An Interview with Writing Center Coordinator Carrie Enge

For the UAS Whalesong
Whalesong reporter Kaylyn Haslund had the opportunity to sit down with temporary Writing Center Coordinator Carrie Enge to talk about our newly-reopened studio and what it has in store.
Kaylyn Haslund: You’ve worked with the writing center before. Is it different as the temporary coordinator in charge?
Carrie Enge: Well, first I started working as the writing coordinator in the learning center in early 2000 sometime in about 2004. And so, I did that for ten years and did occasional adjuncting. And then, I did the professor for two years, so I stepped away from it for two years. But, um, now I’m back, so yeah, its pretty familiar to me. But this setting in 105, because before it was kind of in the corner of the learning center and this is so exciting to me because it’s so much more private, it’s so much quieter, so much more accessible for students to drop in and work for a couple of hours and then leave without, you know, with being able to focus and have a tutor help them every once in a while. So that’s new to me and that’s pretty exciting.
KH: Does it feel like a different environment for you with students versus a classroom?
CE: Uhm, yeah, it’s pretty rewarding to be able to sit down with the students and go over line by line, whereas my classes, both of them are full. One of them there’s twenty students and one of them there’s twenty-three and so then you don’t have that luxury. But that really is pretty fun and you get to know the students so much better when you can sit down and you know visit with them a little bit too. Yeah, it’s pretty rewarding.
KH: I wanted to ask you how you came into the position.
CE: So, I started out, I was in Petersburg and I was… First I taught English for years in Petersburg, like twenty-five years or twenty-seven years or something like that. And then, uhm, I started being the grant writer and then, I just decided to leave Petersburg. There was no reason, once my daughters were gone, there was no reason for me to stay in Petersburg. So, I came to Juneau and got the job at the Writing Center and so that was my first job and really that’s all I’ve done at the University since I’ve been here. So, kind of, you know doing little jobs, there’s always all kinds going on at the University to do.
KH: Are there going to be any changes that students should know about?
CE: I’m just here until December, you know, and we’re going to hire some big guns, we’re    going to hire a ringer. But for now, there’s not going to be any changes. We’re just going to try and keep it as comfortable as we can for the students and be as helpful as we can for the professors and that’s our focus. So, we are going to do a little competition, so it’s not going to start for about a week, but we’ve got prizes and we’re going to ask students to name that fallacy. That’s going to be the name of it. So people will watch a political speech by one of the- typically the presidential candidates and find a fallacy and write it down and bring it in here and get a prize. You know, if they’ve named the fallacy correctly.
KH: Pretty neat, because it also shows that the writing center is working, kind of.
CE: Right, right.
KH: How has it been these first two weeks, with the actual writing center open outside of the learning center?
CE: Well, we were taken off all the Learning center electronics and so, that’s been counterproductive. A lot of time has just been spent with people trying to get back on internet accounts.
KH: So it’s been hard with logging in?
CE: Right and yeah, we no longer will be using the learning center log in program. And people are just going to be signing in and signing out for now, because evidently that program is inaccessible right now. And our website has been removed and so we’re going to have to get a   website back up again and one of our tutors is working on that. But, it’s too bad, it’s kind of a slow start, because the electronics are just eating up everyone’s time.
KH: Is there a reason for it or is it just that the electronics have not been working right?
CE: Well I think since we’re separate from Learning Center now and that was all on learning center stuff, so it’s been removed because our website was on part of the learning center website and so that was removed.
KH: So it’s become a full separation?
CE: Yup.

KH: Would you say there’s a difference in the amount of students who come here than there were students going to the learning center?
CE: I don’t know about at the beginning of this year. I know that Patty the Math technician, was trying so hard to keep things going, but it was really difficult. I know when I was there compared to being here, a lot more students come in here. Just to do writing. Because, you know for writing you can’t be distracted. So I see a lot more youths in here.
KH: It is a much better environment, I feel, than the learning center, for doing papers.
CE: For focusing.
KH: Because it’s kind of quiet and nice and cozy. It’s just a good place to write.
CE: Kind of a cave. Who wouldn’t want to just find a cave to write in? So, I think it gets a lot more use here than it does in the other room.
KH: What would you say it’s like working with students who are tutors helping other students. What is it like? Is it different from being a professor with a student who is helping another student?
CE: We’ve got some pretty talented students here. And, they’ve kind of… I really haven’t been doing much training. The tutors have been pretty much working on their own. It’s been a really busy week, because of the English 110 portfolios and midterms. So, it’s kind of nice to have the tutors just take care of things on their own. I know in the past there’s been a lot of training and there may be in the future too. But when it’s just me working here, we just don’t have time.
KH: That it has opened basically at midterms there hasn’t been time.
CE: Right. But the students have been so happy that it’s open again. So that’s been nice. I really wish, in the past we had Liz and we had Robert and both of them were really good at advanced writing. Then there could be other people who could help. I wish we had more of that advanced writing, but it may get back to that.
KH: Is there anything you hope for with the writing center now that it is open?
CE: Well, I wish we could get some student training. And, I just love having the students come in and get something done. Yesterday, there were probably fifteen students who spent big chunks of time in here, frantically getting assignments done. And that is just so encouraging and getting help every time they needed a minute. So, I would just like to see it become a hub.
KH: And continue.
CE: Is there anything you’d like to see?
KH: I’d mostly like to see the writing center stay open and not because it’s just a good place to write, but because it is welcoming and the people who work here really care. I also go to the learning center, but it’s a different environment there. Here, people will take the time to sit down and read through your paper and help you.
CE: And that’s what we’re going to try for.
KH: Do you have any idea who might be taking the position after you?
CE: I don’t know, they haven’t even advertised it. But they’re going to start soon. And I think, the last I heard it was going to be 37 hours a week and I don’t know much. Also, Elise Tomlinson, who runs the library, is going to oversee both the learning center and the writing center. That’s going to start in January.
KH: Do you think that’s going to be a good thing?
CE: Yeah, we’re in the library so it kind of makes sense. She is a good person to work with. And I think the two centers, if they’re going to be separate, then it’s good to have someone who’s taking a look at both of them.
KH: Thank you so much for actually taking the position because it really matters that it’s someone taking it that cares.
CE: Well we had to do something.
KH: Thank you so much.
The Writing Center is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday by appointment, and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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