From UW-Madison Writing Fellows Alumni

Sample Responses

In response to current survey question #2–Of the abilities, values, or skills that you listed above [in resonse to question #1], would you illustrate those that strike you as most meaningful by sharing an episode or event that took place during your time as a tutor or a trainee?

From a student who’d graduated three years before from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who’d been an undergraduate writing tutor for four semesters.  Was a communication arts and religious studies major at Wisconsin.  Currently an M.Div. graduate student.

Lots of little episodes and events come to mind, but what is most striking to me is all the opportunities that opened up!   In my internship on Wall Street between my junior and senior year, I was immediately funneled to the “content” division, entrusted with writing articles I knew *nothing* about, simply because the management had confidence in my ability to write.  During my year-long service in rural Idaho (AmeriCorps term), I gained a great deal of experience writing grants, and even coaching the District Court Judge on her writing . . . I remember one day I even sat down with her (a successful judge with much experience) and conducted what amounted to a WF [writing-fellows tutoring] session, helping her highlight her main idea, then critically examine how her sentence structures supported and/or detracted from that trajectory.   This year, as I finish my fourth semester in seminary, I specifically noticed on my written evaluations from faculty that they found my writing “deft” and “a pleasure.”  At my Field Education site (Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, largest Pres church in the Northeast), Dr. Tisdale (my supervisor), wrote in my evaluation that my writing was one of the biggest supporting components of my promise as a powerful preacher and teacher.  In pastoral care situations, especially in the context of an urban affluent congregation, my ability to carefully construct email communiqué has proved invaluable as well.

In response to these examples, a naysayer might claim, “well, I bet if you looked at her grades and academic evaluations before her experience in the Writing Fellows program, you’d see that writing and communicating has always been her strength.”  In a way, this might be a true.  However, I know for certain that before 316 [the training seminar for writing fellows at Madison] and grappling with my first “Fellowing” experiences, I did not have nearly the confidence I do now in looking at sentences, paragraphs, an entire paper as a whole and quickly evaluating strengths and weaknesses.  I did not necessarily feel equipped to help others with writing, nor did I have the security I now possess in accepting (eagerly!) criticism of my own writing from others!

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In response to current survey question #5–Do any of the qualities you listed in question one play a role in your social or family relationships? Can you give an example?

From a student who’d graduated three years before from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Had majored in biological aspects of conservation and in English.  Had been an undergraduate writing tutor (a writing fellow) for six semesters.

Socially, I think that increases in listening skills, empathy, and the ability to put aside my agenda (a listening skill, really) have been important to me. I am not a good listener by nature and I struggle sometimes to understand where people are coming from and why they might feel the way that they do. Writing Fellows developed an awareness of these qualities in myself. I think that the relationship with my wife has been most positively affected by this awareness. We are both strong leaders and very opinionated, but we have worked in the eight years or so that we have been together on ways to communicate and listen.