Marjorie Meeks

Why did you come to Willamette—and why major in English?

I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so I was really hoping to go somewhere fresh and new for college. I’d only been to the Northwest once or twice in my life, but I remembered it being beautiful, so nearly all the schools I applied to were in this area. Willamette had a great reputation, offered great class sizes, and, of course, gave the best financial aid. I was nervous coming here because I’d never set foot on campus until day one, but it all worked out really well for me in the end.

As for majoring in English, I didn’t originally come to that decision. I began by majoring in Politics, largely because I felt like it was a worthwhile way for me to learn how to have an impact on the world. But I grew up loving to read and write, and it was such a large part of my identity that I really felt that I’d left something behind by not allowing myself to pursue it in college. So I declared an English minor, which grew to a second major after I took some fantastic classes and talked to some very influential professors.

I love both of my majors and often see them echo each other, particularly in the way I see politics reflected in literature. Additionally, a surprising amount of the intro-level reading for both majors overlaps. Hopefully when I leave school to pursue a career, it will be in something that involves both of my interests—perhaps speech writing or journalism.

What's your favorite English class been so far?

The fall semester of my junior year, I took a class called “Literature of Asian Diaspora” that might have changed my life. As an Asian American myself, I was initially interested in the course in the hopes of finding fiction with protagonists I could relate to. But the class itself was fascinating—it was like a crash course in Asian history, a book club, and a constant exercise of critical thought all in one. I won’t be selling the books from that course any time soon. Also, our professor was just a ray of sunshine and such a pleasure to take a class from.

How have you been spending your summers?

I moved here from Nevada, and my family followed soon after, so I now spend summers in Salem. I work two work-study on-campus jobs during the school year—as an office assistant in the recruitment department at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, and as a department assistant in the Office of Financial Aid—and during the summer, I work on campus full time. I also use that time to catch up on personal reading and writing. In the last two years, my book collection has grown to be pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

What activities are you involved in outside of the classroom?

Aside from participating in the university’s work-study program, I’ve also been involved other campus programs. I’m an active member of the College Democrats club, and I’ve been a writer on behalf of several on-campus publications, including the Collegian and the Odyssey. Unfortunately, I’ve largely taken this semester off of these extra activities in order to focus a little more on my schoolwork, but I’m hoping to pick many of them back up again next year.

What are your senior thesis plans?

I have no idea, and it’s really, really frightening. I don’t plan on taking my English thesis until my final semester, so I’m mostly preparing for Politics, but I’m still considering ideas. I think it would be fascinating to do a critical study of Young Adult novels, but I don’t yet know what direction that would take. I’m hoping to find further inspiration in my current and future English classes!