Major Spotlight: Ella Cashman
Hometown: Black Earth, WI
What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?
The community. As a transfer student, I had all those natural fears on meeting new people, but I found that becoming involved was easy; in no time I truly felt like a member of the department. Being a part of The Tower, the University’s art and literary magazine, my first year here also helped me find my community within the department. It’s close-knit and unique, which makes it so special.
Why did you choose to major in English?
“You’re an English major? What are you going to do with that?” I get that irritating question quite frequently. My response is always the same: I chose to be an English major because I want to do what I love. Once I declared my degree, the doors began opening, and I realized the endless options my English, creative writing, and liberal arts degree provided me. The best advice I’ve received is this: You can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. Risk being seen in all your glory.
"Study abroad forced me outside
of my comfort zone in the best
of ways and made me more
independent and confident.
Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your English major?
I chose an English degree because I didn’t want just one type of job—it’s a degree that fits into a variety of fields and industries. Furthermore, it gives me a good baseline if I ever decide I want to pursue a master's degree.
I spent this semester as Senior Managing Editor at CLAgency, a student-run communication agency, where I’ve been working since 2017. My experience there has opened my eyes to a whole new area of jobs available to me. An English degree fits well within academia, business, creative work, nonprofit, marketing . . . . I'm definitely not limited. I think it’s likely that I will continue exploring the different paths my degree can take me.
What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
For majors, if you’re interested and up for the challenge, take The Tower. I served as a Managing Editor during the 2017-18 academic year, and the class was one of the best experiences I’ve had during my undergrad. I’d also advise taking classes which are discussion-based. My favorite English classes have been the ones where conversations and ideas were generated in group discussions.
For non-majors, topic classes, especially in creative writing, have been some of the most fun and beneficial classes I’ve taken. Last year I took a topics writing class in the genre of horror which was not only delightfully unusual but surprisingly beneficial to me as a writer and communicator!
What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?
It’s not just Shakespeare and grammar. The department offers countless classes spanning a spectrum of topics that help hone skills in writing, critical thinking, and even public speaking (in discussion-based classes). These are valuable classes to anyone—no matter their degree or college.
If you studied abroad, what did you take away from the experience?
I’ve studied abroad twice actually—once my second year in England and this past winter break in Argentina. Studying abroad is a fantastic challenge, whether you’re doing a language immersion or not. It has forced me outside of my comfort zone in the best of ways and made me more independent and confident. It's life-changing.
Best book or movie you've read/seen recently?
When I was in Argentina, I watched Pan’s Labyrinth in its original language of Spanish. It’s a masterpiece.