English Alumni Becomes Published Author

English Alumni Becomes Published Author

English alum Kendra Nuttall is finally realizing a dream she’s had since she was 11 years old — having a book she wrote published. She didn’t think it would be a book about poetry, but she says now she can’t imagine writing about anything else. 

Nuttall’s passion for writing began when she was in sixth grade. “Once a week [our class] had one hour of ‘quiet time’ where we could catch up on assignments or practice writing,” she said. “This was the first time I had been given the freedom to write whatever I wanted — no rules, no requirements. I quickly discovered just how much of an imagination I really had, and I let it run wild, coming up with all kinds of short stories. I knew from the first story I wrote that this was something I wanted to do forever.”

Despite knowing that she wanted to pursue a career as a writer, Nuttall was reluctant to attend college. She knew the importance of education, but she struggled with the financial side of attending college — not to mention the many naysayers who told her that an English degree would be next to useless. “I loved English, [but] didn't love the idea of teaching it,” she said. “I wanted to become a famous fantasy book author, like my middle school idol, J.K. Rowling (suffice it to say, I'm not a fan of hers these days). Becoming a famous fantasy book author was itself a fantasy. If I didn't go to college, my choices for a well-paying career were slim.”

Thanks to federal financial aid, Nuttall found that she was able to cover nearly 100% of her tuition costs at UVU. Once she started attending, she found an incredible community cultivated by the English department. “The students and faculty in the English program never made me feel bad, no matter how bad my poetry could be,” she said. “You can tell that everyone there only wants the best for every person. There's no competition, no condescension, just good people trying to help you be your best self.”

Nuttall discovered a new appreciation for poetry thanks to the courses she took at UVU. “Before attending UVU, I was primarily interested in fiction, but my poetry courses at UVU completely changed that. Before those courses, my only exposure to poetry was from half-hearted high school teachers having us analyze Robert Frost and all the other old dead white guys a billion times. Nothing against them, but, to me, poetry was as boring as could be.”

“UVU changed everything. Suddenly, I was studying poets like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and of course, UVU professor Rob Carney himself. I learned that poetry wasn't some long-ago relic, but that it was still being written, and not just by old white guys. I learned that poetry didn't have to rhyme. I learned that poetry didn't have to use words like ‘thee’ and ‘alas.’ I learned that I loved poetry.”

Nuttall still uses her love of poetry and the skills she learned at UVU in her current job as a copywriter, not to mention her career as a poet. “I've had the pleasure of having my work published in many literary journals and anthologies. My first book, A Statistical Study of Randomness, is about to be published. It’s a collection of poems about grief, loss, and finding an identity in a world of hurt. I'm not a famous fantasy book author — yet. For now, my passion lies in poetry.” 

To current UVU students, Nuttall said, "If you're considering pursuing an English degree, go for it. Don't listen to anyone who calls it a waste of time. Write what you want, write what makes you happy, and keep writing, no matter how much criticism is thrown your way. I'm an example of a successful English major. I have a career directly related to my degree. I'm a published author, and I am not an anomaly. The jobs are out there, go get them."

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