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EIU Department of English

What can you do with an English major? Dream big, like these famous English majors.

Toni Morrison, writer, teacher and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many other honors

"There is a certain kind of peace that is not merely the absence of war. It is larger than that. The peace I am thinking of is not at the mercy of history's rule, nor is it a passive surrender to the status quo. The peace I am thinking of is the dance of an open mind when it engages another equally open one -- an activity that occurs most naturally, most often in the reading/writing world we live in. Accessible as it is, this particular kind of peace warrants vigilance."

Diane Sawyer, television journalist

R. A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and author 

"This is the 100 percent honest truth. If it weren't for reading, I never would have become a knuckleballer. And the one thing that I would encourage young people to do when they're reading is try to dream out what the story is going to become as they're reading it. That's one thing that helped me."

Julian Bond, civil rights leader, member of the House of Representatives and educator 

"I tell young people to prepare themselves as best they can for a world that grows more challenging every day-get the best education they can, and couple that education with real-life experience in social justice work."

Stephen King, author

"Books are a uniquely portable magic."

Lauren Cohan, actor (best known as Maggie Greene on The Walking Dead)

Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize-winning scientist, former director of the National Cancer Institute

How did he get from Dickens to cancer research? "There was anticipation that a nice Jewish boy from Long Island would end up being a physician; but once I got to college I suddenly discovered a much wider world. I ended up being an English major, writing a thesis on Charles Dickens, running the school paper, getting a C in organic chemistry, and deciding after a prolonged period of ambiguity to go to graduate school in English literature. During that year I decided I would reapply to medical school; I went to Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and loved it. I went there thinking that somebody who liked words and books and was interested in the workings of the mind would be a psychiatrist. But then I became interested in internal medicine because of its narrative aspects — the medical history and the detection part of it, figuring out what’s wrong with somebody."

Sally Ride, astronaut and physicist

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts

Hank Paulson, former Secretary of the Treasury, senior fellow at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy 

Paulson's career advice: Find work you enjoy and seek the roles that will teach you the most. 

Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney 

Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Cosmetics

Martin Scorsese, film director


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Contact Information

Department of English

600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-2428
Fax: (217) 581-7209

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