Majors: English and History
Favorite Color: Royal Purple
Where Do You Want To Travel: I was in Italy shortly, but I would like to go again. My dad’s side of the family is from Italy. I want to go there because my ancestors built a tower in the south of Italy, near Naples. I think it would be cool to see it.
Activities: Secretary of Circle K, College Choir, President of Sigma Tau Delta, President of Omran Delta Kappa, Member of Delta Phi Epsilon, Peer Mentor (three years), Team Leader for Helping Hands (two years), Steering Committee on “Greenberg,” Preceptor (4 English Classes, 1 History Class) and Writing Presentations with CAAS
An intellectual, inspirational and intimate senior is only months away from crossing the stage to continue her journey in the world of academia, outside of Whittier College. Mary Helen Truglia, a native of San Diego and an only child, is both nervous and excited about her upcoming graduation. In addition to being an exceptional student, she is also the winner of the Keck Fellowship, which pays for her to do research on modern adaptations of Jane Austen. Although she is graduating soon, while reminiscing of her time at Whittier she is both proud and pleased.
Are you excited and ready to graduate?
“I am. I am also nervous. I think Whittier has prepared us really well. I am scared because it has been such a good experience, but I am also excited because I know I am well prepared for what is next.”
So what is next?
“Currently, I am applying to the Fulbright Program and the Marshall Fellowship. If I get the Fulbright I will go to Malta to study and teach English. If I get the Marshall I would go to Britain. I do want to go to graduate school and get a Ph. D. in English and teach. I have not decided on the specifics of graduate school yet, as far as where I am going is considered.”
What level would you want to teach at?
“Well, I came in wanting to teach high school, but many of my professors encouraged me to teach at college level, so I am thinking about that. I love little kids, but I want to be able to specify in areas I am interested in teaching and that’s easier to do at either a high school or college level.”
What were some of your favorite classes?
“Dr. Furman-Adams’ ‘Senior Seminar on Writing Renaissance Women.’ I took it in my junior year because she would not be offering it my senior year. To focus on one period and really delve into it was amazing. Can we just say I liked all of them...? Okay, I do have two more.
Dr. Sage’s ‘European City.’ It was a really great class because everyone was really involved and that made it better. And the other class I really enjoyed was, Dr. Morris’s class on Lord of the Rings. We read like 16 books but it was really fun because, again, everyone was really involved. Everyone in the class was a Lord of the Rings geek, so not only was he a great professor but everyone in the class was also very engaged.”
What was the most valuable thing you have gained from Whittier?
“I think to appreciate diversity in not only academics, but also different backgrounds. I am not saying my high school was segregated but most of my friends had similar backgrounds. Whittier has really helped me look at things through different lens. Not to mention all that I gained from classes. The professors are great. They make the school.”
And since you’re an English major...any favorite authors? Books?
“My favorite contemporary author is J.K. Rowling. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and I don’t care who knows it. The seventh book came out when we graduated high school and the second half of the seventh movie is coming out when we graduate college. Although it is a ‘children’s book,’ it really speaks to us. And my favorite classical one is Renaissance author Lady Mary Wroth. A lot of her poetry sounds melancholy, but it really manifests women’s issues of that period. A lot of what we read now is influenced by the works from the Renaissance period. For example, J.K. Rowling was a classics major. Harry Potter is a tale we are familiar with but it is set in a contemporary world. I cannot name one favorite book and this shows the quality of our professors. They can make you reconsider what your ‘favorite’ is. But my favorite genre is British romantic poetry.”
How did you become such an avid reader?
“I have been reading since I was two years old. My mom is a math teacher and my dad is a physician, but they never discouraged my love for English, so kudos to them. Reading is constant in my life. Reading helps with whatever is going on in my life.”
What is your favorite place on campus and why?
“My favorite place on campus is the third floor of the library. There is a chair in a corner that overlooks Hoover. The library has AC, which has been a delight for these past three years and there’s nothing and no one to distract me. And I like being surrounded by books.”
As a graduating
senior what advice would you give other students?
“It’s going to sound cliche. My first piece of advice is to get involved. You do not have to be involved in everything but find one sector, one thing that you are interested in and get involved. Being involved will make your experience so much more valuable. There is something on campus for everyone. My second piece of advice is to take a class in something you do not care about. It will either confirm that you do not like that subject or you might make a connection. Lib Ed requirements are frustrating but good because you get a new perspective on things.”