristen Case, who actually quoted [Pablo] Picasso; ‘Inspiration has to find you when you’re working,’”

One quote that did not make it into the final essay from English/Creative Writing major Annie Moloney echoes this sentiment; “Writing is a ‘labor of love,’ and you need to put in the work to see your inspiration become reality.”

“For example, the more you read, the better you write,” Morales added.

For Morales personally, she revealed that inspiration comes to her from memories or images she encounters throughout the day. “I’ll be inspired by a series of events and think ‘oh I hadn’t thought of that before,’ and I’ll write about that.”

In addition to investigating inspiration, tackling such an interactive format allowed Morales to see the ways in which audio and spoken word can add to the written word.

“One friend commented that my essay sounded like a documentary because of the mix of me and clips of my interviews. My listeners can get a direct comparison of what they’re saying [out loud vs. on paper],” she said. “You can’t hear [people’s] voices when you write a paper. and you can’t always have three quotes in a row.”

In addition to adding more depth to the written word, Morales observed that audio and talking out loud can break down mental barriers.

“Normally I don’t enjoy talking to strangers. I find conversation difficult, but this time it wasn’t that way,” she said. “I was so interested, any barriers I would put on myself beforehand kind of disappeared.”

“Sometimes there’s a barrier between your mind and the screen,” she added. “[During tutoring], people will be like, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ and they’ll tell me what they want to say and I’ll be like, ‘that’s great! Write that down!’ It’s great to take down that barrier; people don’t feel so much pressure to phrase things a certain way when they’re talking.”

Although she is not sure when she’ll have the opportunity to do another project like this, Morales said that she would like to do more audio essays in the future.

“Everyone should take this class!” Morales exclaimed with a laugh.

Looking back at Spring 2017

IMG_2232[1]

Brunch for graduating senior English majors

 

IMG_1865[1]

Richard Southard’s presentation, part of his Wilson Scholars presentation on literary adaptation and the art of magic.

Symposium Day Highlights

Game Day in the Proto-Science Fiction Class

The Surrealist Salon

At the inaugral Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society) meeting.

 

 

Humanities Spring Reception 2016

gretdan

The Division of Humanities (which includes the Department of English) each year hosts a spring reception to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. Faculty members Pat O’Donnell (UMF’s Trustee Professor), Kristen Case (Little Arias), and Jeffrey Thomson (Fragile) read from recently published work or work  in progress. Miriam Cohen and Roshan Luick provided music.

DSC03024

Students (and their faculty sponsors) who received Wilson Scholarships  were recognized: Curtis Cole (sponsored by Lorna Hughes), Nathaniel Duggan (Shana Youngdahl), Jill Gingras (Gretchen Legler), and Timothy Stokes (Daniel Gunn).

Several students were honored for receiving awards and fellowships from organizations outside UMF, including several Fulbright Fellowship winners (which will enable the students to pursue research or creative projects or teach English as a foreign language): Travis Bent (a history major minoring in French and Spanish whose Fulbright will allow him to serve as an English teaching assistant in Spain); Kyle Manning, who graduated in 2015 as an English and Creative Writing double major, and who will be spending a year in Quebec researching bilingual comic blogs; Caroline Murphy, Secondary Education-English (also a 2015 graduate), who will be an English teaching assistant in Bulgaria.  Additionally, Creative Writing and English major Kim Arthurs completed a semester with the Movies from Marlboro program for young filmmakers.

The ceremony also announced several BFA awards: Senior Award (fall): Nathaniel Duggan; Senior Award (spring): Sarah Winchenbach. The Beth Eisen Memorial Scholarship went to Sarah Williams.

Bryce Cundick, librarian at Mantor Library, announced the winners of the Mantor-sponsored On Our Minds writing contest. All three winners were Humanities students: First, Jinni Workman; second, Mariah Haggan; third, Aimee DeGroat.

Humanities students won several other writing prizes over the past year: Aimee DeGroat was a finalist in the Hollins University Fiction Contest for her story “Feel Something.” Tim Bushika took first prize in UMA’s Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival Student Poetry Contest for “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean.” Nathaniel Duggan won the COPLAC (Consortium of Public Liberal Arts Colleges) David J. Prior award for outstanding essay on the public liberal arts experience for “Liberal Arts Degrees and Lobster Tanks: A Lesson in Stopping to Smell the Fishy Roses.”

Each year the Division of the Humanities Presents two honors for achievement in the the field of English, the Eleanor Wood Scholarship and the Maude L. Parks Award. In 2016, there were ten students who were finalists for the awards. There were two winners, and eight students who earned honorable mention. Honorable mention went to: Samuel Bennett, Tiffany Bishop, Julia Fletcher, Tyler Gadaire, Carolyn Newhouse, Janelle Noonan, Laura Pulito, and Kristen Simmons.

The Maud L. Parks Award was presented to Holland Corson.

The Eleanor Wood Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Brigid Chapin.