Writing Her Own Journey: Meet English Major Madison Betts
By Gina Myers
October 20, 2021
Like many students, Madison Betts was drawn to Drexel because of the University’s renowned co-op program. However, she was also intrigued by the 10-week terms, which allows for greater flexibility than the traditional 16-week semester.
“[The terms] can be daunting for some students because they move very fast, but I thought it was exciting that you could be exposed to so many classes and professors and have the opportunity to explore more,” she says.
It was this format that allowed Betts—who entered Drexel as an environmental science student—to discover her true passion of writing. As part of the First-Year Writing Program, Betts took English 103 with Associate Teaching Professor of English Jan Armon, PhD, and it changed her outlook on the subject. “It was the first time I had an English class that I really enjoyed. It wasn’t about grades—it was about trying to get as much as you can from a piece of writing,” she explains.
From there, Betts began to take creative writing courses for her electives, and eventually she switched to major in English with a concentration in writing. Now her sight is set on working in publishing and one day being a published author of a series of fantasy books.
Influenced by science fiction and fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, Betts is drawn to writing and literature because of the escapism it allows. She loves the worldbuilding that happens in these imaginative works. She also likes the freedom that the stories allow for—the ways they open up to various interpretations and resonate with people’s experiences.
“I feel like you can read a story three times and get a completely different take each time. Every author has so much to share with their audience, and every reader is going to get something different from their story, which I think is so beautiful,” she says.
“I would love to contribute to that in some way. The authors I have read have had such a major impact on my life and how I view the world. If I could have an impact with one reader, that’d be so fulfilling for me.”
Betts is currently in her fourth year of college on the five-year, three co-op plan. She completed her first co-op while still being an environmental science student, but her second co-op gave her a peek into one possible career path for English majors as she worked as a research and publishing associate for Substantive Solutions, Inc., a software and education company.
Students with humanities backgrounds are usually well prepared to enter the workforce and take up a variety of tasks thanks to their strong communication and critical thinking skills. Betts found this to be the case as she took on a range of duties in this role.
“I think what’s advantageous about being an English major is that you can cover a whole host of different things,” says Betts. “I helped with their website, looked over their blogs and did some editing and outreach as well. It was a diverse workload and I got to network with people from places all over the world.”
Betts has also added to her skillset through an internship with the Drexel Publishing Group (DPG), where she writes articles for Write Now Philly and is editing a book project, among other things. In addition to those technical skills, she has also added a number of other essential skills, including time management and prioritization. Betts hopes to add to this experience in her third co-op, which she is aiming to have at a publishing house.
“I’d love to do an internship at a publishing house, possibly in New York. I’m interested in doing something in editorial, but I’m also keeping an open mind,” Betts explains. “Since one day I want to be an author and have my own work published, I think that getting to know the industry more closely and personally would help me in the long run.”
Betts knows the path to authorship isn’t an easy one. After graduation, she plans to get a master’s degree in creative writing. She sees her writing education as a lifelong journey. “There’s always more to learn. People develop as writers throughout their whole lives, so I want to keep pushing myself to learn more,” she says.
For now, Betts can work on her craft at Drexel and pursue her twin passions of reading and writing. Outside of her classes, she is at work on her first novel, and she founded a book club with a favorite professor of hers, Assistant Teaching Professor of English Margene Petersen, whose classes in fiction and young adult literature were transformative for Betts.
The book club is cleverly titled Overbooked, which Betts jokes is how most Drexel students describe themselves. “Drexel students always say, ‘I have too much going on so I can’t go to this meeting.’” However, Overbooked is inclusive in nature. Club members get to suggest book titles across genres which are then voted on, and it’s okay to show up even if they haven’t quite gotten through the reading.
“You can just come when you want to,” assures Betts. “You don’t have to have read the whole book.”