The Minor in Writing Community

The Sweetland Minor in Writing prioritizes community. While those enrolled in the program each pursue distinct projects of their own design, we believe that those highly individuated pursuits improve by virtue of writers sharing the same procedural space. To exchange ideas, run experiments, try out jokes, consider alternatives, mirror audiences: none of these can be done in isolation, even if so much of the writing itself must be. Given that emphasis on community, being forced into remote learning might seem at first like a potentially insurmountable threat to the very operation of the Minor.

I think the fact that remote learning hasn’t compromised the Minor at all can be attributed to two things. The first is that because the program already requires students to design and enact their writing projects as websites, there’s a way in which meeting via Zoom actually better prepares the students for how potential readers will take up their writing than a traditional classroom experience does. The latter, while possessing all the virtues of direct, in-person engagement, does not actually predict the means by which most readers now encounter either writing or writers. For better or worse, the digitally mitigated space is now the commons, and its challenges and opportunities are those shared not just by students who happen to be enrolled in this program but by all those who participate in digital discourse. Working exclusively in and through that medium, as opposed to working outside of it and then importing the results, offers a more accurate experience relative to the writing and reading tasks at hand. 

The second element that helped the program thrive in the midst of remote learning is, of course, the students themselves. Their empathy for those experiencing the stress of remote learning was immense; the fact that all felt it in their own ways made them more alert to the experiences of their peers, not less. And I think it was also useful for the students to “see” each in their own environments rather than in the allegedly neutral shared space of the classroom. It was a useful reminder that every writer writes from somewhere – literally occupying both a discrete physical space and a unique point of view. To have the occasion to remember that while still finding ways to collaborate and create something shared just demonstrates the kind of commitment our Minors bring to the program and to each other. We are grateful for them and to them for demonstrating how unwanted burdens and crises can make communities even as they challenge them.

Raymond McDaniel
Lecturer, Sweetland Center for Writing

Reflections on Writing Workshop

Gina Brandolino

As relieved as I was to learn that much of school would be conducted in person this fall, I was (and remain) a little leery about going back to Writing Workshop in person. Writing Workshop is close quarters, and after more than a year of worrying about close contact—and having reasons to still worry, even if you’re vaccinated—I wasn’t comfortable returning to in-person appointments. But I’ve been delighted to continue conducting my appointments remotely. I used to think there was no substitute for digging into and marking up a physical copy of a paper alongside a student, but I’ve been won over by the ease and convenience of both the student and me being able to see the project we’re working on at the same time—on googledocs or our platform’s whiteboard—without one of us having to crane our neck or strain to see. I’ve also seen a number of students who are first-timers at Writing Workshop and who I sense were perhaps a little shy about visiting us in person; I think for some students, it’s less intimidating to talk with us about their work in the comfort of their own spaces.

Jimmy Brancho

I’m feeling much relieved to be back in the office for our Writing Workshop. I feel like I’m a more effective consultant in person. Walking up to the door to greet the student and do a little chit-chat to warm up as we walk back has always felt like a critical part of the routine for me. Reading body language is more difficult over the computer. I read a lot faster and more attentively off a physical page. But, perhaps the most important part is the free-form nature of making annotations and experimenting with structure. I’m often drawing or prompting students to draw sketches of their organization or arrows about how they might connect ideas or move text around. To me, leaving feedback online feels too organized. The comparative freedom I feel in the in-person conference is worth the risk, and I hope it’s worth the extra effort for the students too.

Increasing Accessibility in the Peer Writing Center

As we’re slowly moving back to operating mostly in person, this past year has taught us some beneficial things about how our center can be more accessible to more people. Being wholly remote for the 2020-21 school year has made us more intentional. It’s shown us ways to welcome more students to the center; it’s made staff meetings more inclusive; and it’s leveraged the affordances of online spaces to reimagine what it means to stay true to the PWC’s vision, mission, and guiding principles.

