English Major Spotlight: Amaya Thomas
Hometown: Savage, Minnesota
Why did you choose to major in English?
When I was in early elementary school, I wrote (and illustrated) my very first book that I titled Little Dolphin and Her Friends. That one book then turned into a series, with other titles including Octopus's Birthday and Seal's First Sleepover. Writing has been a huge part of my life ever since. My love of writing also gave rise to a love of reading and discussing literature, as I always feel the most inspired after finishing a book. When the time came to choose a major, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to continue my writing journey and major in English. Throughout my college career I have tried out many different majors, from journalism to animal science, but I always knew that I wanted to continue taking English classes.
What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?
I loved the writing workshops in the creative writing classes I took. It was quite scary at first to have others read and critique my writing, but the feedback I received was always incredibly helpful, and I found it interesting to hear other people's interpretations of my works. I also loved getting the opportunity to read the works created by my incredibly talented peers. I always find it enjoyable and inspiring to read something that someone else put an incredible amount of effort and passion into creating.
Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major?
In addition to English, I am minoring in creative writing, and I am also pursuing a major in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology. My appreciation for nature is just as strong as my love of literature, and I knew that I needed to pursue both of these paths in my college career. Despite the differences between these areas of study, I have discovered many instances in which my knowledge in one field has helped enhance my knowledge in the other. I have become quite interested in ecocriticism, a relatively new form of literary theory that studies literature and the environment with the goal of coming up with solutions to environmental issues. I am a firm believer that books about nature, both fiction and nonfiction, have the potential to help humanity take steps towards a greener future.
What is a favorite book you read for an English class?
I read Terry Pratchett's novel, Guards! Guards! for my "Science Fiction and Fantasy" course, and it was absolutely hilarious! The novel parodied the fantasy genre, and since this was something that I was unaware of ahead of time, the experience was all the more entertaining. Reading that book caused me to fall down the rabbit hole of reading more of Pratchett's Discworld series in my free time.
What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
For both English and non-English majors, I highly recommend ENGL 3022: "Science Fiction and Fantasy." The course provides the opportunity to read books and short stories that would not normally be associated with a typical English class, and I found the discussions we had in class to be surprisingly relevant to the real world. The course also introduced me to some of my new favorite authors!
What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?
There is a huge variety of different English classes offered here at the U, and for many of them you do not need to be an English major to enroll. I have taken classes with history majors, psychology majors, and even engineering and computer science majors. It is always fun to be in a class with students with such a wide array of different types of knowledge.