Bethany Lee, who taught English 104, gave Cynthia Yankauskas the momentum to reconsider her major and pursue her dream of becoming a writer. 

It was Yankauskas’ first college course and she didn’t know what to expect. She got more than she bargained for. 

“That class was … the defining moment that determined I should change my major,” said the junior Liberal Studies major.

“She told me things I hadn’t thought of,” said Yankauskas. “She gave me tips on how to write a paper that I didn’t think to do. Which is how I came out with the essay that I did, and to submit the essay to Furnace [a quarterly literary magazine], which I knew nothing about.”

“Alaska, the Most Dangerous State,” an essay discussing the violence and rape suffered by Alaskan native women, was published in 2020.

Getting published gave Yankauskas the confidence she needed. It lit a fire in her. 

“Becoming a writer and publishing work… ticked off the box… but that’s not enough for me,” said Yankauskas. ”To me, it is a springboard for where I can go.”

English 104 was the first of several courses that led to her changing her major [Healthcare Administrator]. She decided to become a Liberal Studies major to utilize all the courses she had already completed. She didn’t want to go in just one direction because that is not who she is as a person. 

“I was able to start to be myself and say what I wanted in the essay,” said Yankauskas. “Maybe no one read it, I don’t care.” But maybe someone read it and cared. We’ll see.” 

Though finding her written voice was an exciting new experience, she had dreamed about it for a very long time.

“I have wanted to be a writer since I was three or four years old,” said Yankauskas.

“I’m not saying I’d make it and be on a best sellers list, but I’ve been able to complete quite a few things in my life. …I feel like I’ve got a chance.”