Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Tamar Boyadjian: I have known Tiffany since she started as a Freshman at MSU in my English 280 course, and we worked together almost every semester since. I am currently directing her Senior Thesis which is an incredible creative work that beautifully articulates and is influenced by works about the journey of women, their bodies, and their place in society as they constantly have to negotiate the men around them. As a critical thinker and creative writer, Tiffany’s work has always been sensitive to include the voices and perspectives of different types of women. She is a world citizen and a person who is a gifted teacher. I am so excited for her peace corps adventure in Madagascar, especially because it is so fitting for her generous and nurturing personality.
I have had the honor to read my poetry with Tiffany and other students in an event my friend organized in Detroit. This is one of the fondest memories I have of reading my own poetry.
Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Robin Silbergleid: A gifted personal essayist, Tiffany McIntyre carefully balances critical and creative practice in all her work. She leans into rather than shies away from risk and vulnerability; the first project she did in English 481 on Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons took to canvas alongside the printed page as a space in which to think through the materiality of the word. Her intelligence is quiet and fierce; I can always count on Tiffany to ask the tough questions, approach her peers with generosity, and to send me good book recommendations; I’ll miss her in class next fall. Congratulations, Tiffany.
Tiffany’s experience: How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?
Transformative. My time as an English major has been nothing less than a transformation of growth in all areas of my life. I came into MSU having no idea what I want to do. Studying English has not only equipped me with skills of literary analysis but has taught me how to look at the world through different lenses. I’ve learned how to be both introspective and how to connect to different diverse communities.
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?
Two professors and the classes they taught really shaped my studies at MSU and, furthermore, my title as a writer. Tamar Boyadjian (ENG 280) and Robin Silbergleid (ENG 423) impacted my life tremendously. Tamar pushed me to ask questions about literary theory and how that theory has narrated history and transforms today. She asks big questions and continues to urge me to step outside of my comfort zone and dig deeper when dealing with any piece of text. She also inspired and encouraged me to take poetry seriously. I had always written poetry as a hobby, but she sat down and had a conversation with me about being honest in my work, and that really started my dive into creative writing.
Robin Silbergleid, the Director of Creative Writing at MSU (one of many titles she holds), is the woman who taught me the essential skills of creative nonfiction writing and introduced me to a vast canon of creative nonfiction. Her teachings, patience, and talent made the classroom a safe space to dive into creativity and develop quite the toolbox of writing skills.
Both women have impacted me greatly and are people who I feel comfortable reaching out to for any and all questions and conversations.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?
- Keep asking questions. This goes for inside and out of the classroom. When in class, there is always something more to unravel, a passage you can analyze further, a theory you can pull apart or even add to! Ask questions to your resources; the English Department is full of incredibly intelligent people who want you to succeed. Ask them what they’ve done, read their books, go to their readings and listen to guest lecturers they host. They know what they’re talking about.
- Keep writing. Write in genres you don’t feel comfortable writing in. The more you read, the more you write, the more questions you ask people who know more than you, the deeper your understanding for literature and the importance of the arts will be.
- The last piece of advice, stay humble and take peer review seriously. I cannot even keep track of the number of times I loved something I wrote only for my peers to have no idea what it means (this will happen to you). Listen to the people around you and if you have to delete and rewrite a paragraph or two or ten, it will ultimately make you a better writer and person.
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?
For my honors thesis, I am writing a book! I’m super excited about it. It’s creative nonfiction (something I never pictured myself writing when I first came to MSU), and it’s in some of the final editing stages at the moment. What really excites me about this project is that Dr. Boyadjian, my thesis advisor, gave me complete creative freedom over this. I started with a blank page and an overwhelming sense of what could I possibly write a book about and I now have a full manuscript entitled The Nomenclature of Heartache (I’m still playing with the title). The whole point of the book is to push words to the extent of their meaning and to evoke as much feeling with as little detail as possible. It’s been a challenging and fun project!
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?
I hope to join the Peace Corps to teach English! As of right now, I was invited to teach in Madagascar for 27 months, and if I pass medical and legal clearance, I’ll be on a plane in September!
After that, who knows! I’m planning on taking the GRE in hopes of eventually applying to grad school, but we will see where I’ll be led during and after Peace Corps. I’m open to any sort of adventures life brings.
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?
This time of social distancing, isolation, and anxiety over a virus is something that is affecting us all globally. I’d first like to mention that this is something that should be taken seriously and that the right precautions are being made at the state level thanks to Governor Whitmer. It is all of our responsibility to know and act on the fact that this is bigger than all of us yet still affects us individually. It’s important to be empathetic, compassionate, and safe.
As a graduating senior during this crisis, I’ve realized that I need to come to peace with being in the unknown. Senior year is all about the next steps, preparing to depart into professional life, soaking in the last bit of fun as an undergrad. And now, here we are, not knowing what next steps will be or look like because the world has turned upside down. It was all very abrupt and thank God for modern technology like FaceTime and Zoom to be able to still talk to friends that I didn’t get a chance to hug goodbye. This social pause is surreal because life is still sort of happening, and now even resuming “real life” is a strange concept. Some resources that I’ve found helpful are just other seniors and being able to talk and reminisce about our time here at MSU. Having access to technology and staying in communication with friends, family, and faculty through email, texting, phone calls, and video is something that I definitely took for granted before this quarantine. The sidewalks around East Lansing and nature trails have been a fantastic resource to get outside, also (with distancing, of course).
I feel for all of my fellow seniors as we won’t be able to cheer on our team at the championship or walk across the stage after finals week. There are traditions that can’t be fulfilled, but we are adjusting. I was sad for a bit, but I find solace knowing that my time here at MSU is not defined by a turn of a tassel in May, but by the growth that has happened and the reaction to these adjustments in order to heal our global community.