My name is Katarina Allen and I’m a student at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, graduating in May 2012 with a major in English/Creative Writing and a Psychology minor. My portfolio contains examples of the work I’ve done over my fours years as an undergraduate student. I’ve written in many genres including fiction, creative non-fiction, journalism, and poetry.Throughout my time growing up I have always been a leader or at least seen as a leader to others. Teachers always liked me because of my determination to do better in classes and to help out my fellow classmates. I always liked my teachers because they seemed to always befriend me more so than the other kids my age. I wasn’t an avid reader until middle school when I discovered a comedic romance novelist named Janet Evanovich. Evanovich’s characters were full of life and laughter, and I read her Stephanie Plum series within a couple of days. I soon discovered another romance novelist, Nora Roberts, who showed me that a book can be filled with troubling events and catastrophes, but also have characters who love each other and strive for a better future. I didn’t start writing until my sixth grade English teacher told us to write any story we wanted. I found out that after writing that story, I had a passion for the written word and wanted to create my own stories; I wanted to become like the authors I have read. When I finally reached high school, I was reading a lot of romance novels, not because they were well-written, but because I could imagine the characters fully and fall in love with all the aspects I never knew I longed for: travel, adventure, love and friendship. Romance novels will forever be the first books I reach to buy, although in the future I hope my writing will be better. I find it funny that people can take inspiration from one thing, but in the end, write something completely different. I have no doubt that one day I will write a romance novel, but hopefully romance novels won’t be so looked down upon in academia as they are today.When picking Sweet Briar College for my undergraduate career I went with my gut. I had never visited the school and I had never stepped foot in Virginia before the first day of orientation. I knew I was taking a huge risk, as the college was very expensive, but in the end worth all the money. When choosing what I wanted to major in I chose to be an English/Creative Writing major. I knew I had made the right choice when I sat in a room surrounded by talented women who all had tea and cookies located within reaching distance and a professor who knew everyone, except me. I hadn’t realized at the time, but I was the only freshman in the class and that the class itself wasn’t for first years. When I finally realized that I was out of place, which was when we were all announcing our names and class years, everyone else in the class noticed it as well. I felt like I was discovered for underage drinking at a bar and was about to be publicly kicked out, but the professor just looked through her glasses at me and asked me how I got into the class without taking the beginner class first. I responded dumbly that I had just clicked the submit button and it let me in. The professor, whose name I will never forget and who would prove to be a very important person in my undergraduate career, asked me to stay after class. At that point I was scared to death and afraid all my hopes and dreams would be crushed. So, when class ended, she asked me if I had ever been in a creative workshop before and I told her the truth, no. To my surprise, she let me stay in the class. I was grateful for that day and I ended up taking five more classes with her because she became such a wonderful mentor to me. My decision to be an English/Creative Writing major turned out to be the right one for me because I honestly have never regretted it once, in all my four years of college.
I held four jobs while at Sweet Briar, mainly working with technology. My first job was with Liz Kent, working deep down in Sweet Briar’s Cochran Library on the Gifts of Speech website and categorizing old photos into the years in which they were taken. My second job was with Tom Marcais in Academic Computing, where I created training courses to help people at the school learn new or unknown computer applications. I also made YouTube training videos for people to learn the material themselves if they had no time to attend the classes Tom taught. My third job was with Career Services/Co-Curricular Life, where I was in charge of their website and editing any content there. I also blogged for Career Services and kept their Facebook page updated. My last job was as a Resident Assistant, where I was in charge of sixty freshmen on a daily basis.I have been in many clubs, including the Red Clay Literary Magazine, The Inklings Book Club, and The Voice (Sweet Briar’s only school newspaper). In each club I have held high positions of authority and leadership.My hobbies and interests include swimming, reading, writing, website design, using technology, researching new ways to do things, and photography. I also enjoy traveling very much.
After graduating, I will spend the summer visiting friends and family in the West Coast before I leave in August to fly to Cambodia. I am traveling to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for my TESOL training course, where I will learn to teach English to children at a local orphanages. After my month of training, I will travel to Xianyang, China, where I will be teaching English for one year with a renewable contract. I wanted to travel in order to see the world, but I also wanted a secure job before I graduated, so I began researching the teaching abroad programs. I found the LanguageCorps, which connected me to the Aston Educational Group located in China and Korea.
Why China? I have always had this fascination with Asian countries especially China, Japan and Korea. Maybe my fascination with these Asian countries comes from my fascination with it history. China’s history goes back so far it is very incredible to realize how old something can be. I have always enjoyed learning about the Chinese Emperor’s and the samurai legends that seem to seep out of every book from that country. I never get bored when I learn about these Asian countries and perhaps I should have majored in one of the languages. The application process for teaching abroad was not easy, but I fought through it and I got hired. The people in Xianyang, China keep in constant contact with me, which makes me less nervous, plus they are nice and seem excited to have me on their team. I’m excited because I landed a job that will pay me, keep me occupied, teach me new things, let me explore and travel, and also meet new people and gain connections in different countries. Not many people today can say they are going to do what they love right out of college, but I’m proud to say I am one of them.
All the photography on my blog is my own (except the Critical Review photos and the photos inside my Journalism pieces).
“I’ve looked at the world both through the lens of my camera and through the expression of language on the written page.”