After years spent in hard-to-find offices – converted old houses on Helen Street and then upstairs in the Geronimo building in Main Gate Square – the Writing Skills Improvement Program has relocated to the heart of campus.
Now on the first floor of the Cesar E. Chavez Building, across from Old Main, the program can more readily offer its resources to more students.
“We’ve been at the university for more than 40 years, but not that many people have known about us because we’ve been in these satellite offices. Now, we’re more anchored on campus and it feels like we’re where we belong,” said Director Andrea Holm. “Moving to the center of campus gives us an opportunity to refresh our image and increase visibility with students. We’ve had more spontaneous drop-in students and it’s been easier for students who might have a quick question, or see our sandwich board and wonder what that means.”
And what the Writing Skills Improvement Program (WSIP) means is a bounty of resources for students at all levels: free drop-in tutoring, tutoring by appointment, regular weekly workshops, ongoing series of topical workshops, a weekly online writing room and more.
“As first-time college students, as master’s students, or as Ph.D. students, they’re really trying to find their voices in writing, across all disciplines,” Holm said. “We offer opportunities for students to receive tutoring and attend workshops to develop their voices and enhance their writing skills.”
WSIP also conducts annual writing-intensive specialty programs, including Academic Writing in The Borderlands, the Graduate Writing Institute and the Young Writers Institute.
“They’re all targeted at different groups and different needs, so we can condense that support when and where it’s needed most,” she said. “But often students who participate in these programs continue with using our other services.”
Carmella Scorcia Pacheco, who earned her Ph.D. in Spanish in 2023 and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Cincinnati, said she’s grateful for all the support from WSIP and its staff.
“The workshops, seminars, tutoring sessions, and group writing sessions were invaluable to be able to receive feedback from peers and writing mentors during the dissertation and job market process,” she said.
Holm said the particulars academic writing can be a challenge for students at all stages and often they can become isolated in their work.
“We help them understand they don’t have to go at it alone. We’re here to help them learn the standards, conventions and expectations. Having the guidance of our specialists makes a difference and we can be a partner with the students through the whole process,” Holm said. “With some students, we literally see them once. Then we have students who are invested in having a relationship with us from the beginning. Our growth as writers never ends.”