The end of the semester is typically a mix of relief, exhaustion, and joy. Students who have worked hard all semester long are looking forward to a break and some rest, giddy with the promise of summer. It is a bittersweet moment for many faculty because while they are looking forward to the same things, they also have amazing students who they might not see in class or even on campus again. I am feeling mostly sad today because I am having my final meeting with my interns. Kara Nosal has been so much fun to work with, to get to know this semester. She is easy going but enthusiastic. She did such good work for the department, specifically through her reports about the various readings she attended and her research into department history and creation of a timeline. Her work and her presence communicate a sense of genuine engagement, compassion, and creativity — the best the Humanities has to offer.
Kara is graduating this semester, making the move from student to alumni. I hope you will join me in wishing her all the best. She will be missed, but we are certain she is moving on to good things.
What brought you to CSU?
I liked the general vibe I got from the campus. There was a wide variety of people here. Some had dreadlocks, some had cowboy boots, and some were in suits. All of them, though, seemed laid back and friendly. I was pretty intimidated by the idea of college students when I was in high school, but I felt that I would be welcomed here. Plus, there were trees and flowers everywhere and I love trees and flowers.
What inspired you to pursue a degree in English, the Humanities?
My favorite teachers, elementary school through high school, were book nerds. Simply, they passed their love of the humanities on to me. Something about the assumption that the arts were a waste of time also inspired me, in a reverse way, to become an English major. I wanted to prove to my mentors, my parents, society, that there is value in studying the humanities. Though, I’ll admit that that value looks different than, say, the value of math or science.
Why is it important to study the Humanities?
My experience with the humanities is that they are useful areas of study, but not readily marketable in an economic sense. I get sick of thinking about human success purely in terms of money. There’s more to humans than what goods or services they can produce. In fact, I’d argue that that unmarketable quintessence in every person is the most important part of them. I believe the core of a person that reacts to art and story is the origin of creativity, wonder, hope, unity, and a slew of other beautiful character traits. English, ethics, music, art, history feed this part of a person and keep it alive. Picturing a world where that element is missing from the human heart gives me the shivers. So I chose to study the humanities in the hope that I can somehow help another person fall in love with that part of themselves and grow a little more goodness into the world.
(Also, I know I said that the humanities do not appear readily marketable, but I do hope to get a job as an editor, blogger, author, or teacher someday. An English degree can be a good idea on a practical level, too, though that’s not my primary motivation for choosing to study it.)
What are you reading, writing? Favorite book or author?
I’m reading Blue Angel by Francine Prose right now (though I should be writing final papers). It’s an interesting book because my trust in the main character has diminished more and more as the plot has progressed. I’m fifteen pages away from the end and now I can’t stand the main character. That’s some good writing, to make me hate a character I once felt sympathetic towards!
My fall-back answer when people ask about my favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. So Wilde might be my favorite author, but I also like Italo Calvino, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Column McCain, or any other author who might be considered a fabulist.
Was there a specific class, professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you, helped you, or inspired you while at CSU?
My experience in Dan Beechy-Quick’s intermediate poetry workshop will probably never leave me. My brain hurt at the end of his lectures because it had been growing so rapidly, I imagine. I wouldn’t say I wrote my best stuff for that workshop, but I did feel that my writing turned a corner, in a good and irreversible way, thanks to him.
Also, EJ Levy, who taught three of my workshops over the years, as well as being my academic advisor, helped me value my work and myself. All she did was affirm my writing and encourage me to keep writing. It was really simple. But I admired her so much as a human being, a teacher, and a writer that those affirmations held a lot of weight for me.
How does it feel to be graduating? What are your plans?
I’m excited to be done with school and all my anxiety about tests and papers that goes along with it. I will say that I’m going to miss the structure. For 16 years, going to class and studying has been my life’s focus. Now what? It’s a little scary hopping out of the fishbowl of academia, praying for water out there.
My plans are few. I plan to hike as much as the Colorado Trail as I can this summer, which looks like living out of a tent in relative solitude for a number of weeks. After that, I will try to get a job, but I don’t have anything lined up. It’s a very freeing feeling. I could do anything and go anywhere. Of course, I’ll stay in Colorado, I think, seeing as every other place on the planet pales in comparison!
What did you learn from your internship experience?
I learned how to interact with strangers professionally, which sounded scary to me at the start. Also, I practiced writing informational reviews of real life events. Up until this point, my voice only came through in poems and stories, but it was nice to have a voice, an opinion, on real things.
What advice do you have for other students doing an internship?
Go ahead and put your whole self into the process. Your personality, your likes and dislikes, your spirit, is valid in all contexts, including work. Don’t worry about morphing yourself into who you think the ideal intern should be.
What advice do you have for CSU English Department students?
Get to know the people in your major. Some really cool experiences can come out of a shared love of a subject. I did a project in my Beat Authors class last semester with some other English students in which we recorded our poetry while being backed up by a group of jazz musicians from the University of Denver. I don’t see those students much out of class, but we are all the kind of people who get buzzed on poetry. The atmosphere in that recording room was intense, highly creative, free, maybe even transcendent.
I regret keeping to myself so much in class. I was intimidated by those students who I considered to be better writers than me. I told myself I didn’t deserve to hang out with the “real” writers. It was total bull pucky. Don’t do what I did. Make friends with the people who love what you love. Grow together.
When you aren’t in school or working, what do you do? What do you love? What are you obsessed with?
I go through phases of obsession. Right now I’m really into the North American Bison. There used to be hundreds of thousands of them all over the west, and now the only true ones are in Yellowstone National Park, thanks to a whole lot of hunting and the development of cities. In some places they were so prevalent that settlers describe them as black sea over the plains. I read in my guidebook that the Colorado Trail passes through the area where the last sighting of a wild bison in Colorado occurred. So hopefully I’ll get to see that spot first-hand.
Where can we expect to find you in five years?
Oh, I expect to be thoroughly unfindable by that point.
Interested in this internship? We need two new interns for Fall 2015. Find out more: http://english.colostate.edu/news/english-department-communications-internship-submit-an-application/