We Are English Majors: Nicolas Fehrenbach

Nicolas is an Aggie football player who’s been devoting his free time to a new club on campus--Aggies for CureDuchenne. We talked to him about the mission of the club, being an English major with dyslexia, and some of his favorite experiences in the department.


Can you explain what CureDuchenne is, and how you're involved?

Aggies for CureDuchenne is a new club on campus that aims to create a social network for local men and boys that suffer with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne is a form of muscular dystrophy that is x-linked genetically so it almost always occurs in males. It is a fast-progressing condition that leaves boys unable to walk by their teens and many die by their 30's although advances in medicine have been extending that estimate. My friend Alyssa is the president of the club and asked me to be the Marketing Officer for it. The disease can be very isolating socially for these boys, so as a club we try to find things they enjoy doing, give them a sense of community, and simply hang out with them.


You've said that you are dyslexic; do you have any tips for getting through the English major?

Being a dyslexic English major certainly is somewhat of an oxymoron, but I've found ways to deal with it. I am allowed certain accommodations from the Student Disability Center although I don't use them that often mainly because I'd rather just find ways on my own to solve the problems that come with dyslexia. I always had a feeling something was off throughout high school, but never really said anything until I arrived at college, so I think finding ways to deal with the issue on my own in high school and still be able to succeed allows me now to not rely heavily on accommodations. There's certain small tips like reading out loud, using a colored film over the pages when reading, and understanding I read at a much slower rate than other students that help me find ways to get through and excel in the English Major.


What is your favorite book from an English class so far?

Most likely due to the dyslexia, reading and I are constantly in a struggle, so it is difficult for me to get into a lot of books and is actually why I am more interested in the creative writing side of the English major. However, taking classes that represent generations of literature has exposed me to a number of great novels I never would have picked up otherwise. A few of the English classes I've taken have focused on short stories which I really liked, but Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe would be my favorite novel I've read at UC Davis. It was in Tobias Menely's ENL10B class my freshman year. The class had 11 people in it and we sat in a circle and discussed the novels to a great depth. Because of that setting, I felt deeper fascination with all the novels we read in that class and Defoe's work specifically.