English majors are often seen as the quiet students at AU, and many people don’t know much about what makes the major or the department unique.
Dr. Kevin Radaker, English professor and former chairman of the English department, believes that English majors are extremely versatile.
“Yes, we know how to write and read well,” he said, “but there’s just something more there. English majors have gone places in the workforce no one thought they could.”
The backbone of the English department is its wonderful and diverse faculty. Each professor has their own strengths that they bring to the table.
Radaker has been teaching at AU for the past 31 years and has specialties in British, American and Christian literature.
Aside from his job at AU, he also performs as famous authors such as C.S. Lewis and Henry David Thoreau, bringing their works to life. Above it, all his greatest joy is teaching at AU.
“The moments I treasure most are when we are caught up in a really good discussion or when a student is talking to me in my office about their personal life or faith,” said Radaker. “My greatest love is teaching, and the longer I have been here, the more I have come to realize that.”
Dr. Scott Borders is also passionate about teaching and has made a career out of it at AU for the past 34 years. He is the current chairman of the English department, teaches several classes in and out of the department and is passionate about the subjects he teaches.
“It doesn’t feel like work,” Borders said. “I get to talk about what I love and talk about what is important.”
He also sees the impact the English department has on campus.
“What would this campus be like if the English department did not exist? For one thing, they would not produce graduates who could write as well as they can,” said Borders. “I think a lot of people understand that part of it. Taking your English composition classes helps you become a better writer generally, but what else would be different if our department didn’t exist?
“We’d miss a place you could go to take classes that are finally about the human condition—not to study it as you might in psychology classes, but talk about it in terms of its lived form. That’s what literature does for us,” he said. “It allows us to have these stories about us and recognize very human things and to talk about it, and sort it out.
“By doing that we learn more about ourselves,” Borders said. “We wouldn’t have that if we didn’t have an English major or classes in the core curriculum about writing and literature.”
Also passionate about writing, Dr. Elizabeth Imafuji has been teaching at AU for the past 14 years. She has a background in journalism and teaching English as a second language to international students, which has given her linguistic-based skills and knowledge. Imafuji also manages the enrollment of English students, decides which credits may be transferable and is co-director of the honors program.
“I love the faculty,” said Imafuji. “Everybody loves teaching and does their job really well. It’s a privilege to work here.”
One of those faculty members is Dr. Jason Parks. Parks has been a professor at AU for 11 years and is an associate professor, faculty sponsor for Alpha Cai and honor society, advisor, faculty secretary and a member of the faculty development committee.
Parks has not only taught students, but has been taught by students. One of his fondest memories teaching at AU took place in one of the first global literature classes he taught. His students turned the classroom into a memorial for those that suffered in wars and social injustices.
“It showed me that a classroom can be turned into a creative, collaborative environment,” said Parks.
The English department is home to unique individuals who love what they do and invest so much in their students.
“Always come and talk to your professors. Even if you aren’t an English major but are taking an English composition class or you are unsure about what you want to do, we would love to talk to you about it,” said Imafuji.
Though the path one takes as an English major isn’t always clear, the professors are always willing to help their students become the best they can be in order to succeed, and that makes the department stand out on campus.