Taking students to “unexpected places”
English majors, alumni and faculty talk about their degree
3 min. read
February 6, 2014

In a 2012 Business Insider article, Marc Andreesen, the founder of Netscape said that those who take English in college “are going to end up working in a shoe store.” Not that there is anything wrong with working in a shoe store, but most Redeemer alumni with degrees in English have never stepped foot on the business side of the counter at a Foot Locker. In fact, many have rewarding, professional careers that draw on the skills and knowledge they learned during their studies at Redeemer. That was one of the realities that several alumni shared at a recent Redeemer Alumni Mentoring Program (RAMP) event for the English Department. Sponsored by the Redeemer Alumni Association, RAMP events bring alumni, students and faculty together to discuss careers and/or post-graduate education in their discipline. The English RAMP event featured several alumni from a variety of workplaces: Angela Bick ’01, Editor in Chief at Christian Courier; Naomi Biesheuvel ‘03, Communications Coordinator for Cardus; Heidi de Vries ‘05, Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Brantford; Brent van Staalduinen ‘01, Writer; Justin Cook ’95, Director of Learning at the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools; Denise Versteeg ’09, Assistant to the VP Academic and Dean of Tyndale University College. Brent van Staalduinen, Angela Bick and Heidi de Vries listen to Denise Versteeg describe her experiences at Tyndale as part of the English Department RAMP eventAs part of a panel, each of the alumni spoke briefly about their journey after Redeemer and how Redeemer prepared them for that next step. After, in small-groups sessions, alumni had an opportunity to answer more specific student questions relating to their careers, grad school choices and volunteer activities. It was an experience that many of the students found valuable and inspiring. Marieta van Iperen is a fourth-year English major from Lacombe, AB. “I chose to study English at Redeemer because I love the language, and because I want to share what I have learned and continue to discover with others,” she said. “The alumni I met at this event motivated and inspired me to let my degree take me to the unexpected places, to keep on developing reading and writing skills, to continue discovering more in English, to never stop sharing and learning, and to never think of giving up.” It was notable that all six of the alumni spoke about the significance not only of their English degree but also of the Liberal Arts and Sciences core at Redeemer. Together, these educational experiences provided them not only with the ability to think, read, and write well, but also to interpret, assess and interact with information from other disciplines. All six alumni mentioned ways in which this interdisciplinary background has been of particular value to them in their working lives. It’s also the argument that Steve Strauss made in a Huffington Post article last June. Strauss says that “English majors are my employee of choice” because of their smarts, boldness and writing ability. As an added bonus, “English majors are interesting, well spoken, can take a position and defend it with logic and reason, are (obviously) well read, and are, well, pleasant to be around.” It seems that any workplace, from law office to shoe store, benefits from hiring English majors.

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