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Writing Home for More Money: Writing Center EStudio Provides 24-Hour Online Advice

May 18, 2009

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From left , student assistants Sarah Whipple and Lauren Nye, with Writing Center Director Jil Hanifan.

From left, student assistants Sarah Whipple and Lauren Nye with Writing Center Director Jil Hanifan.  Whipple and Nye were team leaders on the EStudio project. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

It's 4 a.m. The English paper is due in the morning. The question: What word describes harsh sounds that can be added to a poem through alliteration? UAlbany students are just a click away from the Writing Center's new EStudio, where the creative writing glossary reveals the answer: dissonance.

Since its inception in 1977, the Writing Center at the University at Albany has offered students, faculty, and staff a process-based approach to writing at any stage of the writing process. Working with writers in one-to-one sessions, Writing Center tutors do not proofread or simply correct grammatical errors; instead they engage the whole writer and his/her writing process. With suggestions about everything from writing your first anthropology paper or emailing your professor, to tips on finding local venues for sharing your own writing, the EStudio is an expansive “after-hours” resource for a variety of writer quandaries.

"What makes writing worth learning, worth talking about, worth practicing, is that it creates meaning and connection," said Writing Center Director and English Lecturer Jil Hanifan. "The EStudio is designed to introduce students and other visitors to the idea that writing is everywhere, and that even as writing is an assignment or skill or an aspect of civil literacy, it's also an opportunity to learn, to express, and to interact with a peer writing community."

Sarah Whipple, Jil Hanifan, and Lauren Nye on UAlbany's uptown campus

From left, Sarah Whipple, Jil Hanifan, and Lauren Nye discuss good writing. Whipple and Nye, members of the Class of 2009, are returning to UAlbany in the fall as graduate students in English. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Presidential Scholar Lauren Nye of Bronx, N.Y., saw the EStudio as a chance to help students who were either too scared to enter the actual Writing Center or who needed help when it was closed. “Dr. Hanifan gave us the opportunity to build a space that we thought would help students at any point,” said Nye, an English major and May 2009 graduate.

Nye helped develop the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the site. This section uses tongue-in-cheek examples of why good writing is important, giving advice on how to write a more persuasive letter home when asking for more money, for example.

Fellow English student Sarah Whipple of Chittenango, N.Y., was in charge of the Creative Writing section, and junior Matt Swenson of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., worked on annotated resources.  KellyAnn Fitzpatrick, the assistant director of the Writing Center, designed the Web pages, which grew from six to about 40. The entire Writing Center staff contributed to the revamped pages.

As Writing Center tutors, Nye and Whipple took an advanced methods course in English before stepping into teaching roles. Both Nye and Whipple plan to return to UAlbany – and to the Writing Center -- in the fall to pursue their master’s degrees in English.

"There is a lot about the Writing Center other students may not know, and hopefully the EStudio will help with that,” said Whipple, who also received her bachelor’s degree on May 17. “Students should know that we really want them to become better writers and that the staff is there to work with them." For Whipple, teaching writing to college students has become more than just a part-time job, as she one day plans to become a college professor.

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