Q: What’s your background in Writing Centers? How did you first become interested in Writing Centers?
A: I’ve been working in Writing Centers since I was an undergrad. I went to a small liberal arts college in Boston. For my first experience as a tutor, we didn’t have an official Writing Center space, so we went to students’ dorms, the student union, and other places to do on-the-spot tutoring. My major was creative writing and literature, and my very first step in becoming a stronger writer in that major was being tutored. Realizing I had that resource available to me made it that becoming a tutor was something I was able to give back.
From there, I’ve worked in a lot of different Writing Centers and in a lot of different capacities: as a graduate assistant, working in administrative work. I’ve worked in Writing Centers with grassroots origins, like ones based in coffee shops that sprung from a student need for help with writing and workshopping, but I’ve also worked in very organized spaces.
The last space I worked at before coming to Rowan was a writing center that was embedded in a tutoring service center – a thinktank – so it was part of many different tutoring services. I love working in Writing Centers, and I love working with the people who work for them, and that’s one of the things I enjoy the most. It’s great to have facetime to meet with tutors and learn some of the strategies that they use in their sessions, as well as meeting students who use our resources.
Q: You mentioned a lot of different settings you’ve tutored in, and the wide range of spaces you’ve had. Do you have a preference for one kind of space over another, or one style you’ve really connected with?
A: I will never limit my ideas of what a writing center can do by the space it’s allotted, but a large aspect of that does come from my experience in being a tutor for a center that had a presence outside of one set physical designation. A lot of my research and ideas about Writing Centers has to do with the conversation about Writing Center space, and making space for tutoring centers across campus. I like to reenvision this Writing Center outside of its actual physical location. For us in the library, we’re able to collaborate with a lot of different departments on campus. There are many opportunities to work with librarians and use the Digital Scholarship library upstairs; we have opportunities to work with some of the research librarians. There’s also a lot of traffic here, so we’re able to meet a lot of students who use the library. We can collaborate with a lot of different people from this location.
Q: Is that something new for you? In the past did you ever have this amount of communication available?
A: In the past, with the thinktank, because we were housed in an academic tutoring center we were able to make those kinds of connections. This sort of environment poses some challenges for Writing Centers, -- “What can we achieve across different disciplines? – so that’s a kind of collaboration I’m looking forward to developing here, too.
Q: What have been some of your most recent projects, just before coming to Rowan?
A: I just finished my degree in Rhetoric Composition and Teaching of English, from the University of Arizona – which is a very large public university. We do see lots of students from all walks of life and all different disciplines. That was the university with the Writing Center embedded in the tutoring center, the one we were able to work with a lot of people across faculty lines. I was also a teacher as a graduate student, and I taught many different sections of composition, from basic writing to advanced composition – which is good experience to have coming to Rowan. I also do a lot of work in community archiving and community literacy, which is another interest of mine.
Q: Was there anything in particular that you noticed you wanted to improve upon when you came to Rowan? What areas do you want to see the Writing Center grow in?
A: What I’m seeing now that I’ve been here for a month is that this Writing Center is supported by the Writing Arts department, which means that we have a very robust community of student writers and professors who are very focused and interested in working with the community to improve writing. We have some amazing tutors, and I’d love for our tutors to be recognized for their work, so we’ll be working on a rigorous process of certification for the Writing Center for the College Reading and Language Association. Through that, our Writing Center can be recognized and our tutors can receive certification on different levels for the work that they do, notably on a national level. Those are some of our ongoing projects. Also, given my past experience in Writing Centers, I value the collaborative relationships we can build between this department and other departments and disciplines on campus. I’d like to start better serving some students who are also working in the College of Communication and Creative Arts; for example, students who work with texts that aren’t necessarily written, but are rather visual or aural, or other mixed media projects. I’d like to see how we could work with those students on their projects, and how we can train our students to take that on and improve our services overall in that dimension. I want to use the Writing Center to improve our presence nationally, because I think there are a lot of approaches to teaching writing here that we can highlight in showing other Writing Centers how we work. Also, I’d like to see both undergraduate and graduate students conducting research from the Writing Center, and align ourselves with some larger university goals and see how we can become a part of that.
Q: How do you feel about the atmosphere here?
A: We have a really nice setup, one that really reflects the kind of work we do here. There are the seminar rooms, for small group tutoring, and tables to encourage one-on-one sessions or larger groups; there’s a lot about the layout that’s conducive to what we do already. I can never find my ideas about what the Writing Center can do based on the physical nature of the space, but I think that the space and the work we do reflect each other nicely.