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Senior Spotlight: William Wong

English major William Wong has been the editor-in-chief for UMD's Paper Shell Review for the last two years and plans to enter the publishing industry after graduation.

Why did you decide to become an English major?

I have been an avid reader ever since I remember knowing how to read, and majoring in English fit perfectly with my interests. Reading and studying literature have always helped me to better understand both myself and the world around me. Since I planned on working in fields involving a lot of writing after graduation, I also knew that the English major would further my career goals.

What clubs, campus groups, internships, outside of class projects have you been involved with? Do you have any leadership roles in these groups?

This year is my second year as editor-in-chief of The Paper Shell Review, UMD’s only journal for undergraduate literary criticism. I’ve had a ton of fun working with other students outside of class to publish our journal each year while doing what we all enjoy: reading and discussing literature.

Have you joined any student organizations on campus?

I have been a copyeditor for The Diamondback and a reporter for WMUC-FM. Participating in both groups greatly improved my writing and editing and gave me opportunities to be engaged with events and activities on campus that I normally would not have known about or passed over.
As a Model Congress attendee in high school, it was also a fulfilling experience for me to help plan and organize conferences for high school students with the UMD Model Congress club.  

What is something you read during class that impacted your worldview? 

This year, I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz for Dr. Sharada Balachandran Orihuela’s Latinx Literature class. Written in a contemporary style, the novel is also epic in scope. It traces the family history of the protagonist over three generations, and Díaz deeply addresses immigration and Dominican culture and history. In addition, Díaz references numerous works of science-fiction and fantasy, which made the book even more enjoyable to read as a big fan of these genres. The fluidity with which Díaz transitions between character perspectives and timelines and his unique sense of humor transformed my idea of how a novel could entertain readers while communicating very serious themes about identity, family, and history.

What skills (professional, creative or other) do you think you’ve gotten from the major?

I’ve greatly improved my writing, editing, and research skills through lectures and discussions with professors about my essays. In each course I’ve taken, I’ve had to analyze and write about new topics from different frames of thought, and over the years, I’ve noticed how every class taught me new pieces of knowledge or new methods of writing that stuck with me long after the course was over. These gradual improvements in my ability to write and think have significantly improved the depth and clarity of what I am able to communicate to others in class, in my internship, and even in my personal life.

What is your dream job or career?

I am planning on entering the publishing industry so that I work with books and continue to involve myself closely with literature. I also hope to write and publish my own novels one day.

What are you passionate about (or even curious about)?

Aside from literature, I have a strong interest in areas of government such as policymaking and foreign relations. Politics and policy are connected to the study of history, my other major, and I believe that an understanding of these areas is crucial for me to create real-world impacts through my future work.