Our peer writing consultants take these things seriously, and everyone has worked hard to ensure our remote protocols make space for as many people in as many ways as possible. It can be easy to forget that not everyone in our University community has the ability to “pop on over” to an on-campus location. But we’ve learned that we can work around physical limitations. We did some self-reflection, and we asked ourselves some hard questions: Can anyone access any campus location on crutches in the ice, for example? Can you believe we ever lived in a world where someone had to go to a writing center session while ill rather than lose their chance to get help? We can overcome scheduling limitations. Not all of our students are “simply” students. Shouldn’t commuting students and/or those who work for a living have access to synchronous sessions? Shouldn’t consultants who work multiple jobs have some agency over how they “clock in?” 

Likewise, while the energy of full staff meetings is different when we’re not in a shared physical space, several more introverted consultants contributed actively to staff conversations in the Zoom chat when they might have been reticent to speak in a room full of people: we actually heard from more people than we might have in person. So, our community has grown. Our ability to add to the ways we follow the guiding principles of accessibility and inclusion and “learning through dialogue” has also grown. Since more of our consultants worked asynchronously than in “normal times,” we’ve also expanded our ideas about how we can make asynchronous feedback conversational even in a situation that seems one-directional at first glance. Finally, more of our PWCs are working on how to reach students we still haven’t reached. In short, the PWC continues to push pre-pandemic limits of accessibility made clear in lockdown. We’re committed to understanding each other’s varied experiences of being students at U-M and to providing ongoing flexibility in how we serve each other.

Shelley Manis
Lecturer, Sweetland Center for Writing
Interim Director of the Sweetland Peer Writing Consultant Program

Writing Prize Winners

Sweetland and the English Department Writing Program offer prizes for student writers in LSA. Sweetland’s prizes include: the Prize for Outstanding Writing Portfolio, the Matt Kelley Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing, and the Prize for Excellence in Upper-Level Writing. Instructors nominate student writing for each of the prizes. These prizes are awarded annually in the winter term.

First-Year Writing Prizes

View the 2021 Excellence in First-Year Writing Prizebook .pdf

Matt Kelley Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing

Sharon Kwan, “Cardcaptor Sakura’s Life-Changing Guidance”
Nominated by Ali Shapiro, ARTDES 129: Matters of Taste

Audrey Tieman, “Ratatouille the TikTok Musical”
Nominated by Elisabeth Fertig, COMPLIT 141: Great Performances

Excellence in Multilingual Writing

Chaewon Kim, “Liberty Renewed—Not Just Artistically”
Nominated by Scott Beal, WRITING 120

Yuyang Rao, “Is the development of hydroelectric power in accordance with the principles of sustainable development?”
Nominated by Shuwen Li, WRITING 120

Excellence in the Practice of Writing

Genta Gollopeni, “Remix to the Letter to Your Younger Self”
Nominated by Simone Sessolo, WRITING 100

William McGraw, “Gene Therapy: What You Need to Know”
Nominated by Jimmy Brancho, WRITING 100

Upper-Level Writing Prizes

View the 2021 Excellence in Upper-Level Writing Prizebook .pdf

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Sciences)

Puneet Dhatt, “A Review of Titin: The Titans of Human Muscle”
Nominated by Nicholas Garza, CHEM 353: Introduction to Biochemical Research Techniques and Scientific Writing

Kateryna Karpoff, “TGF-β1: Unraveling the Applications of a Versatile Cytokine”
Nominated by Nicholas Garza, CHEM 353: Introduction to Biochemical Research Techniques and Scientific Writing

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Social Sciences)

Angelina Little, “Research Proposal: Reevaluating the Economic Imperative to Learn”
Nominated by Nancy Burns and Ben Goehring (GSI), POLSCI 381: Political Science Research Design

Sahil Tolia, “The Social Brain Hypothesis: An Evolutionary Explanation for Our Big Brains”
Nominated by Andrew Bernard, ANTHRBIO 368: Primate Social Behavior

