English Major Profile: Ethan Knight (B. A. 2013)

Ethan Knight

M&L: Why did you choose to major in English at Western? 

I chose to major in English at WIU for a few reasons. I began as a Theatre major, but after taking several classes with some of the awesome faculty, I realized that there was a place for me in the English department as well as the Theatre department, so I chose to double major. I found that many of the ideas and concepts that I was already putting into practice in my Theatre coursework were exactly the sort of ideas, concepts, and theories being studied and discussed in my English coursework, and I think that the two complemented each other well.

M&L: What is your current job?

I am currently a National Fellowships Coordinator at the University of South Carolina.

 M&L: How did your study of English help you to succeed in your career?

My study of English has honestly driven my career. Had I not studied English at WIU, I would never have gone on to earn my Masters degree and pursue a career in Higher Education. I’ve spent the last seven years working in different capacities in Higher Ed, in both administration and teaching, and the critical reading, thinking, and writing skills that I honed at WIU have guided my career choices and shaped how I see and interact with the world. Studying English at WIU opened so many doors for me and really shaped my thinking in fundamental ways, and I attribute a lot of that to not only the excellent faculty but also their commitment to student success.

M&L: What were some of your best experiences as a student in English at Western?

This is a tough question—there were so many! A few highlights include revising and presenting my first conference paper through our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, having spirited discussions about Moby-Dick in Tim Helwig’s English 347 class, and visiting different professors’ homes to listen to fascinating presentations on their research interests as part of our Sigma Tau Delta chapter’s Dinners and Conversations series. It’s also hard to omit all of the countless office hours spent discussing literature, theory, and composition with faculty members like Magdelyn Helwig, Margaret Sinex, Chris Morrow, and Tim Helwig. I wouldn’t trade the personal and individual attention WIU English faculty were willing to give me for anything.

M&L: What advice would you give to students considering studying English here at Western?

My advice to students considering studying English WIU would be… do it! I can’t sing the praises of the English faculty enough. Develop relationships with the faculty you like and work well with. If you show them your commitment to learning, they will help you succeed, not only during your time at WIU, but long after, as well. Some of my most important mentors were faculty I studied with at WIU, and many of them still keep in contact with me and continue to support me throughout my career. These are the people who challenged me and who pushed me to succeed, and without the personalized, individual attention I received from WIU English faculty, I think my life would look very different now.