July Tutor Spotlight: Nicole Turner

A born and raised Jersey girl, Nicole Turner is new to the Atlanta area. She received her B.A. in English from Hood College, in Frederick, Maryland, is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, and is currently pursuing her M.A. in English at GSU, with a focus in Literary Studies. While her enthusiasm is 20th-century literature, specifically the novel, her indecision and fascination for learning to find her enjoying stories and literature from numerous eras and genres. She is passionate about her studies in English and finds her strengths in streamlining arguments and making them more clear and effective, as well as brainstorming ideas and thoughts. When she is not working at the Writing Studio, taking classes, or working as a waitress, she enjoys life with her husband, her cats and dog, and Netflix, as well as spending time outdoors (and, if she is lucky, at Disney World).

What brought you to Atlanta and GSU?

My mom and mother-in-law both moved from the Northeast to open a cabin rental and management business in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shortly after, my husband and I followed them down here, since we couldn’t handle being far from the most important people in our lives. I landed at GSU after realizing I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in English, and the love I’ve found for the English department here has kept me here, while I work on a PhD.

What are you studying and why?

I am studying TransAtlantic modernist and post-modern literature. I’m specifically interested in trauma theory and war narratives. I landed on this focus first through my experience with World War I literature; so much research had been done on the identities we typically associate with war (the traumatized hero, the woman who “stepped up” and entered the workforce in her husband’s absence, etc.), but my research looks at the relatively silent observers of war. Specifically, I have been interested in the wives who endured wars (the fear, nerves and turmoil associated with it) and considering what those experiences might have been like.

What are your goals for after GSU?

The ultimate goal is to wind up working in academia. My experience at GSU, as a Writing Studio tutor, has helped me realize that working in writing centers and in Writing Center studies could also be a goal of mine.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

My experience with writing, before tutoring, was a very insulated process. Working as a tutor is a reminder of the benefits of thinking about writing as collaboration. My previous university didn’t have a proper writing center, so to see the benefits of collaboration reinforced in my tutees writing growth was and is so powerful. Now, I bring my own work to our tutors regularly.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

A handful of students have thanked me in the acknowledgements sections of their dissertations and master’s theses. One of these students came to our writing center a few years ago, and the work they brought was about some science that I found completely intimidating (I still do!). I was shocked when this student came back to me as a tutor again and again, to keep working on this project. We must have had 20 sessions together. I was amazed that I was of use to this student, and when he thanked me in his dissertation, I was shocked. It’s a reminder that my unique skill set is beneficial and valuable, especially in a situation where I doubted myself continuously. Finishing my work with that student was disappointing. I grew as a tutor with each appointment I had with this student. 

How has writing influenced your life?

My thinking is pretty disorganized. This makes my speaking pretty disorganized as well. It’s sometimes frustrating. I say things I don’t mean to all the time, and I am regularly misunderstood. On top of that, I am from New Jersey, and I talk way too quickly. In writing, I manage to express my ideas without becoming frustrated by the problems surrounding my verbal communication. I can be more patient and give myself time to think things through.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

I’ve never considered myself the master at anything. I am always asking questions and am eager to learn and listen. I think a good tutor works without an ego and learns from each interaction they have. Tutoring, for me, requires that constant learning, that constant rethinking and reflecting. 

June Tutor Spotlight: Mack Curry IV

 

Mack Curry IV is a 3rd year Doctoral student at Georgia State University. He received his Bachelors of Arts in English in 2013 from Hampton University and his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 2016 from Old Dominion University. Mack currently serves as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, co-Social Media Coordinator for GSU’s Writing Studio, an Adjunct English Instructor at Clark Atlanta University, and a tutor for Now I Get It! Tutoring. His research interest is the use of Black English in Multimodal Composition assignments.

What brought you to GSU and Atlanta?

I came to GSU and Atlanta to start my PhD program.

What are you studying and why?

I am studying Rhetoric and Composition under the Lower Division Studies/English Department.

What are your goals for after GSU?

My goals for after GSU are to receive a full-time tenure-track position at a college or university, preferably in the Atlanta area. I also plan to continue implementing my research into future courses that I teach.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

I have learned that all tutees cannot be approached the same way. Students, especially at GSU, come from a plethora of backgrounds, and they have come in with a wide variety of assignments. Therefore, you have to treat each tutee as an individual case.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

The most memorable thing a student said to me was “I learned a lot today.” This was significant because we want to help the students, but we also hope that they learn something for the future in the process.

