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Rewriting Momoca: becoming an English major

After years of questioning my major I faced what I had been denying: I was meant to major in English. My recent history in English almost implies that I had been an English girlie for my entire life when in reality my affinity for English blossomed out of what was once my Achilles Heel. My interest gained traction in high school after testing numerous interests and settling on the one I both loved to do and enjoy being challenged by.

I remember being in third grade, sitting at the dining table with my father at midnight—very late for an elementary schooler—and crying over my essay being torn to shreds. I was not born with the gifts of literacy and I did not have a strong hold on words at all, perhaps because of the combination of each of my parents’ nearly negligible grammar errors both taught to me. Yet, I was already determined to conquer them. I didn’t yet call myself a writer, but I didn’t hate it. My journey as a writer began with a collection of poems I self published in third grade called My Pet Chatterbox. It was my first collection of work, heavily inspired by Shel Silverstein and sealed together with a cover I drew. At this point, my understanding of poetry was simply storytelling with rhymes—a definition that eventually developed into my appreciation for more abstract and resounding expressions for self.

Despite my creative spark, academic writing was still clearly a challenge. I met Linsey, a writing mentor who changed the trajectory of my life. I developed the scaffolding for elementary essay-writing but more importantly, a framework for thinking. Learning to write was learning to think, and contextualizing everything around me with words all the time. There was a new satisfaction in being able to express myself with eloquence and share my experiences with those I wasn’t close to. Being able to communicate my thoughts and beliefs allowed to feel more connected to others as well as learn more about myself.

Middle school I wasn’t particularly involved in writing activities, but my love for English remained as my favorite subject. I wrote my occasional journal entry but focused on transitioning more to independence that I didn’t have before that.

I started to confidently say that writing was “my thing” in high school as I found family in my writing communities. I loved most of the books we read from Rule of the Bone in freshman year to Pale Fire in senior year. Journalism has been another journey as first just a hobby to branch out and meet new people to an activity I genuinely loved. Editor-in-chief of The Stuyvesant Spectator back then, a writer for The Brandeis Justice now, and in my own academic journey learning about what’s going on in my world, I’ve found journalism to be both the outlet to write and seek for social justice. My favorite topics to cover at Stuyvesant were large high school news such as the reopening of schools after the pandemic and events like SING! (the large musical production competition). I learned more about my community–often first–and got to spread the word to them. I met amazing friends through it, and even though it was just a student newspaper, “Join Spec!” is still on the tip of my tongue. Now, it's "Join the Justice," and though it sounds a little funnier, student newspaper has remained my link to learning about my school.

More recently, I helped my dad edit his first children’s book, The Case of the Missing Chess Genius. It was a sometimes exacerbating but fun project watching the development of the book unfold. It was equally fascinating to watch my father go from rushing to finish his book to taking an entire extra year to perfect it to an enjoyable read. I saw the book go through thick and thin, from a plot that made no sense and undeveloped characters to a real story. It was inspiring to see my dad pick up this project for fun amidst his work, and I was happy to be a part of that journey.

I hesitated so long to choose what major was right for me, weighing other possibilities such as global studies and psychology because I worried that an English major was impractical. After solidifying that I wanted to go to law school, I learned that many of the skills that came with being an English major would be incredibly beneficial for law school and being a lawyer. Likewise, I realized that the way learning about works of literature was a worthy endeavor in becoming more open-minded, well-informed, and a good communicator.

I still love poetry and work on it in my free time with Girls Write Now and also for fun. I am part of Laurel Moon’s editing team to curate a selection of poetry submitted by students all over the country. Involvement in literary communities have allowed me to further develop my love for language and explore its power.

I’ve loved writing for a long time, yet I was adamant that I didn’t want to be an English major. It not only felt too predictable, but it felt like it lacked a future. Looking back, I realize how naive I was to overlook the potential an English major held, especially considering how seamlessly it aligns with my interests. My interests have been so perfectly geared toward it, it should have been a no brainer. But perhaps it was necessary for me to take this long to truly fall in love with it.

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