Monday, March 24, 2014

Down the Hobbit Hole: I’ve Got A Mentor (Part 1 of 2)

Down the Hobbit Hole is a monthly segment penned by Maura, a senior at Michigan State University, finishing her undergraduate degree in English. She's also a lover of cats, great literature and Bruce Springsteen. Life's an adventure and remember: "Not all those who wander are lost."

As a college freshman, I received the same advice time and time again: join extracurricular activities, find clubs, discover your niche. I offer the same advice.

However, finding a place isn’t always easy.

I started off as a psychology major when I first entered college, with my sights set on psychiatry. I had high hopes to help everyone, to talk them through their problems, and in the end, ultimately cure them. Unfortunately for me—but probably fortunate for everyone else—I sucked at science and didn’t quite know how to take care of myself, so I couldn’t even begin taking care of others.

I quickly shifted to English as a major, and while my hopes have turned towards becoming the next great writer, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t hurt to go out and explore. In fact, I strongly encourage it, because you never know what you might run into.

After switching my major (frowned upon by many) and traveling to London (a story for another time—hint, hint), I happened upon the professor that, quite frankly, would change my life.

I liked to read, and that’s about all I knew. Cozying up with a book was—and still is—one of my favorite things, but when it came to looking at those books critically, I could pick out very little.

Enter Professor Phillips.

I was taking one of my foundation classes, which is where you learn to close read novels, and if all goes well, you will be able to write the greatest essay the world has ever seen.

To be honest, I thought I knew how to write well. When we turned into our rough draft of our first essay, I was really proud of myself. Then I got the essay back and got a 67%—I was discouraged, to say the least.

With the help of Professor Phillips, I managed to rewrite it and get a 75%. Better, but still not on my level. But, by the end of the class, I had a 4.0 overall and was writing essays that were high Bs and As.

She taught me everything I know—including how to write amazing thesis statements—and has turned out to be a great mentor and friend.

Above all, she helped me find a place where I fit in and has taught me one of the most important things: anyone who says that English literature is an easy major, or anyone that says that it doesn’t hold a defining place in this world, is lying.

- MS

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