Peer Tutor Alumni Project
During my time as Writing Center Coordinator at WCC, I reached out to former peer tutors to see what they were up to after graduation. Check out their stories below.
WCC Peer Writing Tutor
I never called myself a writer. I aspired to be a writer, but I didn’t think I could give myself the title. I didn’t call myself a writer, ironically, until I began tutoring college students with their writing in The Writing Center. As a writer who didn’t call herself a writer yet, I rarely thought about grammatical concepts and writing challenges. However, as a tutor, I was overly conscious of them. Going from creating and writing on my own to helping another person create and write was not an easy process. It took time to understand how to guide. It took time to understand how to guide effectively. Then, it took time to understand how to alter my techniques and tailor them to each new student I worked with.
Unexpectedly, my writing developed and became stronger. Thinking about concepts that were never on my mind before caused me to challenge myself in my own writing – the same way I’d challenge students in theirs. Also, reading an assortment of writing styles in students’ pieces of work fueled and inspired my personal creative writing.
During the time I spent as a tutor in The Writing Center, I learned a range of skills, many of which will follow me in my personal life and my professional career. Being typically introverted, I was initially scared by the human interaction required of a tutoring position. I worried I wouldn’t be able to relate to the all of the students who visit the center. Fascinatingly, I overcame that fear, and the interactions I had with students, although they were sometimes short-lived, impacted me immensely. Because each mind operates in its own unique manner, there was always the potential for challenges to arise in each new session. The students I tutored had differing career paths and differing levels of knowledge, so I gained patience while working on my communicative skills and my ability to adapt.
Patience came easily because I was a peer tutor; therefore, I recently walked in the same shoes as the students I tutored. Communicating and finding common ground with a student was only difficult because I had to expedite the process, for I had a limited amount of time in tutoring sessions. Lastly, I mastered adaptability through the hundreds of tutoring sessions I conducted because being a tutor sometimes meant going in blind. The uncertainty and the unknown once terrified me, but I quickly outgrew the notion that I always needed to be prepared. I adapted with every new face I saw and every new piece of writing I read.
Being a peer tutor and working in the center left me learning more than I could ever put into words. I gained a title: writer. I gained a second title: tutor. I thrived alongside fellow tutors and fellow lovers of writing. I gained confidence with every “thank you for your help” and “you’re a lifesaver” I received from a student. I blossomed every time I interacted with a student, whether it was in a one-on-one session or in a mini session in a developmental lab. Through countless sessions, I learned how to be patient, how to communicate, and how to adapt. Most importantly, I matured as a writer. The skills and knowledge I gained as a tutor will forever stay with me, along with every experience I had in The Writing Center.
WCC Peer Tutor
Who would want to leave an environment that is full of laughter, compassion, joy, and occasional sassy remarks? Working at Wallace Community College, under Dr. Randie Sessler’s supervision, has been an experience I will never forget. My co-workers have become an entirely new family I never knew I wanted. The love and support from everyone is out of this world. I am truly grateful for Randie taking me under his wing to teach and mold me into a better writer and human being, and he did so while protecting all of us from any form of danger as if we were his little ducklings.
As a peer tutor, we are to guide students and help them realize their full potential. We model analysis and open closed-minds to see literature - and all forms of writing - in a whole new light. For example, thanks to the training that I have received, I am able to explain to students that Marge Piercy's poem "Barbie Doll" projects how much stress women get put under in order to be considered “pretty.” In one session, a student reexamined this complex poem and saw that Piercy was talking about how everyone goes through an awkward puberty stage and we shouldn't be considered ugly because we're growing into our bodies. Likewise, we shouldn't accept the fact that the only way to be considered pretty is by injecting and cutting off pieces of ourselves to fit society's quota. The student saw that the poem is not just about a plastic doll, but real women’s lives. Over my time in the center, I have gained the ability to open students minds even wider and inspire deeper conversations about a variety of complicated issues. I feel as though I am able to transport them into a different realm of reality that they never knew existed, and that brings me so much joy.
There are many things that I have learned in The Writing Center, but the one thing that will always be embedded in me is that there are going to be people in this world who have so much faith in you that it will make you cry. Randie Sessler is one of those people. He saw so much potential in me that I never knew I had. He broke me out of my shell, raised me up to chances I would never usually take, and stood firmly behind me to catch me if I fell. He even pushed me to construct Open Mic Nights, which allow students to express themselves in a judgement-free zone through poetry, song, and even monologues.
