ZOE PEARCE– From the first day I walked into Dr. McDonnell’s Writing 101 class on women in literature and film, she welcomed all the nervous freshman in the class with a smile on her face and a reassuring attitude.

She is always there for her students with effective feedback on papers and clear instructions. This class made me passionate about declaring my English major. Dr. McDonnell shared inspiring insights that helped me to transform into a more intellectual student. I remember always feeling confident and excited walking into her class because of her open-minded nature.

Dr. McDonnell never shoots down a student who asks to speak in class. Instead she says things like, “I see what you are trying to say, but I was actually looking for something else.” This made me feel less guarded when answering questions or expressing my ideas about the subject matter we were learning.

Looking back on my first class experience with Dr. McDonnell, I appreciate the effort she made to help everyone feel free to express themselves without repercussions, which is so important freshman year.  

After loving my freshman year writing 101 class with Dr. McDonnell, I noticed that she was teaching another class that piqued my interest, Shakespeare. I had seen this class during registration, but when I realized Dr. McDonnell was teaching it, I knew I had to sign up.

With my newly declared English major, taking this class was an obvious choice. On the first day of class, I walked in and was greeted by a, “Hello Zoe! Good to see you again!”  When Dr. McDonnell recognized me walking into the class, it made me feel welcomed and excited to learn. As the semester progressed, I became even more enraptured with the material because of Dr. McDonnell’s compelling comments.  

I had read some Shakespeare plays in high school, but not in depth like this class. The class read a total of nine plays and I believe Dr. McDonnell did an impressive job of covering all the works effectively considering the limited time we had.  

I was so enthusiastic about the course that I brought my dad to visit and listen to one of the lectures. He was very impressed by Dr. McDonnell’s teaching style and stated, “Quite frankly, I was expecting a new-age approach to Shakespeare… Dr. McDonnell’s approach was elegantly traditional and true to the genre… just as timeless as the man himself.”  

Mid-way through the semester, I decided that I needed to choose an advisor in the English department. After the two great classes I had with Dr. McDonnell, it was a simple decision.  

I felt that she knew me better than anyone else in the department, and that we had formed a close relationship. Finding a professor that you connect with can be difficult at times, but when you do it can make all the difference.