Leaving a Mark on Clemson’s English Department: Acacia Bryant’s Experience as an English Major
Many students receive their degrees from Clemson University, but not many take advantage of the opportunities for leadership and excellence that the school presents. Acacia Bryant, a senior English and women’s leadership major, has made the most of her time by excelling in her classes and getting involved around campus. She rightfully describes herself as a “Renaissance woman,” acquiring knowledge within several leadership positions, including serving as the current president of the Lambda Theta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She is also involved in other board positions and organizations that have helped her pursue her ambitions. Bryant’s time at Clemson has taught her to view the world through a new lens and use her voice to better those around her.
When deciding on a program to pursue, Bryant chose English because of its diverse range of opportunities.
“I realized that English gave me the pathway that let me to explore these literary works and let me explore different genres of English,” said Bryant.
Studying different literary works and getting involved with the college as an ambassador for the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, as well as being a member of its student advisory board, has created new and exciting opportunities for Bryant.
While being a double major, Bryant is also a member of the Fraternity and Sorority Life Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ambassadors, Clemson Undergraduate Student Government Judicial Board, Order of Omega, National Association of Black Journalists, Emerging Scholars, National Society of Leadership and Success and more. Her impressive resume shows her commitment to success.
During her time at Clemson, Bryant said that she has thoroughly enjoyed the courses taught by Professor Lucian Ghita. Ghita teaches British literature, world literature and Shakespeare. Bryant learned a lot and applied the knowledge from these classes to her life. She learned that it is important to “read about the historical context of why the writers are thinking the way that they are, why they are writing these stories and determining what is the targeted audience.”
Before taking Shakespeare (ENGL 4110), Bryant was extremely intimidated by the content and the complexity of Shakespeare’s language. However, Ghita’s teaching style helped her to better understand the material and look at Shakespeare in a new light. They studied the importance of social issues, such as gender roles and racial identity, within the historical context. Since taking this class, Bryant is able to use what she learned and apply it to her own life, helping her to better understand how society operates today. Ghita taught Bryant to think about what writers are trying to say about society through their work, which she has since used to analyze modern issues like racial disparities, both at Clemson and on a larger scale.
Last semester, Bryant interned at the Pearce Center for Professional Communication and was a member of the English Unbound team. She gained experience by practicing her writing skills and learning more about publication studies. She describes her semester at the Pearce Center as “one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had at Clemson.”
While working on English Unbound, Bryant branched out and became a better writer, speaker and listener. She was able to be herself on this project, using her skills and creativity to write feature articles and develop the newsletter. This project allowed her to work with people from other majors and learn more from their academic backgrounds and knowledge regarding writing and publication. She specifically learned more about using technology, like graphic design programs, to create content and be more innovative with her ideas and contributions to the newsletter.
Bryant’s involvement reaches far past the Pearce Center and her studies. Bryant became a leader all throughout campus during her four years at Clemson. Her role as the president of the Lambda Theta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. is dedicated to providing “sisterhood, scholarship and service to all mankind.” Bryant has met all of her best friends through her sorority, which include amazing women who work to help each other and their community through involvement with various philanthropic efforts, such as hosting canned food drives and raising money for heart health awareness.
After focusing on school freshman year and having doubts about her leadership capabilities, she said it took one final push from people who knew how capable she was to get involved. Bryant has amazing mentors that encouraged her to pursue leadership at Clemson. Her mentors, including her friends and family, knew that her voice needed to be heard among other members of the Clemson community. Bryant’s main goals are to make the university a better and more inclusive place.
“I have always had this leadership capability within me,” Bryant said. “It just took that one great push to say ‘Acacia, just do it.’”
Bryant has grown immensely over the course of her four years because of her experience in and outside of the English Department. She has become more outspoken, gaining the confidence to speak at the national level for her sorority and within the classroom. Her love for literature has blossomed and she is confident in her ability to voice her opinion to her professors and classmates. She describes English as “transformative, unique and beautiful.” Bryant said that the English department greatly impacted her and it’s safe to say that she left her mark through her academic and extracurricular accomplishments, as well.
The greatest lesson that she has learned from her involvement is how to be empathetic toward others.
“When you become a great listener, that is when you become a better leader,” Bryant said.
Bryant has learned that leading means that you must help others and be mindful of what they are going through. Practicing effective communication leads to bettering individuals and encouraging unity.
As she approaches her last year at Clemson, Bryant encourages English majors to stay true to themselves.
“Be a different student, not just a regular student who is only here to get an A and leave,” Bryant said.
She wants younger students to become motivated to learn, not just get the grades. Being a part of the English department at Clemson has changed her life and she hopes that it will do the same for others.
Written by: Chandler Brown