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Humanities)

Leah Marks, “A Review of PLA’s Sustainability as the Future of Bioplastics”
Nominated by Jimmy Brancho, WRITING 400: Advanced Rhetoric and Research, Writing and Research in the Sciences

Julia Van Goor, “A Handful of Walnuts”
Nominated by Jamien Delp, ENG 325: Art of the Essay

A Shout Out to Writing 100 Students

Despite the challenges of remote instruction, students in my Writing 100 class have done very well to engage in their learning by working with each other and reading and writing in meaningful ways. What follows is shout out to my students and their ongoing, insightful, and differently demonstrated participation throughout the term. 

This is a shout out to students like Gail and Maya whose willingness to voice questions, offer answers, and venture guesses during class created momentum for our learning. There are also those students who looked out for each other, or looked to each other, for their learning, like Mary and Jack. This also a shout out to students like Lesley, Bradley, and Emily who attended office hours or sent emails to advocate for their own learning.

By the end of an exhausting and unsettling semester, it was difficult for students to feel connected to the class, so those who attempted connections, like Ari, who has a pit bull, and Clayton, the only student with a country music submission to our course playlist (see below), made things feel more personable. Kim was the only student who kept her camera on during class meetings. Though I don’t require students to appear onscreen, it was still a little sad to see so many black squares, so Kim made remote teaching feel more connective. 

This is also a shout out to students like Rebecca and Shaila who wrote such thoughtful annotations in the shared readings that they elevated coursework marginalia to a craft. 

This is also for those students whose writing and research really stood out: from Doane’s laugh-out-loud literacy narrative, to Rushil’s exceptional analysis; from Nick’s unique subject for his research paper, to Olivia’s innovative take on the clapback as a rhetorical device; from Rylie’s nuanced analysis of social media, Christian values, and the presidential election, to Max’s clear practice of establishing positionality in academic writing. 

In sum, we had a successful semester.

April Conway
Lecturer, Sweetland Center for Writing

MWrite Goes Remote: In Praise of the Fellows

It goes without saying that this has been a semester like no other. From the transition to remote learning to strikes on campus to the outbreaks and impacts of COVID-19, U-M students have contended with a lot.  

Given all of these challenges, we at Sweetland are grateful for what we can view as successes of the semester, including our ability to help faculty implement writing-to-learn assignments in their MWrite courses. The MWrite program focuses on deepening student learning by using content-based writing assignments as well as a writing process of drafting, peer reviewing, and revising.

Over four years we have been running MWrite, we have learned a lot about how writing-to-learn pedagogies can help with student learning in a range of courses and disciplines. Our research indicates that these assignments can support conceptual learning and disciplinary thinking, while also helping students identify that what they are learning is relevant beyond an academic context (see Finkenstaedt-Quinn et al. JCE 2017; Halim et al. CBE 2018; Watts et al. CERP 2020). With the pandemic, we have learned something new: these assignments translate well to remote learning and provide an important opportunity for students to engage with each other by giving and receiving peer feedback

None of our success this semester would have been possible without our undergraduate Writing Fellows. Writing Fellows are the heart of the MWrite Program and work throughout the semester to help students in their courses.  The work that Writing Fellows do is complex, as it requires not only a solid understanding of assignment content but also ideas for how to explain the material to other students. Although Writing Fellows receive a stipend for their efforts, they often say their favorite part of the experience is the chance to help other students. Fellows are incredibly committed to helping the students in their courses and have noted how much they gain from being a Fellow, especially an appreciation for all of the different ways that students approach their assignment and useful skills in giving feedback and working as part of an instructional team. This semester, Sweetland supported 63 Writing Fellows in 8 different courses, including high enrollment courses such as Stats 250 (Introduction to Statistics) and Math 216 (Differential Equations). We were also able to expand our efforts to the School of Nursing, by working with Professor Megan Eagle on using MWrite in Nursing 420 (Introduction to Global Health). 

