Alumni Testimonials

What is so valuable about majoring in English at Wheaton?

Our alumni share how the English major shaped them personally and prepared them for their current professions.

Elizabeth King Newman ‘02 - Special Education Resource and Life Skills Teacher

“Being a careful reader and writer has always been a critical skill in most areas of the workforce. Do you want to be taken seriously? Do you want to be able to slow down, notice details, analyze and problem solve? That's what employers want. They don't want to micromanage. Having an employee that can solidify ideas, facilitate, organize, show compassion, and communicate well is what the workforce needs. An English degree can do that.”

Scott Nelson ‘86 - Senior Manager, User Experience at Cisco Systems, Inc.

"I believe that, as a rule, English majors have a grounding as well as a well-roundedness that serve well in almost any profession. Essentially, everything in the workplace is a text that has to be read and written about. Written and oral communication skills are absolute must haves to advance in the business world."

David Lyle Jeffrey ‘65 - Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University

“We live in a time of incoherence and propaganda, advocacy rather than just judgment, and verbiage without content. To read and write well is to be countercultural, but also to be indispensable to the common good.​”

Luke Miller ‘13 Academic Sales and Marketing Coordinator, InterVarsity Press

“I will never forget my first English class at Wheaton: Composition and Research with Dr. Tiffany Kriner. She said, ‘As Christians we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. As Christians we have the knowledge that the world most needs. In this class you will love your neighbor as yourself by learning to communicate clearly.’ This continues with me. Every bit of communication can be an exercise in loving your audience or it can be an exercise in academic arrogance. Writing clearly lets us share the Gospel, whether in a work memo or a blog post.​”

Jon Carter ‘86 - English Teacher, Briarwood Christian School, Birmingham, AL

“I had such great moments in English classes. I vividly remember Dr. Batson teaching us John Donne's ‘Holy Sonnet 14’ and feeling like this seventeenth century writer's words echoed my soul. I can still hear Dr. Lundin's sonorous voice reading William Bradford's journal. Anyone who could make colonial literature come alive like that had to be a great teacher. I remember smiling at Dr. McClatchey trying to convince us that Anna Kerenina would be in Heaven if she were a real person. He had such a full heart; he wanted to will everyone into Heaven. I remember either Frederich Buechner or Dr. Hein having us read Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory and discuss it. Oddly enough this book by a Catholic author who was full of doubt was my first real introduction to grace.”

Suzanna Labadie ‘01 - Professor and Chair, Department of English, Oakland Community College

“English majors are the best—they study everything, not just language and literature. They study history, sociology, psychology, theology. I am in a position to hire employees now, and even when they are not hires for my department, I'm always looking for a person who is able to make the sorts of connections between fields (interdisciplinarity) that we learn to make as English majors.

Reading and writing are personally enriching in a way that few other disciplines can be. They are personal activities that can keep you company, can help you know yourself, know the world, grow intellectually and spiritually, and connect with others.”

Bryan Seiler ‘05 - Staff Attorney – Labor and Employment, The Salvation Army

“My English major cultivated and gave direction to my lifelong love of reading, developed my communication skills, and introduced me to deeper analysis of the world around me. These are all invaluable skills for my professional life, but I've found that they are just as important in living out my faith and experiencing life.​”

Aubrey Sampson ‘00 - Author, Zondervan

“[At Wheaton,] I was taught to find God's truth in literature—the craft of writing and editing is a sanctifying process for me, and truly increases my faith. I would not have understood that without my education from the English professors at Wheaton, who loved both the written word and the Word of God.”

Jessica Handy ‘01 - Chicago Area Director of Immanuel Prayer Training, Alive and Well, Inc.

“I am an ordained pastor working for a nonprofit training lay prayer ministers to serve in churches and many other settings. I believe the heart of what I do has been cultivated in me by literature. If I hadn't spent years entering into the lives of others through literature, thinking their thoughts and feeling their feelings, and if I hadn't paid so much attention to refining my own writing to express just exactly what I meant, I'm not sure I'd have developed the acuity and precision to enter into the lives and experiences of others, hone in on their deepest selves, and help them discover God there.”

Jim Bolhuis ‘85 - English Teacher, H.L. Richards High School, Oak Lawn, IL

“I think being able to read carefully allows one to get to the heart of the matter in a difficult situation.  Experienced readers tend to understand people better because of the depth of human experience one studies when carefully studying great literature. Writing well makes one a helpful person to have around when difficult messages must be conveyed.”

Catherine Penney ‘08 - Freelance Writer

“The way I was taught to read when I was at Wheaton is still the way I learn today. It taught me curiosity and empathy for multiple perspectives.​”

Paul Hamer, Ph.D. ‘72 - English Department Chair, Park Tudor School, Indianapolis, IN

“Almost everything involves reading: reading the water (fishing), reading the defense (football), reading the fine print (taxes), etc. I know where the fish are.”