A Student Perspective: Falling for Composition

From Ellen Cecil —

The very first college course that I walked into was ENC 1101 during the Fall of 2009. I knew this semester was marking a huge change in my life, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that UCF’s FYC was undergoing a huge programmatic shift as well. The Fall of 2009, as many of you know, marked the large pilot study of writing about writing FYC classes. I was lucky enough to find myself in one of Adele Richardson’s small 19 student classrooms which taught the new curriculum.

From the way that I saw it, it didn’t seem like anyone in the university cared about our little writing classroom. For one thing, we were stuck in this small room in the Chemistry building which had obviously been converted from a large storage room into a classroom. Our books weren’t even proper textbooks: they were spiral bound notebooks filled with a collection of articles. However, our teacher was filled with contagious enthusiasm which led me to become immensely interested in discourse communities, genre conventions, and auto-ethnographies.

The readings and the work that we encountered were challenging, but I began to feel more confident with my abilities as a writer with each assignment that I completed and each article that I read. Much to my excitement and surprise, I was accepted into the second issue of Stylus with my literature review and the first Knights Write Showcase for my auto-ethnography. I felt invigorated. I wanted to keep doing the work that we did in class and learn more about writing, but there wasn’t a degree yet that directly related to the material we were studying in ENC 1101. I figured that my next best option was to become an English Literature major. For various reasons, my studies in English Literature never left me feeling fulfilled. I kept chugging along at my degree though—I didn’t really know what else to do.

During the Spring semester of my Sophomore year, I applied for a job at the University Writing Center and was accepted. I started working during the Fall of my Junior year under the new leadership of Dr. Mark Hall. Change, especially in leadership, can be met with resistance and that’s exactly what happened with Mark took over the UWC. The returning consultants hated the new changes that Mark implemented, which included new consultant training, weekly seminars with scholarly articles on writing center work, consultant observations, reflections, and research. The returning consultants made the atmosphere within the UWC tense. But, eventually, they left and a new year started. The new home of the UWC ushered in a new learning environment with consultants eager to learn and improve their best practices.

Working as a consultant at the UWC, I realized I loved teaching writing and I wanted to continue teaching writing, especially, first year composition. One of the great benefits of working in the UWC is that, as an undergraduate, you’re surrounded by passionate faculty and graduate students. The faculty and the graduate students helped me realize the best way to continue learning and teaching writing was to seek a graduate degree in Composition and Rhetoric. Many of them mentored me and helped me prepare my applications for Master’s programs. Without them, I doubt that I would be currently working on my Master’s in Composition and Rhetoric at Miami University.

I know that the tides of programmatic change within UCF have helped push me along to become the academic and researcher that I am today. ENC 1101 has impacted me from the time I was a freshman in college to now, a graduate student who is preparing her applications to doctoral programs. I am so grateful to the entire UCF Composition faculty who have helped push these changes and who continue to develop a environment that fosters student learning.


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