By JOSHUA STALEY
The writing and speaking centers are invaluable resources for students at the University of Mary Washington. Located on the fourth floor of the Hurley Convergence Center, tutors from a wide variety of disciplines and majors help to improve students’ writing and speaking assignments and skills.
Dr. Anand Rao, the speaking intensive program and speaking center director, and Dr. Gwen Hale, director of the writing center and program, hire the best, the brightest and the friendliest consultants UMW has to offer. Each member of the center’s staff goes through a semester long course to qualify for the position and partake in continuous training throughout their tenure as speaking or writing consultants.
Junior business major Grace Sterling is currently in training to become a writing center consultant. “I think the writing center is very useful,” said Sterling, “because it lets students work on improving their writing in a setting that is calm and stress free.” Sterling also believes the center is a great resource for students because, “the atmosphere helps students to feel comfortable in showing their writing.”
When junior biology major Nicole Lamb was asked about the helpfulness of the writing center to science majors, she replied that “in my science classes, I really only have to worry about lab write-ups which are pretty straight forward, so I’ve never visited the writing center.” Lamb stated, “my math professor encouraged us to visit for a math related paper and presentation, however I didn’t go. I think writing about data in a science setting is easy.” Lamb, however, did say she would visit for any non-science related classes.
When reaching out to a consultant, I found that there are no science majors employed in the writing center. Unfortunately, since consultants are not authorized to speak on behalf of the center, I could not get any concrete facts regarding the issue. I did however, learn that all consultants are trained to assist with work in all majors.
All students enrolled at UMW are encouraged to utilize these resources during their time here. Personally, going to the speaking center for my speaking intensive classes has helped me to improve my public speaking skills. Consultants listen to your presentations and give constructive feedback on both your presentation and the visuals used.
“I’ve been to the speaking center for multiple appointments ranging from brainstorming sessions, to practicing by myself or with a group,” said junior English major Shyan Murphy. “The consultants are always helpful, and I tend to feel more confident about my presentations when I leave. Practicing with the consultants have definitely helped to soothe some of my public speaking anxiety,” said Murphy.
The writing and speaking centers may not be for everyone, but the students who do decide to use them definitely benefit from doing so. In order to get their students to go more often, some professors require a visit as an assignment. Dr. Shumona Dasgupta, a professor in the English department teaching Global Issues in Literature, has her students go to the speaking center at least once for any of the presentations in her speaking intensive course. She makes this part of their participation grade in order to increase the number of students utilizing the resource.
All students at UMW should take advantage of this free resource. It does not matter what year you are or what your major is, the speaking and writing centers can certainly help with any of your speaking or writing needs.