In late April, English professor Ken Graham emailed to inform me that Jessica Kuepfer, who was on the front page of the Waterloo Record after running the Boston Marathon, was a UWaterloo English alumna. According to the Record, after the marathon she celebrated with an Elvis-inspired burger: “Deep-fried cinnamon banana chunks. Bacon. Peanut butter. All rolled in sugar.” I thought, who wouldn’t want to interview someone who ate that? And so read on for our latest alumni interview, facilitated by the King (or Ken).–JLH
JLH: You’re very much from the region, am I right? How did that play in your decision to attend UWaterloo?
JK: I am! I grew up in a small town locally. Although I was accepted to a number of other schools, I am so proud to be from Waterloo. With some of the country’s best education in my back yard it was an easy decision for me to attend UWaterloo.
JLH: When you look back on your time here, what stands out? By the way, Professor Ken Graham says nice things about you!
JK: The things that stand out are the things I have carried on with since graduating. I added the Global Experience Certificate to my degree, which allowed me to study abroad in my third year. I am still travelling everywhere I can! Another huge thing for me was getting involved. My school experience was so much more than the classrooms. I was on the varsity team and went to English department events. It was a rich experience and it made me confident in networking and trying new things today. I met some of my best friends in the entire world at UWaterloo and I still see them as often as possible. It was a perfect way to meet likeminded people.
And I have nice things to say about Ken Graham as well! I still have the book from his class on my shelf which is saying a lot because I’ve moved multiple times in the past year!
JLH: How is your career shaping up post-graduation? Do you feel you’re on track?
JK: I am currently working in public relations at Home Hardware Stores Limited. I get to use my communication and business writing skills every single day and I absolutely love my job. I really do feel on track.
JLH: I understand you’ve been blogging and doing podcasts as well. Is that a career strategy, or personal interest, or both? Has it created opportunities?
JK: It has been a lot of both. I started my blog, lacesandlattes.com, when I was in university and wanting to add some additional creative writing to my daily life and meet more people in the running world. After graduation, it ensured that I kept writing, but also helped me develop additional skills such as website design, photography, and negotiating business partnerships. My blog acts as a resumé where I can demonstrate how I connect my love for writing to other interests. I would say every job I have gotten has been influenced by my blog. For me, it is a way to show how multifaceted an English degree can be. It has helped me build a personal brand and allows my creative side to thrive.
Beyond employment, it has brought my athletic opportunities to the next level and enabled partnerships with companies such as Polar Global, New Balance Canada, Genuine Health, and more. I also have been able to travel to more places than I could have ever imagined, and currently write a regular online column for Canadian Running Magazine.
As for the podcast, I have partnered with Get Out There Magazine and some very influential women in the local athletic community to discuss female involvement in sport in a podcast called Get Out There Girls (http://getouttheregirls.com/). It has been a fun way to expand my communication experience.
JLH: Finally, what’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
JK: I loved the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington. It was one of those books that actually changed my life. I try to read at least one book a month and this one stopped me in my tracks.
Thanks to Jessica for participating in Words in Place.–JLH