by Lindsey Taylor
I recall, when enrolling into IUPUI for the second time as a graduate student, getting the opportunity to apply to work in the Writing Center through a simple email. At first, I thought I would be too busy to hold a second part-time job as I aimed for a higher degree but decided to give it a try to see what the work and environment would offer. Now, looking back as I finish my final semester, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I regret not working there as an Undergraduate.
Many would assume those who have English (or heavily related) degrees would find the work we do at the center more appealing against those who have different majors. I thought so at first as well at the very beginning, however, the one thing the majority of majors have in common is the requirement to write papers, so I was quickly met with assignments from a plethora of fields incredibly new and different from my own.
After about a month or so of being exposed to different areas of study, I began to learn about subjects I had never considered. I was also exposed to various types of individuals regularly that ranged in contrasting personalities. My experience for consulting these diverse students would not only aid me in my teaching abilities, but would also help in my social interactions, how to approach certain students, and how to use specific problem-solving skills to diffuse a conflicting situation. Both my consulting and teaching philosophies have changed drastically over time, to where they now say, “Students teach us as much as we teach them.”
Another important impact on this change is the center’s community work. I am a part of the Research and Assessment Community, and most of my work has focused on disabilities in Writing Centers. When presenting at the East Central Writing Center Association (ECWCA) conference, three members of our community, including myself, shared how important it is for our centers to provide students with disabilities the best sort of accommodations and comfort we can offer. Our presentation was impressive for both our center and others that attended, and we were nominated for an award.
But it’s not just our community that has left a significant impact on me. Being a part of an audience for other groups has also taught me incredibly vital information society doesn’t consider nearly enough, such as the increasing suppression of other dialects of English that aren’t White Mainstream English and the problematic viewpoints many individuals adopt when they’re not considering specific minority groups varying in race, disabilities/disorders, and gender.
However, the most important impact, from what I’ve experienced, is the sense of community here. A workplace should make you feel safe and welcomed, and not judged whatsoever. Employers and coworkers alike should expect great things from you, but not perfection, and will understand the mistakes you make as it’s all a part of becoming a better employee. There wasn’t a day when I worked here where I didn’t feel that kind of environment, and I truly appreciate all the coworkers who supported me through both my highs and lows. I’m not lying when I say it’s the most welcoming community and workplace I’ve ever been a part of, and it really breaks my heart to know I won’t be working here for much longer. However, I’m hoping this blog post can
encourage others to join and keep the community growing even stronger than it is now. It certainly will be a time to remember.