Dakota Lewis
BA English: Writing Concentration
BS Business Administration: Marketing and Computer Information Systems Concentrations

What inspired you to get a degree in English?
My mom has a degree in English herself and taught it for a while, and my dad is a published writer. They instilled in my sister and me a strong love for reading and writing as we were growing up. Some of my earliest memories are of being read to by my dad (who always used different voices for all the characters), and I wrote my first story when I was about four. Throughout my life, I’ve recognized the power of words in how they can educate, inspire, change hearts and minds, and transport people to different times and places. With that kind of background, I always knew I would be pursuing something related to English when I got to college.

You are currently the English Language Tutor for the Global Village Learning Community and a teaching assistant for BUS 300. Tell us more about those experiences. What are you learning from them? How do your studies in English support you in this work?
I think my English major was one of my biggest assets in applying for these two jobs because it made it clear that I’m not only skilled in the language but also genuinely have a passion for it. For the Global Village Learning Community (a cultural learning community on campus in which domestic and international students live and take classes together), I work primarily with international students. I assist them with understanding prompts, generating responses, revising and editing work, and practicing speeches and presentations. It’s incredibly rewarding work because I get to help students during their transition to college and the U.S., and they often teach me a lot about their own cultures. I love hearing all the different stories my students have to tell. As a TA for BUS 300 (the business communication class all business majors are required to take), I get to help instruct my peers in more focused, technical styles of writing. I think this work has mostly helped me with interpersonal skills in finding the best ways to help students. My English major has helped me be knowledgeable and proficient in the skills I try to teach others in both jobs, and it certainly adds to my credibility.

Dakota with some of her coworkers

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

The CSU English department has the feel of a small liberal arts college despite being at a public university with thousands of students. The classes are small and personalized so that every single person can share their ideas and communicate directly with their professors. The department works hard to better students and provide us with numerous opportunities to learn and grow through internships, extracurricular activities, and chances to work collaboratively with peers. You really feel that you are valued as a student because it is clear that all the faculty are invested in your success, and many will go out of their way to mentor and support you.

Why do you think the humanities are important?
I think the humanities provide balance and beauty in a world that is increasingly all about STEM. Of course we need engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, etc., but imagine how dull the world would be without poets, musicians, actors, and artists. Studying the humanities helps us connect to the best parts of the human experience, and they are crucial to expanding one’s worldview and thinking innovatively and creatively.

What would you like to tell prospective CSU English Department students?
Don’t feel like you shouldn’t pursue what you are passionate about because it’s a “useless liberal art.” The value of your English education cannot be understated. The degree itself is a delight to obtain because the subjects taught are fascinating, exciting, and useful, and you will definitely come away feeling like you’ve learned a great deal. I’ve been told multiple times that my English degree will really help me stand out in the business world because communication skills, though often underestimated, are so crucial in that arena. Don’t make the same mistake of underestimating just how much an English education can benefit you. I recommend studying a wide range of subjects, but I would definitely say be true to yourself and study what you love.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students?
Get involved in every way you can on campus. Look for ways you can use your English skills even in areas that might not seem so overt. Go see your professors during their office hours!

Dakota with some of her students

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? OR, What are you currently reading, writing?
I’m currently reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It’s one of my boyfriend’s favorite books, and I love the fantasy genre in general. I especially enjoy Sanderson’s intricate, vivid descriptions and the imaginative way in which he designs the world of his books. As for writing, I’m currently working on a multimodal how-to guide for my CO 401 class which will analyze viral Facebook posts written by “regular” people, i.e., not celebrities of any kind. We’re investigating and commenting on relatively new fields of public writing and translating those findings into a user-friendly format. I love that even though my major is technically composition and rhetoric, I get to be creative with what I produce in my classes.

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Reading has always been my very favorite hobby. I love to read everything from fantasy and science fiction to historical fiction and biography, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read the Harry Potter series at least 20 times. I also like to write, usually in prose, about the various topics that inspire me. Beyond that, I love spending times with friends, family, and animals. Unfortunately I’m a bit light on free time currently, so sleeping has become more of an interest of late!

Where will we find you in five years?
I have a lot of uncertainty about my future, but mostly because I believe I could do so many different things with the degrees I will earn in May 2018. For now, I’m not pursuing any one type of career. Instead, I hope to find a company with values and a work culture I greatly respect for which I can use my various skills in a creative capacity.