Sarah Bayer

When I started at Brandeis, I had little idea of what career or what major I wanted to pursue. During my first semester, I took an English course called Adolescent Literature, which challenged me to reexamine many works I had loved as a child. It revealed that so much of children’s literature is written to guide young people to adulthood, and that these themes have carried through for centuries. I decided to major in English because I enjoyed reading both for pleasure and for the exercise of critically analyzing the layers of hidden meaning in books.

Brandeis’s wide range of courses and extracurricular activities allowed me to supplement my English major with other interests. I took classes in journalism, wrote for the Justice and eventually earned a place on its editorial board. I also took several courses in the Politics Department, which eventually became my minor, and worked at summer internships for political candidates and organizations.

My study abroad experience in Prague helped enhance the appreciation I had for my education as an English major. In Prague I studied the politics, history, and literature of the Czech people’s many regime changes over the centuries. Novelists, poets, and playwrights played central roles in forming the country’s identity and leading its struggle for independence. This made me more curious and energized about ways to engage politically through the written word.

When I returned to campus I was able to explore unfamiliar cultures through courses like Modern Russian Literature and The Indian Novel. I took a seminar on Fictions of Liberty, which examined literature on freedom from different parts of the world. My English studies became a way for me to explore and understand the world, and learn how to change it.

After college, the skills I developed in my English classes served me well. For seven years, I worked as a researcher for labor unions, a job that required me to read extensively on unfamiliar and complex topics and help others to understand them. The analytical and communicative skills fostered in the Brandeis English Department were critical to my success. Now, I am attending Harvard Law School with the goal of becoming a public interest lawyer. This work will undoubtedly call on the skills of critical thinking and self-expression that the English department worked so hard to instill.