Some faces from the class of 2019…
Here are some snapshots of what Taylor and the Professional Writing program has meant to our senior class. These quotes are taken from their senior statements they wrote during their senior capstone class.
“Unlike most college students, I entered my freshman year thinking I had it all figured out. I was going to come to school, learn how to get published, and write the next great American novel. Needless to say, I was humbled pretty quickly.
But I discovered that I had a love for the humble work. Maybe I wasn’t writing the next New York Times bestseller (yet), but the stories my readers told me of how my writing touched them was worth more than prestige.
Throughout my journey at Taylor, I’ve opened my mind to new options and learned that the plans I make aren’t always the right ones. But with that freedom comes a certain level of unclarity. I rely on God to illuminate which projects to jump into next.”
“The professional writing major at Taylor taught me to have a thick skin, persevere through all trials, and enact all plans and goals I set out for myself. Through this program I have learned to polish my craft, develop a keen eye for design, and find ways to create a platform for the voiceless through excellent editing, a development of divergent skills, and a willingness to tackle tough topics. I am forever indebted to Taylor University, not only in a painful, literal sense, but from its content and character.
I’ve learned to trust more and let God lead me more in the time, no matter how hard it is to let go of my own plans and lean on the Plan with a capital P, of which Plato could not even surmise its enormity or brilliance.”
“As I look back on my Taylor career, I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer. From the classes, critique groups, and brainstorming sessions with friends, I’ve been both challenged and encouraged. I’ve been blown away by the talent of my fellow pro-writes, and I’m honored to have gotten to learn alongside them.
These past few years have opened my eyes to so many avenues of writing I never would have considered for a career. Now, I know that I have the skills to do a variety of things whether it’s publishing, agenting, editing, or screenwriting. God truly has bigger plans than I ever could have imagined for myself.”
“Almost four years ago, I was coming in to Taylor with a dream to become a book editor. I saw this as the most glamorous of jobs. As I began courses in the professional writing program, I realized I was not a good writer at all. However, in my time agonizing over my impending failure, I began to realize how much sitting book editors do. And this is no ordinary sitting, folks. This was sitting alone, not talking to people.
My freshman year came to a close and I needed an on campus job. There was an ad in the student announcements for newspaper editors for our student publication. I hadn’t picked up our newspaper until the night before my interview. So when I was assigned Life and Times, I didn’t even know what that meant. But I quickly learned, and the newspaper took a shape in my life. I made some of my best friends there and learned to love interviewing interesting people.
Even though I’m not where I thought I’d be, where I am is so much more exciting.”
“My time here at Taylor has obviously been full of learning and experiences. I have learned everything from how to fix widows and orphans in a manuscript to the process of coiling a pot.
I’ve learned what I want and what I don’t when it comes to a career and when it comes to relationships. I’ve inched my way closer to an identity that is found in God alone. I’ve asked God why and I’ve thanked him for hardships. I have learned from Taylor what to do as well as what not to do. I’ve made my own decisions and have thought for myself. I’ve learned more things than I have time to share. The most impactful thing though, is that I am never alone and God has and always will lead me one step at a time to where I need to be.”
“As Twitter user Alex Wyse once said, ‘Since it’s impossible to know which period of my life is the middle, I’ve decided to have an ongoing crisis.’ In a weird way, as I look back on my time at Taylor, I plan to model my life after this philosophy. Alex is right. I don’t know what point in my life is the middle. It might be tomorrow—I have no way of knowing, but all that means to me is that I need to treat the future as imminent and plan accordingly.
That said, the one thing I do know is that my life is going according to His plan. Even though I don’t know how long I have left on this earth, I don’t need to fret or worry. I just need to pray. In some ways, the hard part is already done. I’ve spent time evaluating my gifts. I’ve honed them. I’ve decided what to do with them. In a way, I’ve done the wind up. I’ve taken aim. Now I just need to let fly.”
