Throughout my high school and early college years, I lived in absolute terror of showing anyone my writing before it was "finished." I was terrified of being corrected, of being asked to explain or justify my process, and most of all of being judged. Needless to say, my writing suffered from being produced in a vacuum, and I suffered from the pressure I put on myself to produce a draft that was simultaneously first and final! The truth is, I didn't have much of a process. I typed a paper, I handed it in, I got an A and I never spoke of it again. Luckily, I wasn't able to escape from my undergraduate career without getting over myself! In the face of feedback from professors, forced peer response sessions and collaborative writing projects, I realized: writing is supposed to be a messy process (with emphasis on "process"). Good writers are not the ones who pump out polished prose the first time through and move on, but those who commit to dwelling a little and imagining other ways of seeing. Furthermore, there is no better way to get perspective on that process than to make contact with someone on the outside of it. That's where the Writing Center comes in. Do you need to know what you're doing before you arrive at your appointment? Absolutely not! Neither do you need to fear judgment or some sort of drill-sergeant's interrogation. My job is to ask questions which clarify, not terrify, and to act as a sounding board and a resource for potential new strategies. I am not here to evaluate you or lecture you. Rather, think of me as a coach...but I won't ask you to do any jumping jacks.
Though I officially received my B.A. in English Literature from Binghamton University, my education is more accurately represented by the conglomeration of a wide variety of institutions including Ulster County Community College, SUNY New Paltz and Mount Holyoke College. Thus, I have a range of academic experience to draw upon and would be interested in speaking with transfer students (along with traditional students) about how to manage the adjustment to the academic culture of Amherst College.
My most recent academic experience took place at UMass Amherst, where I received an M.A. in English Literature with a concentration in American Studies. I am currently teaching the UMass first-year composition course for the third consecutive year. I've also taught private cello lessons, been an assistant manager at a bakery, copyedited a magazine and dressed up in a blue bear costume to advertise for a real estate office. Each of these jobs, and others, has helped in its own way to hone my writing and mentoring skills. When I am not working or spending time with my family, I like to play my cello, listen compulsively to NPR, ride my bike and garden, all while brainstorming ways to sound like less of a nerd on paper.
Please come in and meet with me at any stage of your process, regardless of whether you feel confident with a nearly-finished piece of writing or totally overwhelmed by the prospect of simply beginning. I look forward to working with you!
Email Kate Walker