Sarah Joy Richards
What is your concentration?
Rhetoric and Composition
Why are you majoring in English?
I’m passionate about stories and the way we choose to tell them. I started out as a theatre major with a scholarship to a private school. I wanted to get into film production and screenwriting. The professor teaching my freshman composition class had a real passion for the pieces we read. He showed me that English wasn’t just 1,001 ways to interpret Beowulf. He introduced me to Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Once I discovered Southern Gothic lit, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into that genre and find ways to connect it with film. I know I’m still in the right major because picking classes each semester is like being a kid in a candy store.
What was your favorite English class at Georgia State (so far)?
It’s a tie between Dr. Holmes’ Electronic Writing and Publishing, and Dr. Noble’s American Gothic courses.
The American Gothic course takes me back to why I love literature in the first place. Dr. Noble sets up a really great environment for discussion of some pretty heavy texts. It’s my favorite class to read for.
Electronic Writing and Publishing is a class that opened my eyes to how differently texts are read online. One of the class projects was to keep a blog on a topic of our choosing. I researched some blogs on Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease I have that causes chronic lung infections. I found that the tone of most of the blogs just didn’t feel right. I left the blogs feeling the same way I do when I see the abused puppy commercials on TV. Like I said, I’m passionate about the way stories are told, and I wanted to tell this one right.
I wanted the blog to be the way I see CF, and that’s usually as if the guys from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 are narrating. I’m in and out of the hospital constantly, and I do IV antibiotics on campus all the time. Thankfully my brother is a student here and helps me out. It’s stressful at times, but there’s a dark humor to the whole situation. Maybe it’s all that gothic lit I read, but I see that side of it. The blog was a great outlet for telling my own stories and experiences through that lens while still being constructive and disciplined. I learned a lot about what people want in online content and what scares them away.
The blog took on a life of its own after the class ended, and I was asked to speak about it at Emory University over spring break. The fact that something I did for homework last semester could be used, even in a small way, to help educate and humanize the disease for doctors, medical students, and scientists at Emory is unreal.
What are some of your extra-curricular projects or activities?
I volunteer with GSTV, which has given me some amazing opportunities. I’ve been able to write scripts, learn about camera operation, and interview celebrities like Aaron Paul, Kid Cudi, and Josh Peck. In the past year I’ve completed internships with South Atlantic Modern Language Association and Druid Hills Golf Club via EOS Marketing as their film and Communications intern.
What long-term plans or aspirations do you have for your career?
Everyone asks me what I’m going to do with my English degree. I always tell people, “Frame it.” The road to getting this degree has been a long one, but it’s given me time to realize what I enjoy doing, and how I can earn a living doing those things. I’d love to teach Southern Gothic Literature and maybe some courses that show those themes in TV and movies. But right now I’m more focused on the communications side of the major and on broadcast journalism. I’ve had my eye on Anderson Cooper’s job for a while. No matter what, graduate school is definitely in my future. It just makes sense because school is an anchor for me. When I go in the hospital, I bring my textbooks with me, and I recover because I want to get back to class as soon as possible. You walk into my hospital room at Emory, and I’m connected to the IV with Melville and Hawthorne on the nightstand.