Julia Whitten, a double major in English and Spanish here at UNC, demonstrates the perfect example of a student who never expected to major in the Department, but naturally found her way.
As part of the English and Comparative Literature Department, Julia chose to take on a senior undergraduate honors thesis, which allows students to explore a topic of their choosing and present their research findings at the end of the year. For her, the project offered an amazing opportunity to delve deeper in her chosen text, Jane Eyre, and make fascinating connections she wouldn’t have ordinarily seen.
“The project itself is difficult,” she admits, “I’ve never taken on a project this big before!” Fortunately, the honors thesis also fosters strong relationships with the faculty. “It’s been so fun getting to talk to my advisor every week about it,” Julia says, “it’s really cool!”
This project was actually one of the first real research experiences Julia has ever had at UNC. Library research here on campus combined with a study abroad experience in Haworth, England, in which Julia was able to see first-hand the Brontë family home and museum, allowed her to fully appreciate what it takes to complete her findings. “I’ve had great conversations and I’ve really enjoyed discovering different things about this topic,” she says, “but I think it means a lot more if I can put it together into a work I can show people.” The passion, perseverance, and dedication it took to finish her research proved to her that, even if she doubts herself at times, she is capable of taking on anything academia has to offer.
When asked what her future plans were after graduation, Julia explained that she was applying for jobs in Spain with the hopes of teaching English there. One skill she learned from her ECL major that she will definitely be taking with her? “It’s good to be flexible”, Julia notes, “and move in a different direction if you feel you need to do that.” Like her research experience, Julia notes how important it is to pursue new leads and interests while making sure your heart is in it every step of the way.