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Every student is going to catch a case of writer’s block at some point during their studies — and that’s when the Tuskegee University Writing Center comes to the rescue. Since its launch in August 2019, the center has assisted students of all academic disciplines, no matter the types of writing assignments involved.
Now in its permanent location on the third floor of the Ford Motor Company Library, the center and its tutoring team provides academic, professional and personal writing support. The center aims to help students build confidence in their writing skills while also sharing best practices on brainstorming, drafting strategies and rethinking their writing process. It offers one-on-one coaching sessions with any of its 11 highly trained undergraduate and graduate student peer tutors.
“Our goal in the Writing Center is to help students feel comfortable in their writing, while giving them a foundation they can build upon,” said Dr. Kristen Hill, assistant professor of English in the Department of Modern Languages, Communication and Philosophy — who also directs the center. “We focus on helping students become better and more flexible writers.”
Students can bring in their writing assignments at any stage of their creative process to receive feedback and help with writing and editing. Common workshops have included writing essays, grants and other scholarly work, employment cover letters, resumes, and personal statements for graduate school applications and similar needs — not to mention general guidance to help students improve their grammar and writing style.
Providing a starting point
For freshman nursing major My’Zhane Fesser, the Writing Center has proved helpful at the start of her writing assignments.
“I always struggle with introductions when it comes to writing essays,” Fesser explained. “So, I’ve gone for help with my introductions. That has gotten me off to a good start. I would finish my essay, then go back when I needed another set of eyes to help me edit my paper.”
Like Fesser, freshman English major Fallon Brannon needed some help organizing her thoughts at the start of her writing assignments, but gained additional help from tutors with overall writing and research strategies.
“Sometimes, I know what I want to say and know the message I’m trying to convey, but I just don’t know where to start. My peer tutor gave me some ideas on how to efficiently start an assignment — and even some general advice,” Brannon noted. “She also gave me some tips on how to make my paper flow and stay on track with what it’s about. I certainly will use her tactics in the future.”
The Writing Center’s services are not limited to students, however. Hill noted that even professionals need help with their writing, so the Writing Center also provides workshops to help faculty and staff with writing grants, research reports, proposals and scholarly journal articles. In the coming weeks, the Writing Center will host workshops to help faculty better incorporate writing assignments in their courses, and the center is open to suggestions for other ways to assist faculty in their writing needs.
“Writing Center coaches understand that learning to write is a lifelong process, and all writers benefit from sharing their work in progress with knowledgeable, attentive readers,” Hill added. “The Writing Center’s tutoring and coaching methods are multi-faceted, flexible, and above all, collaborative.”
Creating relationships around writing
Those being tutored aren’t the only ones benefiting from the Writing Center’s services. Saige Thompson, a sophomore biology major, noted that her experience as a writing coach is helping her better her own skills.
“Being a writing coach has allowed me to become a better teacher, so I can help others more efficiently. I know what signs to look for when my peers are not understanding something,” she explained, underscoring the importance of being able to offer students with peer mentors in specialized fields like the sciences.
For those like senior English major Grace Abu-Boahen, who plans to make writing the focus of her professional career, being a writing tutor is an excellent place to gain valuable experience.
“What I like most about the Writing Center is that, as an English major I have the opportunity to teach what I’m learning in the classroom. I’m helping my peers develop the skills necessary for their long-term improvement,” she noted.
Joakin Mori, a doctoral student pursuing a degree in integrative biosciences, said the peer-to-peer relationships the Writing Center offers factors heavily on his writing coach role: “I have the chance to discuss writing challenges students have – ones they may not otherwise be comfortable sharing with their instructors.”
Fesser said that peer-to-peer relationship is one of the main reasons she’ll go back to the Writing Center for additional help in the future.
“The Writing Center are very friendly and understanding. It is a no-judgment zone. They also try and get to know you as much as they can while you are there, which also makes it feel less critical,” she recalled.
Brannon encouraged her fellow students to utilize the resources offered not just by the Writing Center, but by all of Tuskegee’s academic support services.
“If you need help, please get it. Nothing is embarrassing about asking for help. Even though I’m an English major, I still need direction when starting papers or new projects,” she said.
The University Writing Center welcomes walk-ins; appointments are also available and can made by contacting Hill at email@example.com. To help prepare for a successful tutoring session, students are encouraged to bring a copy of their assignment and any materials needed to work on the paper.
Writing Center hours are Sundays: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Fridays 9:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center is closed for training from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Thursdays for training.
Follow the Writing Center at @TuskegeeWriting on Twitter and @tuskegeewritingcenter on Instagram for updates and helpful tips.
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