English Major Spotlight: Lum Chi

This sophomore writes fiction, has interned with Great River Review, and is "somewhat interested" in law school
Head and shoulders photo of person with dark hair, brown skin, and hand under chin with beaded bracelet, wearing cream shirt in front of grey background

Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Andover, MN

Why did you choose to major in English?

Ironically, I used to hate reading when I was younger. I preferred running around over sitting for hours staring at a page. But looking back, there was way more to the story than I thought (pun not intended). I loved daydreaming. I’d spend long hours imagining stories, and when I was five or six, I took initiative by picking up a marker and writing a book of my own. I loved it. I thought it was more fun than tag or going outside. The experience made me realize that I was mainly distracted from reading because I was too busy imagining my own stories. Still, I got older and learned quickly that if I wanted to take writing seriously, I had to read more. So I picked up books again and eventually grew to love them. They're entertaining; they're really helpful in bettering my craft; they inform me of current publishing trends; and they actively fuel my imagination, particularly during days when my “writer's brain” runs dry.

Overall, I chose English because I love creative writing, specifically fiction writing. In the future, I not only hope to become a published author but to become heavily involved within the publishing industry. I want to learn how publishing can be reformed, especially with it being a majority white industry. As a Black woman, seeing myself represented more within the storytelling medium is very important to me. So, seeking change and diversity within the industry is another one of the main reasons why I want to be involved in it. I also aspire to start writing programs/workshops within my local community.

What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?

As a freshman, I was given the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research through the Dean's First-Year Research and Creative Scholars Program (DFRACS). After filling out a survey about my interests, I was matched with Professor Kathryn Nuernberger. At first, I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I also thought research was only for STEM majors. But then Nuernberger suggested that for my research I intern for Great River Review magazine by reading over submissions and deciding which ones should be published. I worked with two other students, and it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had here.

As someone who has submitted to literary magazines, it was incredibly fascinating to be on the other side of the process. And as someone who’s interested in the publishing industry, the experience was invaluable in helping me learn about the functions of literary magazines and how editors/reviewers approach choosing submissions based on content, craft, execution, voice, and fit with the magazine’s aesthetic.

Are you pursuing any interests outside of English and Creative Writing?

I’m (somewhat) interested in going to law school after undergrad, so I’m a part of the UMN Pre-Law Society. I’ve also been applying for law-related internships and opportunities, and I’ve been attending law-related seminars and panels. I’m taking a class right now called “Intro to American Law” where I’m getting a glimpse of what law school is like and what it takes to be a lawyer. For example, we’re reading cases, briefing cases, learning about statutes, etc. So far, I’m really loving the class, and I hope to take more law-related classes in the future such as ENGL 3093 “Law and Literature.”

If I do pursue law school, I’d like to go into Literary/Publishing Law where I can work in-house for publishing houses or even represent authors themselves through a literary law firm. I think it’d be a really cool experience learning about the legality of publishing and how it affects/is affecting the current functions of publishing along with the people in it. But we’ll see :)

What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?

I’d definitely recommend taking a creative writing class of any kind. I’m currently in a creative writing class, and already I’ve spoken with people who are non-English majors. Some are even STEM majors. It just comes to show how welcoming a class like that is, and that anyone, no matter their interests or writing background, can be a writer or engage in writing. I also think creative writing classes are super fun and stress-free. It’s a great break from more intense/required classes, and I speak from experience!

What is your favorite place to study?

I know it sounds crazy, but I actually love studying in my room. Before I started college, I remember people always said that studying in your bedroom is a bad idea because your room is a place to relax. But for me, I prefer my room, because it’s small, quiet, and free of distractions. As someone who has a ridiculously short attention span and gets distracted very easily, I need that solitude. Plus I can turn my room into an efficient study space by playing relaxing music, lighting a scented candle, or staring at the BTS posters/inspirational quotes on my wall when I need the motivation to study.

What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?

Surprisingly, there has yet to be a Creative Writing Club here. So I’m considering starting one when I find the time. :)

If you studied abroad, what did you take away from the experience?

I plan on taking a creative writing study abroad course in Spain for this upcoming spring semester. It’s with Professor Julie Schumacher, and I’m beyond excited for it!

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