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Seniors View English Major as a Great Launching Pad

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Seniors Rita Marcotte and Eleanor Fisher are tired of people asking them: “What are you going to do with an English degree?” Their response, “We are just getting started.” They take their talents all over campus from the radio station to the famous open mic nights in the Mount Café.  

marcotte-ghana.jpegMarcotte came to Mount St. Mary’s seeking an English degree, wondering what her plans would be after college and figuring she would study law. Instead, she found her calling by helping build her community through music and service. She has risen to become the president of the Mount Music Society and has been a percussionist in the wind ensemble since her freshman year. She has an internship at Thurmont Middle School and still finds time to work in Mount Café, where she has been employed for three years, two of them as a supervisor.

Finding direction was challenging: between knowing what you’ll have time for, what passions you want to pursue, and what you want to study, it can all be very overwhelming: “I came here to get an English degree, but after one semester and seeing all the opportunities how could I only pick one?” Not being able to just settle for one, she started an education major in her sophomore year. She went on a mission trip to Guyana with the Campus Ministry FOCUS missionaries over spring break which reaffirmed that she was called to help people. Going to a place where literacy is so valued made Marcotte appreciate her education more and inspired her to share her knowledge with others. This fall, she finally completed a long-time desire to help lead her first Encounter retreat with Campus Ministry.

Service is far from the end of the list of extracurricular activities that Marcotte is involved with on campus. She also has a musical spring in her step that she gets to express in the wind ensemble with Associate Professor of Music Mark Carlson, Ph.D., and even in her English courses with Associate Professor of English Sean Lewis, Ph.D. “Dr. Carlson contextualizes the music and integrates history, English, and even theology. It gives the audience the chance to appreciate the people and culture behind the music,” she shared. Lewis employs music in his English courses. “The arts are integrally related to one another and if you look at a history of the arts, they are consistently in dialogue with each other,” he explained. There are infinite ways to explore the human experience, and the liberal arts allow professors and students to open this window of creative thinking and analysis.

Marcotte agrees and has relished in the diversity of courses offered; from Jane Austin in Fiction and Film to Literature of the Caribbean, you get an unmatched global perspective. Following the philosophy of diversity, Rita’s Honors Project is combining pre- and post-colonial history, linguistic studies of Caribbean Creole, and analyzing Caribbean culture through the writings of Jean Rhys and Samuel Selvon.

fisher-in-text.jpegFisher has sampled Mount culture far beyond her English major and expressed her athletic and artistic side. Always having an appreciation for the written word, she reserves a special place in her heart for the performed word as well; 1980s “could’ve been should’ve been” hits in particular. She fills the airwaves of 89.9 Emmitsburg Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. with a curated playlist that she researches and prepares with her dad every week (listen here: Of course, the music is fantastic, but her analytical mind doesn’t stop with the music: “I find it fascinating to know what was playing at a certain time and certain place,” Fisher said. She contextualizes many songs, interpreting their lyrics with the cultural climate of the time to engage her listeners’ musical and sociological curiosities.

Fisher has been a member of the Club Ultimate Frisbee team all four years of college and has risen to be an officer in the club. As an officer, she supports the team captains at practice and puts out promotional materials for the club. She organizes interest meetings and other social events that the club puts on. On top of the tournaments and strenuous practices, the team volunteers at the Special Olympics Maryland Fall Fest hosted by the Mount every fall. Members of the Ultimate Frisbee team support this wonderful event by being referees and any other task to ensure the many events run smoothly. This year Fisher was a timekeeper.

As a first-year student, Fisher was stunned by all the opportunities that were available to her but decided to focus on her studies for her first year. Three years later she advised, “I wish I could have started at the radio sooner, so don’t stress too much about that assignment. Your professors will understand if you are having trouble.” College is a time to find and follow your academic passions, and the liberal arts show students how to apply their knowledge and critical thinking to the world around them. In their time at the Mount, students lay a foundation of aspirations and dreams for the rest of their lives.

The worldly perspectives that both Marcotte and Fisher have gleaned from their English courses have proven to be applicable across their lives in ways they didn’t even expect. The Mount prides itself as a place that fosters students’ passions and gives them opportunities to express themselves in their personal and professional lives. Rigorous academics produce inquisitive students and leaders in their communities. Living a life of significance in service to God and others is the last line of the Mount mission statement, and it clearly remains a top priority to every student that passes through the halls of Mount St. Mary’s.

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts