Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival

leonard-a-oaklandAre you interested in film? Do you like movies? Indulge in wonderful films and festivities by attending Whitworth University’s 10th annual Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival! 

Join the English Department and Whitworth community during the weekend of March 2-4, in supporting filmmakers, alumni, and current Whitworth students. Some festival favorites will include: an Award-winning Foreign Language Film, “an American comedy-drama listed in the National Film Registry, a documentary created by a Whitworth graduate,” and current student-made film screenings. We’ll see you there!

Friday, March 2: 7pm in the Robinson Teaching Theatre, a showing of The Salesman (2016).

Saturday, March 3: 7pm in the Robinson Teaching Theatre, a showing of Detroit Under S.T.R.E.S.S. (2017).

Sunday, March 4: 3pm in the Robinson Teaching Theatre, a showing of Do the Right Thing (1989).

What It’s Like in the Real World After Whitworth, and Some Advice to Go With It

By: Emily (Church) Michelbrink

I won’t pretend that at six months post-graduation from Whitworth I have my life together and that everything worked out exactly as I planned, because it didn’t, but in accessing where I am now, I’m okay with that. I think that’s something that needs to be said, even if Whitworth students (especially seniors) are reminded that it’s a rough world out there and post-grad life won’t be a walk in the park. While we’re told this over and over, a small part of ourselves holds on to the idea that it won’t be me. I’m freaking awesome, so of course I’m going to get into the grad school I want or get my dream job. Sorry to break it to you, but you aren’t the only awesome human being that exists in this world. Quite a few other people want the same things that you do and may be feistier about getting those things. You might not get into that school and you might not get that job your interviewed for and really wanted, but there are still millions of opportunities out there.

After receiving my “diploma,” shaking President Beck Taylor’s hand, and walking off the stage, I spend the next four months searching for a job, and I must admit it wasn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever done. I’m now at a job that I had never even considered. I graduated as a double major in English writing and Sociology. While at Whitworth, aside from my majors, I was also managing editor for this blog, got involved in Rock & Sling as a reader and non-fiction assistant editor, and was manager of the BELIEF program as part of the Dornsife Center for Community Engagement. I began my search out of college looking for positions that would allow me to work with non-profit programs or would put my writing and editing skills to use. So, where am I now? Microsoft.

I currently work in University Recruiting (UR) at Microsoft as a recruiting coordinator (RC). Basically, once Microsoft recruiters determine that a candidate is worthy of a first-round interview, I am responsible for making sure my candidates are able to sign up for an interview slot and that an interviewer (IVer) is available to conduct the interview whether they be one of our UR interviews or a volunteer from a specific Microsoft team, like X-box. We really like acronyms in UR, can’t you tell? I serve as the middle-man between candidates and their interviewer. I am the one they contact when the have questions or need to reschedule. My position requires lots of written communications, data tracking, and problem solving, which are skills I’d like to say that I really honed in on through obtaining my English degree. While this may not be the most obvious job to come from an English degree, it’s a good beginning and proves that English majors can make it in any field. I also know that this isn’t my end all position, but it does serve as a good beginning for me.

I knew going in that this job wouldn’t provide me with a way to practice the type of writing and editing that I really enjoy doing and aspire to do as a career, so what did I do? I sought out ways to explore my interests and build community with writers as kind of a “side gig.” I joined Odyssey, an online publication community, as a content writer. It pushed me to meet deadlines and think of new content every week, and now I have recently been promoted to contributing editor for my community. Frankly, I’m enjoying the chance I have to develop professional skills and experience working for a large corporation like Microsoft while still ensuring that I do the thing that allows me to call myself a writer: write.

From this process of finding myself after undergrad, the advice that I can offer to current Whitworth students, and perhaps anyone else that finds it applicable is this: while it may feel like you’re lost, you never know what opportunity is waiting just around the corner. I also can’t stress the importance of building relationships with people in your desired field and of getting involved in activities and experiences that will build your skillset for your desired job or career.

Emily Michelbrink (’17) graduated with double major of English writing and Sociology, with a minor in Psychology. She currently works as a recruiting coordinator at Microsoft, is serving as a writer and contributing editor for Odyssey, and lives with her husband and one-eyed cat in the greater Seattle area. You can go read her Odyssey articles here.


Reflections on a semester with the LA Film Studies Center

We all know that internships and programs are great because they provide us with real life experience and allow us to make connections, but what makes them truly wonderful is when they help us to realize that we’ve got the skills and the passion to pursue what we love.

In the fall of 2016, film studies student and inspiring actress Sarah Cardel spent her semester at the LA Film Studies Center, and it was an experience she’ll never forget.

Interview with Sarah Cardel
By: Sarah Michelle Cruz

In the desert filming La Promesa

In the desert filming La Promesa

What is the program you were involved in and what made it unique?

I was involved in LAFC – LA Film Studies Center- It’s a semester film program that immerses you in the industry both as an intern while also teaching you how to work professionally on a set. It offers opportunities for anyone in the industry- weather editing, acting, or whatever specialty you want to get into on a more focused level. It allows you to work with others and form a team

For example, in one class me and a team of students worked together to complete a short film from start to finish using industry protocol (We had to provide meals for actors, pull permits for location use, etc). The classroom setting allows you to experience what the industry looks like on a smaller scale.

Behind the scenes of La Promesa (where I was DP) – not in this one

Editing my final scene for my acting class

Editing my final scene for my acting class

 What opportunities did you receive through this program that you might not have gotten elsewhere?

I was able to develop a community with the semester class I had, alongside alumni of the program. They provided me with the tools to network with others outside of the program and make connections with people in the industry.

 I got hands on with professional equipment to complete the films that we did. For example I got to be director of photography (the cinematographer) for our main short film and we used Red Dragon, which is a professional camera that’s used on television and movie sets.

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

 In what ways have you grown during your time in LA, and what have you learned that you wouldn’t have learned at Whitworth?

 Through my internship, I was able to see the business side of talent in the industry and was able to learn through the experiences of others’ lessons about how it all works, as well as the culture in Hollywood.

 By doing this, I gained a lot more confidence in myself as an artist and aspiring actress. Being in a community of filmmakers gave me an opportunity to do work with like-minded people who also want to pursue their goals.

 While Whitworth focuses on film theory and discussions about film, LAFC provides a creative outlet for transforming theory into reality. It’s more application-based, rather than theory-based.

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

 What are some of your highlights during your semester?

 Night-long/All-nighter film shoots, the relationships I made with the other students in the program, and the many guest speakers, such as different directors and actors in the industry. Doug Jones is one that stands out to me! He is a Christian actor in the industry who is also known for his role as the fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth. He has the most welcoming personality wherever he goes.

Doug Jones!

Doug Jones!

 In what ways have you seen yourself change?

Change is definitely a process, but I know I am more confident in my skills and in owning my goals and aspirations…seeing that it’s part of my purpose and not just a far-fetched dream.

Cardel is currently working as an assistant for a management company in West Hollywood and is taking some time to explore her creativity and expand herself as an artist.

Sarah Michelle Cruz is a Whitworth Alum (’16) who majored in English Writing and Psychology. She is currently living in California’s Bay Area, focusing on writing her second novel and readying her first book for publication. She is also a singer/songwriter working on producing her music just for the sake of sharing it.

Alumni Profile: Jennifer Rudsit (’16)

By: Emily Church

While I enjoy talking with anyone that has graduated from Whitworth, as a graduating senior I find it relieving to hear from those who have just graduated within the past year and learn about the exciting opportunities that they have come across and get a peek into what the near future will be like.  Alumna Jennifer Rudsit offers a refreshing look into the year following graduation. She almost makes me forget my anxieties about the approaching future. Almost.


What have you been up to since graduation?

Since graduation there have been many transitions. I’ve become quite skilled at packing and unpacking a suitcase, so if I succeed at nothing else in life, there’s always that. After I graduated this past May I had the opportunity to attend the University of Denver Publishing Institute, where I received a Certificate of Publishing. The institute was basically a four week crash course on the publishing industry, complete with editing and marketing workshops, resume and interview coaching, lectures and networking opportunities with publishing professionals, free books, and a bunch of introverted book nerds attempting to network. After that I headed home to Gig Harbor, Washington, and enjoyed some free rent (thanks parents), and after a couple stressful months of applying for jobs and shedding many a tear, I started a seasonal retail job. During my four months of retail I also picked up a couple of side jobs doing some social media/author assistant work for a local Gig Harbor writer and helping out as the Assistant Web Editor for Rock & Sling.

My most recent and exciting transition, however, happened this past week when I started an internship with Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, Washington. Copper Canyon is a non-profit poetry press that publishes emerging and established poets from around the world. I don’t entirely know what interning at Copper Canyon is going to look like since, you know, it’s only been a week, but based on intern life so far we will be reading manuscripts, completing projects for the staff, working with a one-on-one staff mentor, and basically just working with incredible people doing incredible things.

  1. How did you get there?

I ended up at the Denver Publishing Institute mainly because wonderful professors and friends supported me and brought opportunities and connections to my attention throughout my senior year. I first heard about publishing certificate programs during an informational interview I did my sophomore year with the Sales and Marketing Manager at Shelf Awareness in Seattle, and things like taking Literary Editing and Design, joining Rock & Sling, and attending AWP helped me know for sure I wanted to apply, and also helped me get into the program. I knew about Copper Canyon Press before going to Denver, but during the publishing institute looked more seriously into internships and entry-level positions at presses in the Seattle area. I applied in November, and here I am!

  1. How has your English degree served you since graduation?

My English degree has served me in so many ways. I mean, it’s only been eight months, but still. Besides helping me grow as a reader, writer, and human being during my time at Whitworth, it has served me in so many practical and specific ways since graduation. The work we did in Senior Portfolio gave me the skills and confidence I needed to write cover letters and apply for jobs both during and after the Denver Publishing Institute. Learning how to write for a specific audience is necessary for writing readers reports for manuscript submissions, press releases for books, and in daily work interactions. The past few days in my internship I’ve been so grateful for all the poetry classes I took as I’ve started to read manuscripts because they taught me how to read quickly and comprehensively as well as how to analyze and discuss poetry. And I already know that working with Rock & Sling – reading submissions, being pushed to form and share opinions on poems – will be helpful to me as I complete my internship. With everything happening in the world, I am grateful to have a degree that has helped me develop my analytical skills, expand my empathy, and given me tools to examine the world from different lenses. Those skills will always serve me well. Plus, all of the snarky and witty conversation that happened in the English department lounge has made me a better conversationalist.

  1. What’s the best/most fun thing that you’ve done since graduation?

Well, I got a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, so that was pretty exciting. But besides that, I honestly have to say that this first week of my internship has been the most fun, and definitely the best thing that I’ve done since graduation. It feels so good to be working in a community of people who are engaged with the world, people who value literature and the arts and believe that poetry is vital to language and living. I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now. I have no idea what my life will look like after this internship, and I’m sure I’m going to completely freak out about that at some point, but right now that’s okay. The next transition will come.

Emily Church (’17) is an English Writing and Sociology major at Whitworth University from western Washington and dreams of one day traveling the world. She enjoys writing, reading, painting, collecting journals (not writing in them), fall leaves, summer warmth, and adventure.

Alumni Search: Coffee with Kris

By: Emily Hanson

My Dad used to be a teacher. In the 10 years he was a teacher, he made many friends and connections. Because of this, my Dad was able to put me in contact with Kris Dinnison: Whitworth alumni, local business woman, former teacher, and published author.

Meeting with Kris was an extremely interesting. The conversation took place in one of her downtown businesses, Atticus Coffee and Gifts. Based off of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, it was an environment begging for literary discussion. The discussion began with talking about her schooling, how she herself was an English Major like myself. During her undergrad, she had a dream of getting her pH. D. That dream however, didn’t work out and it constituted a need for modification; she became a teacher.

Ms. Dinnison’s teaching career was focused on English and the Humanities. This started to create a love of writing that carried over into her authorship. Her book, Me and You and Him is a touching,  Young Adult novel in which two friends squabble over the same guy. When asked about the book, she said that getting it published is an amazing experience, and that being able to reach teens that way makes her feel accomplished, and she is working on more stories. I was able to talk to her more about reading, and what inspired her, and what she is currently into. I was pleased — and more than a little surprised to hear — that she reads YA fiction (Young Adult). As a young reader who is interested in studying YA novels for a pH. D., this was a push in the right direction and highly affirming for my own interests.

Being able to share a coffee with Whitworth Alum Kris Dinnison was an experience to remember. Not only is she a Pirate like the rest of us, but she is also a successful writer who followed her dreams, and as a college student who can’t see past finals, it was a much needed interaction; one that has kept me in touch with my own dreams.


Emily Hanson is one of our new freshman writers and is a lively addition to the team.


Updates from Alumni: Mary Schmick ’14

By: Emily Church

There’s always a good reason to catch up with an alumni of Whitworth University. Not only are they great people, but they help remind students, like me, that there is a life after Whitworth and it can be pretty awesome. I got the chance to ask Mary Schmick, a Whitworth graduate from 2014, about her life beyond the pinecone curtain.


So, what are you up to these days?

I am now a technical writer/technical editor for Mission Support Alliance, a company that supports the Hanford clean-up project in Richland, WA.  I edit environmental permitting and regulatory documents that will be submitted to the Department of Energy and other government agencies (EPA, Department of Ecology, etc.).  Editing a document involves fixing formatting and copy editing, as well as looking at sentence clarity.

How did you get to where you are now?

I had become interested in editing in college and also began to see technical writing as a possible career path when I spent a summer interning for a geologist at a research laboratory. There I got to help research and write scientific articles on topics like carbon sequestration. I graduated from Whitworth University in 2014 with an English degree on the writing track. After graduating, I moved to the Tri-Cities where there are several companies that need technical writers. I spent ten months working a part-time job and applying and interviewing for technical editing positions before I got my first technical editing job. The job was editing safety procedures on topics such as electrical safety and working with beryllium, which were used by workers for the different companies across the Hanford Site.  I was in this position for a year and a half. During this time, I started editing for a different organization within the company I worked for when their technical editor retired. When the position came open, I applied and got the job, which is the position I currently hold.

 How has your English degree from Whitworth served you since graduation?

My English degree has been so valuable to me since graduation from Whitworth. In terms of a career, strong writing skills have been very helpful. So many different types of work involve writing, which makes strong English skills indispensable. As an English major, writing was something I sometimes took for granted, but in the workforce it is viewed as being an area of expertise. Apart from my career, my English degree has also shaped my critical thinking and communication skills. Also, the things I have learned from reading and analyzing literature has had an impact on how I look at situations in life and has given me a better understanding of viewpoints different than my own.

Emily Church (’17) is an English Writing and Sociology major at Whitworth University from western Washington and dreams of one day traveling the world. She enjoys writing, reading, painting, collecting journals (not writing in them), fall leaves, summer warmth., and adventure.

Recently Published in the The Cresset: A review of literature, the arts, and public affairs

The most recent issue of The Cresset featured two Whitworth names.

Associate Professor of English, Charles Andrews published a review of the recent movie version of Vera Brittain’s memoir Testament of Youth titled “Learning to Live with Ghosts” as part of his research of the British peace movement.


Also appearing in the same issue is a poem, titled “Losing His Religion” written by Whitworth alumnus Michael Schmidt (’13)

This Whitworth Life 2014 Podcast Is Now Available

This Whitworth Life 2014

If you missed our This Whitworth Life reading last fall and you’ve been plagued with regret ever since, now your prayers have been answered. If you attended last November’s storytelling extravaganza and have wanted to relive the magic, those prayers have been answered, too.

A podcast of the event is now available here.

The event was a project of EL 347: Creative Nonfiction Workshop. Eight members of our campus community wrote and read stories about significant moments in their lives.
Topics include but are not limited to: jigsaw puzzles, introversion, campus tours, grits, comical-only-in-hindsight interactions with law enforcement, martyrs, PTSD, forgiveness.
Enjoy these stories by our 2014 cast: Katie Ferris (’15), Amanda Clark, Alan Jacob, Tim Grayson, Henry Stelter (’16), Amy Hendricks (’09), Laura Bloxham, and Helen Higgs.
Thanks also to our faculty panelists, Fred Johnson and Karin Heller, to Annie Stillar, and to the Fall 2014 students of EL 347.



Alumni Update: Emily Grant (’13)

My name is Emily Grant, and I graduated from Whitworth University with a BA in Englishme_whitworthblog in 2013.  Since then I have worked at Classic Café in Deer Park (the diner that supported me through 3 years of college), and Chairs and Bank of America Merchant Services in Spokane.  In this next phase of my life I will be working at Stay Alfred, a vacation rental company, as an operations assistant.

I recently had my first piece published outside of a Whitworth blog.  I wrote a short blog post called “On Crashing” for Nicole Sheet’s class while studying abroad in Costa Rica.  Part of our assignment was to submit it to airplanereading.org, and two years later I was advised that my piece would be published.  It was all very symbolic: on the day that I was told that my piece about flying would be published, I also accepted a job for which I will be flying fairly often.  And planes are great places to do some writing.  Well, I’m going to try to convince myself they are…

I have made many conscious efforts to write daily since graduating from Whitworth, but this is really the most I’ve written, outside of work emails, all week.  I most enjoy writing short fiction and longer fiction, but the book I would like to write never moves seamlessly from my head to my computer, and after starting it five times I’ve taken a break to work on other things.  Usually I journal, as it helps me get my thoughts together, and it can be picked up and dropped back off at any time.  Lately I’ve been blogging.  I’m trying an elimination diet (to test for allergies) and I am blogging not only to remind myself that it’s worth it to eat only foods I hate for almost two months, but also because I think that real people need to hear stories from real people about what it’s really like to undertake such a project.  I undertake quite a few weird projects, so I may have found my niche.

Over the next few months, I hope to pick up some literary journals that interest me and submit away to them.  I might also blog about trying to write on planes.  I’m not sure where I’ll finally settle down as far as a career is concerned, but I do plan to carve out time within a busy work schedule to continue to write, and to continue to do weird things that are worth writing about.