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Makayla Harper

My journey with English at UCA was a rather unconventional one. First of all, when I got to UCA my freshman year I had not even thought about studying English. When I first arrived, I wanted to major in Health Education and become an Occupational Therapist. So how does one go from Health Education to English? Well my second semester I took a World Literature class as one of my required electives. As I sat and listened to my professor describe this literature, and the possible interpretations that could be drawn from it, I became captivated by not only these beautiful works, but how fervently this professor spoke about them. One day we were having our essays returned to us, and at the bottom of mine my professor had written “Have you ever considered majoring in English?” At first, I just shrugged it off because I already knew what I wanted to do, but I was flattered that she thought I was a good fit. The following semester I needed an elective to fulfill my fine arts credit, and I decided to take Intro to Drama. I watched another professor teach about a subject she so clearly loved, and that love spilled over onto me. I enjoyed this class and the professor so much that the next semester I decided to take her Shakespeare I class. Having both of these professors back to back it became clear that I was in the wrong major, so the following semester I changed my major from Health Education to English. Once I made the switch the real English journey began. I went on to take the before mentioned professors a total of 4 times each, and with each class I felt like my journey into the English world was only just beginning. I also had the pleasure of taking several other classes taught by different professors in this department. All of whom are incredibly unique in their teaching styles, but equally passionate about the subject they are teaching. Fast forward to now where I am coming off of my second year of teaching high school English. In this digital age it is incredibly difficult to get high schoolers excited about literature. Especially if they feel like it is not relatable to them, but if I learned anything during my time at UCA it is that history repeats; therefore, literature repeats. What I mean by that is that there is a pretty good chance that whatever my students are experiencing has been experienced by authors of the past. Every time I get ready to teach anything Shakespeare I think of my experience taking that class and I tell my students I know a famous Shakespearean actress (they think that’s pretty cool), or when I am covering Toni Morrison it’s like I can visualize my Southern Lit professor’s hands moving as she is giving the background of Morrison’s life (she talks with her hands if you were unaware). I learned so much from these professors during my time at UCA, but perhaps what I remember most is how passionate they were about what they were teaching. It showed a love for the discipline of English that I feel is lost upon the general population. I strive to teach with that type of passion in hopes to instill that kind of love into my students.