Letter from Erin Little, English major, ‘15
Modern Language Association annual conference, January 2015
I am a person who has come to define myself by how well I do in school. My education has constituted the major structure of my life up to this point, as is true among many of my peers in the senior class. Luckily, I ended up at a university among faculty whose chief goal is to guide students to real success.
My freshman year I met Dr. Schaberg, whose difficult and fast-paced theory course filled me with burning questions and ambition, and who became my mentor over the subsequent semesters. My sophomore year, I met Professor John Biguenet whose workshop classes have propelled my creative writing skills. The next year, I enrolled in Dr. Hillary Eklund’s course Early Shakespeare and watched my fear of Shakespeare evolve into fervent love. Dr. Schaberg’s research intrigued me and early on I gave myself the task of learning more about his work. Then, through multiple collaborative research and editorial projects, I became a part of it.
Two and a half years have passed, and here I am sitting in a swanky hotel, overlooking the waterfront in Vancouver. I just had brunch with Dr. Laura Murphy, one of the most brilliant and inspiring English professors I’ve ever had. I am about to begin my last semester of college. Yesterday, I donned my best business casual outfit and jumped into an experience so intimidating, so utterly new to me, I worried I would sweat through my striped Topshop sweater. I attended the Modern Language Association Book Exhibit, where dozens upon dozens of presses set up to sell books, commission new writers, and stage photo-ops with their authors. Within an hour I had a lovely meeting with a senior editor at Bloomsbury, and I introduced myself to an editor at Fordham University Press. One hour more, and I expanded that list to include editors at Columbia University Press, Penguin, and Routledge.
These glowing and exciting conversations led me to a humbling realization: I’ve had the invaluable privilege of attending a university that makes these things happen. Not only has Loyola provided me with stellar professors who turn classrooms into dynamic laboratories for thought—Loyola also saw my potential, work ethic, and dedication to my future goals, and has turned what were once lofty ideas about living in literature and language into a reality.
By the end of this semester, I hope to secure a job in academic publishing. When I return home from this glamorous trip, I will undoubtedly inundate my mentors with frantic emails about my cover letter, resume, and interview tips. I will loiter again in the English Department hallways, soaking up my professors’ knowledge and advice about language, perspective, and life. I will savor my last semester at Loyola, with professors who have given me so much to work with as I head into the world after college. This type of learning does not exist at all universities.
Erin Little’s trip to Vancouver was made possible by generous support from Dean Maria Calzada, as an extension of Erin’s LUCS fellowship (Loyola University Collaborative Scholarship) working as an editorial assistant position with Dr. Schaberg’s Object Lessons series.