Rachael Speck ’20 received full funding and a teaching assistantship to complete her master’s in literary and cultural studies at the University of Cincinnati. She works as an academic advisor in the English Department at Ohio State University and plans to embark on a publishing career.
Going into college, I didn’t clearly grasp what I wanted to pursue after graduation. I knew I loved reading and writing, but I didn’t understand the opportunities for people with degrees in creative writing and English. When I started college, I had no idea I would later decide to get a master’s degree in English—I didn’t even know graduate school could be an option. Once I started at LVC, I quickly found a department with faculty who cared about my future and worked closely with me to ensure I would find my path and be successful within and beyond the classroom.
I started college as an English major but soon realized I was also interested in creative writing, so later added it as a second major. I began to learn about writing as a craft, and I began to see how understanding the craft of writing could be brought to my understanding of and analysis of literature.
Outside of scholarship, the Creative Writing Program gave me ample opportunity to participate in a larger literary community. From Writer’s Group meetings, where I could focus on my creative writing in communion with other writers, to Green Blotter, where I could work with other LVC students to publish a literary magazine, to the “Writing: A Life” Writers Series, where I could meet and hear from working writers, the experience to commune with other writers and get various perspectives on writing shaped my creative and scholarly writing.
The flexibility of the creative writing and English majors and my experience as part of a campus literary community allowed me to see how my research and creative interests could intersect in interesting ways. Through encouragement from my professors, I focused my research on poets who “publish” their work in public spaces and presented my research on and off campus. The English and Creative Writing Department’s New Work Series gave me opportunities to present research in front of my peers and professors, providing me with feedback and questions that helped me continue my thinking and helped me prepare to present at conferences. Through faculty encouragement, I submitted work to regional and national conferences, giving me experience with finding conference opportunities that prepared me for graduate school.
These diverse experiences made me feel prepared to work on graduate applications. When I decided to apply to graduate school, I again benefited from faculty who truly cared about me as a student and worked with me inside and outside the classroom to carve my path and connect me with opportunities. I worked with Dr. Holly Wendt, associate professor of English and creative writing, and Dr. Robert Machado, chair of humanities and director of English, to research graduate programs and work on my application materials. I knew that I could go to any of my professors to get help with my applications.
When I started graduate school, I felt confident that I had the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in my program, and the research I began at LVC became a significant part of my graduate thesis. The support of faculty and wealth of opportunities at LVC shaped my success in and beyond my college career.