Megan Harrison has known since high school that she wants to be an English teacher. In her search for excellent education programs, she found Carthage.
“Carthage guaranteed that it would be possible for me to complete my English degree and my secondary requirements within four years,” she said. “Other schools I looked into could not guarantee this.” Carthage also offered Megan the chance to stay active in organizations she loved, such as Pep Band.
With a major in English and a minor in secondary education, Megan not only has to intensively study her major, but she also has to receive field experiences for her teaching degree. “It is a lot of work, but the requirements have definitely made me feel prepared to teach English upon graduation.”
For her English major, Megan loves how the classes all work together to expand an appreciation for literature.
“I love being able to see connections from a text or an idea in one class to those in another class,” she said. “With a well structured curriculum that incorporates a broad survey of authors and perspectives, the English major allows you to improve not only your reading and writing skills, but also your ability to think critically.”
Megan also likes the care and time the faculty take to help students succeed. “I have never had an English professor whom I did not feel I could go to for help.” The classroom dynamic is also unique. “A lot of English majors have other majors or minors in other areas of study, which adds a lot to classroom discussion.”
A highlight of Megan’s Carthage career was traveling to Rome for the J-Term course Shakespeare in Rome. Prior to the trip, students read three Shakespearean plays that were set in Rome. Once in Rome, students discussed the plays in the morning and traveled throughout the city during the day. Megan got to see famous sites such as Capitoline Hill and a few different parts of the Roman Forum. “It helped us connect the events we read about within the different plays,” she said. “This was my first time out of the country, and it was an incredible opportunity for me. It enriched my understanding of the Roman culture, history and significance within the literature.”
“Carthage guaranteed that it would be possible to complete my English degree and my secondary education requirements within four years.”
“I plan to teach English at the high school level.”
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“I have had some amazing professors, especially in the English Department, but my favorite would have to be Prof. Maria Carrig. I have taken three classes with her, and I really enjoyed each one. She is so knowledgeable and poses questions that force students to think critically. I feel that she has pushed me really hard in my writing projects, and I have improved both in my own ability as well as my ability to teach writing. She also has a great sense of humor, so she brings a lot of personality to her lectures.”
“My favorite class would be either Shakespeare or History and Structure of the English Language. I took Shakespeare with Prof. Carrig because I felt that my skills at reading Shakespeare were weak, which is a problem for someone planning to teach high school. I really loved the class, and it definitely turned me into a Shakespeare lover! History and Structure of the English Language with Prof. Wallace was also an incredibly interesting class. I can now recite the ‘Our Father’ prayer in Old English. How cool is that!”
“I am currently co-president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Fraternity. I have held leadership positions in Active Minds, and am still an active member. I am also photo editor for The Current student newspaper, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a member of Student WEA, and a xylophonist for the Carthage Pep Band.
“Astronomy was one of the most challenging classes I have taken. It involved a lot more mathematical equations than information about planets, like I had expected. I had not taken a math or science class my senior year of high school, so I definitely felt the gap in understanding. I had to spend every Thursday night at the SI study sessions to try to understand what I was doing. But the class was still pretty interesting, and I was motivated by the challenge.”
Favorite moments and memories at Carthage
“My junior year, when I was president of Active Minds, we were invited by the national chapter to present our program Speak Out-Reach Out at the National Mental Health Conference in Maryland. We requested an allocation from Student Government for the trip since we couldn’t gather the money in enough time. At first, we were under-prepared with our request and they put it on hold. But when we came back after having worked out the kinks and fund-raised, they allocated us the full amount we requested! I cried and called my mom right away because I was so excited. Our group ended up receiving the National Innovative Programming Award while at the conference, which was an amazing feeling. We were so lucky to have Student Government sponsor our trip, and it is moments like this when I really appreciate the opportunities a school like Carthage can open for students.”
Favorite spot on campus
“The lower level of the library. It is a great place to study, and I love the smell of all the old books. Our library is also incredibly impressive. I will go to look for one book for a research paper and end up sitting in the aisle for an hour looking through all the other books on the shelf that relate.”
Biggest surprise so far
“How challenging the past few years have been. I was a straight A student in high school, involved in too many activities and clubs to count, and I came to Carthage assuming my work ethic would continue that persona. While it did, it took a lot more effort than I expected. College is not easy, and it is not always glamorous, but it is an amazing time that offers you both fun and challenging experiences that will make you a stronger individual in the end. I am really happy with the results of my efforts and where I am now. While it was a surprise how hard I have to work to achieve my goals, I appreciate the path that got me here.”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“Never be afraid to go to any of your professors for help. In a small school like this, you have the advantage of professors who will truly get to know you to help you improve. Also, if you have the chance to choose one of the classes you take in the department (with my minor I only had this chance twice), take something just to learn, even if you are worried you might not be good at it.”