CH 216 fellows meeting the afternoon of the Wednesday U-M officially went remote.
Photo credit: Ginger Shultz

Despite the challenges of the semester, the Writing Fellows more than rose to the occasion by investing additional time and energy into their efforts. The Writing Fellows not only did more to hold their remote office hours by learning the ins and outs of Zoom, but also spent more time attending weekly meetings to coordinate our efforts. Writing Fellows were there to help answer student’s questions via email and Piazza and were more than willing to make accommodations when students had emergencies. 

Even more remarkable, the Writing Fellows did all of this while contending with their own challenges related to online learning, COVID outbreaks, and working from different parts of the country and even the world. Our experience this semester just confirmed what we already knew about our Writing Fellows—they represent the best of us and make us proud to Go Blue every day. We are wowed by their perseverance, their compassion, and their work ethic and are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a fine group of students.

Through this trying time, we can say this for certain: we have never been more proud of U-M students, for showing up and giving it their all. And we are especially grateful for the work of our Writing Fellows, who not only persevered under such trying circumstances but excelled. We thank each and every one of them for their help in making this semester a success.  

Works Cited

Finkenstaedt-Quinn, S. A., Halim, A. S., Chambers, T. G., Moon, A., Goldman, R. S., Gere, A. R., & Shultz, G. V. (2017).  Investigation of the influence of a writing-to-learn assignment on student understanding of polymer properties. Journal of Chemical Education, 94(11), 1610-1617.

Halim, A. S., Finkenstaedt-Quinn, S. A., Olsen, L. J., Gere, A. R., & Shultz, G. V. (2018).  Identifying and remediating student misconceptions in introductory biology via writing-to-learn assignments and peer review. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 17(2), ar28.

Watts, F. M., Schmidt-McCormack, J. A., Wilhelm, C. A., Karlin, A., Sattar, A., Thompson, B. C., … & Shultz, G. V. (2020).  What students write about when students write about mechanisms: analysis of features present in students’ written descriptions of an organic reaction mechanism. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 21(4), 1148-1172.

Larissa Sano
Lecturer, Sweetland Center for Writing
Faculty Director – Writing in STEM

Ginger Shultz
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
MWrite Co-Principal Investigator

Writing Prize Winners

Sweetland and the English Department Writing Program offer prizes for student writers in LSA. Sweetland’s prizes include: the Prize for Outstanding Writing Portfolio, the Matt Kelley Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing, and the Prize for Excellence in Upper-Level Writing. Instructors nominate student writing for each of the prizes. These prizes are awarded annually in the winter term.

First-Year Writing Prizes

Download the 2020 First-Year Writing Prizebook (pdf)

Matt Kelley Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing

Grace Brown, “An Open Letter to Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League: Concerning Your Editorial on the Equality Act”
Nominated by Genta Nishku, COMPLIT 122 

Jackson Mott, “Life Sucks, And Then You Die”
Nominated by Cat Cassel, LSWA 125

Excellence in Multilingual Writing

Hao Chen, “Reasons for Digital Piracy Behavior and Strategies to Stop It”
Nominated by Allison Piippo, WRITING 120

Kyungrae Lee, “Do Not Take Anything Slightly”
Nominated by Scott Beal, WRITING 120

Excellence in the Practice of Writing

Alyssa Huang, “Huángruìxīn”
Nominated by Gina Brandolino, WRITING 100

Dallas Witbeck, “I am a Twig in a Nature of Drawing: The Story of Finding my Major”
Nominated by Hannah Webster, WRITING 100

Upper-Level Writing Prizes

Download the 2020 Upper-Level Writing Prizebook (pdf)

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Social Sciences)

