Meet our Concentrators!
We have an amazing group of undergraduate concentrators! Students who major in English love to read and write, but they’re also active in campus and community life in ways you may not expect. While we work to ensure an enriching classroom experience for our concentrators, we are always blown away when we learn about the things they do outside our department. English concentrators are involved in Computer Science, Government, and Mathematics. They pursue secondary fields in the natural sciences. They’re pre-med. They write for the Crimson. They’re Varsity athletes, musicians, dramatists, globe-trotters. While their love of books brings them to the English Department, their co-curricular and extracurricular interests make them a dynamic and diverse part of our community.
Kathryn Gundersen ’17 I’m a junior English concentrator and an avid creative writer, and I love that the English department allows me to explore this interest alongside my other academic work. I also do a lot of fiction writing outside of my concentration, both as a board member of the Harvard College Writers’ Workshop and as an annual participant in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Beyond writing, I’m hugely passionate about travel and international relations, and I try to go as many places as possible because I think that immersing yourself in the world allows for a deeper understanding of important global issues. I’m the Social Media and Technology Chair for the Harvard College in Asia Program, and through HCAP I’m lucky to have formed some incredible friendships with people from all over the world!
Emma Kantor ’17 I am continually amazed to find how interconnected English is with nearly everything else I do at Harvard. I’m pursuing a secondary in Government, and there was a week last year when I was reading John Milton’s political writings for a Gov class, Milton’s Paradise Lost for an English class, and Milton’s source text in Genesis for a Culture and Belief class. And these connections extend beyond the classroom as well! When I’m not sitting in English classes, you can find me in Cambridge public schools teaching dance for a student-run organization called CityStep. CityStep’s mission is to teach dance as a medium for self-expression and a means to mutual understanding—a mission I like to think the best of literature strives to fulfill as well. I’ve had lots of people say, “What are you going to do with an degree in English,” and my answer is always “Anything I want!”
Naomi Lang ’16 When I’m not reading Shakespeare plays and crying over how much better a daughter I would have been to King Lear, I find myself rowing on the Charles River with the Radcliffe Varsity Lightweight Crew team. Rowing is a really tough sport, almost as tough as trying to figure out what the heck Hamlet is trying to tell me. But it’s also an incredibly rewarding endeavor. I spend hours each day sweating on the erg, in the boat, lifting weights, attempting pull ups, and there are two main things that keep me going back for more pain: my incredibly unique and supportive team and my love for the competition and racing.
I find a lot of things at Harvard and in literature confusing, and I love trying to decipher what this world and the people in it are all about, a passion that English has allowed me to explore. My rowing brings me a great deal of relief here because it involves no question, no uncertainty, it’s familiar, it’s who I am and what I do. But English has definitely given me the confidence to enter into unfamiliar territory like Ahab’s ship or Wuthering Heights, and empathize with people, places and experiences, and these skills coupled with my crew mentality will inevitably help me find the clarity in the confusion that is life.
Alex Lee ’17 The literature and creative writing courses that I’ve taken as an English concentrator have taught me important lessons about the importance and necessity of storytelling—knowledge that has proven to be invaluable during my pursuit of a secondary field in Film Studies. Outside of my academic interests, I perform regularly as part of an improvisational comedy group, drawing heavily from the narratives that I’ve been exposed to through the English Department for inspiration. I also channel the love of prose that I’ve gained from my studies into writing humorous articles for the Leverett House newsletter, a fun and lucrative job. Thanks to my choice to concentrate in English, I’ve expanded my horizons, made some lifelong friends, gained irreplaceable mentors, and eaten a lot of deliciously free food along the way.
Hope Patterson ’17 I am an English concentrator with a secondary in Classics. Those might sound like the two most impractical fields of study at Harvard, but I’ve found that the skills I’ve learned as an English concentrator apply to nearly everything I do, including Classics. Whether I’m mentoring third to fifth grade girls for Harvard’s Strong Women, Strong Girls program or editing English translations of medieval Latin as an intern at Dumbarton Oaks, I employ the abilities to write and to critically analyze that I’ve learned as an English concentrator. In addition to loving books, I also love video games, archery, fishing, and hip hop.
Jarrod Wetzel-Brown ’17 Hey everyone! I am a junior English Concentrator, and when I am not serving coffee and scones as a barista in the Barker Cafe, I am usually in the Barker Center soaking up every word that is spoken by the fascinating professors of our department! I am also a Peer Advising Fellow on campus, and I am a student liaison for both Harvard University Health Services and the Harvard Center for Wellness. You also might catch me haunting the Science Center from time to time since I am a premedical student as well! What I love most about the English Department is that it is willing to work with “unorthodox” concentration pathways. I admire the English Department Faculty because they are flexible, passionate, and truly listen to their students. They care immensely for each member of the department, and their guidance is a welcome gift here at Harvard!
