Brooklyn Rue-Using Literature as a Path to Self-Growth

Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Tamar Boyadjian: “I have had the pleasure of having Brooklyn as a student during her entire undergraduate career, and the pleasure of being her instructor for the English Literature in London Program. Brooklyn is an incredible writer, critical thinker, and a beautiful human being. Her growth as a writer, both academically and creatively, has been an incredibly rewarding process to watch -especially because it has complemented her undergraduate journey and the discovery of her passions and future endeavors. Brooklyn’s ability to challenge herself, to self-reflect, and to use literature and cultural studies as a means of self growth has been an inspiration to those around her. Among the many talented and noteworthy essays she has written for me is the very profound reflection on Borges’s, Borges y yo. Here, Brooklyn developed the fascinating claim that neither Borges nor his persona gain subjectivity in this piece, and that only through a created authorship could the figure of Borges  “exist” in this text. I congratulate Brooklyn for all her awards and accomplishments throughout her undergraduate career, and I appreciate all of our talks and interactions throughout the years.” 

How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?

Completing an English degree at Michigan State has been one of my greatest honors and accomplishments. My time as an English major always felt well spent and courses were, for the most part, greatly fulfilling. I was always able to take classes on topics that were of great interest to me, and I always felt I was being pushed as a writer and a critical thinker. The English Department — particularly my advisors — has also always felt like it had my back and wanted to support me in graduation and in planning for whatever comes next. I have also met some incredible peers and faculty in English and these bonds are especially meaningful, as English brings in a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and understandings and we all have something unique to offer.

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 was a part of the English Literature in London study abroad program, which was probably my most impactful experience through MSU. Living in London and being able to connect with my peers and professors in such a personal way really made me feel more connected to the English Department and to all of Michigan State. I have also been able to take some really fantastic ENG/WS crossover courses — like Intro to Women’s Authors and Readings in Women’s Writers — which have combined my interests in women’s studies, feminism, postcolonialism, and literature more broadly. These courses — and my experience studying abroad — have allowed me to learn a bit more about what I’m most interested in and I always felt supported by my professors and classmates in exploring these interests freely.

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?

My advice is to really cherish the time you have here and make the most of it by connecting with your professors, advisor, and classmates. The benefit of English classes is their relatively small class size, and so this is a great opportunity to build personal one-on-one relationships that will give meaning and life to your college experience and prepare you for future endeavors. Professors can make great role models and mentors, not just letters of rec. Advisors really do care about your wellbeing and your dreams and aspirations, not just that you graduate. Classmates can be great resources for sharing ideas and opinions, creative collaboration, and can develop into meaningful, lifelong friendships. Your time in the department is what you make it, so getting as involved as possible and being intentional about what you’re doing is crucial.

What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?

This year, I was a Social Media and Outreach Intern for the Refugee Development Center, which will be serving as my capstone. I designed graphics, wrote social media posts, created informational materials (ie. an annual report, brochures, flyers, etc.), and planned for big fundraising events. I really have enjoyed my time in this position because it allowed me to use the skills I have developed from my English degree and apply them to an organization I believe in that does great work in our community. I also felt like I had a lot of creative expression when it came to content writing and design, and I was constantly learning new skills and developing the ones I came to the organization already having. 

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation? 

Following graduation, I am hoping to dip my toes into the world of editing/publishing and hopefully work for a magazine or an arts and cultural organization. I really enjoyed content writing with my internship position at the RDC, and I want to be able to continue to hone in on my writing skills and perhaps learn more about graphic design and the likes.

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 didn’t know I was going to graduate early until a few weeks ago, so I spent the year thinking I had more time on my clock than I did. On top of that, I spent my last moments in a classroom not knowing they were my last moments. I think it’s easy to fall into a routine when it comes to classes and our many involvements and work and become bored with it. We depend on these things staying constant, because for most of our life they have. Every weekday, I could be sure I was going to wake up, brush my teeth, go to class, and come back to my small apartment. Rinse and repeat. But this pandemic really showed that nothing is totally constant or stable, even the things we most assume to be, and so it makes appreciating even the mundane parts of our days all the more important. I have really been relying on my advisors in English, Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities, and the Honors College to make sure I have all of my ducks in line so to speak and am ready to graduate. They have been a great resource and help to me. Thankfully, this is an uncertain time for everyone and so I think we all are rightfully giving each other a little grace and wiggle room to get through this however we can.