Max Steinbaum, “D.C. Dog Fight:  Principle and Pragmatism of the Bush-era Supreme Court”
Nominated by Jacob Walden, POLSCI 319: Politics of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Maryellen Zbrozek, “The Plastic Problem: What are Scientists doing to Reduce their Environmental Footprint?”
Nominated by Julie Halpert, ENVIRON 320: Environmental Journalism – Reporting about Science, Policy and Public Health

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Sciences)

Alice Sorel, “Cerebral Organoids: Promising New Window into Neurodevelopment”
Nominated by Jimmy Brancho, WRITING 400: Writing and Research in the Sciences

Franco Tavella, “Gene editing for the 21st century: CRISPR/Cas9 and Prime Editing”
Nominated by Qiong Yang, BIOPHYS 450/550: Intro to Biophysics Laboratory

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Humanities)

Jinan Abufarha, “عنوان” 
Nominated by Christine Modey, WRITING 300: Seminar in Peer Writing Consultation

Davis Boos, “A Second Exile: Mario Benedetti’s Absence in English”
Nominated by Marlon James Sales, COMPLIT 322: Translated Wor(l)ds

Summer Interns

Sweetland interns Anna Vanderberg and Briana Johnson spent the summer refining databases and analytical materials for both the Minor in Writing and Peer Writing Consultant Program. The two focused for much of the three months on making a more accessible database for the Minor in Writing Capstone Portfolios and designing a system to categorize each student’s project. They also surveyed and analyzed other campus peer mentoring programs in order to improve the experience of Peer Writing Consultants. Additionally, Anna and Briana spoke to a total of 52 classes about Sweetland services as part of their outreach initiatives. The two gained experience in creating calendars and checklists through Google Sheets, and enjoyed connecting with faculty and students during the Spring and Summer terms.

For the Peer Writing Program, Anna and Briana analyzed the surveys and created a three-page report that included pay rates, hours worked, and training focuses, which then was shared with other peer-led tutoring facilities on campus. For the Minor in Writing, the main goals for the database were to understand what program resources are being utilized and what resources minors could be educated on more, and how confident minors seem to be in creating multimodal work. Towards the end of the summer, the two created a promotional video for the Peer Writing Center’s new space in Shapiro Library and an informational video about Sweetland’s services.

The two enjoyed their experiences during their time at Sweetland’s, even when they forgot to take out the trash and their entire office smelled like rotting chicken! Beyond their forgetfulness, Anna and Briana built off each other’s passion for work; they worked hard to meet project deadlines and were open to learning new skills when it came to spreadsheets, graphing data, and video editing software. The two hope to take their new-found skills into their post-grad careers.

Writing Prize Winners

Sweetland’s prizes for outstanding writing in First-Year and Upper-Level Writing Requirement courses consists of a monetary award along with their work published in a series that collects the prize-winning writing in two volumes, Excellence in First-Year Writing and Excellence in Upper-Level Writing. Writing Prize winners were recognized at a ceremony in April 2019.

Excellence in First-Year Writing book
Download the PDF | Amazon purchase link

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing book
Download the PDF | Amazon purchase link

First-Year Writing Prizes

Matt Kelley Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing

Kate Glad, “Chuck Too Close”
nominated by Duygu Ergun, CL122 

Aditya Ravi, “Lunchtime Epiphanies”
nominated by Genta Nishku, CL122

Excellence in Multilingual Writing

Xuanwen Huang, “Toyota Camry in China and the US: Same Name, Different Cars”
nominated by Scott Beal, WRITING 120

Zhiyao Zhang, “How Consuming Transgenic Food Would Affect Human Immune Systems?”
nominated by Shuwen Li, WRITING 120

Excellence in the Practice of Writing

Michelle Karls, “How to Succeed in Writing 100 Without Really Trying (Disclaimer: You Should Actually Try)”
nominated by Stephanie Moody, WRITING 100

Anonymous, “Who I Am and Who I Want to Be Cannot Connect” 
nominated by Gina Brandolino, WRITING 100

