Graduate students can gain valuable academic and professional experience through a University Writing Center Graduate Assistantship. In addition to developing writing expertise as a consultant, UWC Graduate Assistants are able to edit the UWC Monthly newsletter, create promotional videos, develop online writing resources, present in regional or national conferences, conduct research, and teach in-class workshops. The UWC works with each GA individually to determine duties that serve both the writing center and the career goals of the student.>
As an incoming History graduate student, I did not expect to end up a Writing Center consultant. But when my grad advisor suggested it, I was immediately interested. Classroom teaching did not have a strong appeal to me but working with individual students did. I grew particularly attached to the Writing Center's tutoring philosophy of empowering students and facilitating their learning rather than trying to "fix" their work. Most of all, I loved the uniqueness of every tutoring session and the thrill of establishing trust and watching students' confidence increase.
Although I am not directly involved with teaching or tutoring these days, the two years that I worked at UWC still influence in my life. I approach my own writing projects differently-incorporating strategies that I learned as a tutor and always seeking good outside critique. I also communicate differently. Learning to listen closely, to build trust, to communicate gently with the goal of empowering another person-be it a student or just a fellow human being-has been invaluable.
When I was accepted into the English MA program at JMU, I hoped that my assistantship would place me as a TA for a professor. My goal was to teach at the college level one day, and I thought a TA position would be the ideal preparation, so needless to say I was disappointed when I learned that I would instead by posted in the writing center. But the UWC proved to be unlike any writing center I had experienced. Through one on one writing consultations with students from campus wide disciplines, I gained a better understanding of how to reach students than I would have toadying after some jaded departmental professor. I also received opportunities to give presentations on campus, learn leadership skills, and exercise my own unique talents and interests for the center. When I was later appointed as a course instructor, the professional development and personal growth I experienced at the UWC placed me far ahead of TAs in my ability to relate to and effectively serve my students.
As a former Graduate Assistant at the James Madison University Writing Center, I can only praise my former colleagues and give thanks for their continuing support. My time at the University Writing Center (UWC) was nothing short of phenomenal. The opportunity to work with students and their writing remains an eye-opening experience. The two years I spent working at the UWC provided me with much needed insight into not only the viability of peer-tutoring but also my own writing process. Without these insights, I would not be the student-writer or the teacher of writing I am today. Even now as a writing instructor, I continue to reflect on my experiences at the UWC as foundational knowledge that I can carry into my classrooms.