Student Spotlight: Scott Miller

Scott receiving his recent Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship Award for Creative Nonfiction

Scott Miller
English Major: Creative Writing

Besides your current classes, what else are you doing or have you done that we should know about? Awards? Special projects? Travel? Service work?

During my two years at CSU, I’ve received two Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship Awards, for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. I’ve also been involved with Sigma Tau Delta, the honor society for English students. As far as travel goes, last summer I got to spend a week in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s always such an amazing and humbling experience to be in the middle of all of this rugged and beautiful terrain that is far, far older than any of the people who are exploring it.

What inspired you to get a degree in English? Why CSU? How did you choose your concentration?

I had actually initially intended to get a degree in psychology, and then biology while I was still in community college. I sort of bounced around between all these different choices before I discovered that my strengths really lay in writing, and at that point I had this moment where I thought, well, that sounds like I should major in English. I should say here that one of my professors at Front Range, Randy McCrain, really encouraged me to take this direction.

I picked CSU because it was an in-state school with a really excellent English faculty, and I have to say, I think it was the right choice. As far as my concentration goes, I enjoy writing fiction so creative writing felt like the only real option. I may have hesitated for a second or two first, though!

We are always trying to debunk the myth that the ONLY options for an English major are to become a writer, teacher, or work in publishing. What sort of possibility, potential do you see for yourself as an English major?

This is a hard question for me to answer, because I am a writer, and so I obviously would like to continue to write and try to get published after graduation. But I have an English major friend who has just gotten a job in insurance, and another friend who has worked in advertising for a while after getting an English degree. So I would say that, for the student who has an interest in the sorts of critical thinking and communication skills that you can obtain by majoring in English but doesn’t want to write or edit or teach, you aren’t locked down to those careers. You can pursue all sorts of careers and your skill set will remain relevant.

Scott considering an alternative viewpoint

Knowing what you do about it, how would you describe the CSU English department to someone?

It’s a diverse and interesting place, where you’ll encounter a number of different viewpoints and ideas from the students and faculty. The faculty are very supportive. Any time I’ve had a question or a problem, I’ve been able to get help. People are invested in your success as a student.

Why do you think the humanities are important?

There’s a big emphasis on STEM majors today, as we all know, and they’re all about empirical data and things that can be tested. The humanities are more about how you deal with that information, and the ethical and philosophical questions that can arise from how we use information, and how we deal with other people, also. English as it’s taught at CSU is an interesting way to see how that can work, because you’re taught how to analyze, and how to communicate effectively, and how to craft good arguments and use rhetoric effectively, and so on. In an era of fake news and alternative facts, the Humanities are more important, not less, because those skills can prompt you to ask, well, where did this story come from? Is there anything to support and corroborate this information? That’s crucial.

What would you like to tell prospective CSU English Department students?

CSU has an amazing English faculty. There are so many excellent instructors here.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students?

If you want to have a life at all, try not to get into a situation where you have to take five or more classes at once during a semester. That was not my best moment.

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? OR, What are you currently reading, writing?

Recently I read House of Houses by Pat Mora for a creative nonfiction class, and I thought it was excellent. It’s a magical realist memoir about a Latino family and I don’t want to ruin it for anybody. Just check it out. As far as writing, I just finished another revision on a short story. I try to write something every week, but with Finals and graduation coming up, I may need to take a break at some point. Or not. Sleep is for the weak, right?

Scott hiking the trail between Bear Lake and Nymph Lake at RMNP last summer

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I’m out of shape and getting older, so last summer I picked up on hiking as a way to lose weight and exercise and actually enjoy how beautiful Colorado can be by being outside in it and not just looking out a window. The weather’s getting nice so I’m looking forward to getting out more. I also love watching movies and Imlisten to an awful lot of music. And of course I read a lot, too, which is a good thing for an English major.

Where will we find you in five years?

Hopefully by then I’ll have a career going and be able to support myself and my writing. I’m currently planning to apply to MFA programs in the Fall, and in five years I’d also like to have published a collection or a novel. We’ll see.

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