What’s it like to study English literature and secondary education?

Madeleine Koenigsberg
Madeleine Koenigsberg, Class of 2021, feels that teaching is a calling.

Madeleine Koenigsberg had a lightbulb moment leading a group discussion in high school, in which she realized she could combine her passion for literature with her love for teaching others as a career choice. Now she’s majoring in English literature and working her way toward secondary education certification through the education department at Cornell College.

“English was always my thing,” Koenigsberg says, “So, it just naturally flowed together.” 

Koenigsberg says her academics require thoughtful planning and scheduling when it comes to selecting what courses to take and when to take them. She considers time management to be one of the most important skills she’s learned since being at Cornell. 

“Never ever lose track of the time,” she says. “Plan your day out because it gets hectic real quick and if you have no time to do a project, that’s on you.”

She has many requirements she must complete in order to stay on track to graduate in four years and she’s doing it. 

And although it is a given that she would be taking English courses for credit, she also admits that she selects English courses that are not requirements because she knows they will be fun. These courses do contribute to her major in English but are chosen specifically because she’s excited to take them. 

Koenigsberg attributes her Contemporary Poetry course with Professor Glenn Freeman as the one that has made the biggest impact on her so far. 

“We talked about what poetry is and was, what makes poetry poetry, and we never came to any conclusions, really,” Koenigsberg says. “It’s just whatever a poet says, it’s authorial intent, but if someone says it’s poetry, does that make it poetry?”

For Koenigsberg and many other Cornell students, exploring wide as their curiosity dictates and diving deep into what they are most passionate about is what makes their Cornell College experience so exciting. 

As Koenigsberg contemplates her future she sees herself teaching, maybe pursuing a graduate degree, and maybe working in the editing and publishing industry. 

“All of these are really interesting to me and I like how they do a lot of different things, from working with the future to analyzing the past to managing the present,” Koenigsberg says. 

Which aligns with what many on the Hilltop believe—that learning and exploring doesn’t end at Commencement, but is a lifelong pursuit—one that Cornell students are well prepared for no matter their major.