Mackenzie Owens
English major, Writing concentration
Expected graduation May 2017

What brought you to CSU?
I came to CSU because my parents and my sisters all went here, and so I knew it was a great school. I also love Fort Collins and the campus, and so it was easy for me to decide to come here.

What classes are you taking this semester?
I am taking E305: Principles of Writing and Rhetoric, E405: Adolescent Literature, ECON202: Principles of Microeconomics, E487B: internship with the Greyrock Literary Review, and HONR492: Senior Honors Thesis.

Favorite English class? Favorite English teacher? Favorite assignment or project?
I have taken many great English classes at CSU, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. If I had to choose, I would probably say E406: Topics in Literacy, which was a class devoted entirely to examining and deconstructing Disney and its media empire and was taught by Lisa Langstraat, which I took last spring. I learned so much from that class about many things I used to take for granted, and had a really fun time in it as well. My favorite English teacher is Tom Conway, who was my thesis advisor this semester, and has been a wonderful mentor and cheerleader for me as I’ve progressed through my academic career. My favorite assignment was one from another class I took last spring, E333: Critical Studies of Pop Texts, which was focused on science fiction books and was taught by Leif Sorenson. We had to do a research project in that class, and we could essentially choose to do whatever we wanted as long as it related in some way to the class, and I decided to write a short science fiction story about robots that asked questions about gender, the meaning of free will, and consciousness. I never thought I’d get to do an assignment like that when I first came to CSU, and it was incredibly fun to write.

Why is it important to study English, the Humanities?

I think it’s important to study English and the Humanities because I think that it is important to learn to think, read, and write critically, and that is what a liberal arts degree will do for you. Despite all of our advancements in technology, we as a society are finding it harder than ever to just simply talk with each other in substantive and constructive ways, and being able to communicate an idea in a concise and comprehensive way is more important than ever.

The other thing that the Humanities does that I think is so important is develop empathy for different perspectives, and to be able to use that empathy to have common decency and compassion for people who might be different from you. Subjects like English create well-rounded citizens with a diverse skill set who want to reach out to and connect with others, and can create lasting change in the world.

Tell us more about the internship you did last summer in Germany.
The internship I did last summer was with the U.S. African Command, or AFRICOM, in Stuttgart, Germany, and I worked with the Secretariat for the Joint Staff as the publications intern. I was responsible for editing for clarity and content and proofreading every type of writing that was distributed throughout the command, including manuals, instructions, and proposals and then ensuring that all of it was sent to the appropriate channels for further review. I also had the opportunity to write my own manual for the command on the proper style to use for the various types of writing I edited, and it was actually approved by the Commander, General Thomas D. Waldhauser, and made official, so everyone at AFRICOM now follows style rules for their writing that I wrote, which is pretty cool.

How has your English major given you an advantage? How has it prepared you for the work, the life you hope to have?
My English major has given me an advantage but it has given me the ability to communicate with others, which is the reason I got my internship and my current jobs as an RA and as a Writing Center Consultant. I can, or at least believe I can, write well, which is a skill I know I will use in future jobs, whatever they may be, and that will also help me land those jobs in the first place. My major has also given me the ability to speak my mind in an articulate way and to stand up for what I believe in, which I will be crucial as I go forward in life.

Do you have any advice for English majors?
My advice for English majors is to read. Read whatever you can. Read books, read articles, read graffiti in the bathroom stall. Open your mind to different points of view and understand that your life experience is not the only one, that you have both privileges and disadvantages others don’t, and discover what you believe and why you believe it. And keep reading.

What advice do you have for students considering an internship?
My advice for students considering an internship is to make sure that it is something you truly want to do and that you think might be helpful experience for you later in life, as you shouldn’t be doing something if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it. But if you truly believe it is right for you, go for it. You will do things you did not expect you would be doing, you will meet many kinds of people, and you will learn far more than you ever thought you would.

What’s your biggest priority right now?
My biggest priority right now is getting through finals week in the short term, but in the long term, deciding where I will eventually want to go to graduate school after I take a year or two to teach English abroad after I graduate.

Where will we find you in five years?
In five years, I plan to be in graduate school for International Relations with a focus on Africa, gaining the skills I need to become a Foreign Service Officer and work in embassies around the world.