Monthly Archives: June 2011

Guest Post: Kris Weaver on Creative Writing in the Community

At the beginning of the semester, I seriously considered dropping English 409. I found out it wasn’t like any ordinary English class I’d previously taken; this one would force me to take part in something bigger than myself. It wasn’t something I could just shuffle through, writing along the way, reading the material, and making the grade. For all my doubts in the beginning though, I’m really glad I stuck with it.

What scared me the most was the idea of meeting with a partner on five separate occasions, compiling meeting reports, and eventually writing something about that partner’s life for the rest of the world to read. In addition, I learned that my partner would have a disability. That knowledge left me feeling even more nervous than before: what if I accidentally said something offensive? Were there protocols I would need to know in order to work with this person? I had no idea what to expect.

Meeting my partner for the first time did a lot to put me at ease. Her disability was a mental one. She got confused sometimes, repeated herself a lot, and liked to talk, which ended up being a good thing. I met with her a total of six times and learned a lot about people like her by just being around her. She talked about her family and her friends, about her favorite television shows and books.

The goal of the class is to help give voice (in written form) to those who aren’t usually heard. For some of us in the class, this meant being partnered with kids from a local after-school tutoring center. For the rest of us, it meant pairing up with six women residing in a home in Muncie where they can live in their own social environment away from the normal pressures of the world.

I won’t presume to speak for those who were partnered with the kids at the tutoring center and their experiences. What I do know about my experience is that taking this class was rewarding in more ways than one. Not only does it teach writers to work collaboratively, but it helps the community form bonds that would normally be unattainable. This class accomplished its goal: people’s stories were told, and that’s all anyone really wants out of life—to know that they are heard.

Guest Post: Whittley Lewis on Her Transition to Law School

I’ve had a lot of exciting things happen in the last few months: I was accepted at three law schools, was offered scholarships to attend law school, and graduated with a degree in English from Ball State.  Yep, I’m an English major going into something other than teaching or publishing—the two occupations family and friends assume my major is good for.

My emphasis was in Rhetoric and Writing, which means I’ve learned how to analyze other people’s arguments to find their reasoning strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.  I chose the major because writing and research interest me, and I was hoping that someone at Ball State could show me how to make a career out of doing what I love.  As it turns out, my professors in the Rhetoric and Writing program and an advisor from the Career Services Office helped point me in the direction of law school.

I never thought I would want to be a lawyer because all I could imagine was defending criminals.  Criminal defense is a noble profession, but not exactly my cup of tea.  Then I did some research and found out that for every hour a lawyer spends in the courtroom, there are ten hours researching precedents and writing analyses and opinions.  There are also lawyers who don’t ever have to go into a courtroom, but whose job it is to do all of the background research for a judge.  Moral of the story: there is a lot you can do with a law degree and the basic skills required are the same ones you need as an English student.

When I realized this was a direction I could really enjoy, it was time to apply to law schools.

First, I had to take the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test).  Turns out, being an English major is a great advantage for taking that test.  It’s a six-hour test that involves five sections of questions: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, an essay, and a random section of experimental questions.  We practice at least half of those every day as English majors.  Reading comprehension and essay writing are kind of second nature to us.

The Logical Reasoning section may sound a little scary, but the skills you need for that section are skills very familiar to English students too.  According to the LSAC.org (Law School Admissions Council), this section tests students’ “ability to determine main points of arguments,… ability to find relevant information within a text, [and] ability to analyze and evaluate arguments.” Hey, we can do that!  The only other skill tested in this section is the “ability to apply logic to abstract concepts,” so that was one thing I had to study.

You can also master the Analytical Reasoning section—which is also referred to as ‘logic games’—if you just learn to read what the question is actually asking.  Analytical reasoning on the LSAT is like advanced reading comprehension mixed with common sense and math skills.

To apply to law school I also had to fill out a common application and write a personal statement. These are pretty standard, but I can say that I felt confident that my paperwork would stand out.

My English degree helped me apply to law school, but I also believe that it will help make me a great lawyer.  I chose my major because I love language—there is a power to our words that people often don’t take the time to realize.  I am good at reading texts and analyzing them. In fact, I’m even one of those nerds who thinks research can be fascinating and enjoyable.  Now that I’m embarking on the next step, I’m picking my path for much the same reasons.  My love of language, passion for helping people, and background in English have shaped me into a clear communicator; someone who can analyze not only texts and speeches, but also situations; a researcher; and someone who understands the power of language.  So I head off to law school with all of these weapons in my arsenal.

I never thought I would end up here, but I am confident that I can succeed in my new field because I picked a major I loved in college and worked my tail off at it, and happened to acquire some pretty amazing professional skills along the way.

Department of English Awards Ceremony Winners

Last month the English Department honored undergraduate and graduate students at the annual Awards Ceremony with over $13,000 in scholarships/awards.  See the list of recipients below.

Leslie & Patrick Ballard Scholarship

Kaitlyn Thompson

Elizabeth Martin Scholarship

Jeremy Carnes            Collette Herald

Meredith Sims            Michele Weldy

Dr. Janet Ross English Studies Scholarship

Tiffany Ellis

Frances Mayhew Rippy Graduate Scholarship

Nathan Myers            Monica Robison

Voss English Research Award

Tara Dickerson          Stephen Jones

Carol Chalk Memorial Scholarship

Emma Baumann

Writing Center Tutor of the Year

Tyler Gobble

Matt Jones Creative Writing Scholarship

Elysia Smith

Barry Wright English Scholarship

Kelly Stacy

Department Honors in English and Academic Honors in Writing

Megan Byard            Phillip Call

Tyler Gobble             JD Mitchell

Madeline Witek

Outstanding Graduating Senior

Phillip Call

Congratulations to all our winners!

Two Great Literary Events in Indianapolis on June 5th and 8th!

Please see the message below from Prof. Andrew Scott, who has just published a collection of stories titled Naked Summer.   Congratulations Andrew!

Friends and Colleagues:

You’re invited to two Indianapolis literary events in the coming days.

The book release/launch party for NAKED SUMMER, my debut collection of short stories, will be held on Sunday, June 5, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Mesh on Mass, a restaurant/bar in downtown Indianapolis. Appetizers and snacks will be provided, and there will be a cash bar.

On Wednesday, June 8, the Writers’ Center of Indiana presents the Indy Underground reading series, featuring Alan Heathcock (author of VOLT) and Allison Lynn (author of NOW YOU SEE IT). There will also be live music and beer from Sun King, a great Indy brewery, as well as food from Fat Sammies, a Sicilian food truck. The reading will start at 8:00 p.m. at the Irving Theater (5505 East Washington Street). Admission is free.

Hope to see you there.

Best,

Andrew Scott
Assistant Professor of English
Ball State University”