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Jennifer Freides

Screenwriter, Class of '91

How would you describe the value of an English degree in your career/life?

I am a screenwriter, and I am trained as a lawyer. As an English major at the U-M, I learned to read fast, write well, manage my time, think critically, organize my thoughts and speak with clarity. These things were very helpful in law school on a practical level, but they've also been beneficial to my life beyond school. Thirty years out, I find that I still use these skills with great frequency. In my role as a board member of non-profit organizations, I am able to craft and communicate our missions. As a writer, I appreciate the value of self-expression. When I meet smart people who love literature as much as I do, I am confident in my contribution to the discussion. Finally, in my role as a mother of six, I am able to
juggle various schedules (as well as personalities) and keep everyone on task. I belong to two book clubs, and the friendships I have developed there will carry me into old age. Even with a U-M English degree, I'm hard pressed to describe the extraordinary value of that.

Who were some of your favorite professors/classes and why?

My favorite class was Professor Weisbuch's American Lit -- I just remember feeling so excited and connected to the material that I could barely contain my enthusiasm. The class I reference the most when talking about other books was a class on racism and misogyny in Shakespeare. I don't remember who taught it,but the concepts stuck with me.