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Graduating English Major Sends a Love Letter to UT English Department

Olivia Hayes, the Daily Beacon Senior Copy Chief, graduates as an English major in just a few weeks. Her love letter to UT and the UT English department, published in the Daily Beacon Opinion section on May 1, 2023, will warm your heart. Olivia wasn’t sure about UT at first, but her experiences outside and inside the classroom won her over into a die-hard Volunteer and a great English major.

In particular, she is thankful for her great teachers in the English department who sparked her imagination and creativity. Here’s what Olivia had to say:

Thank you to the English Department for giving me everything I needed, wanted and more. 

Thank you to Shane Stricker for passing your enthusiasm for creative writing onto me and for helping me rediscover my lost love of storytelling. 

Thank you to Michael Knight for never letting me lose sight of my potential and for encouraging me to be someone great. 

Thank you to Russel Hirst for being the only person capable of making nuclear security entertaining (and for rewriting my resume that one time). 

Thank you to Amy Billone for being the kindest professor on the planet and for showing me the wonders of children’s literature. 

Thank you to Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud for showing me the beauty and complexity of poetry and for making me laugh at least once every class. Every time I eat a grape, I think of you.

And thank you to Margaret Lazarus Dean for being a kick-ass woman and professor. I idolize you.

Olivia Hayes

You can read her Beacon letter in its entirety here. Olivia, the English department thanks you right back. It’s been an honor to have you in our classes. Keep that passion for great writing burning in yourself and those around you, good luck with all that lies before you, and go Vols!