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Ilse Eskelsen

Name: Ilse Eskelsen
Major: English
Minor: French
Graduation: April 2026
Instagram: @ilsetheimpaler

A little while before I left for college, I found a box in my mom’s room filled with slips of paper. Apparently, when I was in preschool, my little co-op class wrote each other a bunch of compliments, and while most of mine were a politer version of calling me bossy, my favorite was this: “You are very good at making things up.” I’ve loved storytelling for as long as I can remember, so I appreciate the compliment. I wrote three crappy chapters of probably a dozen books before I finished my first crappy novella, and then I wrote a bunch of mediocre novels, and then I did enough editing and practicing and killing of my darlings to end up with work I’m genuinely proud of. Writing has always felt like the thing I’m supposed to do, but I also want to study how other people tell their stories in all kinds of mediums. I think there’s something incredible in the way that fiction can build empathy and explore the big, universal questions we all share. That’s something I want to dedicate my life to understanding, and that’s a canon I want to add to.

What has been the most significant plot twist in your life?

On August 26, it will have been ten years since my family moved from Silver Spring, Maryland, to Stuttgart, Germany. (There’s my forever “Fun Fact About Me.”) Living in Germany was an amazing opportunity—it was five years of travel and castles and Weihnachtsmarkts—but it was also really, really hard; I’d guess that transplantation always is. There was loneliness and anxiety, and my family fell apart, but we came back together more deeply connected than we’d ever been. For better or worse, those were the years I became a person, and I’ll always be grateful for both the good things and the bad things that helped me grow.

All modesty aside, what are you better at than 90% of people?

I'm pretty good at trivia (for instance, I've won my fair share of Kahoots), but especially when it comes to, like, the Tudors, Louisa May Alcott, and Pete Davidson's love life.

What’s one item on your bucket list?

I love A Room with a View, so I desperately want to go to Florence. The Arno! Santa Croce! The vague yet life-changing spirit of Italy! I wouldn't mind an inter-class romance that defines the spirit and tensions of an age, but that's optional.

Why did you decide to join the Honors Program?

I wanted the most intellectual depth I could get out of my college experience, for one, but I’m also really interested in interdisciplinary work. I don’t want to leave all these ways of knowing on the table just because I only have one major; I want to engage with all sorts of fields and epistemologies. Also, I got really excited about Unexpected Connections courses during my college visit, when I was able to sit in on a section of Discovering Yourself in Your Place

What has been your favorite Honors Experience?

I learned so much from HONRS 120. It really helped me understand the importance of interdisciplinary solutions to multifaceted issues better than I otherwise could've, and my knowledge of the root problem I researched is so much deeper than it was before I started

What is your next step in Honors?

I am currently taking my Unexpected Connections classes; right now, it's HONRS 220, Supernatural Creatures in Life and Literature