Where are they now? Jacob Mauser: English Major Extraordinaire

Oct 19, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Graduating from high school last year, Jacob Mauser has taken the IEW writing skills he learned while being homeschooled to college and discovered that English and writing are the things he most loves to study. He now attends Stetson University in Florida as a student in the honors program and was recently named a Lawson Scholar, the only student to receive this prestigious designation this year.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Dayton, Ohio, but I’ve spent a little more than half of my life in Florida. We moved shortly before the 2008 recession for my dad’s work. I was homeschooled for all of my life, but when I was sixteen, I started dual enrolling at the local community college.  I have two siblings— a brother and a sister—both of whom are younger than me.

What do you do now?

Right now, I’m enrolled in the Honors Program as a freshman at Stetson University. I’m currently dual majoring in English and Business. Outside of my classes, I’m a member of the university’s English Advisory Board, which puts on events and programs to raise money for the English program and unites English majors across campus. I’m also a member of Touchstone Magazine’s “Zine” editorial committee. Touchstone is the campus’ literary journal.  We publish selections of student-produced short stories, poetry, and visual art once a year.

How old were you when you used IEW? What IEW courses did you take?

I started with IEW in middle school. I began with the Student Writing Intensive, Level B* and then spent a year with my mom using just the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style to create assignments. After that, I did U.S. History Based Writing Lessons Vol. 1 and 2 followed by Windows to the World. I also worked through the High School Essay Intensive over a weekend with a friend of mine. Additionally, Mom introduced poetry study with Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.

What was your favorite part of IEW?

I loved IEW because it presented a method of writing that ended up feeling very natural to me. Truthfully, I recall not enjoying it at first because of the requirements for the different types of dress-ups and sentence starters, but in the end I saw that it helped my writing a great deal.  After some time, I started varying my sentence structure naturally. To quote a commonly used proverb in the English field: “It’s okay to break the rules sometimes, but first you have to know them.” I can’t say I’ve continued to follow the all the “rules” IEW taught me on every college paper I’ve written, but knowledge of those rules has made me a better writer.

Did you notice that IEW helped you in college, and how?

When I began dual enrolling, I wasn’t sure if I would be ready to write to the standards of a college course. I can happily say that IEW excellently prepared me to meet those standards.  I didn’t have to change the way I wrote to satisfy my professors at the community college, and I haven’t had to change it to satisfy Stetson’s professors either. In a way, I’ve been writing at college level since I was fifteen, thanks to IEW.

What type of writing do you most enjoy?

I absolutely love poetry, short stories, and narrative essays. This type of writing allows me to feel a connection to the author, even if they died a long time ago. I also enjoy writing that is experimental in nature, like the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the literature of Cormac McCarthy.  These authors don’t follow the typical conventions of the English language, and I think their work is beautiful for it.

Do you see any connection from your IEW training to your ability to communicate beyond writing? If so, how?

I’ve had to do several presentations for my school, and I find that my speech outlines are often essentially the same thing as an IEW key word outline. Because of this, the tone of my formal speeches carries forward something from the way I write. Additionally, because of my background in literature and English, I’ve been able to successfully work those subjects into areas that wouldn’t originally seem to have an immediate connection. The union of two seemingly unrelated fields helps to strengthen the concerns for each field in the minds of those who study the others.  For example, if I connect environmental science and science fiction literature in my writing, English majors might think harder about environmental issues, and environmental science majors might consider English more seriously. I like that.

Do you have any plans for the future where writing and communicating will be needed? How?

I would love to continue working in the English field, either as a professor at a university or at a publishing firm. Both of those jobs would most definitely require a good deal of writing and communicating. In general, writing and communication have come in handy in my life, and I have every reason to believe that they will continue to do so.

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

In the context of writing, “Think less, write more.” Seriously, I can’t think of how many times I over-thought a simple concept that I could have completed in a few hours of work if I had just started with the work. Sometimes it’s good to take time and think hard on what it is you want to do or say, but sometimes things just come to you as you work. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens often enough that I should’ve started considering that long ago. That’s not to say that we should all just stop planning things ahead at all, but sometimes thinking as we work can reveal flaws or impracticalities that we might not notice just by thinking about our projects.

IEW turned out to be the key to igniting Jacob’s writing success. With consistent and regular effort, he discovered that not only was he good at writing, but that he truly loved writing. As an English major, he looks forward to exploring his interests more fully, knowing that his experience with IEW has been an integral part of shaping who he has become today.


*The Student Writing Intensive series was discontinued in November 2019 and replaced by the new Structure and Style for Students program.

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