Brett Jenkins began her career at Huntington University despising poetry, but was surprised to discover a passion for the writing genre during her years at HU.
A 2008 alumna with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Brett pursued her Master of Fine Arts degree after graduation. She continued her education at Bennington College’s Writing Seminars to earn her degree after two years of intense reading and writing. Between short residencies on Bennington’s campus, Brett read and wrote on her own, corresponding with instructors and fellow writers to receive her MFA.
Although Brett did not eagerly anticipate the poetry portion of her creative writing class, she was pleased to discover in it a new appreciation for the craft.
“Dr. Del Doughty’s creative writing course changed my life,” Brett said. “I went into that class with a sincere loathing for poetry, but once I learned that it didn’t have to be boring and angsty, I loved it, and I loved writing it.”
Shortly after, she took an independent study course in poetry with Dr. Doughty. “At the end of the semester, I had compiled two collections of poetry,” Brett added. “The study in poetry was invaluable for me as both a student and a writer.”
Many of the poems she wrote for the course were published.
Brett attributes her improved writing skills to her professors, saying, “Every single professor in the Department of English has forced me to become a better writer, both creatively and technically.” She credits professors in other departments as well, saying that their personal interest “pushed me to become a better student and a more well-rounded individual.” During her time at Huntington, Brett says she was introduced to a broad range of writers and genres, and that she was taught not just what to read, but how to read.
Believing that Huntington University’s small size contributed to her success as a student, Brett says, “Because my academic adviser had a limited number of students in his counsel, he was able to direct more attention to my academic career than would probably have been possible at a larger school.” In four years, she had the opportunity to take two independent study courses, as well as upper-level courses with as few as six or seven students. This gave her the chance to be involved in both one-on-one interaction and small group discussions in class.
HU has given Brett the chance to travel and pursue interests aside from English. She made her first visit to Washington, D.C., over a January Term during her junior year. She had recently read about several U.S. presidents, and on this trip, Brett says, “It was fascinating to see parts of history come alive in my imagination.”
Brett’s extracurricular activities ranged from Huntington’s Guerilla Theatre, to wind ensemble, to being a DJ for a special folk music hour on the campus radio station, The FUSE FM. “Because of my extracurricular activities in theater, radio and music, I made friends with people I probably never would have interacted with under other circumstances,” Brett said. “Some of these friends have grown to be the people who inspire me most.”
Through Huntington University’s English department, Brett was involved in other extracurricular activities. During her junior and senior years she presented poetry once at Taylor University’s Undergraduate Literature Conference, twice at the Sigma Tau Delta National Convention, and won a poetry slam in Huntington, Ind., that was hosted by Huntington University’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. She also traveled to see professional productions of plays. One of the most memorable was “Othello” in Chicago.
“‘Othello’ had never been my favorite Shakespeare play. In fact, it was probably my least favorite before I went to see it performed,” she said. However, seeing “Othello” on stage gave Brett “a new appreciation for the play.”
In the Department of English, Brett had several leadership opportunities, such as being the vice president of the Huntington chapter of Sigma Tau Delta and editing Ictus, Huntington’s official literary journal.
To students considering majoring in English at HU, Brett gives this advice: “Read all you can; write all you can. Get to know interesting people.”
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