After teaching and tutoring writing at several different institutional types, working mostly with historically underserved student populations, I decided to return to school for my doctorate because I wanted to do more at the administrative level to make higher education more inclusive and integrative. At the University of New Mexico (UNM), I have committed myself to that mission as a student leader of a number of campus and community literacy initiatives; a graduate administrator training TAs and conducting assessment in our Core Writing Program; an assessment coordinator and instructional resource in the Anderson School of Management; a researcher exploring inclusive, integrative, and engaging approaches to teaching and assessing writing in the classroom and across the curriculum; and a proponent of mentoring and professional development in writing program administration at the national level. Through these experiences, I have come to believe that like rhetoric, writing program administration is part science and part practical wisdom—the latter requiring an ecological mindset pragmatically attuned to the strengths, values, and expectations of our communities and students, colleagues and institutions.
My first obligation as a writing program administrator (WPA) is to know my students—who they are, and where they come from. That knowledge is partly demographic, but more than that, it is the everyday practice of living in a community, knowing its challenges and affordances, and collaborating with community stakeholders to increase the inclusivity of our writing programs and institutions. As a GED instructor at a state correctional facility, I often worried about my graduates, who hoped to attend college and provide a better life for their children. But was there really a place for them at the community college where I also taught and tutored writing? As a WPA, I take it as my responsibility to build relationships with leaders in education, business, and otherwise to ensure that all community members have equal access to a quality college education.
At UNM, I bridged campus and community by hosting symposia on issues at the intersections of literacy and social justice, inviting university administrators to brainstorm collaborative solutions with community activists, entrepreneurs, scholars, and undergraduate students. I invited local presses to our celebrations of student writing. And I partnered with libraries, immigrant resource centers, and other community literacy activists to realize a student-run community writing center. I learned a lot through my efforts about the virtues of listening, showing up, being patient, and following through. These habits of mind are integral to student success, and by foregrounding community engagement as a literacy practice, writing programs can help prepare students for a life of more active and mindful citizenship but also more active and mindful learning in particular disciplines and professions. This is one of the fundamental takeaways from my dissertation project, Invention, Integration, and Engagement With/In an Engineering Student Organization, which I touch upon in a forthcoming Across the Disciplines article.
I can further ensure the inclusivity of my writing program by designing equitable placement procedures and curricula that promote linguistic diversity as part of a broader ecology of 21st century literacy practices. At UNM, multilingual students can opt into sections of first-year writing specifically designed for them, but we also train all instructors in multilingual writing pedagogy, from providing feedback to designing writing sequences that promote linguistic diversity and cross-cultural exchange. As a coordinator of our Core Writing Program, I had the privilege of training new TAs in antiracist assessment practices, and in helping students transfer their existing rhetorical awareness to the critical acquisition of academic discourse—pedagogical strategies a colleague and I discuss in a forthcoming WAC Journal article. Similarly, I helped train all instructors in teaching new media and multimodal composing strategies to capitalize on students’ existing literacies and promote reflective practice, as discussed in a forthcoming coauthored Journal of Business and Technical Communication article. In that project but also in my various programmatic assessment work, I learned that emphasizing reflective practice at the programmatic level can encourage instructors to tailor their teaching to meet students where they are at in order to help them get to where they need to be. And I learned from our stretch and studio programs how to create curricular pathways that don’t require some students to pay more, take longer, or go elsewhere to prepare for the challenges of college writing.
Programmatic assessment isn’t just about scoring student writing; it’s about involving all stakeholders in the process of improving teaching and learning. WPAs should involve students in that process indirectly, through more standard assessment procedures, and directly, through dynamic criteria mapping. And they should ensure contingent faculty, peer tutors, and graduate teaching and administrative assistants can make meaningful contributions and access meaningful mentoring and professional development opportunities. This requires advocating for fair labor practices, but also approaching the fulfillment of all administrative responsibilities as a deliberative and reflective practice. As a former contingent faculty, I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider, but I also know what it’s like to feel valued and welcomed through invitations to serve on curriculum committees, attend faculty meetings, and participate in professional development workshops. As a graduate student, I’ve learned the most from experiences in which my administrative contributions were treated as valuable intellectual work, and as an administrator and researcher, I’ve learned the most through my efforts to extend those same opportunities to others.
