Meet an English Major


Michael Gallarello ’14

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • Manhattan Magazine
  • Intramural Football
  • Intramural Softball
  • Work-study student at the Archives, the Writing Center and Draddy Gymnasium

Why did you choose your major? 

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and English was always my favorite subject in high school. However, I came into college undeclared and never really considered English as a major. Then I had a writing class with Dr. Toth of the English department who kept writing on my papers “you should be an English major” and “have you considering doing English *smiley face*?” Eventually I talked to her about the major, and I met more of the awesome professors in the department, and I realized that it was a perfect fit for me.

What has been your favorite class? 

My favorite class so far has been British Literature II (ENGL 310). It was a small group of us (about 11-12 students) who were pretty familiar with each other, which made for very relaxed and productive class discussions. Our professor was Dr. Cross, who is the most helpful person in existence and one of my favorite people. On top of all that, the material we covered was mostly really cool and engaging and, even if it wasn’t, Dr. Cross made it so.

What are your plans after graduation?

This is always a hard question. The honest answer is that I hope to find something that I enjoy doing. Ideally, I’d be covering the New York Rangers as a beat writer (instead of watching them on my couch every night), but I don’t expect something like that to be waiting for me as soon as I finish college! I would love to get into sports journalism (or any journalism for that matter). I’d also like to find some form of editing work or something with publishing.

What are the faculty like?

As I said, Dr. Toth deserves oodles of credit because she was the one who made me consider my major in the first place. She also reassured me that you can do plenty of things with an English major, which was great. Every English professor I’ve had so far has helped me in some way. You pick up different things from each professor with each class you take.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

Definitely meeting the people that I’ve met. The entire English department is great, from the majors/minors right on up to the professors. It’s almost like a family — you really get to know each other. Some of my best friends are English majors or minors. The department occasionally hosts “English Nights” at local bars/restaurants which is really fun — who doesn’t love drinking and eating with cool people?!

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

I’d say the workload. We usually take two major-level courses a semester (in some cases, we take three) and it can get rough, especially when you have papers due on the same day. Also, fighting the urge to use Sparknotes to solve all your problems instead of a quarter of your problems. Just kidding! You have to read the books!

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

Do something you enjoy. Don’t listen to everyone who says “but what can you really do with a philosophy degree?” I’d rather do something that I truly enjoy rather than something that I can’t stand — and that happens. I know people who hate their major, but either feel like they are too far gone to start over or that this is the only way to get a job in the future. Try different things out and find what you like to do. Being “undecided” is ok.