I built a space on campus that nobody gave a thought to and it blossomed into something beautiful. I would have never known that I could bring people together to share something we all have in common and have fun while doing it. Randie guided me out of my comfort zone, and I haven't been back since. Randie’s poise, etiquette, and grace makes me proud to be his little duckling. Being a peer tutor at Wallace Community College has blessed me in numerous ways and I will always remember my teachings, my adopted family, and the love that permeates the center.
WCC Peer Writing Tutor
I remember being excited to take English 101 my first semester of college – the kind of excited that left me unable to sit still in class. I have always had an interest in writing, and in high school, I never felt challenged by my English courses. I was eager to learn. As a student in English 101 and 102, I visited The Writing Center with my own papers. I was nervous to venture into the center at first, and looking back, I have to laugh at myself a little bit. After my first session with a tutor, I left the center feeling refreshed and empowered; I had discovered a place where everyone loved writing.
I began working in The Writing Center the summer after I completed English 102. I was nervous because, as a student, I had seen other tutors at work. A part of me wasn’t sure that I could be as helpful and reassuring as my co-workers. However, that feeling vanished quickly - not because I suddenly felt more equipped, but because my interest in writing blossomed into a fiery passion.
Working in The Writing Center challenged me to think about writing differently. I love getting to know people, and one of my favorite parts about being a tutor was working with other students – whether that was in a one-on-one session or in a lab. It is one thing to know that each person has a unique learning style, but it is another thing completely to witness it. Working with a wide array of students gave me the opportunity to challenge myself to approach writing differently. With each session I had with a student, I felt myself growing. I began to identify myself as a writer, and that has given me a great amount of happiness.
When I was a student at Wallace, I always told people that The Writing Center was my favorite place on campus. Now that I’ve transferred, it is still my favorite place. I am thankful for all of knowledge working in The Writing Center gave me, and I’m even more thankful for the friendships I have with the people I worked alongside.
Currently, I’m enrolled in my second semester studying Communication Studies at the University of Montevallo, and I’m happy to report that I am continuing my career as a peer tutor! My time in The Writing Center showed me that I do not want writing to be just a hobby. I recently declared a minor in Professional Writing & Rhetoric, and I am so excited to see what the future holds.
Sparks Peer Writing Tutor
Working at The Writing Center has been one of the most rewarding, fun, dynamic, influential, and creative jobs that I’ve ever had. It is rare to find a group with so much love and growth in its core, and I feel blessed to have been a part of it.
I was sitting in a speech class when I first heard about The Writing Center. A smiling, upbeat woman named Sarah Newman (now, Sarah Alsammani) gave a presentation on the “new,” “exciting,” “helpful,” and “friendly” service on campus. I was involved with the campus through organizations and leadership already, and I was inspired to see someone describe their work here with such sincere joy. It left enough of an impression on me that I wanted to learn more about them, and I applied to work there soon after.
Sarah set up an interview with me and her supervisor. I could tell right away that they were people I wanted to work for. They were interested and appreciative in what I had to offer the group, and the feeling was mutual. I found the job’s mission admirable, and was thrilled to see their zeal to develop students.
We had a special bond with many of our students. Several of our “regulars” came to our lab to work on their papers, and sometimes just to tell us about their day. Some of my favorite tutoring sessions revolved around our untraditional students. A local factory shut down, and many of its former workers came to Wallace to get a degree. Some of those former workers went from never using a computer to making high grades and graduating with their degrees. As Forest Gump would say, it was “like a box of chocolates” because you never knew what you were going to get in your next tutoring session. You could be working with someone who was already doing well in their classes one session, then be working with someone who needed patient help with sentence structure thirty minutes later. The coordinators were masterful at utilizing our unique qualities to connect with students from varying backgrounds and need levels. Sometimes matching the right student to the right tutor was what the student needed to grasp a concept. Many students had assignments where they addressed very personal topics like death of a loved one, former domestic abuse, health problems, discrimination, etc. There are few situations where you can bond so quickly with someone you’ve never met before, and it surprised me how often these moments occurred there. My fellow tutors and I also had the chance to see students shine as the time you spent together bears the fruit of success.
