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Professional Writing: A Major for Misfits

Every Christmas, my family watches the 1964 movie Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Shiny-nosed Rudolph and Hermey, an aspiring elf-dentist, band together to look for a place where others will accept them for who they are. On their journey, they find the land of misfit toys, a land where unwanted toys make their home. The whole story comes to a happy ending when all the misfits finally find their place.

This being my third attempt at a major, I have had some experience with feeling like a misfit. Professional Writing and Information Design (PWID) is where I finally found my place.

My freshman year of college I was convinced that I wanted to be the face of a Christian non-profit, giving speeches and promoting worthy causes. So I tried Applied Communications with a Public Communications concentration.

But something was missing: Everyone else had a tangible plan for what they wanted to do with their Communications major, and I did not. I was having trouble applying the major to what I wanted to do.

Sophomore year rolled around, and I switched my major to Biblical Studies. In an effort to make my major more practical, I picked up an Editing and Publishing minor. Now I wanted to work for a Christian publishing company.

That summer, I made multiple unsuccessful attempts at getting an editing internship. I got really tired of trying to stretch my abilities to fit these internships. In reality, my skill set just didn’t match the job descriptions. So I spent my summer nannying five children. Trust me; I did a lot of soul searching (and hair pulling).

Junior year I drove back to Cedarville with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I started my editing and publishing classes. Halfway through the semester, I was sitting through Pentateuch class when I had an epiphany: I loved my minor more than my major. I got excited about Advanced Grammar and Technical Editing, but I dreaded having to take Hermeneutics and Minor Prophets. So I pulled up the academic catalog on my laptop (yes, during class; at least it wasn’t Pinterest). I found PWID because all the editing and publishing classes were inside the major.

That week, I made an appointment with Professor Harner. I walked into her office and she greeted me with words that literally changed my life: “Good news! If we tweak some minor things, you can switch majors and still graduate on time!”

My friends and family shook their heads at me, but I swallowed my pride and switched my major once again, this time for the last time.

I was amazed at how well I got along with the people in my new classes. I had no idea being a part of a major brought with it a sense of community, a sense of belonging. My fellow students loved words, stupid grammar memes, editing, and design. It was like I had finally come home.

The funny part was that most of the PWID majors had stories like mine. PWID wasn’t the first major they tried out. We are a collection of former Engineering, Communications, Graphic Design, Journalism, and English majors. We ended up in the PWID program because we didn’t fit in other places. But none of us have regrets and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere but where we are now.

PWID has given me direction, passion, purpose, and so much more. I’m confident about my future career for the first time. I no longer wonder what in the world I’m going to do, because I know what I am capable of accomplishing.

I have real skills that I can market. I KNOW I can add value to a workplace. I’m ready to look the corporate world straight in the eyes and introduce myself with a strong handshake.

I came into PWID as a misfit, but that’s definitely not how I’m leaving it.