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Madeline Hazel's English Chapel Address

Madeline HazelMadeline Hazel is a double major in English and Secondary Education. She will graduate in December 2016 after she completes her student teaching semester at a local high school. After graduation, Madeline plans to work as a high school English teacher and pursue a Masters degree in Education.

It’s hard to believe that I took my last undergraduate English classes this spring. I can’t believe the four years is up because in many ways I don’t feel as if I have reached the fulfillment of the English major “persona”; I haven’t read the Lord of the Rings series, “creative” writing still baffles me, and I can never quite get the hang of iambic pentameter. These small failures have come up in humorously contemplative conversations with other graduating friends; we can only laugh over the ways we have thwarted our own expectations of college. Here we are at the end, and it still seems like we’re not quite there. We still wonder when we will reach that place where we feel fully skilled and equipped with the right bits of knowledge to face the world.

However, it is in this recognition of failed expectations that I have come to see the true significance that studying literature has had in my life. When I was feeling particularly frazzled, Dr. Jeffry Davis advised me, “You are a being, not a human doing.” This reminder drew me to the realization that the significance of my English major does not lie solely in what it has prepared me to do—though it has helped me to develop many actionable skills—but in who it has shaped me to be. In essence, the great accomplishment of my literary studies is personal transformation. All the professors in the English Department emphasize the connection between literature and the Christian life, and no one has been able to demonstrate this to me as powerfully as Dr. Roger Lundin.

Dr. Lundin shared so freely in the classroom. He constantly wove his personal narrative into our discussion of texts in a way that was sometimes shocking but never tangential; his ability to engage students in his own literary reflection made the abstract aspects of texts real to me on a personal level. As a teacher, Dr. Lundin embodied the transformational power of literature that deeply impressed many of his students. I know I am among countless others when I say that Dr. Lundin changed my life.

This became clear to me this spring as I began my methods practicum, a prequel to my student teaching semester. I was placed in a classroom with a local English teacher and was surprised to find out that he had also attended Wheaton College and taken classes with Dr. Lundin. He told me about the ways that Dr. Lundin changed his own patterns of thought about literature and teaching, explaining how he endeavors to emulate Dr. Lundin’s passion in his own classroom. It was a true gift to learn from Dr. Lundin, and I am amazed at the exponential power of his teaching; not only did he lead me towards the transformational power of literature, but he continues to impact new lives through his students who will have their own students. As a teacher, I know I will constantly think about my experiences as Dr. Lundin’s student. As I reflect on my time as an English major at Wheaton College, I am most thankful for the ways that my professors have instructed me as student, as a teacher, and most importantly as a person.