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Meet: William Norris

What do you currently do (or plan to do), and how do the skills you acquired and practiced in the Writing & Linguistics courses benefit this plan?

I’m currently teaching Learning Support English for Georgia Military College in my hometown of Fayetteville, Ga. So, in a roundabout way the W&L department gave me exactly the tools I needed to succeed. I spend my days taking the skills I honed in the Newton building and the models of incredible teaching I got to experience and imparting them on others.

I’m also a professional tutor in several arenas, including a college test prep organization in Peachtree City. There I get to help students break bad writing habits with skills I didn’t learn until I was 3/4 away from my degree. The W&L department made me not only a better writer, but helped me discover I had a talent as an educator as well. The English language is my pride and joy, and my life, as of right now, is sharing that joy with others.

Why did you decide to major/minor in Writing & Linguistics as opposed to other majors/minors?

I’m a writer. I’ve known that since the 6th grade and ever since then it’s the only thing I’ve truly wanted to be. When I was looking for schools I wanted a major that would help me become a better writer. I wanted a program that could teach me skills beyond what I knew naturally and open up perspectives I’d yet to see. For me, writing was always about discovery and I knew that my talent had reached the heights it could manage without tutelage.

For a long time I figured that would mean majoring in English, as far as I knew there weren’t any programs that were writing based specifically. So when I stumbled upon Georgia Southern, my skepticism of the campus was shattered from the moment my tour guide informed me that such a major not only existed, but that it only existed within the confines of the campus. Make no mistake: I attended Georgia Southern solely on the premise of majoring in Writing and Linguistics and it was/is the best choice I’ve ever made.

How well did your experiences at Georgia Southern prepare you for graduate school and/or employer demands?

Writing as a career is largely self-driven and you’ve got to be a type of industrial I’ve struggled to capture in my own life. However, the department was phenomenal at sharing the tips, tricks, and trade knowledge that an entire staff of professionals had accumulated in their tenure as both teachers and writers themselves. As a school, Georgia Southern was filled with opportunities some of which I took, and some of which were freely offered.

Is there a specific experience you’ve had in the Writing & Linguistics department that you would like to share?

The moment I remember most is going to the 2016 AWP [Association of Writers and Writing Programs] conference in Los Angeles. It was something else. Not only was I so far out of my little sandbox, but I got to go cross country to surround myself with books and writers.

More to the point, AWP was the most extravagant example of a truth I learned quickly about the W&L department and its professors. They’re all about bringing students to opportunities. I would have never thought to do something like that–to step out and experience something I had no idea existed, but that’s what writing is about and that moment is my favorite reminder of that lesson.

What advice would you give to students considering a major/minor in Writing & Linguistics?

Seek new experiences. Open yourself up and explore. Statesboro is full of nooks and crannies, so is the campus, and so is Newton. Move outside of yourself and take in all the experiences that you can. Writing is best when it’s sincere, and it’s most sincere when you know viscerally what you’re talking about. But don’t just seek new experiences: Demand them. Writing is about voices, make yours heard.

The professors of the W&L department have jumped through flaming hoops (they’re more agile than they appear) to bring the ideas of their student body to life, and it’s produced some wonderful events. If an event doesn’t exist yet, then it’s up to you to bring that need to their attention. But don’t just demand new experiences: Make them. It’s one thing to participate in the magic of this major; it’s something else to be a part of making that magic happen. Writers are made up of the sum of their experiences–it is the courage to try everything and take notes. So I guess in the end my best advice is try everything … and take notes.

Last updated: 7/15/2017