COLUMN: Dear Dr. Abel, thank you


Katja Benz

Katja Benz, Columnist

There’s a little anecdote that I sometimes share with people: I’m an English major against my own will.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the major I picked and the concentration I picked even more, but I’ve wanted to be an award-winning screenwriter for as long as I can remember. To me, film seemed like a better degree option, until I realized that I needed a job, and unless I became famous that wasn’t going to happen.

When I tell people that I’m concentrating in professional writing, I tell them that I’m basically a marketing major, except I’ll never have to take financial accounting or either type of economics.

As part of the professional writing degree plan, we have to take a special topics class. The class is centered around one sole topic for the entire semester and whoever teaches it gets to choose the topic.

I’m in the class this semester with Dr. Colleen Abel as my professor. In this class, my classmates and I are editing the Vehicle.

And that sounds super easy, I know. However, it isn’t as easy as people make it out to be in the movies.

We have to finish putting together two separate issues of the magazine, meaning the issue that was being worked on the year COVID-19 hit, but this year’s issue as well.

On top of that, everyone is in other classes: I’m in four other classes and Abel is teaching three others and is the Editor-In-Chief of Eastern’s other literary magazine, Bluestem.

I’m stressed thinking about all five classes that I’m in, on top of the two jobs and other social obligations that I have throughout the week. I also imagine that Abel is under so much more pressure, especially as the sole creative writing faculty member here on campus.

So, I want to take a quick minute to thank her.

I was a firm believer in the inability to teach about the work world and what it means to be a working adult with an English degree in the classroom.

And then I took this class and Dr. Abel taught me both.

She also taught me about the following things:

1. Editing something bigger than yourself,

2. About InDesign and how to use it,

3. The difference between good and bad design and how it can be (in)effective,

4. What it means to be on (or work on) both sides of a field,

5. What it means to be a good reader.

Some things you can’t get inside the classroom, but she has managed to teach me so many things about the work world.

Thank you, Dr. Abel. I appreciate everything I learned in your class. These invaluable skills not only gave me a better experience as a student, but I also learned a lot about myself through this class and your teaching.

Thank you.

Katja Benz is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].