Upper-Level Writing Prizes

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Social Sciences)

Samantha Goldstein, “Best Strategies to Increase Public Support for a Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages” 
nominated by Aloka Narayanan, PolSci 381 

Henry Schnaidt, “Colonialism and Environmental Discrimination in the Asia-Pacific: The US military in Guam and Okinawa”
nominated by Omolade Adunbi, AAS322/Environ 335

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Sciences)

Tim Arvan, “Climate Change Exacerbates Invasive Species Pressures on Michigan Prairies” 
nominated by Abby Potts, EEB372

Elizabeth Stanley, “Current research on exoplanets and the search for habitable worlds”
nominated by Jimmy Brancho, Writing 400

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Humanities)

Verity Sturm, “Tinker, Tailor, Author, Masochist: The Ishiguro Novel as a Field Experiment in Pain”
nominated by Andrea Zemgulys, English 398 

Kelly Wester, “Bitchin’ About the Kitchen:  An Intersectional Review of Gender, Race, and Class in the Restaurant Industry”
nominated by Supriya Nair, English 407

From LHSP to LSWA: Name Change for Lloyd Scholars

In Summer 2019, the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program (LHSP) officially adopted a new name: Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts (LSWA). Lloyd staff, in consultation with students, chose this name because it better reflects the program’s mission and theme (“writing and the arts”). Yet we haven’t made this decision lightly. Since our program has a long history, starting with the Pilot Program (1962) then transitioning to the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program in the mid-90s, we decided to hold onto “Lloyd” in our new name in deference to this rich history. The new name both honors that past and more accurately describes the program.

LSWA continues to offer innovative writing and arts classes, student-led clubs, poetry awards, leadership opportunities, and an annual writing and arts publication. Most important, the community of first- and second-year students, student leaders, and RAs remains a close-knit, supportive, and diverse group, where students can be creative, whatever their major.

Sweetland faculty provides LSWA students innovative and interdisciplinary writing classes. In the fall term faculty taught a variety of LHSP 125 classes that fulfill the first-year writing requirement. Winter term courses include such old favorites as Writing and Movement and Children’s Literature, as well as new offerings such as Playwriting and Dramaturgy and “Event Zero: Writing into Mystery.” Another winter term highlight: LSWA will showcase artist-in-residence Carrie Morris, a Detroit-based director and performance artist whose work combines puppetry, multimedia, and experimental theatre. Additionally, LSWA is working with the LSA Opportunity Hub on developing arts and writing related internships with LSWA alumni.

To learn more about the program, please check out our student-produced video announcing LSWA’s new name.

Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study

It’s finally done! After 8 years, 169 students, 322 surveys, 131 interviews, 94 electronic portfolios, 2406 pieces of writing, and untold numbers of hours invested in reading, analyzing, and writing, the book-length study of writing development among U-M students has been finished. This ground-breaking study offers a comprehensive portrait of how students develop as writers during their undergraduate years. Results of this study show that when they graduate student writers have an increased awareness of audience, a deeper understanding of the social nature of writing, greater ability to use feedback effectively, an enhanced capacity to produce nuanced arguments, and deeper understanding of the connections between writing and their own personal and social development.

Despite these general trends, this study showed that students’ writerly development takes many paths, and none of these follows a predictable or straightforward route. Students make strides as writers and then stall for a while. They do well writing in one disciplinary area and flounder in another. They feel confident as writers and then feel overwhelmed by a new challenge. Uneveness of writing development is particularly evident in the differences between digital and traditional writing. Some less experienced writers composed more effectively in digital formats while other stronger writers were never entirely convinced that digital writing was actually what one called “writing writing.”

The book-length account of this study is available in two forms: a traditional book and an online version. The latter includes an “engagement layer” that translates study findings into language accessible to non-academics, and a “data layer” that makes all the study data available to other researchers. Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study will be published by the University of Michigan Press, and will be available in January 2019.

