Thesis Advisor: Karen Sanchez-Eppler
Q: What is your thesis about?
A: My thesis is a creative nonfiction piece on foster care. It’s about my family’s and my experience with foster children, how we’ve learned to navigate that, my personal take on what it’s like, what the issues are that need to be solved and what I’ve seen.
Q: How did this idea come about?
A: Over my four years as an English major, I found myself increasingly interested in nonfiction and memoirs. I just really like reading about people’s experiences and connecting to them. So, I wanted to do that kind of writing myself and I got to last year in a composition class. It was great, but I didn’t know if I really had anything to write about—something bigger than a three-page paper. Then, more and more, I talked to my parents about foster care because they did it while I was away at college, so I didn’t really always know what was going on. They started communicating with me more. More and more I realized the foster care system is inadequate right now. The more I experienced it and the more I was home and got to interact with these kids and see how the system treated them and treated my family, I just felt like there needed to be more literature about it and people need to know more about it. Often memoirs that are written about foster care are written by the children themselves or the parents, but there is no perspective from the biological sibling. I thought it would be interesting to add that perspective.
Q: How long have your parents been taking in foster kids? How many have they taken in?
A: They started doing it when I came to college, so in 2009. I think they’ve had 11 kids. It’s kind of blurred because they take kids for a couple nights who need respite care, but they also take kids for a long time (they’ve had a kid for a year and a half). They just stopped this past summer. They needed to move on to other things, but I think it’s been 11.
Q: What have been some of the high points so far?
A: I love having an advisor who I can go talk to about my writing. That’s all we do and it’s really awesome. I feel really spoiled. Usually you don’t get to just talk about your writing with one person like it’s their job. I like the fact that I enjoy working on my thesis. It’s very motivating for me to know that I like writing and learning how to craft my voice, how to pick out what’s important, what’s going to be important for the readers and learning how a bigger story gets put together.
Q: Any low points?
A: It’s been a little hard to write with comps coming up, but so far not really. I spent last summer reading lots of memoirs and personal experiences of foster care, and a lot of them were not well written, so I wanted to try to change that. I’m hoping my writing is coming across as good writing and is well put together. I guess any low points would just be me realizing that my writing in the past has not always been great. But I’m learning how to do a better job with it.
Q: Any advice for people thinking about writing a thesis?
A: Yes: start early. It’s been a lot easier not having to do a ton of research at the beginning of the semester. I’ve just been able to start writing, which is really fun. Also, don’t do it unless you have something you are really passionate about and something that makes you want to work on it. This would be so much less fun if I didn’t really like my topic.