EWU Writers’ Center Supports Student Success
Like many EWU graduate students, Elpidia Saavedre has a job. So, it’s a good thing that the Writers’ Center has online, weekend, evening and asynchronous availability or she probably wouldn’t be able to fulfill her duties as mayor of Toppenish, Washington.
Saavedre is one of thousands of students who have relied on the center over its nearly 30 years in operation for assistanace with writing projects.
“I will always be grateful to the assistance of the EWU Writers’ Center and it’s awesome responders!” says Saavedre.
Center Director Lynn Briggs, PhD, says that having the right disposition is probably the most important qualification for center staff. “We can mentor anyone with a graduate degree into the job, but without curiosity, compassion and patience they won’t serve our students in the way writers have come to expect,” she says.
While all staff responders have at least a master’s level education, over its lengthy history the center has employed current or retired faculty and scholars with doctorates from disciplines as varied as social work, education and history. The staff brings diverse skills to the table to better serve students.
For example, current center responders Carlos Munoz and Ben Caldwell offer sessions in Spanish, a critical service as EWU continues to serve a growing number of Latina/o/x students, including some who speak English as a second language.
Darcy Bradley, PhD, retired from EWU’s School of Education, is a particular boon to the many Academic Partnership MEd students who work with her on their theses.
Bradley’s credentials as a published author enable her to provide students with actionable advice. Former ASEWU President Lloyd Dees, a former writing fellow at the center, worked extensively with Bradley.
“The Writers’ Center has been invaluable in helping me hone my writing ability across the disciplines and has lifted up my ability to communicate messages to my readers,” Dees says.
Gail Forsgreen, assistant director of the center, has been with the center since its inception in 1994, and has seen it move from Tawanka Hall, to the PUB, to the library, as well as into virtual space.
“We give our full attention to every student who sits before us,” says Forsgreen.
The center provides workshops for entire classes, at the request of faculty. In addition, the center offers special topic programs, such as the conversation group for English language learners, and partners with the McNair, Honors, Symposium, SASS and summer Bridge programs to ensure that writers get support for high-stakes writing tasks such as applications for graduate school.
Center staff always look for innovative ways to help. During the 2023 Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, the center will offer a session called It’s Not About You: Keys to Successful Resumes and Cover Letters. Center staff also research ways to easily overcome obstacles to student success, like a lack of awareness about software shortcuts, online resources and Canvas capabilities.
Student expectations for this service have changed over the years. Since many high schools and most community colleges have centers, writers know their work at Eastern’s center will be considered based on higher order concerns; that the most important issues — meaning-making, appropriate sources of information and expectations of structure — will be addressed before surface-level concerns like punctuation or spelling.
Responders love their work in the Writers’ Center, but, as Briggs puts it, “our business is to put ourselves out of business. If we can help students become self-aware as writers they will be able to transfer that knowledge to all their composing situations. When we have instilled that in all EWU writers our work will be done.”
Until then, appointments can be made by going to with Writers Center website.