How has writing influenced your life?

Writing means everything to me. It’s been a major part of my life since I was 12. It’s what made me change my major to English as an undergrad, what made me pursue my MFA, why I’m teaching and tutoring today, how I express thoughts that I cannot vocalize, and why I haven’t given up on obtaining my PhD. It was taught me the important of effective communication. So writing hasn’t just influenced my life, writing IS my life.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

Stay on your grind, hustle hard, and NEVER let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Know that it’s not easy, but it damn sure (sorry for cursing) isn’t impossible. Also, take time to network. You can know everything in the world, but you’ll never get as far by yourself as you can with the help of others. Lastly, for my POCs (people of color), build a strong support system. We’re scarce out here, so best believe that support system is essential.

 

May Tutor Spotlight: Kathryn Dean

Kathryn Dean is a MA student in the Rhetoric and Composition concentration whose current research interests include writing center studies, digital rhetoric, social media. Though she loves to tutor all stages of the writing process, she particularly enjoys brainstorming, organization, and incorporating research. If you have a speech or a presentation coming up, Kathryn also loves tutoring those types of assignments! Outside of school, Kathryn loves exploring new areas of Atlanta, having a good cup of coffee, catching a film at a local theater, and admiring her beautiful cat.

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Newnan, GA. I moved to Decatur 10 years ago to start my undergrad degree at Agnes Scott and I’ve lived here ever since.

What are you studying and why?

I am studying Rhetoric and Composition, which I actually became interested in because of writing center studies. I love thinking and talking about writing, and this is a great field to do those things in. I’m also really interested in digital rhetoric, specifically how people work with remix and reframing on social media platforms (RIP Vine).

What are your goals for after GSU?

After I complete my MA this year, I’d like to keep doing writing center work, but I’m also interested in technical writing and user research. I’m open to new possibilities, but I know whatever I do will involve writing in some capacity!

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

I’ve learned how wildly different everyone’s writing process is. What works for me doesn’t work for my tutees, necessarily. Some people really love to outline, for example. I very rarely outline before I write because I prefer to discover things as I go. In fact, sometimes I’ll do a reverse outline to make sure that my structure makes sense. However, for people who like to do a lot of planning, an outline can be really helpful. The lesson I take from this is that it’s important to stay open-minded and flexible, and to have a variety of strategies I can recommend to people with different writing and thinking styles.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

“Wait, you can DO that?” I hear a variation on this a lot. Writing is a lot more flexible than you might think, and it’s ok to do things out of order, or change your thesis halfway through writing your paper, or move your paragraphs around willy-nilly, or play around with form. It’s okay to break the “rules”! Some of the things you think are rules aren’t even rules! Writing can be fun as well as painful and torturous. I love when a student has a realization like this; it’s a realization I had the first time I visited a writing center. I felt like I was getting some insider knowledge. As a tutor, I like letting people in on the secret, which shouldn’t be a secret at all: writing is flexible, adaptable, and awesome.

How has writing influenced your life?

Writing pretty much is my entire life. My relationship with writing has had its ups and downs, but it has always been a constant for me. What I think is really powerful about writing is how transferable it is. Every time I write, the experience is different, but I have so many strategies and experiences to draw on. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, writing is a useful skill to have. At the very least, it’s important to know how to communicate with others and express yourself clearly, and writing has really helped me be able to do that.

I think, too, that writing has taught me that I will never know everything. There is always something new to learn, some new way to think about things, and writing makes this abundantly clear to me.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is on a different path and theirs is different than yours. Also, do as I say, not as I do; I’m terrible at following my own advice.

April Tutor Spotlight: Shabana Sayeed

Hi! I am Shabana Sayeed and I am from India. I did my BA and MA from India and am currently pursuing my MA in literary studies at GSU. 3rd world literature, with an emphasis on subaltern and post-colonial literature, interests me immensely. I have a great affinity with grammar (including syntactical and structural technicalities) and creative writing. Also, if you’re an international student or L2, struggling to bridge between cultural and lingual dilemmas, come and see me to tear apart any squeamish thoughts and language barriers. Off-campus, I enjoy traveling, talking to my parents for hours, writing and reading novels extensively and dreaming about a utopian society completely free of discrimination!

