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Why I Majored in English

Kyla Walker ’22

I chose to study English because I'm fascinated by the way we use stories to feel, think and learn about others as much as ourselves. Reading and writing have always been great passions of mine and to be able to share my literary and creative interests with other students has been so uplifting.

The English Department at Pomona has far exceeded my expectations through amazing courses and conversations. The professors and the students constantly challenge each other to ask questions that allow us to find out why we think the way we do and how the power of words can be used to provoke something deep inside of us. It is a very supportive major and everybody truly wants to help each other improve their writing and analyses!

Last summer, I worked in the English Department as a research assistant to my advisor Professor Jonathan Lethem and had the best experience. I was given the opportunity to help edit his novel manuscripts, compile music playlists, and conduct research for a developing article on a science fiction writer.

There is so much freedom and possibilities given to English majors. The professors are very accommodating in terms of tailoring to students' interests and curiosities so just ask lots of questions, and also, take a Creative Writing class!

Hayeon Lee ’23

From a young age, I have always been deeply passionate about writing, reading and editing. I was that awkward middle schooler that was always carrying around a book or typing away in Google Docs during lunch. Now, as a college student, you could always catch me helping my STEM friends edit their lab reports, parsing through legalese documents in internships or geeking out about video game lore. Whether it be learning new languages such as Japanese or honing languages I am familiar with, such as English or Korean, I am always seeking to understand better how people communicate with one another through the art of writing. I sincerely believe in the concept that words hold weight, and it is crucial to understand how to mold these words into ideas. Ultimately when deciding my major, I wanted to choose a major that would allow me to do those activities daily: a major where I could keep reading, keep writing, and keep receiving feedback. When asking my mentors and looking at the classes I enjoyed, it was pretty clear that my track as an undergraduate student would lie within the English Department.

As an English major, I am not limited to one track, whether it be medical school or graduate school. Through the myriad of my English classes, I am continually developing my writing skills, articulating my ideas in a group setting, and sharpening my analytical thinking, which can apply and necessary to so many professional fields. In addition, English is a subject that requires a level of vulnerability. As an introvert, I am not naturally inclined to voice my opinion to a large group of people. However, all my English professors have always fostered a classroom environment where one would feel comfortable to put oneself and their ideas out in classes. Currently, I am in Professor Colleen Rosenfeld’s Idea of a Renaissance class and Professor Prageeta Sharma’s Creative Writing: Poetry class. Both are such amazing professors; the discussion that happens with my peers, whether they are major or non-major students, always has me thinking beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work two internships: one as a communications intern for the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships and another as a teaching assistant for PAYS. As a first-generation, low-income immigrant student, one of my life goals is to give back to the community I had grown from. Both of these internships were chances to not only exercise my skills in English and politics but engage in grassroots activism and action in the first-generation, low-income student community. Although my internships involved vastly different things, I firmly believe that my majors prepared me to take on all the challenges my internships threw in my way. Whether it be editing college admissions essays or creating marketing toolkits, my knowledge of English and politics always came in handy. I found that many of my coworkers began relying on me due to my skills in close editing and peer review. I am excited to continue my journey with PAYS this summer and continue to work with talented and inspiring PAYS students.

As a FLI (first-generation/low-income) immigrant scholar, I want to reach out to anybody with the same background as me. There may be times where the imposter syndrome kicks in, or you may feel like societal expectations are built against your success, but know that your words are always valid, you are intelligent, and you belong in the space you inhabit.