“Friday Five” is a weekly short interview feature composed of five questions answered by students, alumni, and faculty. This week, we talked to alumna Darla Gutierrez.
Darla graduated summa cum laude from the Stony Brook Honors College in 2010 with a BA in English and minor in Music. She has since completed a master’s degree in Library Science at CUNY Queens College, and now works as a children’s librarian.
If you could give one piece of advice to current students, what would it be?
Get involved in the campus community. Having been a commuter student, it took me a little while to figure out how important this was and how to go about doing it; Stony Brook is a big school, and it’s easy to let yourself fade into the background. But even if you think you’re too busy to get involved in a club, activity, or organization, I would urge you to do so anyway. All you have to do is ask different people how you can be more active until you find something that sounds like you might enjoy it. You will meet people who you will like and who will expose you to opportunities, skills, and points of view that you would otherwise miss. You will find ways to do more with what you are studying and doing in the classroom. Plus you’ll have fun, and it will look good on your resume!
Which text was your favorite to read while you were a student at Stony Brook? In which class did you read it?
I had a lot of favorite reads, but I’m really glad that Dr. Videbaek assigned Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in my very first English class (I think it was EGL 204). I think I’ve read it at least 3 times since, and got a new favorite author out of the deal. The audio book versions are excellent too!
Tell me about a skill you learned as an English major that has helped you out in the “real world.”
Being able to write clearly, concisely, and argue points effectively has served me greatly since graduating, and not just when going through graduate school. I’ve found that good paper-writing practices have helped me become more proficient at communicating my ideas clearly and effectively both in written and verbal communication, which I do a lot of as a librarian. I could not have developed these skills so effectively if it were not for the English department and its dedicated faculty.
Which text do you suggest all students read before they graduate?
This feels really somewhat cliché to recommend, but make sure you read Hamlet at some point, and try to take a class featuring it. It’s such an important work for understanding a lot of subsequent literature and media, both in and out of the classroom. And all that blood and death — you gotta love it!
During your time at Stony Brook, who was your favorite professor and why?
Questions like these are so hard! I honestly loved so many of my English professors, but I must say that Dr. Videbaek was and is a huge influence for me as a student and as an individual. She’s a fantastic educator who makes you work hard but produces results if you put in the time and effort. Her classes are seriously fun with a wide range of genres from revenge tragedy to science fiction, and she’s an incredibly loving person and friend. And can she ever cook!