An in-depth look at one of the unsung heroes of the English department.
You may have seen Ellen hiding out in her office, surrounded by Harry Potter memorabilia and student files. But how much do you really know about the person you meet with once a semester? Ellen earned her degree in English and Speech Communication/Theater Arts from Monmouth College in 1992. She’s been at WIU since 1996, first in the Department of Engineering Technology, before moving to the English Department in 2002. She currently advises students in both English and the Liberal Arts & Sciences Department. In addition to working at WIU, she raises cattle and manages a grain farm. According to Ellen, “My future after WIU will involve continuing to raise cattle, reading, writing, traveling, going to as many concerts as possible, and spending time with my daughter, wherever she lands after college!”
1. Who are your favorite writers? Jan Karon, Harper Lee, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, Dan Brown
2.Which historical figure do you most identify with? I’m not sure you’d call her “historical,” but Katharine Hepburn. I love how independent she was, especially during a time when that wasn’t the norm. She made her own rules for her life, mostly without regard for what others might think. That’s where I am in my life, and I look to her when I need reminding that I am in charge of my own destiny.
3. What is your idea of perfect happiness? There is no such thing as “perfect happiness.” One of my favorite quotes is, “we tend to seek happiness when happiness is actually a choice.” If you want to be happy, you HAVE to choose it, regardless of your circumstances or the bad things that happen in life.
4. What is your greatest fear? Regret
5. What is your greatest extravagance? I like a nice car!
6. What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue? That’s tough because they all have their place, but I suppose I would choose temperance as the most overrated, mostly because I like a good whiskey or a great martini!
7. Which living person do you most admire? My daughter, Anderson, because she is hands down the strongest person I know.
8. Which living person do you most despise? Life is too short to despise anyone. There are people I like better than others, of course, and those who do truly evil things are beyond contempt, but we’re all humans making human mistakes…just trying to figure out this life. I try really hard to understand people from their point of view and just let everyone be.
9. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “No way!” “Holy Shit!” “Coo coo ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson”
10. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My late husband, Kent, and our daughter are the two loves of my life.
11. When and where were you happiest? That’s hard to pinpoint because I’ve mostly had a happy life and still do, even though it’s different now. I guess if I had to pick a “when,” I’d say 2008-2015. Life was really good during those years. The “where” would be here… meaning home, work, living our together.
12. Which talent would you most like to have? I would LOVE to be able to play the piano!!
13. What is your motto? I have two, I suppose… 1) Remember who and what you are, and 2) Love everyone, especially yourself.
14. Describe Macomb in one word. Complicated
15. What do you love most about WIU? Simpkins Hall and the way its familiarity comforts me every morning when I walk in the door.