Writer to Writer Series & the Minor in Writing Marriage of the Minds Creates Writer to Writer Student-Run Journal

This year two of Sweetland’s ongoing programs, the Writer to Writer series and the Minor in Writing, joined forces. Under the leadership of Writer to Writer chair and Minor in Writing Advisor Shelley Manis, Minor in Writing students have created a student-run journal focusing on interdisciplinary multimodal writing and processes. The journal’s name? Writer to Writer.

After hearing a desire from students for an extra-curricular project on which they could collaborate to create something tangible, Manis and fellow Minor in Writing advisors Julie Babcock and Jimmy Brancho set out to make it happen. This summer, they formed a working group to explore student interest, research other student-run journals, and imagine what Sweetland’s might look like.

Writer to Writer will be comprised of an annual print publication and biannual e-publication with polished student pieces, as well as a website/blog with monthly, more informal publications of student pieces. A core group of committed students has established an Executive Board, formed a student org, and sent out calls for content based on the following vision statement, crafted by the EBoard:

Writer to Writer aims to foster interdisciplinary creativity by showcasing the literary work of University of Michigan students in a variety of modes, mediums, and genres. We hope to create a space through which we can not only cultivate an appreciation for the minds behind the content, but also encourage collaboration and growth amongst our community of writers. By building a publication of strong, challenging, and engaging content, we seek to provoke readers and celebrate the power of creative expression.

Writer to Writer’s Executive Board and teams:
Co-editors in Chief — Jacob Stropes & Antonia Vrana
Outreach Chair — Aylin Gunal | Team: Will Solmssen, Briana Johnson
Art & Design Chair — Brooks Eisenbise | Team: Lauren Weiss, Antonia Vrana
Administrative Chairs (Secretary & Treasurer) – Caitlyn Zawideh & Christine Lee
Submissions Chair — Lauren Weiss

Look for the first electronic issue in December or January, and the first annual print publication in 2019.

College Admissions Essay Workshops at the U-M Detroit Center

Every fall, students from Detroit and surrounding communities come to the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center for free college essay writing workshops run by U-M’s Sweetland Center for Writing (SCW) in partnership with the Admissions Office and its counselors at the Detroit Center. The goal of these workshops has always been to create more access, particularly for those students who are first-generation and/or under-represented.

With these goals of access in mind, students can choose from workshops offered between September and December, with several offered before Michigan’s Early Action November 1st deadline. An undergraduate peer consultant from the SCW and a doctoral student from the Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE) run each workshop, which begins with general insights about the essay writing process, ranging from advice about choosing life events, to navigating how students can better “show” their experiences using voice and imagery. Students then participate in a collaborative peer-review of sample essays, before they are divided into smaller groups for more individualized essay attention on either the Common Application Essay or one of the three required U-M supplemental essays.

Elizabeth Tacke, a JPEE doctoral student who has participated in these workshops for several years, says about this experience:

I find myself most often helping students to see and articulate how the everyday aspects of their lives matter and are applicable to the content of Michigan’s required essays. I’m always most excited to talk with students one-on-one to hear how they are choosing to represent themselves through narrative, their aspirations for study at Michigan, and the sense of self the communities they write about have given them. I recognize the stakes of these workshops through each individual I encounter. For many students, admission to institutions like Michigan is often barred because of inequitable circumstances, yet every student I encounter has a voice, a story to tell, and experiences that would positively impact Michigan’s student population.

2018 National Day on Writing

This year, in celebration of the National Day on Writing, the Sweetland Center’s Writer to Writer committee collected thank you notes addressed  to our good friend, Writing, for whatever the wonderful things it has done for us. Students who visited the Writing Workshop and Peer Writing Centers, as well as students in Sweetland faculty’s classes and many other visitors to the Center, wrote notes ranging from utmost sincerity to tongue-in-cheek parody.  Here are just a few…