Carnegie Mellon University
May 20, 2015

BHA Graduate to Attend Ivy League Columbia University

BHA Graduate to Attend Ivy League Columbia University

Laura Paik wants to be an English teacher at a private high school – a passion fueled by her own experiences while growing up, studying at one. She found that having studied literature and culture at her private high school allows her to listen to other human voices, feel understood even when she is alone, and to work on understanding others even when it's difficult.

“I want to make that sort of experience available for others, especially at the high school age, when everything can seem so new, exciting, difficult, and overwhelming,” said Paik, who recently earned a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) degree with a concentration in English and Art.

Paik has been working towards her career goal of teaching by shadowing teachers, co-teaching, and substituting at her former high school. She’ll take her preparation one step further by studying at New York City’s Columbia University in the fall where she plans to earn a masters degree in English.

Paik said Literary and Cultural Studies professors of English Kristina Straub, Jon Klancher, and Peggy Knapp contributed to her success.

“Taking classes with all of them, each of whom concentrate more or less on different centuries, has allowed me to study literature over quite a wide range of centuries,” said Paik. “More importantly, each of these professors has always taken time to meet with me and talk extensively about anything that sparked my interest and has supported me in studying any topic. Between the three of them, I've learned about literary and cultural studies on the fine-pointed level of close reading and the broadening level of contextual research.”

The BHA is an intercollege degree program between the College of Fine Arts and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. It’s designed for academically and artistically talented students, like Paik, who want to develop their interest in the fine arts, while also pursuing studies in the humanities and social/behavioral sciences.

Paik’s area of interest focuses on tracing Romantic and Gothic literature from their roots in the 18th century up through history to their appearances in contemporary media. Paik also likes to keep track of technology's role in popular perceptions of fantasy and horror, starting with the Industrial Revolution and 18th and 19th century perceptions of science, and continuing up to the current technological revolution.

Paik studies the role of these themes in modern and contemporary subculture and youth culture, which can be closely related to technology and the interactions it allows.

“For instance, Steampunk is, among other things, a reflection of contemporary feelings toward technological advancement; Emo and popular perceptions of it are most visible on the internet; and so on,” said Paik. “I plan to continue studying cultural expressions of the fantastic and of darkness, drawing parallels between eras past and our own time.”

Paik gained her literary knowledge and academic skills from her Carnegie Mellon English classes.

“Straub’s “Research Seminar” was instrumental in honing my skills in writing research papers, but so were classes like Klancher's seminar, "Electrifying the Victorians," Knapp's classes on Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Non-Shakespearian drama, and Christopher Warren's “Shakespeare: Histories and Tragedies,”” said Paik.

Paik is also a writing tutor at Carnegie Mellon’s Global Communication Center (GCC), which provides communication instruction and support to students and faculty through one-on-one tutoring, workshops, and classroom support.

“Working at the GCC has given me confidence and an immediate sense of purpose that excites me about learning, teaching, and spending time with text even on my hardest days,” said Paik. “It has given me valuable preparation for a career in pedagogy.”

Paik worked under GCC director and teaching professor of English, Joanna Wolfe, and took her courses on pedagogy, the theory and practice of education.

“Joanna Wolfe has definitely helped me to become successful,” said Paik. “Her courses on pedagogy have taught me so much. I came into them knowing virtually nothing about education as a field and left them feeling much more prepared to lead a class, consider my own future methods, and even do my own research on effective teaching.”

“Laura is a fantastic student and will be a fantastic teacher,” said Wolfe. “She is passionate, thorough, and has a keen eye for providing insightful comments on student’s writing. She also has a strong grasp on recent research on teaching writing. Her students will be lucky to have her.”

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By: Amanda King