Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Robin Silbergleid: “Claire Walsh is one of those quiet students whose first papers reveal the extraordinary intelligence they’ve been keeping mostly to themselves. Over the past three years, Claire has proven herself with every assignment to be a sharp literary critic and delightful nonfiction writer. With a particular gift at narrative description,she can turn the occasion of washing dishes into a thoughtful meditation on domestic labor. Building on an essay selected by M. Milks as first place in the 2019 Creative Writing Awards, Claire‘s senior honors thesis travels the state of Michigan on four journeys during which she explores not only the nature of “home” and family, but also memory itself. I’m really proud of her; congratulations, Claire!”
How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?
My time as an English major has opened my eyes to so many perspectives and ideas that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience otherwise. I’m grateful for the wide range of courses and topics that allowed me to create a well-rounded and fulfilling four years at MSU.
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?
I’ve been especially impacted by my Creative Writing courses. They’ve not only given me wonderful skills that I can use in my writing moving forward, but in my current writing, I can see how each course has changed my process. I feel like a more organized, intentional, and confident writer because of my time in those classrooms. I also greatly enjoyed the courses and the Honors Thesis through which I was able to work with Dr. Robin Silbergleid. Both her teaching and her kindness have meant the world to me during my time at MSU and I’m very grateful to have had such a wonderful professor to work with.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?
I would tell a future English student that they should feel confident in their choice of study because an English degree is such a great basis for a lot of other kinds of work. In the months leading up to the start of my freshman year, I was embarrassed to tell people that I was majoring in English. I think there’s such a misconception that this degree can only open a few specific doors. I’m so grateful for all of the perspectives and ideas that this type of degree has given me the opportunity to experience. I’m ultimately really happy and proud that I decided to study something that I love.
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?
This year, I’ve been working on an honors thesis which has taken the form of four creative nonfiction essays. Each essay focuses on a geographical place that is meaningful to me and through the pieces, I tackle problems of memory, family, and “home.” I’ve really enjoyed working on a long-term project, especially one that has given me the space to figure out some more about myself and my experience along the way.
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?
I don’t have any immediate plans lined up yet, but I’m hoping to utilize writing skills in my future endeavors. I have an additional major in Political Science and I’m considering the possibilities of combining that part of my studies with writing, whether that means working with a nonprofit, working in government, or grant writing.
If you’re interested in doing so, please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during this moment of local and global crisis. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?
I haven’t really been able to process what all of this means just yet. There are a lot of very constant and steadfast things being taken away right now and that’s scary. One aspect of the new normal that has been comforting to me is the willingness of professors to talk with students or simply to be there for them if need be. While I know the changes taking place are necessary in the interest of safety, a nice email or a reassuring smile over Zoom can really brighten a bad day. I’m happy that the Spartan community is trying above all to encourage togetherness even though we can’t be in the same room.