What brought you to Atlanta?

I wanted to study in a foreign university. My keenness to pursue my Ph.D. in the USA brought me here.

What are you studying and why?

Master of Arts (Literary Studies). I am studying here to broaden my education through a degree from a foreign university. I want to be a professor and I look forward to working on my aim.

What are your goals for after GSU?

I want to pursue my Ph.D. and eventually become a professor.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

Tutoring taught me many nuanced and important things regarding education in a compact setting. It played a vital role in growing my confidence. It also taught me that some vital (often personal) problems could be handled well through one-on-one tutoring rather than classroom teaching.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

I worked with a mute student for the first time in my life. I thought I would terribly fail in tutoring him. But after around three sessions, the student wrote on a small paper, “You helped me like my own family member. I am glad you tutored me. I owe you a big thanks!”

How has writing influenced your life?

At this point, writing is all I do. Writing seminar papers and reading students’ writings have enriched me in a way I could not even think two years back. The same person who was intimidated by writing, kind of cannot imagine her life without writing right now.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

It is not an easy process to get here, especially for an international student like me. Wherever I am, this is only because of extreme perseverance and hard work. Coming from a different country and a completely different educational background, the only thing holding me back with support is hard work. To succeed, it is of utmost importance to hang in there, fail, repeat.

March Tutor Spotlight: Jeremy Simpson

Jeremy has a BA in English from Kennesaw State University (2016) and a Production Certificate from the Georgia Film Academy (2017). He is a first-year MA student with a concentration in Literary Studies and has a strong interest in literary and film theory. He hopes to help writers guide themselves via working with the mechanics and flow of papers, as well as with the acquisition of information displayed in the classroom. Assisting students in finding their voice and developing material to apply to graduate programs are major areas of enjoyment for Jeremy. A published poet, he also enjoys creative writing and assisting those who have an imaginative edge but need help with structure. Jeremy enjoys playing music, watching movies, and going on adventures in his free time. He will talk with you for hours about most things film, likes jamming out to all kinds of music, and always enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Valdosta, GA, but moved up to Kennesaw when I was three. I lived there until 2016, when I moved to Atlanta.

What are you studying and why?

I am studying Deconstruction and queer theory, applied to literature and film. I am fascinated by the things that can be done with these fields of theory and their potential to assist with the development of new theoretical approaches.

What are your goals for after GSU?

I intend to enter a Ph.D. program.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

The tutors often learn as much from their experiences as the tutees do.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

I sat down with a student when I was a TA at Kennesaw State and worked through the class materials with them. The light bulb suddenly went off, their eyes got wide, and they loudly proclaimed “I get it now!” Sounds cliché, but I’ll never forget their excitement for understanding the material or the feeling I got in helping them pick the information up.

How has writing influenced your life?

When I have conversations, I’ll think about what they would look like on a Final Draft screenplay document. I think about ideas for books frequently, and I have a list of ideas to work on for academic publication. Without writing I would really be lost in the world.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

Work hard, allow for self-doubt so you and your ideas can become stronger, and don’t give up on what you want to do. Three simple guidelines that are incredibly hard to maintain, but will lead to the right path.

February Tutor Spotlight: Joan Bañez

Joanmarie is a second-year master’s student of English with a concentration in literary studies. Her research focuses on how Indigenous critical theory examines relationships between trauma, travel, and identity in contemporary Indigenous literature. Although not a native speaker, Joanmarie also speaks Spanish and enjoys working with L2 students. Her tutoring strengths lie in practical grammar, all things MLA formatting (some APA), poetic analysis, and personal statements. Joanmarie’s favorite sessions include working with tutees on longer projects, such as theses and thesis proposals of various fields, scholarship or application materials, and research-heavy assignments. Once a Welcome Center tour guide and undergraduate at GSU, she encourages students to use her as a resource to explore the hidden gems Georgia State has to offer. Joan also enjoys dank memes and occasionally (spontaneously) cutting her own bangs. Sometimes they look good, sometimes not. Come be the judge and visit her at the Studio! 

Where are you from originally?

This one’s complicated. While I was actually born at Grady Hospital (perhaps its proximity to GSU is what drew me back here), I grew up in rural Hiram, Georgia. However, when people often ask me, “Where are you from?” they usually mean, “What’s your ethnicity?” To which I respond: I’m Filipina.

