For the second summer in a row I have had the utmost pleasure of working with the students in the Summer Enrichment Writing Workshop (SEWW) here at UIC. Although these incoming first year students understandably saw this workshop as a chore, especially coming off of their senior year of high school, what they brought to the table was astounding.
This five week preparatory writing workshop is touted as allowing students to get ahead in the game as they’re thrown into the college experience before fall. Now, this is of course not for the faint of heart. From learning where their class is, exploring the campus, and completing a fifteen week course in five mere weeks, these students grasp the ins and outs of UIC before many of their incoming peers in the fall. While it sounds excruciating (it is) and it sounds incredibly hard (yep, that too), it is also one of the most rewarding things these students have realized they have done. Although they have given up a good chunk of their summers, they have not only begun to grasp the rigors of college life in these short five weeks, but also see that there are resources that can aid in making that transition a much smoother and easier one than could have ever been expected.
At the writing center we have built a close relationship with the SEWW program, and pride ourselves on the fact that we get to see these students right out of the gate and take a part in their perpetual and continual growth as budding writers. From writing their first annotated bibliographies to completing an argumentative paper, we are there every step of the way. But aside from receiving help from tutors at the writing center on their essays, we also help these new students by helping them find buildings, recommending coveted study spots, revealing the best places to eat lunch, and of course giving our take on what it means to belong to the UIC community.
As a recent graduate of UIC and a continuing graduate student, it truly has been an incredibly humbling experience working with the new faces that will soon come to represent not only our institution but our community. From in depth conversations about Black Lives Matter to the presidential elections, these students found themselves in an environment in which they were able to freely express and vocalize their thoughts and opinions, whichever side of the discussion they may have been on. They respected each other’s views, helped their classmates expand their arguments, and have even made some close friends along the way. I have no doubt that each and every one of them will go on to do incredible things that will make this campus proud.
So, as I close this letter and inevitably begin to prepare for the start of yet another school year, I would just like to send a huge shout out to all of our SEWW students that have worked tirelessly throughout their five week program. You did it guys! Now comes the real test, but believe me, you’re all more than ready.
Best wishes for an amazing first semester and we hope to see you soon!