Emily Jenkins Awarded PW Outstanding Major Award

Emily Jenkins is the 2019 recipient of the Professional Writing (PW) Outstanding Major Award, with honorable mentions going to Ellyse St. John and Timothy Snyder.

Presented by the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC), the Professional Writing Outstanding Major Award recognizes graduating students who demonstrate excellence in the classroom, success in experiential learning, and engagement with the community.

“Receiving this award is an honor because I am always in awe of my classmates,” Jenkins said. “I have worked with other PW students who are doing absolutely incredible work and are just as deserving of this award, so it is humbling to be this year’s recipient. I also have a deep love for the PW program and its faculty and curriculum, and therefore this honor is even more exciting because it has been granted to me by those I respect.”

Jenkins will graduate on Sunday, May 5, with dual bachelor’s degrees in Professional Writing and Comparative Cultures and Politics. She also has a minor in Spanish.

I also have a deep love for the PW program and its faculty and curriculum, and therefore this honor is even more exciting because it has been granted to me by those I respect.

“The PW major taught me that I need to feel comfortable being in a position where a significant portion of my job is learning from others and letting their perspectives on various issues supplement my own,” Jenkins said. “Also, in the field of communications, methods and strategies are constantly changing and it can feel like a race to catch up to quickly evolving technology and shifts in culture.”

When Jenkins first came to MSU, she said she struggled to find a major at first, but knew she always had a passion for writing.

“I knew I wanted to write, but I also knew I did not want to be an English major,” she said. “After about six weeks during my first fall semester on campus, I stumbled across PW while doing some research online, and I was hooked. I signed up that same day.”

During her time at MSU, Jenkins gained several experiences beyond the classroom. She currently is a Communications Intern for MSU’s Residence Education and Housing Services, a Research and Writing Intern for The Cube, and a Resident Assistant in Case Hall. She also has been a Research Assistant for three professors with drastically different research focuses.


“I have been fortunate to have a diverse set of opportunities while at MSU,” Jenkins said. “These professional experiences have allowed me to apply my education and expand upon it in a way that might not always be possible in a classroom.”

In addition to those experiences, Jenkins also worked for Mark Axelrod, Associate Professor in James Madison College. “One summer, I served as his proxy in a conference in Annapolis when he could not attend. Even though I definitely did not know what I was doing, I think those experiences are unforgettable,” she said. “They allowed me to feel independent and get a glimpse of the world beyond my little Michigan bubble. I am extremely grateful to all of the people who helped me to have these opportunities at MSU.”

Jenkins credits two professors in particular for enhancing her experience in the major – Assistant Professors Casey Miles and Kate Birdsall.

I have been fortunate to have a diverse set of opportunities while at MSU. These professional experiences have allowed me to apply my education and expand upon it in a way that might not always be possible in a classroom.

“Dr. Casey Miles was my professor for my intro class, and she basically convinced me to stick with the major. She demonstrates a level of empathy toward her students that is nothing short of admirable,” Jenkins said. “Dr. Kate Birdsall is another professor who I have been fortunate to work with in multiple capacities. She consistently challenges me to be better and to advocate for myself. I can confidently say I would not be the one receiving this award if it was not for her encouragement.”

As the semester ends, Jenkins reflects on how the PW major enhanced her college career through professional experiences and relationships with faculty.

“PW has vastly improved my college career. I doubt there is a program on campus with as much emphasis on getting internships as there is in the PW program,” she said. “What I especially appreciated was the willingness of the PW faculty to help students find the right internship. Additionally, they work to cultivate personal relationships with students. The care and passion that professors put into both their own research and their time with students is remarkable.”

The care and passion that professors put into both their own research and their time with students is remarkable.

Jenkins has this advice for other MSU students, especially those who are close to graduating: “Make decisions based on what is best for you at this moment in your life. I think that college, and graduation in particular, fosters a significant amount of guilt in students. There is a constant worry that you are not doing the right thing, that you will let people down, or that you are missing out on opportunities. It is important to remember that now is not the only time to start something new. I have spent several hours agonizing over the dreaded question of what I am going to do after I graduate and the truth is, I do not know, and I think that is perfectly okay.”

Although she is unsure about what her future holds, Jenkins does know she would like to pursue graduate school.

“I would like to get a doctorate degree in comparative linguistics, but I need to take at least a year off to save money, get work experience, and just try not being a student for a while,” she said. “I am currently applying to jobs and doing some interviews for communications positions. However, as this is my first summer not taking classes since my freshman year of high school, there is a good chance I get a job as a server, spend time with family, and take a nice deep breath before whatever comes next.”