What’s a pilgrim soul? Yeats might say that it’s who we really are, not who we pretend to be. We say it’s someone who isn’t afraid to admit they’re searching, a current student who is on a path but doesn’t know exactly where it will lead.
By: Calandra Weaver & Sally Knoop
Laurinda Webb is a senior here at Ball State pursuing a Secondary English Education major with minors in both Autism Spectrum Disorders and Creative Writing. Webb is also a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success, the English Education Club, and Kappa Delta Pi, a national honor society in education. She is also a 2019 recipient of the Leslie and Patrick Ballard Scholarship. You can follow her on both Twitter and Linkedin.
Could you give us some background about yourself? (i.e. What are you studying? What groups are you involved in on campus?)
I’m currently a senior here at Ball State and am a Secondary English Education major with minors in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Creative Writing. I am a member of a few groups on campus including The National Society of Leadership and Success, English Education Club, and Kappa Delta Pi, which is a national honor society in education. These groups have helped shape me into the kind of teacher and leader I’ve always wanted to be, and I highly recommend partaking in these clubs and organizations if these appeal to you.
Why did you choose to become an English Ed major?
A lot of people think my answer to this question is a little funny, and perhaps even a bit unconventional, but it’s true to me, and if we think about it, isn’t all learning supposed to be challenging and uncomfortable?
I have always believed that something worth doing is meant to scare me, and if I’m honest, the prospect of being a teacher scares the hell out of me. The fact that I have the opportunity to help shape growing minds is terrifying, exciting, and incredible. I didn’t choose to be an English Education major simply because it scares me, but also because I think teaching is a life-long learning process. I think students deserve equal opportunities to excel in the classroom and community, but they are often not given the educational and social justice they deserve, nor the tools to help them realize that they matter and are significant. While providing these tools potentially compromises the structural integrity of oppression, education is meant to break down those barriers and give students the knowledge to understand their own truths in a healthy environment; creating this environment is one of my fundamental goals as an educator and one of the biggest reasons I’ve become an English Education major. I want to do things that scare me, teach the truths of the world, talk about the real issues we’re facing and will face. I think students, especially in our current political climate, deserve the truth and the ability to talk about these issues we’re all facing. We all have voices that need to be heard and I want my classroom to be accessible to all types of learners, students, and thinkers.
What do you like about Ball State’s English Ed program?
This question is quite difficult for me to answer because my immediate reaction is “everything!”
When I was considering which college to go to— because I wasn’t sure (I never really thought I’d ever make it to college)— I came to campus for my college visit. At the time, I was recovering from an injury when I played soccer, so I was in a wheelchair. After the general tour, I had a meeting scheduled with the department chair at the time, which was Cathy Day. I remember being quite nervous— I’d never had a meeting with a college professor before— but in retrospect, that meeting was the reason I chose to come to Ball State. It was the first time I had been asked why I wanted to be an English Education major, and Cathy Day decided to personally show me the English Department, pushing me all around Robert Bell explaining the types of classes I’d take, what I should expect, and asking me questions about myself along the way. I learned how challenging the program was, how accessible and accommodating the department was, and how much I felt excited— perhaps for the first time— about “giving this college thing a try.”
My first day here confirmed that it was going to be as difficult and challenging as Cathy Day promised, and that promise has been held to this day. My professors— especially those teaching the English Ed specific courses— have challenged me to become the best student, teacher, and thinker I can be. These teachers, this department, my peers— they are my favorite part about this program and to say I’m grateful for each and every one of them would be an understatement.
What is your favorite English Ed class?
Choosing one English Ed class to be my favorite is too difficult, so I’ll give you two of my most memorable English Ed classes— English 150 and English 395.
English 150 was my first class of the day during my first semester of college— it was a morning class and I had it with Dr. Jones (or as many of us call her, Dr. J). I remember everyone telling me that morning classes sucked and that I should always try to get afternoon classes, but I decided to take a chance and go for this morning class; what did I have to lose? In retrospect, I’m so incredibly glad I took that chance. English 150 was my first class in the English Ed program, and it taught me a lot about myself and what I should expect out of the program. It was a lot of work and I remember being pushed past my limits at times, but it was the first meaningful class I had— the first class that set me towards the path of becoming an English teacher. Truthfully, it really set the bar for the subsequent classes I’ve had. Since then, I’ve taken several classes with Dr. J and each one has allowed me to grow beyond measure— I’ve not only gotten the opportunity to grow as a student and teacher because of her classes but also as an activist and advocate. She has taken a huge role in the realm of student accessibility, which is something I’m very vocal about as an autistic and partially-deaf student. She has, since day one, made me feel like a part of this community despite my differences; she helped me view my differences as assets, and it’s because of her that I am as vocal as I am about them now.
English 395 was my last class of the day during my last semester as a junior in the program. It was a 5-6:15 class, and I got to take it with Dr. Spanke. I remember our first day of class when Dr. Spanke came into the room and handed us folders packed with every assignment we had for the class— everything was laid out, the schedule was color-coded, and there was a letter welcoming us to the class. I remember being happy that I had a teacher who was so organized and unlike any other teacher I’d had before. Being a part of this class was one of the rare few times I didn’t feel like I was just a student in another class, but also a teacher. This class made me question everything I knew, and while I admit that it was, at times, frustrating, I loved every minute of it. We didn’t just talk about pedagogy and teaching strategies— we participated in them. We talked about real-world issues and how they’d surface in the classroom. We had meaningful conversations when self-doubt would start settling in— when we would question our ability to be teachers. Dr. Spanke reminded me what learning is all about— the good, the challenging, the uncomfortable. I can say, hands-down, that this was the most difficult, challenging, uncomfortable, and stressful class I’ve ever had in college, and for that reason, it is one of my most favorites.
During your time as an English Ed major, what is something valuable you have learned that you will carry with you after you graduate?
I’ve found that I’ve learned a lot during my time as an English Education major, but I’d argue the most significant thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to “fall on your face.” We all make mistakes— not every lesson is going to go perfectly, not every student is going to like us, not every pedagogical theory is going to work for us— and that’s okay. Teaching is about adaptability, accessibility, all the little nuances we find. And, when we “fall on our faces,” it’s a chance to learn and grow— that’s what it’s all about!