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Student Stories

Jeremy Richards photo.jpgI have just finished my first year of the Master of Divinity program at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. The skills I learned as an English Major at Concordia University have been crucial to my success at Duke Divinity. At Concordia I learned to write academic papers, to think critically, to engage with a variety of texts and voices, and to open myself up to new ideas.

Dr. Hill’s literature and humanities classes continually challenged me to look beyond myself. In his classes I was forced to realize that I know very little about the greater world. I realized that I operate out of a specific paradigm that was formed from my own experiences and circumstances, and that those experiences and circumstances are not universal. With this realization came the obligation to listen to and wrestle with views that challenged my own. Dr. Hill’s literature and humanities classes opened me up to learn from others, be it philosophers, authors, social activists, professors, or my fellow students. This openness has been vital as I pursue theological study at Duke Divinity School.

Dr. Knutsen’s writing classes instilled in me a confidence and a joy for writing that I never would have developed on my own. Dr. Knutsen always found a way to free my imagination as I discovered my own style and voice, and continually encouraged me, even when my writing was pretty awful. The skills and the confidence that Dr. Knutsen instilled in me during my time at Concordia University continue to be present in both my academic writing and my creative writing.

Jeremy Richards '10

Jeremy Richards photo.jpgIAfter graduating from Concordia with a B.A. in English, I relocated to Philadelphia to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in poetry. Soon after graduation, I found myself facilitating my own classroom. I taught middle school English for a couple of years, as well as English courses at the community college level. Though I loved my middle school and college students, I wanted to narrow my focus on the creative arts as I had always set out to do. I am now a Program Manager with America SCORES Bay Area, an education non-profit teaching under-served youth the arts of poetry and soccer. I've been extremely happy working with our poet-athletes, using poetry as a healing power.

I fondly think back to my time at Concordia as an undergraduate student. Many of the professors I worked with are still powerful mentors in my life. I feel very honored to have worked so closely with such brilliant, inspiring educators. The English department gave me the tools I needed to be a deep thinker and to engage with my peers in meaningful ways. It was through such care and support that I have been successful. Both Kim Knutsen and Ceiridwen Terrill deeply impacted my journey; I carry their teachings and love of language every single time I step into a classroom. Additionally, Dick Hill bestowed upon me his beautiful gift of thirsting for knowledge -- nothing is too far to reach. My happiest years have been invested in these classrooms with these tremendous mentors. The entire English department challenged me to think beyond myself, consider everything, and seek truth. I am still on this quest every day.

Jess Bouchard '08

Brianna Richards photo.jpgI am currently living in Durham, North Carolina, working for Duke University. My position title is Stewardship Coordinator for Financial Aid, in the Donor Relations department within Central University Development. I can say with confidence that my experiences at Concordia, and specifically as an English major, helped me to obtain my current job. One part of my work responsibilities includes crafting stewardship reports that update donors on the current status of their scholarship endowment funds. This work requires me to write clearly, coherently, and with special articulation—all skills I learned from Concordia’s Humanities Department.

There are many memories and skills that I cherish from my time in the Humanities Department, but it is the professors who forced me to grow as I took their courses and came to personally know them that really stand out. In particular, I remember taking Dr. Ceiridwen Terrill’s “Gender, Race, and Literature” course during my junior year. In that course, Dr. Terrill asked us to expand our minds and recognize the gender and racial inequity still alive in our country and our world. Through that course, I learned the importance of appreciating and respecting others not only for who they are now, but for what has shaped them into who they have become—whether that be their culture, ethnicity, or gender. The Concordia Humanities Department not only taught me practical skills that I use every day in the workplace, but it also taught me how to be human.

Brianna Richards '12

April Powers photo.jpgI am currently working towards a Master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language at the University of North Texas. I decided to pursue this degree after joining a group of Concordia students on an English teaching trip to Shenzhen, China, which would never have been possible without the connections I made in the Humanities department, the College of Theology, Arts & Sciences, and Concordia as a whole during my undergraduate years. As an English major at Concordia, I had the opportunity to take a variety of courses that allowed me to discover what I was passionate about and develop lasting relationships with many of my professors. I went from being a shy freshman to an outspoken senior through learning what I say matters. I had the opportunity to spend spring break learning about Civil Rights onsite in Alabama with Dr. Hill, to workshop creative writing pieces and help start a novel-writing club with Dr. Knutsen, and to develop my love for tutoring and writing by working as a peer tutor in the Writing Center. The professors care about your interestes and are excited to work with you on independent projects, which is incredibly valuable! The Humanities department at CU Portland provides an excellent environment for finding passion, stretching yourself, and making the connections that will help you get wherever it is that you end up heading.

April Powers '12