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Senior Story 2021: English Major Takes Intellectual Fervor to Phoenix
May 24, 2021

Name: Claire Haley

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Major: English

Notable UD Memories/Achievements: Junior Poet; playing intramural sports each year; winning the volleyball championship

Future Plans: Working at American Philanthropic in Phoenix as an executive assistant; continuing creative writing projects on her own or with a publishing company.

This is the sixth in a series of 10 stories that will be published to highlight the achievements of some of our seniors in the Class of 2021.

When Claire Haley, BA ’21, was growing up, the University of Dallas was already a part of her life. Her father traveled around to different colleges to recruit teachers for the local Great Hearts Academy school in her hometown of Phoenix, and what he had to say about UD impressed her. Talking with some close family friends who happened to be UD graduates about the wonderful community there helped to confirm her interest in our University on the Hill.

But it was when she visited UD that she fully fell in love with the unique intellectual charism of the school. She sat in on a Philosophy of God class with Professor of Philosophy Chad Engelland, Ph.D., and “left that class in a state of intellectual euphoria, if you will, even though I am sure I only understood a fraction of what he was teaching.” 

Haley is certainly not the first, nor will she be the last, student to feel exactly that way about a prospective weekend lecture. 

The intellectual depth into which UD invites students created an environment in which Haley knew she would thrive — and she was right. When she visited, she was impressed by the “apparent intellectual fervor that was the lifeblood of all the students.” 

As an English major, her favorite class was Roman and Victorian Literature with Professor Emerita of English Eileen Gregory, Ph.D., whose insistence on careful, thoughtful reading in class has earned her the respect and admiration of decades of students. 

Recalling Haley as a sophomore in her Romantic Lit class, Gregory said, “I remember her wide openness to all that we were doing.” 

Another favorite teacher of Haley’s, Associate Professor of English Brett Bourbon, Ph.D., noted, “Claire always displayed a spirited and open intelligence that could bring the details of a novel into the essential question. You could always see her smile even behind her mask.”

Haley always knew that the lens through which she wanted to explore the truths of the world was that of literature and poetry. Her favorite high school class, called Humane Letters, was a Socratic discussion-based combination of history and English and convinced her to pursue an English major. 

“It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time,” she said. 

Following that passion, she chose UD in part because of the strong English program. 

There are many accomplishments of which any graduating UD English major could be proud because of the program’s challenge and rigor. Haley’s favorite achievement at UD was what many English majors consider the flagship project of the English program: Junior Poet. The first thing UD English major alumni tend to ask each other upon new acquaintance is, “Who did you do for J Po?” Haley can proudly boast that she chose William Wordsworth as her Junior Poet. 

However, Haley’s activities and accomplishments were not limited to her English major requirements. She played intramural sports each year, showing team spirit and devotion even when her schedule got busy. Her hard work paid off: She won the volleyball championship back before COVID got in the way of all activities involving personal contact.

Haley also rounded out her UD education with hands-on workforce experience in the Office of Personal Career Development. Post-graduation, she will return to Phoenix to work at American Philanthropic, a strategic consulting firm supporting nonprofit development. An English major through and through, she also plans on continuing to write and has dreams of working with a publishing company in the future. 

“I’m grateful for my UD education because of the brilliant professors, the fascinating classes, and the wonderful friends I have made throughout,” she said.

 
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