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  • Joseph A. Carroll, graduate of 2014

    Joseph A. Carroll

    After graduation, my next major step is law school.  Starting this fall, I will be attending the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  Until the semester starts on August 18, I will continue working as a legal assistant at my family’s law firm, Carroll Law Offices, in Somerset, Pennsylvania and continue working as a church service pianist and organist at Grace Lutheran Church in Stoystown, Pennsylvania and Trinity Lutheran Church in Hooversville, Pennsylvania.  In the long-term, I obviously hope to graduate from law school and pursue a successful career in the legal profession, meaning that wherever I end up practicing law and whatever type of law I end up practicing, I genuinely, honestly, and ethically help my clients to the best of my abilities. 

    I am exceedingly confident that my English major was instrumental in my success up to this point and will be invaluable to all of my future achievements. My English coursework has taught me to think deeply and write concretely.

    Specifically, the methodology of two classes which form the backbone for literary analysis, Literary Criticism I and II, mirror the common pedagogical method used in the study of law of learning the origins and theory of law and the more practical application of the modern manifestations of that history and development.  Beyond teaching the history and progression of literary criticism, these classes required me to write essays and term papers which demanded mastery of both the theoretical underpinnings of a given method of literary criticism and the specific application of that method to a text.  The formation of well-written arguments, analyses, and the application of intricate, historically developing methodologies in relation to complex, lengthy texts will help to prepare me for the similar task presented in the law of examining complex fact patterns and legal principles with the goal of constructing a meaningful argument to further my client’s needs. 

    In particular, in my 40-page Senior Thesis, I canvas a large body of scholarship on Ernest Hemingway in order to contribute to the current understandings of Modern masculinity and religious symbology. This cumulative project of the English major allowed me to refine and enact the innumerable lessons I learned about writing, reading, and thinking in my earlier coursework.

    The skills I developed as an English major and relationships I formed with faculty were vital to my success on the LSAT, my non-English courses, my job as a legal assistant, and my acceptance at ten top-tier law school—seven of which offered me full tuition scholarships. 

    Yet, likely even more valuable than these tangible benefits of my English major, the faculty and other students of the English department have drastically expanded my awareness of and appreciation for literature, movies, music, visual art, politics, religion, the usage of medieval weaponry in class, Klingon Shakespeare, beagles, babies, and baseball.  I find that my everyday appreciation for the world around me has been legitimately and, often, oddly improved by my English major.  Beyond developing a nearly irresistible desire to correct grammar and style errors in advertisements, newspapers, and Facebook posts, my English major experience has helped to foster my general curiosity and thirst for knowledge which I consider essential to being a lifelong learner and allows me to more fully appreciate references and allusions to various cultural and artistic works made in daily conversations, TV shows, movies, and books. The value of the relationships I have formed with the remarkable, quirky, and compassionate faculty and students of the English department cannot be overstated. 

    Overall, my English major has sharpened my ability to read, write, work, and think—skills that lay the foundation for success in practically all walks of life, whether it be law, teaching, business, music, poetry, or parenting.