English Major Spotlight: Lydia Morrell
Hometown: Willmar, MN
Why did you choose to major in English?
After graduating from high school, I did not have a lot of guidance on what to major in. I knew that I loved my English classes more than any others, and took that as a starting point to begin taking University classes. I am extremely happy with that decision, as I have met a lot of fascinating students and professors who pushed me to hone my abilities and seek a job in related industries.
What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?
My favorite part has been the professors in the department. I was fortunate enough to take a class with Professor Qadri Ismail before he tragically passed away last summer, and he pushed me to take my critical thinking and study of theory to the next level. I also learned a lot from Professor Jim Cihlar, who runs The Tower, particularly about the business of publishing and editing literature.
Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major?
I am an English and Journalism double major, and I work at the Minnesota Daily as managing editor. I have loved to write since I was a little girl, and journalism has been my gateway into the world of writing and editing. My two majors complement each other well, as I have strengthened my critical thinking and research skills in my English classes and bolstered my writing skills as a reporter and editor.
What is a favorite book you read for an English class?
It is so hard to choose one! For me, it comes down to Citizen 13660 by Miné Okubo or Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn. I read both in "Survey to American Literature II," and learned a lot about the dark sides of American history. The first is a graphic novel about the author’s experience in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. The second is a novel about Filipino society during the 1950s. The characters and illustrations in both books create a deeply personal look at events that are hardly mentioned in the typical high school history class.
What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
I would recommend taking creative writing classes for majors and non-majors! I have taken two creative writing classes, and they are both among my favorite University classes. I am currently in "Screenwriting," where I am learning to hone my creative writing in a different format and style. I have always loved movies and TV shows (who doesn’t) and this class is providing a look into the back end of producing a movie, which is just as mesmerizing as the finished product.
What is your favorite place to study on campus?
I love studying at the Graduate Hotel’s lobby in Stadium Village. There is a Starbucks, artfully arranged decor, squashy study chairs, and many, many outlets. Need I say more? It is a haven for students desperately in need of caffeine and a peaceful place to crack open a book.
What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?
The publishing courses are incredibly useful for internship and business experience. I was a part of The Tower’s staff last year, and I learned a lot about marketing, editing, and publishing. Even if you’re not going into an English-centric field, you can learn so much about running a business, doing advertising, and team management. Plus, you’re able to hold up a physical magazine and know that you created that! It is a fulfilling moment after a year of hard work.