Some Alumni Profiles
Kris (Hostetler) Nussbaum (92), after completing a B.A. with honors in English education at Bluffton and an M.A. in English at the University of Toledo, found herself working in a gift shop. While that time was hard, she says it was a necessary "incubation period" for her current work at Central Christian High School in Kidron, where she teaches English, speech and drama, and advises the yearbook staff. When she left B.C., Kris intended never to teach high school, but now she says, "This job has been a continuous high." Now, in her second year at Central Christian, a Mennonite school, Kris says, "I've been surprised how much I've used things I never dreamed I'd use--especially my research skills. The better skills I have, the better teacher of those skills I am. . . Little things I never thought I'd use suddenly seem really important."
Carrie (Roth) Kruse (95) also completed a B.A. in English education, but has taken a different career path. In just over a year with the Allen County Board of Mentally retarded/Developmentally Disabled, she has worked in three positions. As Training Manager, she now supervises employment specialists (who work with clients and employers), and writes and edits a quarterly newsletter. "I just do tons and tons of writing," Carrie remarks; she also mentions her classroom management course as helpful in her day-to-day encounters with people. While a degree is not required for her position, Carrie says, "I wouldn't have been hired if I wasn't an English major"; her supervisor looks for the kind of skills and attitudes that English majors bring to their work.
Molly Snyder Gilger (92), B.A. with honors in English Education and [law degree, 1998] recently opened her own law practice in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. She wrote us in 1997:
When I was a student at Bluffton, five years ago, Mary Ann Sullivan
repeatedly said that if you want to go to law school, major in English
as an undergrad. At the time, law school was the furthest thing from
my mind, but when I started classes at law school over a year after graduation,
her words of wisdom gave me great confidence even though every one else
in my class majored in pre law, political science, business, or sociology
— majors generally believed to be the best in terms of law school prep.
Although the study of law includes aspects of political science, business, and sociology, the skills that one needs to survive in law school and in legal practice include reading, writing, researching, analyzing, and persuading. Each one of those skills I acquired as an English major at Bluffton College and each one of those skills I use every day, not only in class preparation but also in the course of my workday.
I am currently self-employed as a law clerk and I am doing work for a sole practitioner who has a very busy practice and spends a great deal of time in court. Thus, I work on a majority of his paper work, which necessarily requires research and writing. Writing as a law clerk, and as a lawyer, is similar to that as an English major and just as challenging. As a law clerk, or a lawyer, you must persuade the Court to rule in your client's favor, thus you must present the legal precedent in the form of an argument that is clear and concise. Developing such an argument requires analysis of applicable case law, and the better your reading and analytical skills, the better your final product. Law school and law practice are not easy, but when you have mastered the fundamental skills, you thereby have more confidence and more time to enjoy the art of practicing law.