Alex Harrington ’19

The author in front of Old Main

Every time I sat down to write this article, I wound up sad and nervous staring at the blank page. How can I sum up an entire four years? How can I possibly express my overwhelming gratitude for the department that built me? Maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but in the haze of graduation melancholy it rings true.

I was hired as an Office Assistant in the English Department my first year. Amazed and sweaty, I remember rushing up the stairs in Old Main and pulling up my email outside of the second floor door to double check the room number.

“Hello Alex,

You are receiving this email as you are a first year student assigned to work in the English Department this year. My name is Jan Beebe and I am the English Department Coordinator. I hired you and I will be your direct supervisor. My office is in room 210 in Old Main – that is the English Department floor that we hope you come to love and hang out in. I am really excited to have you join our really fun and friendly student worker team…”

In the final days of orientation everything seemed too good to be true. Part of me hoped the job would be sterile and severe so something felt real. Rereading the email, my hopes sagged. I took a deep breath and opened the door. When I finally sidled up to room 210 and introduced myself, my hopes withered entirely. Jan and the department she maintains are anything but sterile or severe. To know Jan is to love her; she radiates compassion and capability and runs the department with humor and grace.

Laura Berglund ’20, the author, and Jen Katz ’19 at a Coffee House Treat Night

Even now, after four years, the English Department seems too good to be true. It’s no overstatement to say that my position in the English Department and the community I’ve found there are the cornerstones of my Macalester experience. I met my first friend and current roommate in our first year course, Studies in Literature: Ecstasy and Apocalypse. Professor Daylanne English, who taught the first year course, is still my advisor. Some of my most treasured friends have been coworkers, lounge regulars, or classmates. So many of my favorite memories are from department events and opportunities. I’ve loved working with The Words, especially this year as half of a dynamic duo with my co-conspirator/Senior Editor, Jennifer Katz ’19.

When it comes down to it, I know I’ll never be able to fully express how lucky I feel. Right now my gratitude is tinged with the pang of goodbye, but I’m excited for what’s next. I don’t know where I’ll wind up, but I will always hold the connections and memories I’ve made in the English Department close to my heart. From the bottom of my heavy senior heart, thank you to everyone who makes Old Main two the special, dynamic place it is.