English Department Staff Writer and Social Media Intern, Noah Pace, recently had a chance to sit down with Laura Coker, this year’s Outstanding Graduating Senior in Rhetoric and Professional Writing, to ask her about she experience as an English major. Here’s what she had to say.

Pic of Laura Coker.

Outstanding Graduating Senior in English: Rhetoric & Professional Writing

Noah: First, what made you want to be an English major at UTC?

Laura: I have always loved to read. . . . I was just like, “I’m going to be an English Major.” There were no other options that I had. I decided to be an English major, and it was probably the best decision that I have ever made. I’ve heard my friends talking at a college not too far from here, and they hated the English program. They said that UTC’s program was much better. So I know I made the right decision.

Noah: Tell me about your most interesting or significant experiences as an English major?

Laura: I think my most significant experience happened when I took the History of the English language. And this is going to sound really weird, so bear with me. I love the Lord of the Rings more than anything. So, when I took her [Dr. Katherine Rehyansky], I decided to write a paper on Elvish. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I did it. I had 35 sources, and so wrote this paper, and ever since then I have been presenting on it at [undergraduate research] conventions.

Screenshot of Coker's Tolkien’s Linguistics: The Artificial Languages of Quenya and Sindarin.

Coker’s 2016 CUR presentation abstract, “Tolkien’s Linguistics: The Artificial Languages of Quenya and Sindarin.”

I think that moment was significant for me because I was able to gauge my skills. I was able to use those [writing and analytical] skills and see them succeed because it’s now been published. I’ve seen all of this happen within a span of a year and a half, and I never thought I would make it this far.

Noah: How would you describe your overall experience as an English major?

Laura: I’ve made a ton of friends here at UTC, and especially with the professors because I feel like they treat you on such a personal level. It’s not scary to talk to them, and I know they will always help me. And if I need anything, I always know they will be there. The professors also encourage friendships among the students in the classroom and with them, too, so there are all these personal connections that I know my friends don’t have with their professors who are in other majors. [English is] very intimate and inclusive, and our professors are all very helpful, nice, and welcoming.

Laure holding her paper up while at CUR conference.

Laura attending CUR 2016 to present her paper on Tolkien.

Noah: So what are your plans for after graduation?

Laura: I’ve always wanted to go to Law school from the very beginning. I’m taking a year off after I graduate to work because I need a break, and then I’m heading off to whichever law school accepts me. I would say that English has definitely prepared me for that because I know I have very strong critical thinking and writing skills. I am definitely way more aggressive than I was before when I first came to college. I now know how to argue and how to, I guess, get my way when I need to get my way. So I feel like that has definitely made me a stronger person.

Noah: Any final thoughts, or advice you have for current or future English majors?

Laura: Don’t be afraid and have confidence in your self because I know that’s what I was lacking when I came to college. Also don’t be afraid to go and speak to your professors because I know students who don’t have the same level of connections that I do with my professors, and I have my professors helping me look for jobs. I feel like those connections are the most important, because they will help get you so many more places then just being idle and not being involved.

Pic of Coker's 2017 CUR paper abstract.

Laura’s 2017 CUR presentation abstract, “Video Games & Literacy: The Positive Impact on the Traditional Classroom.”

*Laura was recognized for her achievements at the annual English Banquet on April 4, 2017.


1 Comment » for Outstanding Graduating Senior, Laura Coker
  1. Donna Coker says:

    I am so proud of who you are and what you have become. You go and make your mark in the world.

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