Writing Other’s Wrongs: An Interview with Stephanie Wesson, Peer Writing Assistant
Stephanie Wesson, currently a Junior, has been working as a peer writing assistant since the beginning of Sophomore year. Peer writing assistants combine demonstrated writing ability and strong interpersonal and oral communication skills with intellectual curiosity and a genuine desire to mentor and learn from others.
Working as a peer writer is Stephanie’s first job with the SEO. Steph says she applied for the job because she loves writing, and “wanted to be involved with teaching the writing process”. Stephanie’s favorite part of the job is seeing the entire writing process unfold for a student, which happens over multiple meetings, “First we’ll brainstorm, then discuss research, then thesis, then drafts– 1, 2, 3– it’s great”. Steph also appreciates the flexibility in the schedule because she can set up what times she’s free to meet with students.
Although she sometimes have shifts in Ladd, Stephanie’s day as a peer writer with the FYS she works with involves sending out an email to the class, meeting with a few students about the progress of their research topics, and checking in with the professor once a week. Stephanie also uses email correspondence often with the students to answer questions they may have as they work.
When asked if her job has helped her foster any news skills, Stephanie responded that “being a peer writing assistant definitely helped my skills in teaching on a one-to-one basis, which might be something I consider in the future.” The job has also helped with Steph’s communication skills.
“It is difficult to bring someone from point A to point B when you have different brains that think in different ways. Learning how to bridge that inevitable gap is something this job requires, and I’m pretty sure every job requires it to some extent.” Patience and appreciation for the way others think also goes hand in hand with communication as a peer writing assistant.
“Something we’ve been taught in our training is to flip the usual emphasis in higher education to its converse; where everywhere else we are told to be critical, here, we should be generous.” As a peer writing assistant, Stephanie has been taught that assuming each student has good ideas, and assuming they are working hard, really pays off and is a good way to approach people in all areas of life.
Through this job, Stephanie has learned that she really loves teaching, and has confirmed for her how much she really loves writing.“Sometimes I think I shouldn’t be having as much fun as I am- especially when I’m busy and stressed and have other things to do- but I really don’t get frustrated at work, and I think it’s because I genuinely enjoy the ‘work’ part of it”.