Why Study English? Senior Hanna Van Winkle Shares Why English Matters to Her
- Olivia Alsup
- Tuesday, December 8th, 2020
Hanna Van Winkle is a Senior double major in English Professional Writing and Communication Studies from Slaughters, KY.
Why did you choose WKU?
I chose to come to WKU for a lot of reasons. My grandparents actually met at WKU in 1974 and all of us since have attended WKU, so it’s a really cool family tradition and something I’ve been born and raised in as a Hilltopper. I thought I would be different and not go come here, but after looking at other schools, I knew nothing was like it and it was home to me already.
What made you want to be an English major?
English has always been my strongest subject. I’ve always loved to read, write, and learn about language, so I decided my Freshman year that I would declare English for Secondary Teachers. I loved the English Department, but when I got into more of my education courses, I found that it wasn’t really my favorite. I really liked the education portion, but I realized that I didn’t directly want to be in the classroom. I became a student worker in the Office of Admissions where I saw that [Higher Education Administration] is a full-time job, so that’s when I decided I would enter Higher Education. I added the double major of Communication studies and switched my concentration to Professional Writing because I knew I loved English and I didn’t want to leave it. I know English skills are something that you can use in any job. No matter what you’re doing you have to know how to communicate, write, and understand people and that’s something we learn how to do every day in our English classes.
Did anyone try to persuade you to choose something other than English? If so, what did you say?
I had really great relationships with my English teachers in high school, and they always encouraged me to pursue it, but a lot of people would always say “What are you even going to do with that? You only have two options of being a teacher or writing books.” That’s what most people think English means. Now, I love when people ask me that question because I always say, “Anything. You can do anything with an English degree.” All the skills we learn in class are transferable to a career that you are interested in and want to pursue. I like when people ask me that question, for sure.
Why is the study of English important to you?
I think that another idea a lot of people have is that “You already know how to speak English, why are you just studying the language?” but we’re studying the language to understand the history behind it, how to connect to other people using verbal and written communication, and how to understand people who are different from you. I think that’s just a really special thing about the English Department at WKU, and in the field itself. It’s just so wide and open while a lot of other fields feel more narrow. There’s not just one specific pathway.
What has been your greatest learning experience in the WKU English Department?
This semester, I’m taking the Professional Writing Capstone Class with Dr. Jones, and we just finished our cumulative project for the year where we work with a client to create something for them that represents everything we’ve learned in all of our classes. I was able to create something in the field that I’m planning to go into for this project and it was something that I would do if I worked in the field. It showed me that my English skills do transfer and connect perfectly with what I want to do. [This project] really connected everything for me and helped me feel confident in my skills.
What is the best way to make the most out of the WKU English program?
Definitely try to get involved somehow, whether that be through joining clubs or coming to events that the English Department puts on. You’re going to get a lot out of the department by going to classes, but you’re going to get even more out of it when you participate in all of the other extracurricular activities offered.
What are your plans after graduation?
I’m in the Joint Undergraduate Master’s Program (JUMP) for Student Affairs in Higher Education and I’ve completed about half of the program. After I graduate in May, I’ll have another year of graduate school to complete before I graduate with my Master’s in May 2022. After that, I plan to work for a university or institution. I love WKU and I would be happy to work here to continue to serve the community, but I’m excited to see what happens. I know I’ll be working with students and helping them in their college career, so I’m excited for that.