Student Story

Writing Speculative Fiction and Leading from Within

Tessa Culhane ’24

Simmons didn’t teach me that I needed to change myself to be better; instead, Simmons taught me that I have the capability to lead within me as long as I let myself enact that agency. Simmons University gave me the support to grow into myself.

An interview with Tessa Culhane ’24

What are the most impactful things you have done over the last four years?

In the last four years, I graduated from Cape Cod Community College with my Associate’s in Business Administration, and will also be graduating with my Bachelor’s in Literature from Simmons. Attending Simmons was my first experience going away to college, so it was a scary but amazing experience that helped me to grow into my own as an independent adult.

What motivated you to be a Literature major?

I’ve always had a passion for books and writing. Even though I obtained my AA degree in a different field and tried out many different majors, being a Literature major just made sense to me. My English teachers at Cape Cod Community College and my parents also supported me tremendously in pursuing the study of literature for my BA degree, so that helped motivate me to follow my passion.

Moreover, Simmons was my dream college because I wanted to matriculate into a graduate program at the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS). I love literature and my desired grad program heavily revolves around it, so it made sense to study literature during my undergraduate years. I am happy to say that I did get accepted into the Master of Library and Information Science: Archives Management Concentration program, so majoring in Literature turned out to be a great decision for me.

Please explain any research that you pursued at Simmons.

For my senior capstone project at Simmons, I decided to write sections of a speculative fiction novel, specifically a few full chapters and some general overviews of the remaining chapters. This has been a passion project for me, and it enabled me to enter into a conversation with some of my favorite authors and theorists while exploring different ways of structuring interwoven narratives.

I have learned so much from this project not only in terms of writing, but also in trusting my own skills and decision-making process. The senior capstone projects are really hands-off for the professors — we students are pretty much in control of what we do, how we do it, and when we do it — so, I got to show in my own way the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the course of my time at Simmons.

What was your favorite course at Simmons and why?

As a huge fan of older literature, my favorite course at Simmons was “Love, Death, and Fantasy in Shakespeare” (ENGL 121), which I took in spring 2023. Professor Emeritus Richard Wollman was so engaging, and what I learned from this course I was able to apply to many other subsequent courses. I also feel that I got lucky with my fellow classmates; we were a really great group that knew how to have fun but also have in-depth discussions about the readings.

Who was your most inspirational professor or mentor at Simmons and why?

It’s so hard to pick just one, so I have to name two! Professor Emeritus Richard Wollman was such a great mentor to me. He helped me expand my writing abilities and was always available to delve deeper into the readings and theories with me. Professor Wollman also talked with me about my academic life and possibilities, often encouraging me to pursue whatever was on my mind.

In the same vein, Professor Patrick Sylvain has been an amazing inspiration to me as an academic and as a person. He is a brilliant professor and, with his global literature courses, has helped me develop my worldview as a scholar. Professor Sylvain also helped me immensely when it came to applying for graduate school, and I’ll always be thankful for that!

What is your favorite Simmons memory?

Funnily enough, it was orientation! I was so homesick that I didn’t even initially want to attend orientation, but I wound up meeting one of my best friends there. As two transfer students who already had our associates under our belts, we became fast friends, and are now graduating together!

We’ve been through all the hardships of college life together over the past two years, so I now look back on orientation with such fondness — regardless of how homesick I felt at that time.

How has Simmons taught you to be a leader?

Simmons has taught me to be a leader by teaching me how to trust in myself. Simmons didn’t teach me that I needed to change myself to be better; instead, Simmons taught me that I have the capability to lead within me as long as I let myself enact that agency. Simmons University gave me the support to grow into myself.

What advice do you have for current and incoming Simmons students?

Don’t be afraid to look to your professors and advisors for help, that’s why they are there! Your professors want to help you and see you succeed, and your advisors want to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you. Simmons is there for you, so don’t be shy in using the rich resources they offer students.

Publish Date


Kathryn Dickason