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Major Spotlight: Shae Kizima

A Peer Advisor for English majors, this junior values the feedback she's received from English faculty
December 20, 2019

Year: Junior
Hometown: Brookings, SD

Why did you choose to major in English?

While I’ve always loved reading and writing, I never seriously considered majoring in English until I took “Coming of Age in Fiction” with Professor Julie Schumacher during the spring semester of my freshman year. This was the first literature course I’d taken at the U, and I loved every second of it. Throughout the semester, I contemplated whether English would be a good fit for me. One day, when I was reading the feedback on one of my papers, I saw that Julie had written a note encouraging me to consider majoring in English. Well . . . that pretty much solidified my decision!

"Somewhat to my surprise,
I’ve found that I’m particularly
interested in various health
topics such as public health
and reproductive health. I'm
fascinated by the intersection
between literature and
medicine."

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

As a writer constantly seeking validation, one of the best parts of majoring in English is getting feedback from respected—and dare I say, cool—professors. Some of my most memorable experiences have come from attending writing conferences with professors. They genuinely care about their students’ success, and their feedback and advice have been extremely valuable. But we can’t forget about my fellow English majors! I’m currently a Fiction Editor and Online Editor at The Tower—the English department’s annual undergraduate art and literary magazine. Being on The Tower staff has given me a place within an amazing community of driven, caring, and supportive students, and I think this reflects our department as a whole.

Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your English major? 

I’ve taken a bunch of Honors seminars over the years, which have been very helpful in determining my interests. Somewhat to my surprise, I’ve found that I’m particularly interested in various health topics such as public health and reproductive health. I’m fascinated by the intersection between literature and medicine, and this has driven a lot of my studies within the English department. When I’m not in class, you can usually find me at the English advising office. This year, I started working as a Peer Advisor, and it’s been great learning more about the department and helping my peers. The English department is an enthusiastically supportive community, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

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

Even for English majors who aren’t particularly interested in a career in publishing, The Tower [EngL 3711/3712] is a great class to take as it not only equips students with practical experience in marketing, managing, and teamwork, but it’s also loads of fun! For non-majors, I have to recommend taking “Survey of British Literature II” with Professor Elaine Auyoung or “Death and Ritual in 19th-Century Literature” with Senior Lecturer Ann Tandy-Treiber, a couple of my favorite literature courses thus far.

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

Majoring in English doesn’t equal having to become a teacher! While I deeply admire and respect teachers for the amazing work they do, I could never be one myself—for my sake and the students’. The English department provides a wide array of opportunities for majors to discover their many different career options. From internships at arts organizations such as Mia and Mixed Blood Theatre, to experience-oriented classes such as “Protest Literature and Community Action,” students can explore careers in marketing, media, publishing, nonprofits, teaching, and so much more.

Best book you've read recently?

Lately, I’ve been reading In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. All the reviews will tell you that it’s a revolutionary, groundbreaking memoir, and I can’t say they’re wrong. Machado discusses the complexities of abuse in queer relationships while simultaneously analyzing them using various narrative tropes such as Choose Your Own Adventure, Plot Twist, Erotica, and more. An absolute must-read!