Olivia Voegtle was a voracious reader from the time she picked up her first chapter book.
“I found my own feelings and thoughts reflected in the pages,” she said. “I would fill notebooks with stories and poems. As I got older, I was able to write essays and petitions to make changes in my hometown. Words bring order to me—to my world and my soul and my mind. A career in editing or writing is really the only thing that ever made sense.”
Voegtle, who was homeschooled, began taking dual credit courses at College of DuPage while a junior in high school in order to supplement her classes and count toward a degree. She then decided to complete her first two years at COD because it was the most cost-effective choice and allowed her to live at home and work.
While at COD, she was mentored by professors who helped her grow as a writer and editor.
“Professor Tim Henningsen particularly encouraged me in all my writing and took the time to get to know me as a person with her own life, and not just a student in a desk,” she said. “I attended mixers to get to know other English professors and would take advantage of office hours to discuss assignments, job opportunities or anything else on my mind. On campus, I worked as an editor for The Prairie Light Review, COD’s Liberal Arts journal. That was my first hands-on experience in the field I wanted to pursue, and it really affirmed my passion for English as something I wanted to work in long-term.”
Outside of the classroom, she has created websites, videos and essays that reflect her thoughts and emotions.
“I love to create all the time,” she said. “I write two blogs: one is a poetry blog and the other is just my thoughts on everything I experience in my life—love, loss, success, heartbreak. Writing helps me process my emotions and release them. I’ve also written innumerable essays for my classes on topics like Shakespeare, racism, love and the Revolutionary War.”
After earning her Associate in Arts degree, Voegtle transferred to The Kings College in New York City to complete her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus on Editing. She is working on her senior thesis, which will be a small volume of poetry. She then plans to work as an editor for small publications, such as literature magazines or art journals, as well as publish a book of poetry.
Voegtle’s advice to students considering COD and the English program is to understand their experiences will be the result of what they do with the opportunities available to them.
“While there are certainly some things beyond your control, others aren’t,” she said. “Sign up for classes that interest you, talk to people and care what they say back, sign up for clubs and attend seminars. COD is honestly a really vibrant community if you’re willing to try new things and step out of your comfort zone.
“As for students entering the English program, I would say do the assigned reading—just do it!—and remember that your differences are your strengths. It can be easy to compare your writing style or your opinions on authors to another person and think it’s wrong simply because it’s different, but that’s so far from the truth. Studying English isn’t about learning to write like other people or like what other people like, it’s about learning to communicate who you are and what you love.”