Redefining the Classroom

Grab Hold of Your Future

Jessica Hirt Jessica Hirt

Lay out for me what attracts you to English literature and your short/long term professional plans are.

I think one of the first things that attracted me to English was my love for reading. I was encouraged to read from a young age, and it let me escape to different places and experience lives of other people. There are still many books—especially those considered to be “classic” pieces of literature—that I want to read. Books inspire me.

I am hoping after I graduate to go to graduate school. I have a couple of different places in mind, but what I am most interested in is becoming a children’s book editor. That’s pretty specific, but if I could have my way that’s what I would like to do. I would also like to write children’s stories someday.

Has a school the size of LSSU made a difference?

One of my favorite things about LSSU is its size. The classrooms, especially as you get to the upper levels, get smaller, so you not only have a chance to discuss your ideas in an honest, supportive manner, but you also get to know your professors and classmates. The upper level courses really allow you to focus on what you love, and the small class size allows you to have time to share and to discuss your ideas.

I see that you are from the Soo. What determined your coming to Lake State? Any unexpected benefits you've come across that might interest another local student?

As a student who has grown up in Sault Ste. Marie, I had several different motives for attending LSSU. The first one was its size. I wasn’t looking to attend a big university where I felt lost among the thousands of other freshman; like I mentioned before, the small class size would allow me to get to know my professors and them to know me.  There are some awesome professors in the English department that I enjoy, not just because of the way that they teach and their enthusiasm, but because of who they are. I feel like this wouldn’t have been as likely to happen at a larger school. The financial benefits were also a part of my decision; LSSU really rewards students who have done well in high school and honestly attempts to aid those who work hard.

One unexpected benefit of attending LSSU was learning that my professors really believe in me, and not just me, but all of their students. They want us to succeed, and they are ready to help us in every way possible. Maybe I just had this wrong idea about what a professor was before I began college, but I am happy to say that my understanding has changed.

According to my records, you're also a senior. Are you current working up a thesis project?Jessica Hirt Speech

I completed my English Senior Thesis last semester (Fall of 2008). The English department has theirs in the fall, and we presented them in December. I wrote a character analysis of the Pevensies from C. S. Lewis’s children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia. This semester, however, I am working on an Honors Thesis in order to graduate from the Honors Program. I am writing about a different series written by C. S. Lewis, The Space Trilogy. This time I am focusing on the hero’s journey as set up by Joseph Campbell.

Are there any pre-professional experiences that you have enjoyed so far in your program?

I have had several experiences both within and outside of my major. I am currently working with several other students as a legislative intern for Dr. Lowman. We create a brochure to highlight LSSU’s unique features. They asked me to join their team this semester in order to help with the writing and editing process.

I was also fortunate enough to hear about and to work on LSSU’s arts and literary magazine, Snowdrifts (formerly known as Blurb). It started out in the Creative Writing class and is currently the undertaking of the English and Communication Club. It’s a great place for students to express themselves, and we’re hoping it will eventually be a community-wide magazine. I’ve learned a lot about editing and design from this experience, and our next issue will be out before the school year ends.

I was also asked to serve as co-president of the Honors Program at LSSU. As co-president, I have had the opportunity to edit and to update the Honors Handbook, as well as to work on my leadership skills. Along with Brittany Clone, we are currently setting up Diversity Week, which brings an awareness of diversity within our campus.

Do you have specific projects underway that might interest the public?

The only project that the public might be interested in is the Snowdrifts. I’m really focused on school and graduating.

Have you had a neat moment that makes all of the studying and working worthwhile?

The moment that makes everything worthwhile for me is way back in my freshman year of college. It was spring semester, and it was the first day of the Introduction to Literature class with Dr. Gadzinski. I remember just sitting there and thinking, “This is where I want to be.” I almost cried I was so happy.

Every time I get frustrated or bogged down with whatever project I’m working on, I remember that moment. It reminds me of why I’m here, of why I’m doing this: because I love it. The encouragement I have received from my professors has also helped me through the stress.

Have you had any summer internship experiences or jobs?

With my Professional Communications minor, it is part of the experience to work as an intern. I was offered a position with Alberta House, a local art house, this past summer (the summer of 2008). I worked with Jean Jones, conducting interviews, helping out at the Sault Summer Arts Festival, and also publishing articles and press releases in the Alberta House Newsletter. This was also a great learning experience.

I’ve also worked as a lifeguard for the Norris Center pool for two-and-a-half years. I was hired into Glen’s as a deli worker last June (June 2008).

What are some of your outside interests?

Some of my favorite things to do outside of class are to read, to write, and to play the piano. It gives me an opportunity to express myself and to relax. I also enjoy swimming. I used to work at LSSU’s Norris Center pool, and now I often go there to swim laps and to teach private swimming lessons.

I have you down as a Hart Scholar and Coullard recipient. Are there any other scholarships that you've received?

The Board of Trustees Distinguished Scholarship
Michigan Merit Award
Angela Coullard Scholarship
Lucille Sullivan Memorial Scholarship (from Sault Area High School)