Katie Howland

Why did you come to Willamette—and why major in English?

I applied to Willamette simply for the Oregon location; however, upon my first visit here, the beautiful campus and the friendly sense of community that surrounds the school immediately impressed me. The small class sizes, intimate relationships between students and teachers, and the emphasis on study abroad convinced me that Willamette was the school for me.

I gravitated towards English simply because I enjoy reading and writing, but I wasn’t confident about majoring in it until I took my first course at Willamette. Close Reading made me realize that English ignites my passion and that I want to pursue a career with that passion.

You had a professional ballet career before coming to Willamette. How has that experience affected your time here and what you do as an English major?

Having the opportunity to dance professionally allowed me to experience a career I truly love, and I hope to carry that with me into each stage of my life and every future career. Taking time before college also gave me a unique perspective as a non-traditional student at Willamette. I believe it has allowed me to fully appreciate what a gift the education I am receiving at Willamette is, and it has provided me with a strong motivation to gain all I can from my time here.

I always enjoyed the physical aspect of dance, though what really drew me to ballet was the story I was able to tell every time I got on stage. During my dance career the role I enjoyed performing most was Helena in the ballet adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. What I have found in English is the ability to be immersed in the act of telling and receiving stories through words instead of through my body.

What campus activities are you involved in?

Through high school my main focus was always dance. Every summer I would attend dance intensives with different companies all over the country, from New York to San Francisco. While working with Missouri Ballet Theatre I also taught introductory dance classes to kids 8-16, and dance is still a large part of my life at Willamette. I have worked with the Theater Department in its fall dance concert and the associated Areal project as well as Willamette Dance Company.

Willamette has also provided me with many new opportunities. This past summer, for example, I attended the Ecuador Summer Abroad course, and I will be studying abroad in Eastern Europe this coming spring. My interest in studying abroad has led me into an internship with the Office of International Education.

Tell me about your senior thesis plans—and what your future beyond WU has in store.

As a general premise, my thesis is exploring the relationship between Waldorf Education and Walt Whitman’s poetry in Leaves of Grass. I don’t have any concrete plans for directly after graduation, though if I have learned anything it is not to get too attached to future plans. I do hope to eventually go into teaching—possibly in Waldorf Education. I believe that the inspiration I received from teachers before and during college has provided me with a rich desire to learn and experience the world. I hope to one day be the teacher who inspires students to find their dreams and passions.