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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

A love letter to the Writing and Rhetoric Department

Daniel Mendoza / Hilltop Views
Hilltop Views hosted an alumni event in April where I was able to meet with so many past Writing and Rhetoric majors as well as some of my professors. There’s nothing like being in a room full of writers.

Dear Sorin Hall and all of its inhabitants,

After four long years, my time at St. Edward’s is almost finished. As I reflect on my time here, my mind always seems to drift to here and to you: the beautiful, old, poorly-insulated building and its devoted tenants. 

I don’t know where to begin (so, I settled on a cliche, apparently). This program has changed me as a person. It has enriched my academic and creative life beyond measure. I have made deeply impactful friendships in these classrooms that I won’t soon forget.

I took two classes my first year that convinced me to concentrate my studies on creative writing. The first was Intro to Creative Writing with Timothy Braun in fall 2020. He did his classic Cookie Monster bit, encouraged us to eat pizza and pet dogs and ended every class by saying “and if you’re going outside make sure you bring an umbrella, because I wouldn’t want my sugar cubes to melt.” The second was Fiction Workshop I with Amy Clements the following semester. Dr. Clements encouraged me and fostered such an empathetic and constructive environment in that class. At the end of my first year, I knew that if the rest of the creative writing classes were anything like the ones I’d already taken, I wanted in. I took both of those classes during COVID-19, the first semesters of Zoom classes. It would have been so easy for those classes to be colossal flops, but they weren’t, and it’s because I had professors who truly cared. 

Professor Clements recently told me that she applied to teach at St. Edward’s three times over the course of a couple of years before she was hired here. She’s been working here since 2012, but she still carries that giddy “I-got-the-job” energy with her everyday. You walk into her classroom and you know she wants to be there, you know that she’s eager to help you. Professor Clements, your bright outfits and even brighter personality never failed to make me feel a little bit brighter, too. Your classroom, your office and your presence were always safe spaces for me. Thank you. 

To my advisor, Mary Helen Specht, I wish I had a magic clock to freeze time and live in this semester a little while longer. As I’m writing this, I’m wondering what your enneagram type is. I think maybe you’re an eight: the challenger. When I think back to all of the fiction workshops you led, I remember you pushing me outside of my comfort zone — with what I read, what I wrote, how I wrote. I would certainly be a very different, less-developed writer without your influence. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: thank you for requiring me to submit my fiction for publication as a part of my grade. Otherwise, I would not be a published fiction writer right now.

Professor Braun, I keep forgetting my umbrella. I don’t think I actually even own one. I’ve been enjoying the rain on my skin. I’m trying not to melt. My song of the day is “Runner” by Alex G. What’s yours? Also, I’ve been dying to know what you think about the new Taylor Swift album.

To Mary Rist, thank you for making me care about grammar. I love it, actually. Grammar and Style sparked that in me. You have always felt like someone I could trust and confide in. Your support for my articles in Hilltop Views has meant the world to me. 

Professor Loewe, The Craft of Editing (while sometimes tedious and challenging) was without a doubt one of my favorite classes that I ever took at St. Edward’s. When I catch a typo or an inconsistency, I often think about your HOA email rants. They become more relatable every day. 

To Professor Yowell, thank you for supporting me as a journalist and for letting me know that there is a space for me in the newsroom as much as the publishing house. 

Isis Debrock

To every Writing and Rhetoric professor I’ve had the pleasure of learning from, thank you for making me a better writer. I leave St. Edward’s as a creative writer, but also an editor, a playwright, a journalist and a poet. I don’t think I would have had such a well-rounded education anywhere else. 

I’ve been afraid to leave this era of my life behind, but I’ll take everything I’ve learned with me. I’ll try to make you proud. 


With all my gratitude and a few tears,

Sienna Dawn Wight

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About the Contributor
Sienna Wight
Sienna Wight, Viewpoints Editor
Sienna is a senior Writing & Rhetoric major with a concentration in creative writing. This is their third year with "Hilltop Views" and fourth semester as Viewpoints Editor. Previously, they have also worked as a Copy Editor. They are excited to bring new ideas to "Hilltop Views."

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