Judy Moreno and Dr. Whalen

From Counting Bacteria to Analyzing Poetry

Judy Moreno, ’19, On Majoring In English

Written by Katie Kortepeter

I met freshman Judy Moreno at swing club early last semester, and she told me she was an aspiring biology major. Just a few weeks and a few great books classes later, she’d changed her tune. I was floored as she explained over dinner at Saga that she was now considering English instead.

As an English major myself, I didn’t find her love of literature surprising. And as a liberal arts student, I knew biology and English have more in common than first imagined. But I’d never met someone who changed her area of study so quickly—and from counting bacteria to analyzing poetry.

I’ve loved to read my whole life, so choosing English was a no-brainer for me. But Judy didn’t know what to expect from the core. “Can such old books really hold my interest?” she’d wondered. Judy’s question is a valid one, asked by many Hillsdale freshmen who crack open the The Odyssey with trepidation. But for Judy, tackling works like The Odyssey has been a journey, not just home to Ithaca, but also to an awe of literature.

Her eyes lit up as she described to me her first English class at Hillsdale. “I was curious to see how much I would enjoy great books and English in general,” she said. “I knew immediately that I liked it when I left the first class feeling as if my world had opened up. Now I’m genuinely excited to explore other works of literature in other time periods and genres.”

Although Judy hasn’t officially committed to an English major, she is strongly considering it and is excited to continue taking great books next semester. She credits her core classes with sparking a conversation that everyone here can participate in. Hillsdale’s curriculum bonds students in a unique way. As Judy put it, “Every student takes at least two English classes, so it’s easy to find like-minded people with whom you can have further discussion.” Because we’ve all read the same works, we all have the same themes and questions on our minds.

Because her dad is a Hillsdale professor, Judy grew up in Hillsdale and thought she knew everything about the school. But great books class is teaching her that there is still lots to explore, and that new loves can be discovered even in a place she knows so well. Our core classes may be time consuming and challenging, but these discoveries are well worth it.

Katie KortepeterHailing from Indianapolis, Katie Kortepeter, ’17, is an English and French major. She frequently swing dances, speed reads Tolstoy, and practices her Chinese as a bubble tea waitress.