I sat down with a recent graduate of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes who is currently studying English with a concentration in creative writing at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. I asked Caroline to respond to three specific questions. Below are notes from our conversation:
Me: What creative writing experiences were you part of at SSSAS? How were you supported?
Caroline: I came to college with a strong foundation in writing thanks to my teachers at SSSAS who pushed me and encouraged me to write more. I specifically remember sophomore year in Dr. Klein’s class, when we compiled quarterly journals. Dr. Klein encouraged us to include creative writing. I submitted a creative essay about an epiphany I had experienced, and when I read it aloud in class Dr. Klein said it sounded like the work of someone who reads a lot. (She was right!) In all my English classes there was a combination of critical and creative writing, and I felt fortunate to exercise all parts of my brain throughout my high school career. Inspired by the work I did in the classroom, I began to write outside of school assignments, occasionally writing poetry and short stories. In both my junior and senior years I was lucky to have Mrs. McElroy as my English teacher. The close student-teacher relationship we shared made me feel confident to submit more vulnerable pieces of writing. In fact, Mrs. McElroy helped me adapt one of my creative essays into the basis for my college application essay!
Me: How have you applied what you learned at SSSAS in college?
Caroline: In addition to the creative writing I did in class at SSSAS, I also worked a bit on Fire and Stones, our literary magazine, working on a team to review submissions. The techniques I learned in classroom critiques have helped me in the creative writing classes I take at Penn. It’s important to use the right tone and give constructive feedback, which are skills I learned from my teachers at SSSAS as well as my fellow classmates. I also have a job at the writing center at Penn, which means that I edit, critique, and give feedback to fellow Penn students seeking writing help. It’s a job that I really enjoy and I feel grateful for the focus on writing at SSSAS, which prepared me to help fellow college students with their own writing.
Me: Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
Caroline: I’m not sure where I want to be in five years, but I would love to be writing in some capacity. I would love to work in politics, or food, or law, or… anything really. I’m sometimes overwhelmed with career options because frankly, I’m interested in almost everything. As an English major, I take all sorts of creative writing classes at Penn—nonfiction/memoir, short stories, and journalism. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that I had at SSSAS and the foundation that my high school experience provided for my college pursuits.
To learn more about some of the exciting opportunities available to Saint students, like Fire & Stones, click here.