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Student Spotlight: Mount Renaissance Woman Elizabeth Busch

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Busch feature

Imagine a spring more lush and beautiful than any you have encountered, when grass gushes out of the barren ground and all the flowers bloom at the same time. Would this portend joy to a tired and sick world or evoke ominous fear? Versatile and multi-talented Mount junior Elizabeth Busch explores this dilemma in “The Day It Happened,” a short story recently selected for the 2021-22 edition of the prestigious journal plain china: National Anthology of the Best Undergraduate Writing.

20201118_173509.jpgThroughout the story, Busch describes the changing seasons in such creative detail that readers feel they are experiencing the transformation in real time. “I started with the idea of what it would be like if all of the flowers were in bloom at once, instead of being spread out from spring to fall,” she said."It would be beautiful, but it would also be terrifying, because that's not how nature works."

Plain china, the first publication of its kind on the national level, scans the country for the best creative writing produced by undergraduates. It allows promising student writers to connect with each other and showcase their talents to a large audience. This is Busch's first publication that is external to the Mount.

Interested readers can read through to Betsy’s mind-bending conclusion in the current issue of the Mount’s undergraduate literary magazine, Lighted CornersUpon completion of a draft of her story, Busch explained, “I kept editing it until I submitted it to Lighted Corners. After it was accepted, I worked with our former editor-in-chief, Breanna DeSimone, to keep on revising it, and eventually it appeared in its current form.” Busch has published three stories in Lighted Corners, and she also represented the magazine on a panel at the 2019 Sigma Tau Delta Conference held that year on campus.  An award-winning outlet for the Mount’s most creative students since 1981, Lighted Corners publishes an eclectic array of short stories, poetry, and art work. 

Busch not only writes for Lighted Corners, but she also helps produce it. During her first year at the Mount, she joined the magazine’s staff after its advisor and the director of the university’s creative writing program, Tom Bligh, Ph.D., explained the various roles students fill. Busch was appointed fiction editor her sophomore year, a position she continues to hold. She reflected, “The whole staff is full of passionate people who want to share their creative writing and art. I am constantly impressed with people’s attention to detail and genuine love for each other’s work.”  

A native of Bowie, Maryland, and a member of the Mount’s Honors Program, Busch majors in English, French and music. Not confined to a single language, her love of literature stretches as far back as she can remember and includes a taste for fantasy and for realistic fiction. “Literature has always been a big part of my life, since my parents read to me, and my siblings encouraged us to read in our spare time,”  she said.

At the Mount, Busch has learned that literature can shape people’s values, and because of this, she believes it is important to introduce students to a wide range of fiction. She recognizes that too often stories are hyper-focused on male Eurocentric perspectives. Understanding that great literature can create empathy for others, Busch therefore favors texts that capture the experiences of many different people. One sees this diversity in the classes she has taken including French classes like Fictions of the Maghreb and Beginning Arabic through French and English classes such as Jane Austen in Literature and The Catholic Novel. “I’m passionate about challenging the standards for the narratives we support and promote,” she explained.

In addition to her leadership with Lighted Corners, Busch has been an important member of the Mount’s Wind Ensemble and Big Band.  An accomplished bassoon and keyboard player, she earns academic credit for her ensemble work, which includes students from a variety of different majors. “From my first rehearsal,” she reflected, “I was impressed by the strong sense of community within the group and how welcoming everyone was.” Wind Ensemble is led by Mark Carlson, D.M.A., who made sure the musicians could safely perform according to COVID-19 guidelines throughout this unique semester.  He testified to Busch’s dedication: “Betsy is a treasure. She is tireless in her pursuit of excellence in every situation: the classroom, the ensemble rehearsal, and individual practice. Every time her hand goes up, I am reminded of the joys of teaching.” Fellow music professor and faculty advisor to the Mount Music Society, Jennifer Witt, agreed, “It has been a privilege to work with such a talented scholar this semester, albeit during a global pandemic.”

Betsy’s involvement with the music program allows her to perform often.  Every fall and spring semester, the Wind Ensemble puts on a production for the Mount community. Their most recent performance on November 14 was virtual, and, as of this writing, the Facebook livestream has more than 4,000 views.

“Some of my best experiences at the Mount have been with the Wind Ensemble,” Busch recalled, “and I am looking forward to continuing with them until graduation.” Her favorite event combined her love of literature and music when the group performed pieces inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings accompanied by dramatic readings from the text. Busch also used her musical talents to serve Campus Ministry in 2018-2019 as pianist for the Immaculate Conception Chapel.

Prior to enrolling, Busch was the 2018 valedictorian for Elizabeth Seton High School. She chose the Mount because of the small class sizes and beautiful location. During her first year, she won the Brave New World essay contest which saw her work published in the First Year Symposium Reader. When asked about her many accomplishments, she expressed gratitude to the Mount faculty who “give us so much of their time, and are really interested to hear what we have to say. We get to test out our ideas in the classroom, and this helps us learn better.” 

Outside of academics, music and creative writing, Busch can be found working in Learning Services as a peer tutor. She enjoys running and hiking on many of the beautiful trails on and near campus, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. Upon graduation in 2022, Busch hopes to attend graduate school for literature while continuing to write.

A creative and proactive student who takes advantage of the many opportunities the Mount offers, Busch spreads her talents across many platforms. “Inspired by a passion for learning” and leading a life “of significance in service to God and others,” she models the Mount’s mission.

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts