Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Five Questions with Allison Berwald

Our next graduating senior profile is of Allison Berwald, co-winner of the Virginia Chaney Award for the outstanding female major.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

The most valuable experiences of my English major have been class discussions and working on my papers with the help of a professor. I have participated in so many class discussions in English major classes, particularly in the upper level courses and senior seminar, that have significantly changed and deepened my understanding of a text, of the people in my class, of whatever the text is addressing, and of how to read literature. All the complexities of the text and analysis of it come out in class discussion. I have also found great value in honing my writing with the help of whatever professor is teaching that class and sometimes of peers. Conferences with teachers have helped me understand more about how to engage in the writing process and how to write clearly and insightfully. I have come to love academic writing through this process, which I would never have imagined myself saying when I entered as a freshman.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

My immediate post-graduation plan is to find a job for a year or so in editing, tutoring, teaching, or anything I can as I apply for a Fulbright and to graduate schools.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

My favorite writers have not changed since I have been here, but I understand those writers better and love them more, and I have found many more writers to add to that list. I loved Shakespeare, Austen, Pullman, L'Engle, Rowling, Wilde, and Thoreau before coming here. Now that list has to include Donne, Chaucer, Sidney, and Marquez, among others of course. In most cases I love the depth, complexity, and insightfulness of their writing and their ability to place you in a moment and make you feel completely present in it.

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

Usually true - however, this March was absolutely terrible.

Any shout outs on your way out?

To Dr. James Wells, who has his Ph.D. in throwing down.

What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

I think that I found out everything I needed to know at the moment I needed to know it. I would not have done anything differently from the moment I started my English major. I wish I had been able to take more English classes as electives, though, instead of using them all for my freshman year as a music business major. However, that's what brought me to Belmont, so it was worth it.