English Department Scholar of the Year 2022-2023: Emma Gilliland

Emma Gilliland is a Creative Writing Major and Professional Writing Minor on the Macomb Campus.

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

EG: I’ve always had a passion for writing. Originally, I majored in Secondary Education with the intent on teaching both high school History and English, and I eventually hoped to teach at the college level. But I quickly realized that I wanted to pursue a career in writing and publishing. When I transferred to WIU last semester, I decided to major in Creative Writing and minor in Professional Writing. This way, I could learn to master the craft of creative writing while also gaining skills in the professional writing world such as copyediting and publishing. My goal is to work for a publishing company after I graduate while continuing to be a freelance writer. 

M&L: What courses have made the biggest impact on you? 

EG: The creative writing courses which have made the most impact on me would be the nonfiction creative writing course I took last semester online, taught by Dr. Wurth, and my fiction writing workshop this semester, taught by Ms. McKee. These classes have pushed me to be more creative and have helped me hone my writing skills into several short stories, one of which has won a creative nonfiction award. The professional writing courses which have impacted me most have been the intro to professional writing course I took last semester online with Dr. Beardsley, and the edit and review course taught by Dr. Mossman, which I have taken this semester. Both of these courses have taught me so much about professional and technical writing as well as copyediting and publishing practices that will be of great help to me in my career. 

M&L: What writing assignment are you most proud of? 

EM: Last semester, a writing assignment I took great pride in was my creative nonfiction piece entitled, “It’s Just all the Memories.” It’s a piece I wrote about my grandmother’s house and all the memories each room holds. It won third place in the creative writing contest this semester and will be featured in Elements, the literary magazine published by the English department. 

M&L: As you go into your senior year, what are you most looking forward to? 

Honestly, I am looking forward to just being done with school, as it feels like I’ve been in school for forever. I am mostly looking forward to starting my career in the publishing world as an editor and continuing to write novels and short stories. 

EM: What will you be reading and writing this summer? 

I always have a huge reading list that accumulates over the semester. But this summer, I will mostly be focusing on getting my first book published this coming May/June. My dad and I wrote this book entitled Dear Teacher Wendy about our family’s decision to move to Uganda in 2012 and our adventures there. It’s been a four-year journey and I cannot wait to hold the book in my hands!