Academic Triumph

success Center by Paul Patton A

An essay by Charles McKinney.

Working at the Student Success Center has been one of the most rewarding jobs in all my years of gainful employment. When I walked into the center to inquire about a position as a writing assistant, the process proved nothing short of auspicious. I was welcomed warmly by center Manager Debbie Taylor and Administrative Assistant Hillary Strachan, and was offered a part-time job shortly thereafter.

I reported to work in July 2014. Every Wednesday I worked with a student who had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. I recall his talkative and respectful nature, and his passion for writing. We worked on grammatical exercises every week, and I evaluated his written assignments for his English class. We only met four times during that summer term, but I was able to build a satisfying rapport with him that, I hope, laid the foundation for his
future success.

Once the fall semester began, I had the opportunity to learn how to work with graduate students at the Wilson Graduate Center. After all, my job title was graduate writing tutor, so it was my responsibility to ensure that students pursuing advanced degrees were equipped with the necessary research and writing skills. Most people who needed help expressed concerns with navigating APA style. Fortunately, I had honed my APA skills while pursing my undergrad and graduate degrees.

Leading by example worked best. I showed my tutees my own academic papers, and  their fears gradually faded. I’ve had the chance to work with students the world over on a range of academic tasks from scholarship essays to Praxis English prep to dissertation proposals. Each one-on-one writing session has been mutually beneficial, strengthening my professional aspiration to become a humanities professor. This academic coaching role has been a fruitful step in that direction. I can reflect on my time at the Student Success Center with gratitude and joy. I was able to do something that I relish while making a positive impact on the people I was privileged to serve. I encourage all students to take advantage of this superb academic resource at WilmU. WU

Charles McKinney now serves as a volunteer English instructor for the Peace Corps in Macedonia.