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English Major Cultivates Imagination by Reading and Writing

Emily Cackowski
Emily Cackowski

Keene State senior Emily Cackowski describes herself as a “real homebody.” When her parents moved from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to Sullivan, New Hampshire, after her sophomore year in high school, she wanted to stay close to them to attend college.

Keene State College has given Cackowski the opportunity to stay close to home, but also the chance to explore faraway lands and cultivate her imagination as an English writing and literature major. Through her courses, Cackowski has been swept away by the words of Shakespeare, able to travel back to medieval times of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and visit the fairytale world of Rapunzel.

“I always wanted to be a writer so I picked the writing major first,” said Cackowski. “One of my professors recommended that I add the literature major. I’m glad I did. It’s been very helpful.”

Nothing inspires a writer like reading someone else’s words. At Keene State, Cackowski has read a wide array of books from different genres and time periods, grasping the art of language, appreciating the finer points of words, and absorbing the pageantry of each page while developing her own thoughts and ideas. “Writing is about imitation,” she said. “If you want to write in the style of Dickens, you read a lot of Dickens.”

While Cackowski enjoys Victorian novels and historical fiction, her passion for fantasy is unabated. One of Cackowski’s favorite class assignments was rewriting the fairy tale Rapunzel, an exercise that took her back to her childhood.  Cackowski had a vivid imagination growing up that included many imaginary friends. “I started writing down the different characters and developing stories,” she said. “I’ve been writing ever since.”

Cackowski has expanded the scope of her writing at Keene State. “I’ve had so many great teachers and mentors,” she said. “I heard many positive things about the English department at Orientation, but I feel like it has exceeded my expectations. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a reader and a writer and a student. I really couldn’t have asked for a better college experience.” One of those teachers, Dr. Brinda Charry, called Cackowski a terrific student. “Emily is an exceptional student - bright, curious, and hard-working,” she said. “She is a sensitive and astute reader and a talented writer whose work is original and vibrant.”

Cackowski, who works as a tutor in the College’s writing center, will have a chance to work with the Keene State English faculty for one more semester before graduating this spring. She will be taking a course in Chaucer as well as doing an internship, helping Dr. Meriem Pages plan and run the Medieval and Renaissance Forum. “I’m so excited,” said Cackowski. “I’ve been presenting at the forum the past couple of years, so it will be really interesting to be a part of organizing the event.”