English Major Profile: Kristin Stradt (B. A. 2012)

Kristin Stradt is a professional academic advisor at Scott Community College in the Quad Cities. She majored in English and then went on to earn her MA degree in Higher Education Leadership from WIU as well.

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

When I started at WIU, I was undecided. I always had an interest in English, but as a first-generation student, I didn’t understand what you could do with an English major and wasn’t sure how to ask. Thankfully, I met an English major, and we enrolled in a class together – American Literature. This course solidified my decision to declare English as a major. I loved the format of the classes, and I just felt at home in Simpkins hall. I loved how my classes and professors pushed me to think deeper!

M&L: What is your current job?

I am currently working as an academic advisor at Scott Community College.

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

My degree in English Literature prepared me immensely for my career in higher education. Communication is a vital part of my job – both written and verbal – and my English degree has provided me with a strong foundation to be successful in my career. I often have to communicate detailed information to students, which becomes even more complicated with email (which I am doing a lot more of, thanks to COVID!). The courses I took as an English major also pushed me to think critically about social problems and how literature serves as a commentary on those problems. My degree in English was not only pivotal in preparing for me for my career, but it also set me up for success in pursuing my master’s degree. My degree in Higher Education Leadership has allowed me to grow in my career path, and my undergraduate experience as an English major was critical to this accomplishment.

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

WIU holds so many great memories for me – many of which took place in Simpkins Hall. I created lifelong friendships in the English Department, and I will always look back on our class discussions fondly. One of my best experiences as an English major at WIU was being a Sigma Tau Delta member. In my junior year, I submitted a paper for the Sigma Tau Delta convention, and it was accepted! This paper was a significant accomplishment for me, and I traveled to New Orleans with a group of fellow students to present our papers at the conference. I remember being so nervous! It was a fantastic experience! I also enjoyed all my classes so much and the dedication of the professors. I recall many meetings with professors, and I always felt equally challenged and supported. I often reflect on my own college experiences when I work with students and explain how important it is to develop relationships with your professors.

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

Going to college and deciding on a major is a big deal. It can be easy to feel boxed in, and the pressure to choose the “right” major can feel daunting. If you are interested in a flexible, challenging, and transferable major that applies to so many different career fields, English is a perfect option! When I was in college, I lost track of how many people asked me why I was an English major. Today, I can tell you those same people have come to me for assistance time and time again because communication and critical thinking skills are invaluable and in high demand. For this, I am forever proud to call myself an English major!