Employees at the Writing Center
Undergraduate peer consultants Alison O'Keefe (who graduated this past fall) and Ian Cyr at the Augusta University Writing Center.

Center for Writing Excellence staff reflect on their work and research after success at regional conference

Several staff members of the Augusta University Center for Writing Excellence recently presented original research at the Southeastern Writing Center Association, a regional organization for writing centers and writing center practitioners.

The conference occurs annually every February, and all presenters are accepted via blind peer review.

The 2022 conference was held virtually, and the theme was “Present Tense, Future Perfect: Shaping Purposeful Writing Center Practices.”

Undergraduate peer consultants who presented included:

  • Kolbe Dolin, communication major
  • Alexis Diaz-Infante, English major
  • Morgan Hillman, English major
  • Christian Osborne, communication major
  • Ma’at Smith, English major
  • Dean Meyer, physics and mathematics major
  • Aaron Hayes, English major
  • Kaylee Klosson, psychology major
  • Lee Beard, cell and molecular biology major
  • Elyse Garrett, psychology major

Graduate assistant Summer Barge, a student in the Master of Education in Counselor Education program, and faculty consultant Dr. Kevin Lucas from the Department of English and World Languages also presented.

The entire Center for Writing Excellence staff attended the conference to learn more about writing center praxis and to support their colleagues.

Conferences like these not only add to staff members’ resumes but also empower them to see writing pedagogy as an important field of study. Dr. Candis Bond, associate professor and director of the Center for Writing Excellence, worked closely with students throughout the research process to ensure their presentations were successful.

“Presenters start preparing research projects in early fall and work continuously with me until the conference. It takes a lot of time and dedication to conduct research and prepare. Most of the presenters are undergraduates, and they are presenting at a professional conference featuring primarily faculty and administrators. It can be intimidating!” Bond said.

“But the staff always impress me with their commitment to research and their professionalism. They have important things to say. Their sessions are well-attended and participants are engaged. Many attendees follow up with the students after to learn more about their research. To me, that says these students are making a difference in the field, quite a feat for undergraduates and graduate students.”

Bond is especially proud of her presenters’ work because nearly a third of them are first-generation college students — a status that’s particularly close to her heart.

Listen: Dr. Elizabeth Huggins discusses strengths of first-generation students on In the Wild podcast

“I am a first-generation college student and administrator. When I was an undergraduate, I didn’t realize it was a thing to do research or work closely with faculty mentors,” said Bond. “As director, I try to normalize this kind of mentorship so that all of my staff have the resources and opportunity to engage in research related to the important work they do with writers on campus.”

Students gained much from their time at the conference.

“Presenting at the SWCA conference was a very validating experience,” said Aaron Hayes. “As a working-class and first-gen student, having the opportunity to meet with other like-minded students and directors to discuss the overlooked issues that students like myself face was incredibly profound. As a first-time presenter, I was inspired by the conversation and hope to further my activism for first-gen and working-class students.”

Morgan Hillman, another presenter, appreciated how the conference empowered her to challenge the status quo.

“Attending this conference has taught me that we, as writing consultants, have the authority to challenge the practices we utilize during consultations. Even though I’m an undergrad student, I feel that I have agency to question and improve pedagogy during my sessions,” she said.

Throughout the conference, Center for Writing Excellence staff were also recognized for their achievements. Undergraduate peer consultant Kaylee Klosson won the 2022 Undergraduate Tutor Award and the competitive SWCA Christian Cozzens Research Grant and Initiative, worth $500.

“Kaylee is an excellent researcher with great drive and initiative. I’m not surprised that she was selected for a competitive research grant and the Undergraduate Tutor Award,” said Bond.

“Within our center, she has a following of regulars who work with her weekly on their projects. They sing her praises. She is one of those rare unicorns who can do the detailed work of data collection and analysis and be a people person with whom everyone enjoys collaborating.”

At the conference, Bond was a featured keynote panelist. She spoke about her experiences as an early-career writing center administrator. She serves as co-chair of the SWCA-CARE Writing Center Certification program — the only writing center certification program designed by writing center administrators for writing centers — and is the vice president (and incoming president) of the SWCA.

Learn more about the future of Augusta University’s Center for Writing Excellence.

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Paige Fowler

Paige Fowler is a communications coordinator for Communications and Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at pfowler@augusta.edu.

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Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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