Class of ’24: Co-valedictorian creates the blueprint for students to share their stories

May 10, 2024

Erin Letourneau poses behind a table filled with books.Each year, University of 人兽性交’s Marketing & Communications department profiles members of the graduating classes. Students chosen were nominated by staff and faculty for their contributions to the life of the University. Click here for more information about 2024 commencement exercises.

Erin Letourneau's college journey is not just one of academic excellence, it’s a testament to her relentless pursuit of personal growth and community engagement, shaping her into an influential leader within the campus community.

Hailing from Allen Park, Letourneau's comfort in the classroom belied the journey she embarked on to discover her voice and leadership style. Majoring in English Literature with minors in Political Science, Legal Studies and Women's and Gender Studies, she emerged as a leader and was named one of two co-valedictorians this year.

Letourneau said this journey wasn’t a solo mission.

“I was a lot more of a shy, introverted person and I just really wanted to have the full college experience and embrace everything,” Letourneau said. “Part of that for me was (Associate Professor of English) Mary-Catherine Harrison. She has been the best mentor and advisor I could have asked for; she really pushed me and guided me in a lot of ways, and I don't think without her and without the entire English Department, I would have accomplished or been a part of everything that I was.”

Since her freshman days, Letourneau confronted the challenge of finding her place in an unfamiliar environment. Yet, through active participation in student organizations like Sigma Sigma Sigma, the Honors Program, College Panhellenic Council, Creative Writing Club, Greek Council, Student Alumni Leadership Council, Service in the City, Political Science Student Association and Rx for Reading, she began to mold her voice into that of a leader.

“You only have these four years to do these things because, after undergraduate, it’s a different ball game,” she said. “I found a lot of value by doing everything here, and it helped build a support system for me, and as I joined other organizations, I saw a lot of familiar and new faces.”

Erin Letourneau takes a photo with faculty in front of a large stained glass window.Letourneau has left her mark on the campus also, by establishing the University's Creative Writing Club, where students — including herself — share their work through public readings. It’s an extension of her esteem for the English Department.

“I think a lot of people who meet the English Department realize how nice and welcoming the whole community is,” she said. “I realized while we had our gatherings as a department, we didn't have a student organization. We have so many amazing writers, so a couple of my classmates and I thought, ‘we should start a club.’ And with the guidance of (Poet-in-Residence Stacy) Gnall, we did. We would do some meetings, some brainstorming, and just writing activities. It was a good way to bond and bring people in the department and outside the department together.”

She said it had the added benefit of bringing in students who don’t have the time in their programs to take English classes.

As she prepares to graduate, Letourneau's journey is far from over. With plans to pursue a law degree at 人兽性交 Law, she continues to embody the University's values of academic excellence, leadership, and service.

“It’s hard to conceptualize your success because we get stuck in the mindset of comparing ourselves to others. In reality, we should be able to be proud of our work and celebrate our own successes,” she said.

And that’s an extension of Letourneau’s philosophy about life.

“One of my biggest beliefs is that what you put into something is what you're going to get out of it. And so, I wanted to put everything into everything that I've done,” she said. “For the English Department, I've also done a lot of work — even more than I do poetry and the reading out loud. I've done displays in the library and all of our anthology books that are online. I created all of those.

“It's all about just having those experiences and those memories, and making all the connections I have through that.”

 — By Jorge Reyna. Follow 人兽性交 on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.