Hannah Pugh

Majors: English and European Studies

English+ Experience: Scottish Parliament Internship

What do you do for Dr. Mason?
Besides providing the comic relief and keeping him on his toes, I am the student facilitator for the Scottish Parliament internship program. It’s a pretty easy gig (leaving time for my other 3 jobs!), but mostly involves recruiting qualified applicants and assisting them in preparing the CVs and cover letters for their applications. I’ve learned a lot about what makes a strong application, which has been incredibly useful in applying to law school and other internship programs myself (and occasionally helping my friends do similar things). 

What are your future plans?
My passions for history, politics, and literature have led me to pursue a law degree. Thus far I have been admitted to several T14 law schools. Of those offers, I’m looking at attending Columbia, Penn, Virginia, or Duke. While I’m not certain what career path I’ll take, my current plans are to clerk immediately after law school and then pursue a career in appellate law, which I’m drawn to because of the substantial impact it has on the meaning of the law itself. If we’re being honest, I’ll probably end up involved in politics eventually.

What have you learned from your major?
I am actually a double major in English and European Studies, and my experiences in each program have definitely informed the other. In the English major, I think the most important thing I learned is how to ask interesting, useful questions (credit: @jaminrowan and the two semesters I spent working as his TA for 295 ) and then the research, writing, and critical thinking skills to respond to those questions. My double major meant that my course load each semester demanded I further advance those skills by applying them across a variety of disciplines, which has led to a really rewarding, multi-dimensioned intellectual experience at BYU.  

What advice would you offer to a newly declared English major?

First, I would say to take advantage of the many opportunities in the English department to do more than just read good literature and write about it. The department is amazing in that it provides opportunities to work for professors, present research papers, intern abroad, and much more. These opportunities aren’t only available for a small elite group of students, but are really accessible for everyone. Take that (more-or-less) free trip to Europe. 

Second (and related to the first), I would say to find ways to apply English major skills in nonacademic settings. For instance, I’ve spent the past two summers (and will spend this summer) working at Birch Creek Service Ranch, a summer camp for 12-15 year olds. Though my job at the Ranch had no direct ties to my university experience, my English major skillset really allowed me to thrive. For instance, I was infinitely better at written and oral communication with campers, their parents, and my staff, especially when it came to problem-solving, because of what I’ve learned in the English major. I feel like having these experiences and then being able to articulate them for potential employers (or in my case law schools) really builds the bridge between classroom experiences and becoming a functioning adult.

Third, I would say to take the challenging courses and professors. By far, my most rewarding classes have been the ones that pushed me beyond what I thought I could do (and only occasionally broke me a bit). I think this also means declaring a minor/second major and taking classes in other departments. Though it can be really scary to sit in an upper-division political science class, for instance, taking courses like that has challenged me in ways that built both my academic capabilities and my confidence.