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Writing Center Marks 20th Anniversary as a Student Resource

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Los Angeles, CA, native Mikayla Torres ’18C was excited to come to St. John’s to study government and politics, but she didn’t fully acclimate to life at SJU until she made her way to the University Writing Center.

“I was 17 when I arrived on campus,” Mikayla said. “I wanted to be involved, but I didn’t quite know how—I just knew I wanted to help my peers.”

Mikayla decided to join the hundreds of trained student writing consultants who have assisted fellow students, staff, faculty, and administrators at the Center since its inception in 1996. 

“When the Writing Center first opened, we were in a cubicle with one desk and two chairs,” said Derek Owens, D.A., Professor of English and Director of the Institute for Writing Studies. “Today, we are a model for other writing centers at colleges and universities around the country. We create a writing culture across the University and provide a unique place where all students, faculty, and staff are welcome to discuss their writing with skilled student consultants.”

Located today in an expansive space in St. Augustine Hall on the Queens campus, the Center celebrated 20 years of writing support, research, tutoring, and education at a reception for nearly 100 members of the University community held on November 3, 2016.

When St. John’s wanted to launch a Writing Center at its Paris location, Samira Korgan ’15C, ’17G applied for the role of coordinator in her senior year. “When I piloted this program, I had to believe in myself and rely on everything I learned at the Writing Center in Queens,” Samira said. “My goal in Paris was to act as a resource for one-on-one mentoring with students and to assist faculty in thinking about how writing is used in their course work.”

Since she returned from Paris, two more student consultants have worked with Discover the World and Paris semester students and faculty. “I’m excited to watch this partnership continue to grow,” Samira said.

Over the past 20 years, close to 100 student consultants have presented their Writing Center research at regional, national, and international conferences. Michael Benjamin ’16C, ’17G has shared his research in six states in the past 18 months. He was recently invited to discuss “writing center identity” at a conference in San Diego, CA.

“The Writing Center at SJU has meant the world to me,” said Michael. “I’ve learned how to conduct my own research, write abstracts, and make the Center more dynamic virtually.” 

“After spending four and a half years as a writing consultant, I will deeply miss the Writing Center at St. John’s when I graduate,” Samira noted, “and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities it afforded me.”