BOONE, N.C. — Emily Sedlacek ’19 combined her two passions — travel and literature — and graduated summa cum laude from Appalachian State University with a B.A. in English with a concentration in literary studies and a B.A. in languages, literatures and cultures with a concentration in French and Francophone studies. She will pursue her master’s degree in English at Appalachian this fall.
Sedlacek, of King, said, “My mother is an English teacher, so books and stories have always been a part of my life. There is so much power in telling a story and having it heard. Stories are a way for me to feel a connection with the world.”
“Learning a new language changes the way we tell stories,” said Sedlacek, who studied Spanish in addition to her French studies.
“It makes us think in different ways. How we write and how we communicate changes, based on the language,” she said. “I feel like I’m a different person if I’m speaking in another language, because I have different proficiencies, different knowledge and different specializations.”
Sedlacek’s short story “Common Grounds” was published in The Peel — Appalachian’s online, student-run literary and art journal — last spring. She will serve as a graduate assistant in Appalachian’s University Writing Center beginning this fall.
Sedlacek was hesitant to get involved on campus her first year, she admitted. “I wasn’t handling the transition well. But then, everyone was so warm and welcoming. I had professors and other students who reached out to me,” she said. “I went from wanting to transfer out after my first semester to being on the homecoming court during my senior year. It was a large jump!”
During her sophomore year, joining International Appalachian (INTAPP) — a student-led organization committed to globalizing the Appalachian campus and community — was what made Appalachian a “home” for Sedlacek, she said.
“INTAPP is one of the best educational experiences I had. I learned from the many different people I met, and I also learned to be a leader and to think collectively,” she said. “I interacted with people from all over the world, and with a vast array of majors. By connecting with them, it made me a better English major, and a better person in general.”
Sedlacek earned the Kate Peterson Scholarship for English during her sophomore, junior and senior years. “That helped me cover college expenses and allowed me to study abroad,” she said.
The summer before her junior year, Sedlacek traveled to Paris on an Appalachian study abroad program. “Being immersed in a culture is a totally different experience than just learning a language in a classroom. It is amazing to interact with people when you care about their language and want to learn to speak it — they get excited and are eager to help,” she said.
The trip helped Sedlacek bond with faculty and other students. “I built a stronger connection with Dr. Jean-François Fournier, who has been so helpful to me throughout my college career, and fostered some strong friendships,” she shared. “I would encourage anyone who is able to study abroad — it is an incredible experience. You learn so much you couldn’t possibly learn in a classroom.”
After she earns her master’s degree, Sedlecek would like to go abroad for a year and teach English as a second language. “Then, I’d like to get my doctorate in comparative literature,” she said. “Or, I might go into publishing or editing. I have a lot of opportunities.”
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About the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures offers courses that enhance students’ understanding of other cultures and languages as well as their own, making them prepared for lifelong learning in a multicultural world. Learn more at https://dllc.appstate.edu.
About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.