Written by: Nicola Van Dam
I discovered TrentU Durham existed while I attended Durham College. I had a job in the Campus Bookstore and was stacking Shakespeare plays when a fellow student worker blurted out, “Who would take a class of just Shakespeare?” Ignoring the sarcastic tone and horrified expression on his face, I responded with, “I would.”
English Literature was my number one choice of study post high-school, but not being aware I could study locally (a.k.a. live at home to save money and take my number one choice of program) I took a different path for a couple of years.
So, here I was with an opportunity to apply for my desired program and not need to move away. I had no idea what profession I would pursue with an English Literature degree, but I didn’t mind. I loved reading and knew I would enjoy the classes. Plus, having a bachelor’s degree under my belt couldn’t hurt.
Throughout the three years I spent at TrentU Durham, I never once doubted my decision to take the program and that is down to the professors and staff I had the pleasure of meeting. I took a range of classes from Chaucer to Victorian Literature and of course, Shakespeare. Why? Because I could.
Fast forward over a (ahem) decade and two children later… I run an office for a group of midwives and became a Certified Childbirth Educator and teach prenatal classes at a local hospital.
What does that have to do with an English degree? A lot. Critical thinking, reading between the lines, communicating ideas and debating points of view are skills that take time to develop. Character analysis teaches us that you cannot always take people at face value as everyone has a back story. Meeting families as they embark on one of the biggest milestones in their life, they are overwhelmed with choices and decisions to make. Helping break down the information to guide people to make the decision that works best for them requires all of the above skills.
We are all asked about our career aspirations and, especially during those post-secondary years, think we have to have all the answers about where we are going in life. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was do something you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like work.
You will never have everything figured out, and that is okay!
“Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast.” Romeo and Juliet. (II.iii.94).