by Erin Moreno
Registration for Spring 2018 is almost here, and I want to tell you why you really, really need to sign up for an immersive-learning class.
My sophomore year, I signed up for a 15-credit hour immersive-learning experience taught by a Religious Studies faculty member. I was an English Education major, and until then, I’d been following the path that my freshman advisor had laid out for me.
In order to get into the class, I had to apply and be accepted, and then meet with the department heads of English, Education, and Sociology (my minor) to figure out how the experience could be applied toward the classes I needed to graduate. A bunch of meetings later, I was heading to the Virginia Ball Center for the Representing Religion in Comics seminar.
That semester was one of the most formative experiences of my collegiate career. I collaborated and learned from 12 other students from different disciplines (Religious Studies, Biology, Creative Writing, Fine Arts, Animation) as well as our faculty advisor who really let us lead the class ourselves. We gained experience and skills in leadership, creative writing, art, and technology (I created and drew my entire comic by teaching myself Adobe Photoshop).
Amy Chu, Mark Waid, Charles Soule, Eric Heisserer and other experienced comic professionals came to our class to speak with us and help guide us on our comic writing endeavor. We ate more special edition Oreos than I ever have before (or ever will again). We spoke at the Indy Comic Con in our own panel about our experience in the class and by the end of the semester, we had each written a comic book that included elements of religion.
Taking that class taught me so much. It made me realize that there is always more than one way to do something. It helped me become more of a leader and teammate. It gave me creative writing, copy-editing, storyboarding, and design work before I had even thought to do anything in those fields before. Most importantly, it taught me that I truly enjoyed working with others and creating something. My immersive-learning class gave me a group of peers I still keep in touch with (Team Falcon for life) and it led me to switch majors from English Education to English Studies with an additional minor in Creative Writing.
When you’re going through college it’s natural to feel lost. My advisor gave me some advice on one of my tear-filled meetings with her.
She told me, “Sometimes you can’t see the path until you look back at all the stars you’ve left.”
As a senior about to graduate in December, I look back at all my stars and moments here at Ball State and I’m so grateful that the English department encouraged me to have an unusual education. My advisors and the faculty not only encouraged me, they enabled me to go out and experience something outside of the department. I got to learn about religion from an outsider perspective, and I learned more about myself as a writer, learner, and leader through that seminar than I ever would have without it. I don’t know exactly what would have happened if I had stayed in education, but I know I wouldn’t be nearly as prepared to face the world as I feel now.
Though I’m no longer going into the classroom after graduation, I still consider myself an educator. I’ve been able to give talks to incoming freshmen about my experience as well as help other professors in the department by sharing my story with others who may be apprehensive about what such a big change may bring them. I really want to encourage other students to go out of their comfort zone and pursue an abnormal education. Explore other areas of our university to further push yourself in your education.
Ball State has many great immersive-learning experiences to grow from and with registration right around the corner, now is the time to plan. If you’re interested in stepping out of the English department, try out the Muslims in Muncie project!
Contact the office of Entrepreneurial Learning to find out more about projects happening all over campus.
Or do you want to stay a little closer to home?
Then the Book Arts Collaborative could be for you. Talk to Dr. Rai Peterson.
Or if you’ve got some design skills, Dr. Adam Beach is looking for a new team member for the Digital Literature Review.
GO AHEAD. STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
This is a cross post on bsuenglish.com and erinmoreno.com.