Advice for Graduating Seniors

In just one short week we’ll be saying goodbye to our graduating seniors, though we hope they’ll come back to visit. In the latest installment of our Department Dialogue series, our faculty offers them advice on starting this new chapter of their lives, and our #bsuenglish seniors share their plans for the future.


Mai Kuha, Linguistics:

Make friends. It’s not easy at any stage in life, but your time as a student offered more opportunities, making you interact frequently with others who were going through similar experiences as you were. Your social network after graduation, in a new community and in a new job, may be one in which planning, initiative, and ongoing effort are required to cultivate connections with others.

Jennifer Grouling, English Ed:

Advice: It’s okay if the future is temporary.

Upon graduating with a B.S. in English Education, I was sure that I would find the ideal teaching position that I’d been dreaming of. Substitute teaching was something I resisted as temporary, and honestly, I thought it was beneath my abilities. But instead of stumbling into that perfect first job, I just stumbled. When fall came and I had no teaching job, I allowed my summer temp work to turn into my first full-time position doing data entry, not what I had dreamed, but it paid the bills. That fall, I left to go to teaching, but not the position I wanted. Rather, I started as a full-time substitute teacher, which led to a long-term maternity leave substitute where I not only taught AP classes but also directed the newspaper. That gave me the experience I needed to land a full-time teaching job. My take-away: don’t avoid temporary work when it has the potential to lead somewhere, but also know when to move on.

Eva Grouling Snider, Professional Writing:

Embrace those tricky conversations about what you do. You know the ones I’m talking about? Those times when a distant relative asks you what you’re doing with your life and you panic? They may be painful, but they’re also productive. Try to really truthfully answer, and listen to yourself answer. Don’t just answer with a few words, either: provide details. I do many things in my job, but when I have to articulate what my job is to other people, that’s when I find myself identifying my true passions, the things that I do because I love them, not because I have to. Knowing those things is the first step toward carving your own path in this crazy, crazy world, and talking it out is one of the best ways to know those things.

Lyn Jones, English Ed:

For our graduating English education students who are about to embark on what I hope is a long and successful career in secondary teaching,

  • Create and design a community, not just a classroom.
  • Engage your students in “tough talk” over topics of social justice; encourage civil disobedience.
  • Teach your students to read the world, not just the word. (Freire)
  • Model being a dreamer, a designer, and a user of the content you teach.
  • Believe in the power of student’s stories; make room for their stories in your classroom.
  • Design and delivery are both equally important when it comes to curriculum and teaching.
  • Discourse is everything. Always be mindful of what you say and how you say it.  Students hang on our every word.
  • Remain a learner… about literature, writing, and the profession.
  • Come back to Ball State… to learn more about your craft, to interact with students, or simply to visit.

Cathy Day, Creative Writing:

Way too many of you think that the path from college to career is a straight line, but English doesn’t map its curriculum to specific career outcomes, like other majors do.

You tend to think this way: 

As an English major, I developed the skill of writing research papers about villains in the plays of Shakespeare and the gothic imagination of Faulkner, which I’m sure will come in handy in this marketing position at Marketing Firm, Inc.

But the path from college to career is NOT a straight line. You have to think about how what we’ve taught you could translate to a variety of jobs.

Think like this:

My final project as an English major was a 25-page research paper on Faulkner, from which I learned how to independently manage large projects, appreciate other cultures, analyze and synthesize information, and form an original idea. I’d like to bring my communication and research skills to Marketing Firm, Inc.’s marketing department.

Rory Lee, Professional Writing:

People have told you, and they will continue to tell you, that the real world is like this or that. And in many ways, it is like this or that. In other words, their advice has value, and it can offer you insight. Advice–what this is–is important; I wouldn’t be writing this tidbit otherwise. But remember that such advice is always a way, not thee way, to see, do, and think about things. Advice comes from people’s accrued experiences. So use it as a means to guide and understand your own but not in a way that precludes you from doing and being you. So, in the spirit of this advice, feel free to completely disregard it. Oh, and have fun, be the change you want to see, be the pontificating third, and all that jazz.


Senior Mary Pat Stemnock will be attending Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

Senior Lauren Seitz is participating in an exchange program through the Ball State French department and will be moving to Nancy, France for a year to teach in the English department of the Université de Lorraine.

Senior Amory Orchard was accepted to Ball State’s M.A. in Creative Writing program, and will be returning to BSU in the fall. Hurray!

Senior Daniel Brount is applying for editorial assistant positions at publishing houses in NYC.

Senior Evan Andreae will be pursuing any job that can get him experience in design, public relations, or marketing. His goal is to fulfill that “2-3 years experience” requirement he is always seeing on job applications. We wish him luck!

Senior Krista Sanford will be sending her work to literary magazines and publishers.

Senior Adrianna Martin is moving to South Bend and looking for employment or freelance work.

Senior Luke Bell will be applying for writing positions in Indianapolis and getting a cat.

Congrats to all of our graduating seniors! We are proud of you!

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