"I Cannot Find Words": A Case Study to Illustrate the Intersection of Writing Support, Scholarship, and Academic Socialization
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I was hired at my current institution to build writing support for graduate students. I hold the title Instructional Consultant and work in the campus Writing Center, which is part of Academic Affairs. Two and half years ago, when I entered this job, I considered myself well prepared for interacting with graduate students and their writing: I had been a writing tutor for graduate students at two other universities, worked as an editor at two interdisciplinary research journals, and experienced three graduate programs myself, spanning an R1 institution, a natural sciences program and a fine arts program, and both decamping and graduating. Yet the service I provide in my current position is not what I expected to offer; I was not fully prepared to support these graduate students in these kinds of graduate programs. It occurs to me now that there’s perhaps no way I, or any incumbent, could have come ready to resolve the gaps in service and support for graduate student writers at this institution and others like it. This essay aims to illustrate the lived experience at the intersection of writing, student, tutor, professor, and graduate school. With a close description and analysis of one representative student, writing project, and student-tutor relationship, the essay approaches an answer to What kinds of support do graduate student writers from underserved populations need and want, and how does it compare to the kinds of support students are currently getting? The essay invites further inquiry into how support, scholarship, and academic socialization interrelate for students and academic support staff.