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Headshot of Warren Charleston
Photo Credit: Benjamin Dussault

Warren Charleston '19

Warren Charleston is a senior English major with a minor in Education. When not in classes, he's also a songwriter and performer.

What has your overall experience been with the English Major? Did you come into UMass majoring in English, or did you add it on later?

I came into UMass undecided in Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA), and added English in my second semester of sophomore year. I chose English as a major mainly because I was good at writing, but also because I liked the style of classes that the English Department had to offer. My first two years, I had taken a variety of different classes that were more lecture-based. I decided very quickly that those types of classroom environments were not what I thrived in. English classes offer so much room for discussion and critical thought, and when I joined the English major, I immediately felt that. I felt like my voice was heard, and that I was more than just a number.

What are some of your favorite English classes? Are there any professors you have particularly connected with?

All my professors in the English Department have been great. One of the first classes I took in the Department was English 254 (Creative Writing) with Professor John Hennessy. I loved the class because it allowed me to be more free and open with my ideas and improve my writing, so I would definitely recommend that to everyone. One thing that I remember is that one of my professors worked at the Emily Dickinson Museum. She told me about poetry readings that were held there, and when I went, she was in the audience! That, along with countless other incidents, has shown me that the faculty and staff really care about the students.

Do you have any other majors, minors, or specializations? Do you think that the English Major gives you the flexibility to pursue academic and extracurricular activities?

I have a minor in Education, and am not pursuing any specializations. However, through English I’ve developed my poetry and songwriting. I fully committed to songwriting and performing around the same time that I officially added on the English major, and my classes have helped me with telling a story and being able to critically think about certain topics. I’ve even performed at venues like The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Cambridge, MA!

What have you learned being an English major, and what will you take away from it when you are pursuing life after graduation?

I think that the English major has taught me so much about seeing things from others’ perspectives and overall, I feel so well-rounded. I know how to write, communicate, and analyze, and through in-class discussions I have learned so much from my peers. I have also learned about the power of words and how I can better articulate myself in any situation. These are all skills that are very transferable and can work for any job, which I like because I am still not 100% sure of what I want to do yet. Overall, the English Department has made me feel heard and like my presence is worth something.

Interview by Ryan Comeau, Digital Communications Intern