Undergrad Julia Cowderoy talks first year

I really enjoy teaching our first year students. Julia Cowderoy was a great presence in the classroom and my office in the fall semester. I thought Words in Place readers should also get a chance to meet her, and hear about how she’s getting involved in university life. Thanks to Julia for participating!–JLH

JLH: How did you decide on UWaterloo for English?
JC: I’ve loved writing academically and for fun for as long as I can remember, so that part was a bit of a no-brainer. As for as what school I wanted to choose, I was somewhat lost. My favorite history teacher, an alumna of Waterloo, suggested I consider Waterloo. Looking at the first-year courses, a few piqued my interests. ENGL 101A was one of them since I love reading. What I didn’t know, however, was that the course would include studying writers from Gwendolyn Brooks to Nas (hopefully I can say this and it’s not too much of a spoiler). Beyond the courses, I was particularity enamored with the co-op program, which I have hopes of pursuing next year. As the application process began the October of my final year, I wasn’t certain I was ready for university. I’m thankful my parents supported my decision, and encouraged me to take an extra year. During this year, I worked in a co-op position as a teacher’s assistant at my old elementary school. It was a very gratifying experience, and an opportunity I knew I wanted to seize in the future. The experience reinforced my interested in Waterloo. According to my history teacher, a lot of students are amazed by the prospect of making money while at school. She joked that she should get commission from Waterloo.

JLH: What has been the most unexpected part of university life so far?
JC: To put it simply, probably just the volume of stuff that’s happening all the time. There’s honestly a club for everyone, and events happening weekly. Last semester, I went to the English club mixer to meet people in my program. I met older students who gave me advice and insight into courses I didn’t even know existed, such as a course that mixes digital design and academic writing (Designing Digital Video, ENGL 204). I didn’t previously think I would be interested in digital design, but first year has encouraged me to be open-minded. I would most likely never have considered this course had I not heard about it through other students who have taken it, and talked positively about it. Outside the academic world, I recently got a shoe tag and plan to go to fitness classes weekly. These classes are not only useful as an outlet for the natural stresses of university life, but are a great way to socialize and avoid the dark hole of Netflix marathons.

JLH: You’ve been very proactive as a student–utilizing office hours, submitting drafts of papers in advance, etc.–has it made it easier do you think?
JC: Definitely. If I’m stressed out about a paper (which is very typical for me), getting some feedback/advice helps calm me down. I think the most helpful form of editing you introduced me to was reading my work out loud. When I read my work out loud, I can hear if a sentence is phrased awkwardly. It seems so simple, but it never occurred to me to do this before. This has saved me a lot of frustration in the editing process.

JLH: What English courses are you most excited about taking next year? Are you thinking of specializing in one of the streams?
I’m actually really excited about English 208C: Studies in Children’s Literature, since I’m thinking about being an elementary school teacher. It also just seems super interesting from a psychological point of view. My readings will most likely consist of Green Eggs and Ham, so it’s hard not to get excited about the course. I’m not sure if I want to specialize in any of the streams yet, but literary studies is definitely appeals to me.

JLH: Finally, after a tough first semester, what did you read for fun over the holidays?
JC: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Even though I’ve read the series countless times, I always seem to be drawn to them in the winter.


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