I want to cultivate conditions for the writing program I serve to function as its own vibrant community of inquiry and practice, while nevertheless ensuring its mission, vision, and objectives align with those of the institution as well as the majors into which students matriculate. In selecting a focus for my dissertation project, I spoke with deans and provosts to determine what the current administration valued, and how I might pursue a research agenda of value to UNM. Now in helping my dissertation research participants propose their own interdisciplinary course, I’m using my institutional knowhow to point them in the direction of key stakeholders and make the most compelling case possible for investing in their idea. Having spent the past two years assisting faculty in UNM’s Anderson School of Management, four years co-teaching a freshman learning community course with a faculty member in the School of Medicine, and three years collaborating with faculty in the School of Engineering to better support their students in doing writing-intensive community engagement work, I’ve come to value and respect the perspectives my colleagues across the disciplines bring to teaching, learning, and writing, and my own pedagogy is richer for it. Furthermore, I’ve learned to frame my proposals in language my colleagues value and understand. As a WPA, I would accentuate collegiality, shared goals, and opportunities for collaboration as keynotes setting the tone for the writing program within the larger institutional ecology.
Leadership & Service
- Writing Graduate Assistant. Anderson School of Management, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, June 2014 - Present
- Writing assessment and outcomes revision for university and AACSB, faculty support, and graduate student orientation workshops.
- Coordinator. Core Writing Program, Department of English Language and Literature, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Aug 2013 - May 2014
- Assessment, curriculum revision, new and returning TA orientations, handbook and wiki updates, textbook selection, teaching observations.
- Writing Fellow. Writing-Intensive Learning Community (WILC) Pilot Project, College of Arts & Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Jan 2012 - May 2013
- Outcomes development, piloting, assessment.
- TA Mentor. Core Writing Program, Department of English Language & Literature, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Aug 2011 - May 2012
- Portfolio protocol, teaching award selection, wiki creation, handbook revision, new and returning TA orientation, peer tutoring pilot, teaching observations.
- Founding Co-Director & Advisory Board Member. Albuquerque Community Writing Center (ABQCWC), University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Sep 2010 - May 2014
- Formed advisory board; piloted and established partnerships w/ libraries, community centers, campus writing centers, and immigrant resource centers; recruited, trained, and scheduled up to 20 writing coaches (undergraduate and graduate students and community members) at a time.
- Co-Founder. International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research Graduate Student Initiative, Mar 2015 - Present
- Solicited members internationally, proposed blog and steering committee.
- Co-Founder, Co-Chair, & Past Chair. Writing Across the Curriculum Graduate student Organization (WAC-GO), Jul 2014 - Present
- Formed advisory committee, composed mission, formed committees, collaborated w/ IWAC 2016 hosts on mentoring events, planned WAC-GO site/resources on WAC Clearinghouse.
- Assistant Chair, Chair, & Past Chair. Writing Program Administrators Graduate student Organization (WPA-GO), National Council of Writing Program Administrators, Jun 2012 - Jul 2015
- Managed budget, fundraising, subcommittees, promotional materials, and communications w/ CWPA Executive Board; Co-chaired numerous subcommittees; Founded or co-founded Diversity Task Force, Research and Writing Groups at CWPA, Mentoring at C’s.
- Executive Board Member (ex-officio). National Council of Writing Program Administrators, Jul 2013 - Jul 2014
- Represented graduate student membership and forwarded proposals to the board on their behalf; Requested WPA Graduate student Organization annual budget.
- Secretary. National Consortium of Writing Across Communities, May 2011 - Jul 2012
- Created and maintained NCWAC wiki; Planned and facilitated NCWAC Inaugural Summit, Jul 2012.
- Assistant Char, Chair. Writing Across Communities Alliance, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Sep 2010 - May 2012
- Managed budget, fundraising, subcommittees, event planning and promotion, communications w/ campus and community partners.
- Executive Officer. English Graduate Student Association, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Sep 2010 - May 2011
- Designed and administered survey to graduate students and reported results to faculty and administration; Represented the English Dept on the university-wide Graduate and Professional Student Association Council.
- Founding Member. Creative Writing and Literary Arts Graduate Student Organization, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 2004 - 2006
- Drafted charter, organized meetings, and represented graduate student interests to faculty.
Cofounder & Contributing Editor. Writing the World: Emerging Voices, Global Contexts. International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research, Forthcoming Spring 2017
Editorial Board Member. WAC Clearinghouse, Jul 2016 - Present
Reviewer. The Writing Campus: A Blog for Writing Across the Curriculum Faculty. George Mason University, Oct 2014 - Present
Editorial Board Member. WPA: Writing Program Administration, Journal of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, Jul 2014 - 2015
Associate Editor. Best of the Independent Rhetoric and Composition Journals, 2014 & 2015.
Executive Editor. Writing Communities 2 (2012). Writing Across Communities Initiative, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Mar – Jul 2012
Editorial Staff & Editor-in-Chief. Understory, Creative Writing and Literary Arts, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, Jan 2005 - May 2006
Editorial Staff. Kudzu, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, 2002-2003
Graduate Mentor. Department of English Language & Literature, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Aug 2011 - Present
Evaluator. McNair Scholars Research Conference, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Oct 2013
Host & Mentor. Fulbright Scholar Program, Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, FL, Aug 2008 – Jul 2009