Gwen Thomas ’17 I’m a junior English concentrator who is also getting a secondary in Government! I love politics and I’m on the exec board of the Harvard Republican Club. I’m also in IGP, a long form comedy improv troupe on campus (the group with the ties!), and serve as social chair on the Dunster House HoCo. I love concentrating in English because the classes are so much fun, enrich my analytical and writing skills, and allow me to indirectly study a variety of subjects. The department is wonderfully helpful, and I’m sure my concentration has provided me with the necessary skills to succeed after college. And, I no longer need Spelling & Grammar check!
Ramon Galvan ’17 I am English because it understands my needs and goals, and like a best friend, it is by my side the entire way including in my other interests like being a senior video producer for CS50 R&D, the Director of Recruitment for WHRB 95.3’s Sports Department, and the Director of Photography for the upcoming student-produced web series, Absent.
Dianisbeth Acquie ’16 Besides being an English concentrator, I am also the Vice President of Harvard Fuerza Latina, the current Director of Corporate Relations for the 8th annual Latina Empowerment and Development Conference, and a member of Women in Business. I also am on the Student Advisory Committee for the English Department!
Kate Massinger ’16 When I’m not reading texts or drafting papers for my English courses, I can be found singing with the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, tutoring elementary school kids with Harvard HAND, mentoring freshmen through the Peer Advising Fellow program, working behind the desk at Lamont, writing a lesson for Harvard Model Congress, or praying in a Harvard College Faith and Action Bible study. Hopefully sometimes (but not often enough) I can be found on a treadmill, calling my parents in Oregon, eating Berryline with friends, or watching Downton Abbey in bed. I love Harvard’s English Department because it empowers me to master the use and analysis of language both academically and creatively. The professors are engaged in undergraduate learning, the course variety is immense, the Barker Center is beautiful, and English Department events have the best catering ever.
Amy Robinson ’15 I’m a senior English concentrator writing a creative nonfiction thesis on how a family copes with bipolar disorder. Outside of English, I have a secondary in Computer Science, and this is my second year as a teaching fellow for the class Privacy and Technology. I find it fascinating to discover connections between the art of coding and the art of writing. In my free time, I love performing spoken word and adventuring outdoors by going on bicycle tours and camping.
Jake Gambitsky ’15 Outside of English, I’m captain of the Men’s Lacrosse team and a Peer Advising Fellow. I love the community on my team, on and off the field. I find many elements of such community in the English department. One of the main reasons I concentrate in English is because the professors have a palpable passion and energy to make each student’s experience the best it can be. I’ve formed many meaningful relationships with professors and TFs due to their dedication and commitment to their students; there are a lot of amazing, inspiring, and caring people who work in the Barker Center. The sense of community that has been built from these relationships has made my academic experience so fun and rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Ginger Marshall ’15 I’m an English concentrator with a secondary in Mind, Brain, and Behavior, and I’ve found the classes in both departments to be engaging and meaningful. I also have found ways in which the things I care about in my English classes–the power of words, engagement with texts, and creativity–translate to activities outside the Barker center. I’m co-president of Speak Out Loud, Harvard’s spoken word group, which is one of the most amazing and genuine communities I’ve found at Harvard. I intern at WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, and work at the Harvard Review. There are so many ways to use words outside class, but I’ve felt just as fulfilled in discussion sections and lectures. (I also ring the Lowell House bells every Sunday — they sound so much better from inside the tower, I promise.)
Dre Cardinal ’14 Being an English concentrator specializing in creative writing allows me to travel incessantly because everywhere there is a demand for English teachers, even in closed communist countries such as Hanoi, Vietnam. Additionally, I can write my poetry and fiction anywhere, and traveling, though disruptive for other careers, informs and matures my craft. What I love about the English department is the freedom I feel relative to other concentrations to engage in what interests me, to write how I want about what I want, and to read whatever my heart desires by being able to choose from a great variety of courses.
Tomi Adeyemi ’15 I chose English because I saw Harvard as my last opportunity to study humanities in a formal setting. I’ve been exposed to works I never would have dreamed of, and over the past four years I feel that I have been pushed in both creative writing and critical analysis. Outside of English, I am heavily involved in business through the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and Bain & Company. Additionally, I am an avid dancer with Expressions Dance Company and Eleganza. Valuable piece of advice = If economics is not your passion or your interest, don’t feel the need to concentrate in it to get a career in business. Your recruiter is interested in you, not whether or not you’ve taken Ec10.
Carly Hillman ’15 As an English concentrator, I feel better prepared to pursue my dream career in TV production. The skills I developed in my English classes were vital during my summer internships at Good Morning America and The Colbert Report. The department’s emphasis on writing, creative thinking, and analytic discussion helps students to excel in all career paths. The Harvard English Department is one of the most supportive, fun, and welcoming communities on campus.
Krithika Varagur ’15 Besides being an English concentrator, I also have an Economics secondary. On campus, I’m involved in the Harvard Lampoon, Harvard Advocate, Harvard Generalist, and the Art Museums, for whom I’ve been a student guide. I love the English department for its opportunities to study closely with wonderful professors and its terrific creative writing program. I even got to combine my academic interests for my critical senior thesis on game theory and Victorian novels of strategy. I can’t recommend the department highly enough!