Mary Seiner, Staff Writer
“I want to help other people tell their stories…stories equal power; and often times, people have their power taken away from them,” said Savannah Schilperoort, a senior in her last semester at Saint Martin’s University.
Schilperoort looks back on her life and the changes she has undergone as she moved away from her home and into an environment where mental, emotional, and spiritual opportunities have enabled her to mature into the person she is today.
Schilperoort began her freshman year as a Biology major, but then decided during her sophomore year to study English instead. As Schilperoort disliked the idea of her time and efforts in Biology classes going to waste, a minor in the subject will accompany her English degree. Olivia Archibald, Ph.D., a retired English professor from Saint Martin’s, urged Schilperoort to excel at what she enjoys rather than force herself into a career path that would be less gratifying.
Schilperoort shared the question that convinced her to live life how she dreamed: “Why are you forcing yourself to do something that you don’t want to do, and rather do something you are meant to do?”
Since the age of 10, Schilperoort has nursed a love of editing, which has remained with her for years. It is in part because of her drive to edit that she has found a calling in English.
Reading autobiographies has added to her passion of editing because they tell a side of a person’s life that compel readers to exercise compassion and empathy. Autobiographers share what their readers want to know and yet, at the same time, they unveil real, honest experiences. Schilperoort believes that, besides reading, watching movies and TV are other great ways to digest impactful stories.
Many films are adaptations of novels so they serve as additional outlets to share stories for the public to enjoy. Especially in the modern-day film industry where female directors are gaining influence little by little, critical stories founded by female directors fascinate Schilperoort, as both genders have substance to offer social, psychological, philosophical, and literary conversations.
After receiving a membership with the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society in her sophomore year, Schilperoort steadily climbed the leadership ladder in Saint Martin’s English Club. During her junior year, Schilperoort secured the Vice President position of the English Club, and was also elected as the Senator of Arts and Sciences for the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University. Her sophomore year, Schilperoort studied abroad in Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark on the “Study Abroad to Northern Europe,” also known as the “Sociology in Scandinavia” trip, led by David Price, Ph.D.
Since then, she has been addicted to travel, and studied abroad again in her junior year at the North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering near Beijing, as part of the Office of International Programs and Development’s Chinese Cultural Exchange Program.
Now, as President of Saint Martin’s English Club, Schilperoort will travel to the 2020 Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society Convention in Las Vegas, Nev. on Mar. 24-29 to represent Saint Martin’s University. She will present her paper titled “The Fairy Moon” that was written in a Gender and Sexuality literature course, and inspired by one of Charlotte Brontë’s most influential novels, “Jane Eyre.”
Schilperoort stated that coming to Saint Martin’s allowed her to make inspiring relationships with students and professors alike. Saint Martin’s professors are especially dedicated to helping students succeed and care about the wellbeing and education of their students. Schilperoort imagines that had it not been for mentors and guidance, she would not have grown as much as she did while attending university. However, because Saint Martin’s focuses on educating the whole person through their foundational Benedictine values of faith, reason, service, and community, she has been able to thrive during her time at the school.