The department of English is home to students who love language and literature, whether expressed through writing or acting. Learn to think and write well as you prepare for teaching, writing, graduate school, acting, or a host of other careers.

Fast Facts


English graduates have a high success rate in the credential program and in graduate and professional schools.


For students who qualify, the department offers membership in Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honors society.


English majors are frequently involved in dramatic productions on campus, with the drama program sponsoring a student group called the Dramatic Arts Society.


The English Department, in collaboration with the Visual Arts Department, offers an AS in Film and Theater Studies.


The English Department also collaborates with the Visual Arts Department in the publication of Quicksilver, PUC's annual art and literary publication.

Peter Katz: Academic Overachiever

He is the type of individual who loves to be surrounded by ideas, something that reflects in his goal of someday becoming a college professor.

Peter Katz

PUC alum Brandy Radoias wrote a profile of her fellow English major Peter Katz when they were students. Brandy now works as a teacher in California, while Peter is a Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University in New York State.

Entering his third year at PUC, English/history major Peter Katz is not only pursuing two majors, but he is also a part of the Honors program as well as being well on his way to earning his AS in music. He writes poetry, writes articles for the Campus Chronicle, plays the piano and aspires to someday earn his Ph.D. in “some kind of literature.” And, oh yeah, he is a black belt in karate. In short, Peter is a walking definition of an academic overachiever — but not the grating, know-it-all kind (although he does “know a lot,” he jokes); what sets Peter apart from many of his overachieving brethren is his genuine zeal for learning.

As a fellow English major, I’ve gotten to know and interact with Peter in various classes and I can testify to his sincerity as well as his intellect. He does not spout off Aristotelian theory or share his take on the Peloponnesian War just to bask in the sound of his own voice, but because those are the types of things that he is passionate about. He is the type of individual who loves to be surrounded by ideas, something that reflects in his goal of someday becoming a college professor. “I want to teach because I love learning and I want to get back to a learning community,” he says.

A fifth-generation PUC (future) graduate, Peter certainly keeps himself busy academically, adding a BA in history to his curriculum — because “literature and history are inseparable” — and an AS in music as a tribute to his mother, who also graduated from PUC with a music degree. In fact, “my piano teacher now was her piano teacher then,” he says. On top of it all, he is also a member of the Honors program, which has turned out to be an immensely gratifying experience for Peter. “Honors has been really helpful for helping me … look outside what I thought I knew and realize how much I don’t know,” he confesses.

Although he jokingly refers to himself as an “elitist jerk,” in reality, Peter is a humble person and an eager student. When he discovered at the end of last year that he had been selected for both the Walter Utt Scholarship for History and the Franklin and Laurie Hoyt Scholarship for English (no surprise there), he was completely bewildered. “I’m of course very honored and rather unworthy [of these awards],” he says. But then, Peter admits he is usually inclined to “not see [himself] as worthy of any great recognition.” Nonetheless, he is extremely grateful to the award donors for assuming some of his financial responsibility and appreciates their desire to proactively support Christian education, something he plans on doing in his own way someday. “I feel that a philosophically safe learning environment is important,” he says, “and I am leaning strongly toward working in the Adventist system just because of what I owe the community.”

Meanwhile, Peter is happy to play the pretentious intellectual that others expect him to be, crossing his legs here, tenting his fingers there. Granted, his physical appearance does nothing to shatter this projected image; at 6 feet 6 inches, Peter’s slender frame, riotously curly hair and patrician features give him the likely look of an eccentric academic. Ultimately, it turns out that God and nature worked in his favor, because “eccentric academic” is exactly what my friend Peter aspires to be.

A Program with Personality: Dr. Westerbeck on PUC’s English Department

Dr. Westerbeck

Cynthia Westerbeck, professor of English and department chair, explains what makes the English program prodigiously superlative.

Q:  Why should I take English at PUC?
A:  Because we read and discuss great books in a fantastic old building. Because you’ll discuss fascinating fictional characters with equally fascinating teachers and students. Because you will be challenged as a writer and critical thinker.

“You’ll discuss fascinating fictional characters with equally fascinating teachers and students.”

Q:  What is your program’s personality?
A:  Stauffer Hall is always alive with the sounds of paper conferences, debate, discussion and laughter, along with stomping and shouting from drama rehearsals in our Alice Holst Theater or the outdoor amphitheater. The department experience also includes great meals in faculty homes, poetry readings, excursions to see live theater, and the production of great theater literally in our own back yard.

Q:  What emphases can I take?
A:  You can choose from 1) British & American Literature, for pursuing graduate work in English or for pre-professional goals; 2) Writing, including a wide range of styles; 3) English Education for teaching high school English; 4) Drama, for would-be thespians; or 5) Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which is great for those who enjoy languages and travel.

Q:  Is faith integrated into the program?
A:  Conversations about great books lead naturally to universal questions of identity and spirituality. Whether reading overtly Christian texts or struggling through the existential angst of a modern novel, we grow spiritually as we watch how others have grappled with important questions.

Q:  Do I have to get a master’s degree?
A:  Often yes, though sometimes in other fields. Learning to think and write well prepares you for almost any career choice. In addition to teaching and writing, our students go into medicine, law, politics, theology or journalism, which require specialized graduate training. There are also careers in areas such as publishing that don’t require graduate study.