Serving students and faculty since 1971

Entering a new role in life is always hard. The uncertainties and self-doubt of whether you’ll actually be good at the new thing you’ve set out to do are ever-present. If you’re lucky, the right people will come along to guide you and give you confidence. I was.

With the help of my tutor-emeritus friends, Jordan “J-Dog” and Luther, I was able to gain the confidence needed to become, what we call around here, a replacement.

Becoming a tutor, for me, was scary. Typically, I’m an introverted and shy person. Socializing with people, especially as a job, to be honest was kind of scary. But watching them work, and especially in conjunction with the tutor training course, made me realize that to be an effective tutor I need to step outside of myself. Tutoring is about having a conversation, it’s about more than the individual. Tutoring is about the relationship, helping people become better writers. When you realize that you’re helping someone, at least for me, the insecurity and fear around talking to others faded. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit nervous, but to do anything well requires confidence in yourself.

My mentors, my friends, taught me this lesson. Being a tutor is about lending a helping hand, working together to reach a common goal. Reaching this goal is done by conversation, and when you think about it, it’s not as hard as it seems.

I think another part of learning tutoring practice was shaking the notion of the writing center as a place for remediation. It is a place for all writers no matter their skill level. We all need someone to read our writing from time to time and offer suggestions, and that’s exactly what we do here at the writing center. I have learned that we work with people of all sorts, and observing my mentors allowed me to see that it really does boil down to just talking.

If you need help with your writing, it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation.

Going from hanging out in the writing center regularly, to actually working here feels surreal. Almost like impostor syndrome. But I know there’s nothing to worry about. We’re here to be readers, to be friendly collaborators, and that’s exactly what I aim to do as one of the latest “replacements.”