Student Spotlight

Kaylee Gundling

 As the managing editor of “The Mirror & The Lamp,” vice president of Sigma Tau Delta, vice president of Writer’s Block, and a consultant at the University Writing Center, English Major Rebecca Gonner is heavily involved in the English Department at Wesern Illinois Univeristy.

 Gonner originally chose English because of her love for reading, but her view of the subject has shifted since she started her academic career.

 “My favorite part of majoring in English is all the critical thinking skills I’ve gained,” Gonner said. “Because I study English, I’m able to experience lives that I will never live, consider situations I will never be in and think from perspectives other than my own. Essentially, I love English because it teaches me to think in dynamic ways.”

“The Mirror & The Lamp” is, as described by Gonner, “a student-run publication associated with the Western Illinois University Chapter of the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta.” The goal of the publication is to report on the experiences of English majors and minors at Western Illinois University. They use a creative non-fiction approach to report on departmental events, interview students and share personal experience related to the English Department.

“I first became involved with the publication my sophomore year when Dr. Banash, the advising professor for the publication, asked me to take the position of managing editor,” Gonner said. “The publication had only been established the year before and there was lots of work to be done. I was very hesitant to take on the leadership position as a second year undergrad, but I agreed because Dr. Banash believed I could do it and that was good enough for me.”

Gonner talked about how far the publication has come and how new writers and staff have been recruited, the blog has been redesigned and the publication has been promoted at many English department events. “The Mirror & The Lamp” can be accessed at

Aside from “The Mirror & The Lamp,” Gonner is heavily involved in other extracurricular activities that pertain
to writing.

“I’m also Vice President for Sigma Tau Delta, Vice President for Writer’s Block, and I work as a consultant at the University Writing Center,” Gonner said. Sigma Tau Delta is the English Honors Society and hosts many events within the department.

Writer’s Block is a creative writing club. Gonner described Writer’s Block as a relaxed group that likes to have a good time.

“We see our group as a safe space for anyone to share any writing or other creative work that they wish to present,”
Gonner said.

Gonner talked about one particularly memorable Writer’s Block piece, which was influenced by her experience with the organization.

“Last year, I even wrote a short graphic story with 10 sections in which I saved the President of Writer’s Block from assassins who were sent to kill him while he remained oblivious the entire time,” Gonner said. “None of my characters had faces though, because hard as I try, I really can’t draw.”

Gonner can also boast that her name has been printed in the acknowledgments of a published book.

“The summer before my sophomore year, Dr. Banash contacted me asking for some freelance help with the bibliography for a collection of essays he was working on for Bloomsbury Publishing Company,” Gonner said. “So if you ever find a copy of ‘Steve Tomasula: The Art and Science of New Media Fiction,’ check out the 10 pages of bibliographic entries formatted in Chicago style.”

In the future, Gonner hopes to make a living through writing.

“Ideally, I’ll find someway to make money writing about topics I care about, such as breaking down gender stereotypes, body image positivity or rape culture,” Gonner said. “And if I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to do this far from anywhere that it snows.”