“My four years at Taylor have taught me that those things that make me Jaci are my most valuable assets. My insatiable curiosity and inquisitive disposition lead me to ask questions and learn every day. The deep empathy that wrecks me and leaves me weeping more often than I’d like gives me an emotional impact in my writing I’d not have otherwise. The experiences I synthesize and weave together each moment, each day, and each year are stories, and I’m a natural born weaver. I understand the complexity of fine fabric, and I yearn to show the world exactly what I see.”
“For most people, their time here is longer than mine was. The average person gets out in four years. I got out in three. The education I received, however, started to earn its keep by the end of my first semester. It was worth it the first time I saw my name in print. Worth it the second, third, fourth, fifth… every time since that first, I’m reminded how practical the degree is that I’m receiving.
I’m walking out with a degree that says I can write well, but I’m taking with me far more than that. I’m taking with me midnight conversations discussing plot and characters, hundreds of dinners spent laughing together and solving our worlds’ problems, and thousands of memories I hope never to lose.”
“Looking back on my time in the PWR major, and in classes at Taylor in general, I find that I’ve been molded in two seemingly-paradoxical ways. In one sense, I’ve had my career goals and knowledge directed and honed down to a point. In another sense, my interests and experience have been broadened. Even as I’ve been focusing on learning the writing craft and publishing industry knowledge to succeed in my ideal career, I’ve also discovered or deepened my passion for other fields—history, politics, sociology, natural science, philosophy and religion, music, even computer science.
As a liberal arts school, Taylor challenges its students to think deeply across disciplines. I bought into that idea as a freshman, but I didn’t realize how much I would rise to that challenge as a student. Even within my own major, I was exposed to other parts of the professional writing world that I hadn’t been before. I came into college dreading the idea of taking an editing class. Now, I want to be an editor.”
“Some people leave college with a clear idea of where they’ll be working and living in the upcoming year. I am not one of those people. I had an idea of what type of job I wanted, largely due to discovering at Taylor that editing wasn’t just grammar but included improving the story itself.
I eventually decided I would go into editing anyway for lack of a better option, and then publish a book. I made my capstone paper about creating living (or at least okay) characters for these books. Outside of any passion, I knew I wanted to write despite the fact I’d probably never get rich or famous. But I still didn’t know what exact job I’d have, and I still had doubts about going into editing. As you can imagine, this not knowing is unpleasant, especially since it came in the wake of knowing at least a few things. I still know some things, and we went over some things in class. For instance, I remembered that God is fundamentally more important than any form of art, which was something I’d forgotten.”
“I want to spread joy.
My capstone class helped me to realize that. And while I don’t know what the future holds, I’ve learned during my time at Taylor to entrust God with the future. It is a constant struggle, but I must continue practicing my trust. I know God brought me to Taylor for a purpose and I’m certain said purpose was at least partially fulfilled by my varying classes. They showed me how many paths I want to try in the writing industry, but that I don’t have a dream job. My dream ‘job’ is to leave a legacy of joy and laughter. I want to leave the world better than when I entered it.”
“During this capstone, I solidified my goals. One of those chiefly is to help others gain the knowledge they need to be successful. Unfortunately the publishing industry isn’t based off talent alone. There are much more components such as platform, self-marketing, and endorsements that are necessary for publication. It’s a game of who you know, and who can help who. I want to be one of those who helps others achieve their dreams.
My capstone paper focused on poetry, and while that might not be where I want to go professionally, the craft still fascinates me. One of the chief topics I speak about is how poetry is treated as an art form. I want to carry this notion with me outside of college, because I often forget that I’m an artist. I’ve come to look at my writing as a skill, not an expression of who I am. I want to change that in the upcoming years after graduation.”
“The Professional Writing program has broadened my writing horizons—introducing me to career paths such as journalism, agenting, and publishing—and it has honed my copy into sharper, more elegant prose. But further than that, it has brought a community of writers into my life I couldn’t have found anywhere else. From my eclectic and earnest peers to the deep roots of generous and involved alumni, I am so grateful for the Professional Writing family.
If I had to boil down everything I’ve learned at Taylor to the essentials, I would say the lesson has been simple. Building a community and keeping it healthy is hard, sometimes thankless work. But it’s worth it.”
