By Lesley Barry

It is a truth universally acknowledged that September slaps us all across the face and stings like pumpkin spice and the fear of accidental plagiarism.

Think Jane Austen meets a candid take on #studentlife. Thus began Jaclyn Legge’s first blog post as student blogger for the Department of English Language and Literature, just one of the community-building activities that saw her receive the Provost Scholar Award.

With wry, friendly wit, Legge recounted the vagaries of life as an English major at Carleton for two years, covering everything from essay writing to Animal Crossing. As she wrote in her valedictory post in April:

“I tried to tap into the universal student experience as much as I could while acknowledging there is no true universal experience. Being a student is rewarding, engaging, fun, and fulfilling, and it is challenging, alienating, boring and frustrating. Sometimes it’s all of these things in one day, or in one class.”

Jaclyn Legge

Jaclyn Legge

Memorably, she also tapped into the faculty experience, when her blog featured the accounts of both students and professors regarding online learning.

“I discovered that if Zoom isn’t ideal for most students, it isn’t ideal for professors either,” Legge reports.

“They don’t want to be teaching through a camera; they want to be with their students. So most of us are feeling the same things, and that was really comforting.”

Legge’s community outreach expanded when, as a CU Student Ambassador, she produced a video about a day in the life of an English major and participated in a Spotlight Series promoting the English program to prospective students.

Prof. Dana Dragunoiu

Prof. Dana Dragunoiu

Meanwhile, a collaboration with Prof. Dana Dragunoiu through the Students as Partners Program evolved into a student recruitment project. Initially envisioned as one five-minute video, Legge’s enthusiasm expanded the project into a three-part video series showcasing the department.

“Fully capturing the experience of an English degree at Carleton meant that I needed to reach out to all the students and faculty I knew,” she recalls. “It was fascinating to listen to my peers describe Drama Studies, or Medieval and Early Modern Studies. It made me appreciate the versatility of an English degree even more.”

In fact, Legge is passionate about the value of the Humanities: “…the world needs good readers, writers, researchers, analysts and—I add tenderly—hearts,” she blogged. “I believe an English degree—at least the one I have gotten here with the help of all the professors who have guided me—can help you become all those things.”

Legge is taking a well-deserved break before beginning a master’s degree next year—though “break” is a relative term. Beyond catching up on a large stack of novels, she’s starting an anime-focused podcast with a friend, developing an essay for the interdisciplinary journal To Be Decided and launching her own blog, Crybaby Reads.

“I love reading about how other people experience their favourite things,” she says.

“I want to share my favourite books and shows and movies, blending my blogging style with the analysis of literary essays.”

Romance and romantic comedies, Legge’s main point of interest, are likely to feature heavily. “It’s easy to see romance literature as somehow lesser than, but those novels present the conflicts that really make up human lives. I think academia has room to grow in that direction.”

It seems likely, then, that Legge will continue to build community as she moves forward. As for Carleton, she’s determined to visit the campus again when doors open.

“So many professors helped me feel that I had a place in the program and that what I had to contribute mattered,” she reflects.

“That experience made me want to be a part of the community, and then I wanted to bring other people in too. So having my efforts to help with community-building recognized with the award—it felt really special to me.”

Open book on a wooden table in a garden, sunny summer day, reading in a vacation concept

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