Marie Parks

2008 BA in EnglishParks2

Development Writer for The Methodist Hospital Foundation

Ever since tenth grade, when the two accessories always found in my bag were a novel and a writing notebook, I knew that I wanted to be an English major. One week after graduating from Rice with my BA in English, I began working in my current position as a development writer at The Methodist Hospital Foundation. My career draws directly on the skills developed in English and humanities classes. In fact, the ability I use at work the most often is one that I attribute to humanities courses at Rice: quickly crafting persuasive arguments and conveying them in logical, written form.

All of my English classes required me to analyze literature and create well-supported arguments—an ability that translates to my current job, in which I use medical information to craft proposals for funding and cases for donor support of various hospital programs. Interfacing at Rice with my professors and fellow students prepared me for social interactions in the professional world, from collaborating with supervisors and colleagues to communicating with the philanthropists on whose generosity we rely.

Additionally, the self-reliance I developed as a humanities major has proven indispensable in my career. First, I learned to interpret and analyze literature by observing my fellow students in class and by taking the sound advice of my professors and mentors. After I had a chance to observe those around me and hone my skills for several semesters, I found that I could trust my instincts and experience to formulate cogent written arguments. While the classroom is a fantastic setting for developing ideas and receiving feedback, much of a humanities major's work is performed independently. My senior thesis played a large part in helping me develop discipline and confidence in my abilities. By working as a writing consultant to my peers, I learned how much I enjoy mentoring and teaching others—something I hope to pursue as a future career.

As a humanities major, my graduation requirements were flexible enough to allow me to study abroad, an experience for which I’m most grateful. Not only did studying abroad enable me to experience a new culture firsthand and make many new lifelong friends, but it forced me to truly put to the test my abilities and the self-reliance I had developed at Rice (not to mention the navigating abilities I had learned in Houston!).

I also had ample flexibility to take at least one music performance class every semester, including Campanile Orchestra and Rice Chorale. In an orchestra or choir setting, I was responsible for my own playing or singing while simultaneously listening to and watching the conductor and other musicians around me. Through these experiences, I continued to develop my ability to operate individually while serving as part of a larger organization. I use the same sensitivity to work with the other writers on my team at Methodist even as I complete my own tasks.

Although I do not make any hiring decisions, I am fortunate to work with a supervisor who takes our team's impressions of candidates into account. Our writers are hardworking and talented, and we see criticism not as an insult but as an opportunity for improvement—a supportive attitude that Rice mirrors.

Follow your bliss,” Joseph Campbell famously said; as someone with a love of literature, I truly followed his advice by pursuing an English degree at Rice. If your academic passion is situated the humanities, I encourage you to look no further. All humanities majors at Rice have ample opportunities for collaboration and research, and classes are highly challenging and rewarding.