English at Rockhurst


Courtesy of Dmitrij Paskevic, Unsplash

Thomas Kennedy-Croft, Reporter

Recently, I did an in-depth dive into the English department here at Rockhurst. I interviewed several teachers to figure out what the department is all about and why prospective students should choose to become English majors.

One thing that was repeated by the professors I interviewed, as far as why students should choose to become English majors, was the variety of jobs available to English majors after graduation. In my interviews, it was stressed that English majors have a wide variety of careers to choose from because of the versatility of the skill set you gain through the major. John Kerrigan, chair of the English department, talked to me about how the empathy and critical thinking skills you learn here at Rockhurst are lucrative in the job market and that those things are important to employers. When I spoke to Jason Arthur, associate professor of English, he talked about creative problem solving and how written communication is vital, not only in the job market, but in everyday life as well.

As an English major, you can choose from one of four tracks, or you can choose to double major with multiple tracks. Those tracks are education, film, literature and writing. Each of these tracks work well in tandem with each other, and as stand-alone majors.

The English Club is a department club that focuses on holding English-based events and activities. The club is a socially-focused branch of the English department. Most recently, the club held a poetry contest in which a number of students submitted original poetry for prizes. The club also hosts meet and greets where you can get to know professors and fellow English students better.

When I asked the professors about what students should do in preparation to becoming English majors, I was told several different things. The first was to find what kind of books interest you and developing a habit of consistently reading. Kerrigan stressed that when it comes to books, you should try to read the ones that interest you, so you can develop a habit of reading for enjoyment. Arthur also stressed how important it is to be able to choose what you read and to enjoy yourself while you are reading.

Another thing I found interesting was that neither of the professors I interviewed started off as English majors. Kerrigan initially wanted to become a lawyer, and Arthur was originally interested in math. Both professors later developed a love for English after discovering a focus that they both were really interested in. Kerrigan shared that he discovered his love for Irish literature after talking with renowned Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. Arthur shared that he liked the conversations that could arise from literature, so he decided to focus on English.

Overall, I think that English at Rockhurst is a great option for anyone with a love for books or even anyone who wants a great flexibility in career and life options.