Dr. Diane Awbrey: Professor of English
November 11, 2012
Dr. Diane Awbrey has been teaching English courses at Evangel since 2005. Prior to joining the Humanities faculty, Dr. Awbrey developed curriculum for the Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City. She has also taught at Central Bible College, Friends University and St. Michael’s College in Vermont. For a time she also owned her own magazine publishing business.
Dr. Awbrey developed a passion for international travel and cross-cultural experiences while working two years in Brussels, Belgium, with the International Correspondence Institute (now Global University). She continues to stay involved with editing and writing for Global University publications.
In her free time Dr. Awbrey enjoys stitching, antiquing, drinking tea and reading. She is married to her husband, David, and they have one daughter, Grace Elizabeth.
What activities were you involved in during your time as a student at Evangel? How did those experiences help prepare you for your future?
I was into a lot of things at Evangel. I spent three years working on the Excalibur and Epiphany. I was hall president one year, I was in the Esquires (an honor service society), and my senior year I directed campus-wide prayer groups. I also sat on some committees with faculty and residential life.
I think the experiences at Evangel helped me in many ways. The academics prepared me for graduate school in ways I didn’t identify until I got there. I was really afraid that going to a “small school” might mean I wouldn’t make it at the university. Instead, I found myself completely comfortable in coursework at the graduate level and could keep up with the conversation in all my classes. The co-curricular activities have had a lot of influence on the work I have done both with the Kauffman Foundation and Global University as well as here in General Education redesign. Working on committees, working on publications, and working with diverse groups to produce an event or product have all helped me along the way.
What do you think sets the English program at Evangel apart from English departments at other universities?
The integrational aspect. Learning to read literature through a variety of lenses was something I took for granted, but which many of my colleagues in graduate school could not do. The focus on reading and understanding the text itself — loving the literature as literature and not merely as political or historical artifact — means that I was prepared for graduate school, but I can also still enjoy literature for its own sake.
What is your favorite part about teaching English here at Evangel?
Relationships with the students and faculty. This University affords so many opportunities to pour into the lives of students and faculty alike. Students in the English department are intelligent, engaged, thoughtful and desirous to choose that which is pleasing to God. The faculty are good listeners, learners and encouragers. They are caring, thoughtful people who feel called to this University. They choose daily to make a difference where they are, rather than look for greener pastures or wish for something other than what they have. They are not empire building but kingdom building.
What exciting opportunities are there for students in the English program?
Students in the English program can stay busy 24/7 if they like. They can join the Epiphany staff. They can read their work at poetry readings, coffee house-style events and other student-led activities. They can work in the Write Place and contribute to the mission of the University to produce excellent academics. They can work as Write Fellows in the ENGL 111 Composition program and make a difference in the lives of individual students from across the University. They can apply to become student assistants and literally “hold up the hands” of the faculty as Aaron did for Moses. They can seek internships in which they use their editing/writing skills in the workplace. They can double-major with any number of degree programs (Theology, Psychology, and Communication probably being the most popular). They can minor in Teaching English to Students of Other Languages, Writing, or anything else on campus that interests them. We had one student who majored in English, minored in French and Chemistry and wound up at medical school. They can attend the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing every other year with the department to meet published authors, working editors and publishers. This is a busy place for English majors.
What is your favorite part about working with Evangel students?
Enthusiasm. Expectation. Desire. Evangel students learn about life-calling and many desire to do God’s will in the best way they can possibly do it. I love that.
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
I think the highlight for me is when students come into my office, flop down in the easy chairs, drape their coats and bags across the floor and just “hang out.” They ask important questions about God, dating, graduate school, getting along with other students … whatever is on their minds. When I have a day like that and get less “work” done than I planned, I hope that what I really have done is listened, laughed, challenged or encouraged other Christ-followers to be like Him: to love Him with their whole mind, heart, soul and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves.
What advice do you have for prospective students, especially those interested in studying English?
Check us out. Don’t dismiss English as a choice because you don’t think you want to be a high school English teacher. Although we have many students who come here with that intention, we have just as many who learn that studying literature is a boon to their personal development as human beings. You will learn that the English major is a great life pursuit in its own right or in combination with something that appears more “practical” to parents and friends. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to spend the next four years reading literature — if that’s what you love — just because you don’t know what you’ll “do with it” when you get out. We can help you craft a plan for reading or writing your way through college and developing yourself vocationally as well.