“I want to become an editor, eventually. I always used to say if I don’t write the next big thing, I want to find it. I want to live in the world of books and publishing, eventually. And the professional writing program has morphed me into the kind of capable person who could do it.
But the real dream? The one I really, really desire? I want to have a farm, in Maine. I want to make maple syrup and apple jam and grow vegetables and flowers. I want to have chickens. I want to work with my hands and with growing things, I want to smell the earth under the sun, I want to share the literal fruits of my labor with other people. I want to do meaningful work when I’m not at home, and meaningful work when I am. Eventually.
And Taylor has prepared me for that, too. My writing classes have fostered a reverence for observation. Biology pushed me more into my interest in nature. Being DA taught me about my tendency to want to care for souls in little ways. Something so small as roasted pumpkin seeds really can make a difference. They did for me.
I want to make that difference.”
“Though I have spent most of my life surrounded by believers, I sometimes live in worry—as if I have never known or heard of the love of God. Taylor provided me with opportunities to be reminded that the Lord is the everlasting God, that He is the Creator, and that He does not grow weary. During my time at Taylor, I most loved the classes where:
I felt challenged—they reminded me of my need for Him
I studied Biblical literature—they immersed me in His Word
I learned to create—I delighted in creating and reflecting the Father
In my post-Taylor life I hope to keep challenging myself, immersing myself in His Word, and creating. I hope to keep looking to Him to guide my steps.”
“You’d think four years would last longer. It feels like I just got here. I’m not sure how to feel. A little scared. A little excited. A little ready to move on. But I’m also not ready to go. I remember the writing, the editing, the book proposals, and the articles. I remember the red pen marks, the brag board, and my serious problem with split infinitives. I learned so much, and I’m so glad I did. But the most important thing I learned was how to be myself. I found my identity here.
This place means so much to me, but I know it’s time to let go. I’m excited to continue growing and becoming who God created me to be. Not every step has been easy, but it’s all been good. I can’t imagine saying good-bye to anyone else. Thank you.”
“More and more, I find that I live between seemingly opposing impulses: the scholar in me and the storyteller in me.
I continue to crave ways to balance my desire to analyze and discuss living for God with my desire to be honest about the challenges of doing so, either as a nonfiction or fiction writer. The scholar wants to pick things apart and tends to put himself in an ivory tower, the storyteller demands to spend time in the grimy ditches around the tower and find out how the scholar’s ideas apply to reality. I’m not sure where I’m going next, but I hope that my future self will find he’s still trying to balance those two desires, aware that they don’t have to be incompatible. Ideally, my future self will also find new solutions for that conflict.”
Meet a few other members past and present …
Chandler Birch, ’14
Chandler Birch enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction. He is also a strong critic of Black Board. Read more about him and an honor he just received! We can’t wait to see him in print one day!
Nathan Sturgis, ’14
Scott Phillips, ’15
Amy Green, ’13 (Author, Publicist, Blogger)
Amy Green is a 2013 graduate of Taylor University’s Professional Writing program. Before she even graduated, Amy already had a book deal with Warner Press for her Christian fantasy series for children ages 10-14. Amy currently works at Bethany House Publishers in Minnesota as a publicist. Amy also maintains a blog called The Monday Heretic where she explores interesting theological questions.
Drew Neuenschwander, ’13 (Freelancer extraordinaire)
Drew Neuenschwander‘s work has taken him everywhere from Focus on the Family to the Indiana Statehouse Communications Office. He has freelanced for MacGregor Literary Agency as well as Lin Johnson’s agency, ProWord Communications. Drew is currently working as a consultant, overseeing internal marketing efforts for the PWR department
Rachel Nolan, ’13 (photo journalist)
Yes… Rachel Nolan is really as fun as she looks. Rachel Nolan is a prolific freelance writer, as well as an interior design photographer. Very artistic and lover of people, Rachel is one of those students who dabbles in a little of everything. And soon, she’ll add “getting married” to the list.