College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English

Department of English

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Joseph Rooney

Joseph Rooney

1. What drew you to the major?

English – writing and reading – has always been my passion.  Although I enjoyed most other subjects I studied in high school, including Biology, Calculus, and World History, my Honors and AP English classes ultimately convinced me to major in English.  No other major allows a student to develop both his analytical skills and his creative skills to an equally high degree, and no other major offers as many diverse opportunities after graduation.  Unlike other majors, English has a heart and a soul; creative writing is a unique, interactive, and social experience, and reading past and present literature develops a student’s creativity and reasoning.  Moreover, English offers a certain amount of freedom, both in class choice and in career choice.  I find this freedom very appealing; after all, the very nature of college is one of personal choice and individual fulfillment.  Although I am only in thesecond semester of my freshman year, I already see the Case Western Reserve English Department meeting – even exceeding – my expectations.

2. How has your English major prepared you for life after graduation? 

Graduation is still a long way off for me, but I can already tell that my English major is preparing me daily for the rigors and trials of life after graduation.  First of all, I am honing my skills needed to complete my major; these skills include critical reasoning, close reading, creative writing, and effective communication.  These same skills will be instrumental to my success in graduate school (if I take that route), my future career (whatever that may be), and life in general (for the entire educational process is really a preparation for life after school).  Most of all, I have had the opportunity to interact with knowledgeable professors and my fellow students, all of whom have encouraged me and imparted their wisdom to me.  The English Department community is one of a kind; it really is amazingly tight-knit, despite the number of students and professors who comprise it.  Such a community urges the individual on to continued achievement and triumph.

3. What is it like being an English major at Case in particular, with its perceived focus on the sciences?

Many Case students themselves are unaware that English majors attend their university!  This is not due to any failure of the English Department: students are often only interested in their own majors and departments.  That being said, I have no doubt that the English department is every bit as competent as any other Case department, if not more so.  Perhaps we English majors should become missionaries, spreading the good news of our department to the ends of the campus!  (Of course, most students pass right by Guilford House on their way to the dorms, so we would not have far to go!)  Here is my stance on the issue: Case obviously deserves its reputation as a university devoted to the sciences, but it is our job to expand that definition.  No longer should we be satisfied with the current perception of Case.  English majors are brilliant students, and English professors are dazzling teachers.  I know that, and everyone involved with the English Department knows that.  It is time the world knows that!

4. Why would you encourage a prospective English major to sign on?

I would encourage a prospective English major to sign on because the English Department is committed to excellence.  In my short time at Case, the department has already rewarded my investment in it, and I am sure that it will continue to do so for years to come.  Prospective English majors need to realize that, if they commit to the department, the department will commit to them.  It is a relationship that is constantly growing and evolving.  Even when it all comes to an end, the lessons they have learned and the goals they have achieved at Case will forever push them to greater and greater heights.  I feel (though I do not see) my future developing day by day, class by class, and paper by paper.  Prospective students can also feel their futures develop – but that would require taking a leap of faith and following their instincts.  Fortunately, it is not a leap of blind faith; rather, it is entirely reasonable.  English at Case has a heart, a soul, and a mind.