In my time there, I got to work with some of the best individuals I have ever met. Whether through staff meetings, office conversations, or co-tutoring, the beautiful spectrum of the tutors was constantly on display. Even for those who weren’t the hugging type, the group carried an essence of a “A walking hug.” Besides being educationally driven, many of the tutors were skilled in art, technology, music, fashion, etc. Every tutor I met during my time left me with a feeling that they would do great things.
The Writing Center, by far, has given me the biggest creative outlet out of all organizations I have ever been a part of. Early in my time there, Sarah and I discussed hosting an Open Mic event to advertise The Writing Center, and to give our students a platform to showcase their creativity. We made a game plan and started working on poems, short writings, songs, etc. We didn’t know how well it would go on our small campus, but it BOOMED. It became a community tradition here, and students/staff came out each year to participate and enjoy the original writings/storytelling/live-music. In addition to the Open Mic Event, The Writing Center enabled me to work on presentations, animation, Book Club leadership, voice acting, and so many other projects. They were always open to exploring different mediums to accomplish our goals.
Maybe it attracted the best people to work there, but I’d like to think that it brought out the best in all of us - no matter where we started from. You can’t help but be great when you are surrounded by people who are so accomplished and yet are so internally beautifully that they choose to walk with you through the scary parts of the college journey.
WCC Peer Writing Tutor
People often get a strange look on their face when I tell them my major is Wildlife Ecology and Management and that I also just started working at the Miller Writing Center here at Auburn. Many seem to think the two have nothing to do with each other or that working at a writing center is only relevant if seeking an English degree. However, that could not be further from the truth. The skills I gained from working at The Writing Center at Wallace College - and hope to further develop here at Auburn - are certainly connected to any future path a student could take; learning how to adapt to the curve balls and communicate thoughts and ideas through writing is a skill required over all platforms, including my own. I was fortunate enough to have worked at the Wallace Writing Center and be among one of the best writing communities who taught me that I, as a writing tutor, can be a benefit to others and that helping others become better writers would in turn benefit me.
Besides improving my grammar and personal writing process, working at The Writing Center has developed my communication skills—both professionally and student-to-student. Not only has working side-by-side with students allowed me to establish deeper connections with my peers, but it has also led me to discover different ways to explain core writing principles. A key part of communication essential to any future assignment or career is knowing the subject matter well enough to find an effective way to explain it to another person. This idea has been helpful to me from class to class as well as on a professional level. I can communicate my ideas more clearly and concisely to others, such as professors and employers, by taking the time to think through the content, structure, and grammar of my composition until finding the best approach—all of which remained unknown to me until becoming a tutor at the Wallace Writing Center.
Another important life skill I did not truly understand until I started working at the Writing Center was the ability to adapt. I found out fairly quickly that preparing for every situation is simply impossible. Every tutoring session is different partially because tutors assist students from all disciplines and backgrounds. At first, I felt out of my element because I feared I would not know enough about a given subject to help students taking courses I never did. As I continued my work at the writing center, my coworkers and personal experience helped me find the best way to deal with these situations: take a step back, analyze what I do know, and apply that piece of versatile knowledge the best I can. The Writing Center helped me realize that I actually know more than I think and that my general knowledge of writing and communication can be used to help students across the board.
Working at the Writing Center was most definitely the best part about attending Wallace Community College. Sure, I may be biased, but the Writing Center is one of the best campus resource because it is so useful to all students in that it helps them with college assignments as well as professional goals, no matter the direction they may be going. The Writing Center has the most incredible staff who is extremely comfortable with all students and all writing. The Writing Center staff at Wallace Community College also constantly finds ways to improve tutoring methods and expand their knowledge so as to pass on this knowledge to their students during a session. This unceasing dedication from the community of tutors at The Writing Center towards their students shows the center’s overall commitment to continually improve and develop The Writing Center and the students that go there.
Writing flows into all aspects of life, whether it be at school, home, or the workplace. When students choose to go to a writing center, they are choosing to improve their ability to find a job, communicate through researching, understanding, and explaining information, or place thoughts and feelings into words. They are improving themselves. In turn, I, as a writing tutor, soak up all of these same benefits and more while also witnessing fellow students improve and grow more passionate about writing, too. The Writing Center community is an incredible group of people who are truly committed to the betterment of the student. This is why I choose to work in a writing center: it is a service that benefits all students who walk in.