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Superman: Brian Henderson Does It All

By Kayla Beauduy

Jack of all trades

Ambitious learner, nurturing father, avid reader, passionate writer, and adventurous outdoorsman — Brian Henderson, WCU graduate student alumnus, seems to do it all. He is married and has two children, ages 7 and 2. Like most English majors, Henderson is also an avid reader: he reads on average a book a week. Along with recreational reading, his other interests include hiking, running, playing the guitar, and traveling. He is a jack of all trades, enjoying many facets of life as he progresses on his journey.

Henderson’s area of concentration lies in the field of rhetoric and composition. When asked about the importance of writing in his life, he replied. “Writing has been my constant companion, although not always a friendly one.” His most rewarding experience here at Western Carolina University was his master’s thesis. It was very helpful in advancing his education and willingness to improve.

Henderson stayed motivated by the possible “political and ethical ramifications of his work, pure intellectual curiosity, and the potential to impact others.” The encouragement he felt from the staff and fellow graduate students was overwhelming and extremely helpful to his success. It helped catapult him to his doctoral program at the University of South Carolina, where he is writing a dissertation.

One man’s journey

Some of Henderson’s favorite memories in Cullowhee are working in the writing center, being a teaching assistant, and sitting in on conferences. He was involved in the graduate student English organization. Members met regularly and got locally involved in literary meetings. For Henderson, it was easy to make friends with other graduate students because they had similar scholarly interests. Western's network of support students and professors provided encouragement and a “support system” he could rely on.

Henderson also found it easy to interact with the professors who helped guide him in the right direction. One teacher in particular, Dr. Marsha Lee Baker, had a huge impact on his time spent at Western. Henderson says that Dr. Baker’s “class on composition pedagogy was a life-changing experience that eventually led to [his] current career path.” Western opened up his eyes to multiple career possibilities.

The one piece of advice Henderson has for up and coming English majors is to find something you enjoy doing and “be savvy about the job market.” In other words, plan ahead. If there was one thing he would change if he could do it over again, it would be to get more involved with conferences and other literary opportunities. Those he did experience fundamentally changed his view of writingfrom “a solitary to a collaborative process.” Apparently, even Superman needs some outside help sometimes.

These profiles were created by the Karen Greenstone's English 303 class (spring 2009)
and edited for the web by Mary Adams's English 303 class (summer 2009).

Students in Mary Adams's English 303 class (fall 2009) wrote additional profiles.