April Mueller is graduating from Michigan State University in May with a major in Secondary Education with an English focus and a minor in History Education. Since Fall 2020, she has served as a member of the National Council of Teachers of English and has served on the E-Board for two years as the Public Relations and Outreach Chair. Upon graduation, she plans to move to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she will complete a one-year teaching internship program. But before she heads to the west side of the state, she took the time to answer the following questions, reflecting on her time at MSU.
How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?
Transformative, Inspiring, Intentional, and Intense. I did not start off at Michigan State University, but transferring here was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. I knew I was going to remain an English Education major, but I was nervous that I wasn’t going to fit in – I couldn’t be more wrong! I have loved every second of my English classes here, getting to know my professors, classmates, and the community that the English department has here has made me a better student and person. Even through the late nights writing essays, reading complicated literature, and the hours spent in my professors office hours, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?
Dr. Hui-Ling Sunshine Malone and Dr. Emery Petchauer have been my guiding lights during my time at MSU. Both have been the instructors for several of my upper-level English classes preparing me for English Education. Dr. Malone has been there for me in supporting my writing and experiences for the last two years now, and I credit her for developing my love for writing and being able to share that with students. Dr. Petchauer introduced me to teaching literature to students and exploring different kinds of diverse literature to use in the classroom. He has also been the advisor for NCTE at MSU, a program I have been heavily involved in that has inspired my passion for social justice in the classroom.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?
Be open, be honest, be vulnerable. Take everything in and enjoy it in the moment because it won’t last forever!
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?
My capstone English class(es) (ENG 408 and 413) – Specifically ENG 413 (Writing Our World) we have been exploring genres of writing and writing our own stories within that genre with the goal of publishing all of the classes pieces in a book at the end of the semester! It has been so fun to explore writing different genres, like memoirs, poetry, even horror, and try new things with writing that I would not have without this class.
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?
I hope to become a high school English teacher on the West Coast, hopefully San Francisco. I can’t wait to spend my life with students and get to learn from them and grow together. Someday I want to spend some time living and teaching abroad in Europe.
Please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during the ongoing pandemic. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?
I am not a good online learner, especially when i’m at home, alone, in such an uneasy and scary time. I hated online class and not being able to be around people or be in a classroom. It was weird coming back to campus in the fall and being in person and meeting these people i’ve only known through a screen for the last 3 semesters. I think our cohort really bonded over this experience once we were in person, and learned how to navigate life changing instantly, together. It felt like I was mourning a year of isolation and a year of school that was supposed to be normal, like how I had imagined it as a kid, but also learning how to be flexible, how to adapt, and make the most of a really tough situation.
Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Hui-Ling Malone: I’m so grateful to have had April in three of my courses during the last two years. Despite her personal challenges, she’s showed up in powerful ways! April’s dedication to equitable and antiracist education was evident throughout her presentations and willingness to be vulnerable in my classes. This semester, she volunteered to help make our class book and spent countless hours making that happen! I’m excited for April’s career in teaching!
Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Steve Rachman: “April is a lively participant in class and was willing to share important ideas and a fine ability to connect a personal experience to a literary concept we were discussing. She had a bumpy time when the pandemic struck in the Spring of 2020, but she persevered and did good work. This showed tremendous character and determination.”