Story by Cassie Reid
Sitting in the narrow King Center fourth-floor hallway, I debated whether or not I should even go into the Writing Center. Having just transferred from a small school, the idea that this writing center – surrounded by cement and a city of people – could be nearly as cozy or welcoming as that from my old school was inconceivable (if I’m using that word right).
It came as a pleasant surprise then when I was greeted by Yvonne Reed’s smiling face and the pungent aroma of brewing coffee. Circular desks were arranged so that there was no single point of focus, not the shelves of manuals nor the shelf of Legos, not the whiteboard with intricate dry-erase designs. Each person was solely focused on the student who had come in to ask for help.
On that day, Brandy Joiner was my consultant (they didn’t call themselves tutors, which I found nice). I came in with only an idea of what I wanted to write about, yet by the end of our time I had written a full outline with a concrete schedule for finishing the project with time to spare. It all felt entirely like my own work with Brandy there to guide me along, asking questions and gently suggesting thoughts I had yet to think.
That is the quintessential core of the Writing Center, the word “yet.” Elizabeth Kleinfeld, director of the Writing Center, both teaches and practices the growth mindset, ensuring that everyone who visits the center will be a better writer for it. Not just for English papers but for lab reports, cover letters or wedding speeches. Any arrangement of words has the capability of greatness. Such a philosophy has garnered massive, measurable academic success across campus.
Both as a result of these expanses and of my own expanding interest in helping others to
right (see, even consultants aren’t perfect), I was hired as a consultant at the center in January this year. I even had the honor of being coworkers with Brandy, and “coworkers” became friends quickly. Since that time, I have seen clients at all levels: freshman to graduate, poet to scientist.
My personal favorite development has been the launch of the new Roadways Into Developing English Skills program, or RIDES. Rachel Hawley and Melissa Root launched the program as an opt-in service specifically for English language learners to reserve a session every week with a specially trained consultant. I have the privilege of getting to know eight such individuals myself and learning along with them.
Between leading workshops, working 20 hours a week and taking class to learn more about Writing Center theory, my life has been immeasurably filled by this wonderful program. The only problem is that I no longer have enough time to go there myself!