Erin O’Hare

Class of 2009
Major/Minor: Art History, English

Monika Weiss taught me how to not be afraid of my voice, how to pose even the wildest ideas in my writing, and to feel confident that what I’m saying is valid and true.

How has your liberal arts education influenced you? How do you apply your LAE in your current career?

I use my liberal arts education every single day. As a writer and editor, I’m required to know a little bit about everything- I mainly write about arts (especially music) and culture, but I’ve been assigned stories on history, education, sports, science, and a variety of other topics. And when I’m assigned to write a story I DON’T know much about, because of the curiosity I developed during my liberal arts education, I’m capable of researching any topic. I’m also capable of talking to people about just about anything- it’s a hugely valuable interview tool.

As an editor, I’m responsible for coming up with ideas for stories that would appeal to a wide audience, and making sure that those stories read both well and clearly. My liberal arts education, though it ultimately fueled my passion for writing, literature, art and music, gave me a good taste of what else is out there in the world, be it the river in my backyard or the stars in the galaxy. Washington College made me a well-rounded writer and editor capable of taking on a variety of projects. I can’t be pigeonholed.

Who was your favorite faculty/staff member? Story?

I have so many favorite faculty members, it’s hard to choose. I feel like all of them influenced me in different ways. I worked very closely with Kate Moncrief and Donald McColl on my two majors. Professor Moncrief’s classes seemed magical in many ways; we did so much close reading and discussion that I learned how to understand a paragraph, a line of verse, or even a single word, from my own perspective and from my classmates’ views.

Dr. McColl’s classes were something altogether different. Art history is kind of like the liberal arts in that it’s good to know a little bit of everything when you look at a piece of art– it helps richen interpretations and reactions. After listening to Dr. McColl speak so passionately, so animatedly about art for a semester, I just HAD to add an art history major.

Monika Weiss taught me how to not be afraid of my voice, how to pose even the wildest ideas in my writing, and to feel confident that what I’m saying is valid and true.

Bob Mooney taught me how to be a sensitive writer, sensitive to my voice, to my reader’s ear, and to the world around me. He brought a lot of writers to talk to us (and once took us to see Amy Tan speak!), and he showed me that writers are, in fact, real people.

Leslie Sherman’s environmental science class also had a huge impact on me. The various lessons and class field trips taught me how I fit into my environment, how it impacts me and vice versa. She showed me how everything is connected, how I’m closer to that bit of algae floating on the surface of the pond than I think I am.

Janet Sorrentino’s introduction to Western civ. class blew my mind. The idea that Christianity, Judaism and Islam all share the same god? ::BOOM::

What is your favorite Washington College memory?

May Day 2006.

I worked at the Miller Library circulation desk all four years of college, and in the springtime, we’d keep the doors open to let in all of that soft, fragrant spring air. My first year, I signed up to work an 11 p.m. - 2 a.m. finals week desk shift with my QA hallmate, Marian Robbins, the night before May Day. Most of our fellow students were May Day-ing, but there was a good contingent plugging away in the library, studying for their first finals and working on papers. Around 11:30, we could hear students gathering on the green, hooting and hollering and having a great time. At midnight, the muffled sound of (naked) cheering wafted through the library, and in a lull, some guy yelled, in a clarion voice, “To the library!” Marian and I looked at each other, eyes wide, as feet pummeled the brick steps and two dozen or so naked male students ran through the open library doors (one was wearing a plastic viking hat) and into the library. They bounded up the stairs, did a loop of the second floor, ran back down and out. One of them skidded, bare-bottomed, across the circulation desk before he ran out. It all happened in maybe two minutes, and once we decided that yes, that did just happen, Marian and I laughed so hard that we cried as we looked for a Clorox wipe. I think one of us, I can’t remember who, said “It’s never the ones you want to see naked, is it?”

Did your Senior Capstone Experience (or thesis project) have a major influence on your future career or your personal growth? If so, please explain what your SCE entailed and how it influenced who or where you are today.

My thesis project ultimately influenced my decision to go to graduate school for literature, and while I didn’t go on to earn a PhD, I learned a lot about writing. I looked at early modern English drama through an art historical lens– it was *maybe* a bit of a stretch, but Kate Moncrief and Donald McColl supported my desire to marry the two topics and urged me to make the connections, to do the research, to make assertions and support them. Everything clicked once I started writing like that.

English Thesis:

“If thou hast eyes to see”: The Iconoclastic Appropriation of the Image on the Early Modern English Stage. Supervisor: Prof. Moncrief

Campus Involvement
  • Honor Societies: Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Sigma Tau Delta
  • Internship: Writing Center
  • The Medium
  • The Collegian
  • Art History Club
  • Miller Library Circulation Desk
  • Writing Center Tutor
  • Writer’s Union
  • Served as dramaturg for Hester Sachse’s “Much Ado About Nothing” drama thesis