Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Divya Victor: “As a young black poet in a predominantly white classroom and institution, Olivia’s quiet, glowing belief in her purpose as a writer was palpable in our poetry workshop—her calm manner framed an implicit invitation to her peers that they rise to a higher standard of awareness, empathy, consideration; her kind disposition and mature voice (in her work) inspired them to act on that invitation. Olivia’s work probes intersecting themes of class and race, within the context of religious conservatism that wrestles with the myths of a ‘post-racial’ United States. Even though her work did not engender easy appreciation or shallow, giddy engagement, she earned the abiding respect of the best writers in the class because she is a serious, careful thinker and because her work is distinct and voice significant.”
How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?
I would describe my experience as an English major at MSU as profoundly inspiring and academically intimate. Not only were my professors energizing in the classroom, but my classmates also motivated me to be excited about our work. Through my peers I was challenged to think beyond myself. My English classes also felt very personal, especially during workshops where each student brings in a piece of their own writing. My friends within the major and I likened some classes to group therapy because of how impact the experience can be.
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?
An experience that stands out to me during my time at MSU would be landing in Portland, Oregon in March of my junior year. Myself and three other interns were afforded the opportunity to travel across the country to represent Fourth Genre at AWP. And, as we taxied off the runway, I was reminded of how exciting a life can be when you’re pursuing what you love, in my case literature.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?
My advice to future English majors would be to take classes that are outside of your comfort zone. I exclusively wrote poetry before college. However, after taking a Creative Nonfiction course that I was not particularly excited about, my passion for writing now heavily includes using creative nonfiction as a medium. My professor for this class also alerted me to the application for my internship the following year!
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?
As a senior I’m currently in my capstone course. Now that we have less than a month of the semester left, I’ve begun the process of formulating my final paper. I’m excited about this project because I can use the tools I’ve learned during my last four years at MSU to create something I can look back on and be proud of.
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?
Post graduation, I’ll be moving to Chicago to get my Masters in Writing in Publishing at DePaul University. I’m thrilled to move to my favorite city to study what I love.
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’m disappointed that I won’t get to experience graduation as a right of passage. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to friends, to professors, to classmates, to campus, and to being in undergrad. As I’ve had time to grief leaving MSU so suddenly, I’m less in denial about this time in my life being over. And I’m more thankful to be healthy and with my family.