What are you studying and why?

I’m a Master’s student of English with a concentration in literary studies. My research primarily focuses studies of identity in Native American/Indigenous literature and literary theory through the lenses of transnationalism and critical race theory, philosophy of physics, and metaphysics.

What are your goals for after GSU?

I’m currently breathing a sigh of relief from having applied to Ph.D. programs on the west coast. Let’s hope I get in. Ideally, I would like to begin a Ph.D. program in English in Fall 2019 and expand upon my research interests with Indigenous literature to Pacific Rim literature.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

I’ve learned to be patient with tutees and myself as a tutor. It’s so easy to forget that writing is a process and that spoken feedback doesn’t always transfer to the page. Patience, to me, means reminding myself as a writer, and my tutees as writers, to not rush the process of creative or academic writing. Sometimes this just means approaching whatever we’re working on from a different perspective; this could include writing without the stakes of an assignment in mind, writing or recomposing in a different form or medium, or simply deciding to take a step back from writing at all and just talk.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

I can’t remember exactly what the student said word for word, but it was something like:

“So, actually––can we like not talk about writing right now? I really just need to be real and vent about this semester. It really just feel like I’m about to lose it.”

Me: “You and me both. What’s on your mind?”

How has writing influenced your life?

Yikes. “Yikes” as a good thing, though. “Yikes” as a visceral reaction, good and bad, to my own writing. Writing personal history statements and statements of purpose for Ph.D. applications this past semester really required me to sit down and get to know myself, outside of myself, on the page. This was exciting, confusing, frustrating, painful, reassuring––like many things in life. Writing, however, allowed me to get closer to a concrete understanding of myself, having also in mind that writing is always political. And stakes are always involved.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

Where even am I, really? Not to put my pretentious pants on, but what does this even mean? I’m first-year GTA who’s only a handful of years older than my students, who chose to begin

grad school a month after graduate school on a whim. Where I am right now is a state of becoming, which I’m convinced (and content) I’ll always be. My advice to someone who’s “becoming,” too, whatever that may mean to an individual, is to actively participate in getting to know your authentic self. Call yourself out on your biases, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, speak up for things important to you––even if that’s most uncomfortable, especially then.

January Tutor Spotlight: Beth Topping

Beth Topping has taught writing to students of all backgrounds at universities and community colleges. She spent eight years teaching academic research and writing to undergraduate and graduate learners of English before joining the doctoral program in Rhetoric and Composition at Georgia State University. She is comfortable using both MLA and APA. She also has a math and science background from her undergraduate degree before joining the English department and has taught a number of classes focusing on writing in the sciences.

Let’s get started with the basics, Beth. Where are you from originally?

I was born in the Chicago area, but mostly grew up around Columbus, GA, and Phenix City, AL. I lived in Auburn, AL, for over a decade before moving to Atlanta to go to GSU.

What are you studying and why?

I’m pursuing a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition. I originally wanted a Ph.D. in Linguistics, but after teaching Composition for over a decade and taking some rhetoric-focused classes between degrees, I realized Rhetoric and Composition is my passion.

What are your goals for after GSU?

I hope to obtain a full-time position that allows me to teach a range of classes, not just freshman composition or literature and gives me time for research.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from tutoring?

Patience. Everybody needs space and time to figure out what they want to do or where they want to go with a project.

What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?

I’ve been tutoring for so many years, I honestly can’t remember one particular thing. I do remember being thanked for helping a number of students with college applications, and being asked how they can thank me. I always ask them to pay it forward. We could all use (and do) a little more of this.

How has writing influenced your life?

I’ve always liked to write. A group of friends and I would exchange journals in which we’d write a chapter focusing on different characters in middle school. I never imagined then that writing would be central to my personal and career goals, but writing is always what I’ve enjoyed most about school.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?

Patience, again. It takes time to figure one’s self out. I took four years off between my bachelor’s and master’s, and six between my master’s and Ph.D. programs. I was under pressure to figure out what I was going to do with my life pretty early, but it wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I knew. I’m much happier that I didn’t rush into an engineering program or move away from my family when I was being pressured to do so. All things come in their own time, but don’t wait too long, either. When you know, that is when to do it.