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Phelan: Preparing for college and being an English major

Published: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

As I’ve written about before, this fall I will be a freshman at Saint Mary’s College. Of course, this is exciting, terrifying, way too late and way too soon. Room and board, my meal plan, making new friends and the like are keeping me (and my parents) up at night. But when it comes down to it, the thing I’m equally terrified and ecstatic for is the reason I’m going away to college – my education. 

I didn’t like high school very much. Regardless, my favorite part about high school, other than co-ed dodgeball, was the actual learning. I am a nerd and proud of that. I love reading and truly did enjoy a lot of the books we read in English. But my favorite class of all of high school was when I was a teacher’s assistant at Williamsburg Elementary. I’ve therefore decided to take my favorite and strongest subject, English, and teach it to others. 

This makes me an English major with a minor in secondary education this year. And, of course, I’ve heard rhetoric and criticism for my decision to go into English. If you’re shaking your head, too, I’d like to remind you that you’re reading this column in a newspaper.

I’m going into English because there’s just so much you can do with teaching an English class. I want to make kids read books that interest and captivate them; I want to get into debates like the ones that have riled up my high school experience; I want to teach people to write what they feel and know and care about.

Teaching English to others is my dream. To achieve it, I need to go through at least four years of school. This means that I need to take classes in English, obviously, but also in humanities, history, theology and sciences to be well-rounded. I have to take two more math classes for the rest of my life and can’t wait for the day they’re over. I’ll be continuing my study of French. But even with English, French and my gen eds, I have a lot of choices. Do I want a class where I need to read 16 novels per semester? Will psychology be more lab-science based or social-science based? Do I really want to learn about contested masculinities and their impact in society? What if I discover a new passion of mine, like Egyptology or dance? What if I’m no good at English?

College is a big step, one that not everyone gets to take. But I’m ready to take classes that really do interest me and begin on the path to being an educator. It’s scary, yes, but I want to learn more about the world and more about who I am. I’m excited for where Saint Mary’s will take me, and I know that wherever I go, it’s the place I’m meant to be.    

• Courtney Phelan recently graduated from Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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