by Trys Chellis ’25
Walking into the Writing Center for the first time, Jemma wasn’t sure what to expect. Were they going to lecture her on grammar, or maybe organization? She was eager to find out.
“Hi I’m Trys, what are we working on today?”
“I’m working on a paper for poli sci.”
“Alright, well let’s see what you’ve got.”
After Trys had read through Jemma’s essay, Jemma was nervous for faer reaction.
“You’ve got a good start. Could you explain this concept to me a little more, though? As a biology major I’m not particularly familiar with it and the way it’s phrased is a little unclear.”
A biology major? That threw Jemma off. She had come in fully expecting an English major, or maybe a history major but at least someone in humanities. Someone who wrote academic essays regularly. What was a biology major doing working in the Writing Center?
Going into college and declaring biology was somewhat bittersweet for me. I wanted to do STEM and I was excited to learn more about how the world works, but I was sad I would have fewer writing opportunities. I love writing academically because there’s a clear structure to follow, a shape the essay should have that is so satisfying to create. I also enjoy writing creatively, seeing characters grow and change before my eyes.
I didn’t want to lose touch with that love of writing and the feel and understanding of a well structured essay. So, I came to work at the writing center.
“Cool, I think I got it, and that was a lot more clear than how you wrote it. So think about what you just said to me, and write that,” Trys suggested after Jemma had clarified the term from her writing.
“Won’t that sound unprofessional?”
“It could, but we can adjust that after. Something that can be really annoying especially in scientific writing is when the terminology and convolutedness of explanations makes the writing inaccessible to readers. It doesn’t have to use fancy words to be professional or formal, and then it’s more accessible as well.”
“Oh, I never thought about it like that. Thanks!”
Working in the Writing Center has shown me there are so many things from biology that I can apply to writing in other fields. Like how in the example I talked about convolutedness in scientific writing, but that applied to the poli sci paper as well. I can also apply an attention to detail that I gain from scientific writing and lab work, and a hypothesis has a lot in common with a thesis. While it may not be clear at first, the skills I use in my biology classes can be applied to writing and writing tutoring in many different ways.
Each consultant has their own strengths with writing. While mine may not be from writing humanities essays all the time, they certainly exist and can be applied throughout many disciplines. It’s a wonderful adventure getting to learn similarities and differences between my biology writing and the writing people do in English, poli sci, and history. Working in STEM and studying biology has not in any way caused me to lose my love of writing, if anything it’s made it stronger.