Martin Lang ’95

English and Communication Studies Major
Posted on November 22nd, 2022 by

“I Didn’t Leave Gustavus a Flag-Waving Gustie. My Perspective On Gustavus Really Changed After I Started Grad School.”

I am a first-generation college student, so when I was applying to schools, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. I wanted to play soccer at a big state school, but I soon found out that wasn’t going to happen. At the same time, I had a friend who went to Gustavus who convinced me to apply by telling me about Hello Walk, which sounded like a good way to meet people. I was pretty shy and introverted, so the small community was really appealing to me.

I began to find my way at Gustavus through soccer, and I made friends here and there while living in Sohre, but I really began to have a better understanding of who I was through academics, especially through the English and communication studies departments.

I knew I wanted to be a writer, and professors like Ann Brady really challenged me to be my best. I have memories of being in her class and seeing my papers getting marked up by her TAs. Deborah Downs-Miers was another professor who was willing to tolerate all my questions and never made me feel embarrassed for asking. I’m a feminist because of Deborah Downs-Miers.

Similarly, my communication studies adviser, Bill Robertz, made me feel like I had a place to fit in. He took me seriously which helped me take myself seriously. Relationships like these were the things that helped me see that there was this interconnectedness among people at Gustavus that gets talked about on campus tours but is hard to recognize until you are up to your elbows in it.

I didn’t realize until I left college how good I had it—maybe excluding the bitter winds of J-Term and the smell of Potato Bar which is burned into my olfactory memory forever. After teaching an FTS this fall semester, I found myself back in the shoes of the first-year students in my class. It made me think of the lessons I learned at Gustavus and now carry with me: be open to hearing critiques, have humility, and only good things come from asking questions as long as you are open to the answers.


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