Clark Cunningham-White ’16
“It's difficult for anyone to pigeonhole a style of teaching or philosophy of Coe College English Department instructors, but one consistent message I heard throughout my four years was one of empowerment. Coe professors encouraged us as students to place our own point of view on the same playing field of scholars and academics. Their belief in my ability pushes me today as an AmeriCorps member serving refugee communities in Cedar Rapids. Frequently, I meet with community leaders and other service providers to ensure that the clients I serve receive fair economic and social services. The skills and strategies I received as an English student — to listen to and empathize with marginalized groups and learn from each other — assists me every day. The small class size at Coe means everyone has something valuable to contribute, and now I plan for community events and meetings with the same care and purpose that I would for Prof. Shaw’s seminar on 19th Century Transatlantic Literature or Prof. Aspengren’s Advanced Playwriting class (sign up for both!).”
Angela Kettle ’16
“‘Why does this matter?’ As the public programs coordinator at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, I ask that question frequently. Contrary to popular belief, my job as a museum educator isn't to convey dates, names and scientific formulas to our visitors. Instead, my job is to share, and often co-create, the meaning behind those facts. That's the most important skill I learned throughout my time in the English major. Works like ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ (two of my personal favorites) don't endure because they are inherently valuable. They endure because English majors like us have spent countless hours mining them for the astonishing truths they hold about what it means to live in this world. You might stop writing academic essays once you graduate, but if you really want to make a difference, you'll always be searching for the heart of the story. It might be written in a book, or it could be hidden in a dinosaur fossil. As an English graduate, never fear — you'll know how to find it.”
Anne Dugger '15
“I came back to Coe College as an adult student to finish my English degree. Since I graduated in 2015, my life has changed drastically (and for the better). I was in the healthcare field and looking for an opportunity to switch career paths. Now, I am the education program manager for the Catherine McAuley Center Adult Basic Education Program. I primarily work with immigrants and refugees, helping them learn English, become citizens and understand how to help create a community that values reciprocity of ideas and cultures. Because of the Coe English Department's wonderful staff, the rigorous coursework and the ability to engage in nuanced, complicated conversations with both professors and classmates, I am able to fully engage with my students and to better understand their social and community needs. As an adult student, my interactions especially with the professors in the English Department modeled for me how teachers help create community — personal warmth, caring and an understanding that ideas and personalities are valued in the classroom and beyond. With encouragement from my English professors, I am currently studying for my Master's of Education in Teacher Leadership and am so happy I made the choice to go back to college!”
Hailley Fargo '14
“Being an English major at Coe means that you'll develop a way of thinking and exploring the world, be provided with opportunities to put those classroom skills into practice and will have a strong support network that will be there for you during your time at Coe and beyond. I’m currently the student engagement librarian at Penn State, and I use my English major skills from Coe every day.
“As an English major, the classes I took pushed me to think about and understand issues from multiple perspectives, to articulate my opinions clearly (and with evidence) and the art of disagreement. I was encouraged to dig into research, something I now try to inspire in undergraduate students. I learned that persistence, intentionality and reflection are valuable skills to embed into the work I do.
“I also had the opportunity to participate in Coe's New York Term. In NYC, I interned at the New York Public Library as a community outreach intern and also worked at the Paley Center for Media as a social media intern. These internships are still on my resume, and every interview I’ve had since Coe asks about these experiences. Being in New York City allowed me to put my skills from Coe’s classrooms to use, build connections and, ultimately, confirmed that I should pursue librarianship after Coe.
“Even though I no longer live in Iowa, the people I met in the English Department (students and professors) are still the ones I keep in touch with and arrange visits with when I make it back to the Midwest. The English Department at Coe is a fantastic network to be a part of — people who support you while at Coe with enthusiasm and dedication and those same people continue that support long after you graduate.”