On November 3, 2012, I was honored to receive the 2012 Ron Maxwell Award for Distinguished Leadership in Promoting the Collaborative Learning Practices of Peer Tutors in Writing. Here is the acceptance speech I delivered:
I want to thank the selection committee and especially my good friend Jon Olson as well as the Maxwell family for continuing Ron’s legacy. I also offer my humble thanks to Harvey Kail who nominated me for the award. It is truly an honor to be listed among those who have contributed such excellent work to the field of peer tutoring in writing. When Jon first notified me of the award, I was taken aback. It was something I never expected, but am truly honored to receive.
I also wish to thank and offer my appreciation of the peer writing advisors at Salt Lake Community College for helping me to learn about peer tutoring and fostering learning. When I think of my work, I think of the peer writing advisors and their origins and their successes. I think of John, who had to drop out of high school to support his family. He later got his GED and entered Salt Lake Community College. He eventually found his way to the Student Writing Center where he worked diligently responding to writers for 3 years. John is now a Associate Professor at St. Ambrose University where he teaches graduate students in Social Work.
When I think of my work, I also think of Christine and Jeannette who returned to school later in life to pursue their dreams of getting a degree and rejoining the workforce. Christine finished her bachelor’s degree and worked as a grant writer for a non-profit, but came back to the Student Writing Center to mentor writers, since she finds the work fulfilling and beneficial. Jeannette is working on her degree; taking one class at a time. She hopes to transfer to a University next year.
When I think of my work, I think of Michael who enjoyed working with the ESL student's because he had always struggled with grammar. That motivated him not to grammar check their papers, but to take time to provide them with resources and advice--assisting them with the ability to improve their grammar on their own. I also think of Hanh who came to the United States from Vietnam and found that working with other writers built her confidence in writing. Hahn now works for Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst.
When I think of my work, I think of Lori and Jack--peer writing advisors with disabilities--who have worked to make the Student Writing Center more accessible to writers with disabilities and to broaden our knowledge about working with writers with disabilities.
When I think of my work, I also think of Robyn, who came to the Student Writing Center after seeking her way as a young woman in the world fighting oppression. She toughed it out and is now a successful photographer.
When I think of my work, I also think of Brandon who wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with his life when he started working in the Student Writing Center. He told me that working in the Center gave him new insight and awareness of his own ability to teach. Today he is an Assistant Professor in the SLCC English Department.
When I think of my work, I also think of Christie and Toni who came to SLCC as single mothers, striving to better their and their families’ lives. Christie is also a colleague at SLCC, having taken on the role of Learning Center Coordinator where she works with math and sciences tutors and has developed a peer tutoring-focused staff education program for them. Toni works as a paralegal.
When I think of my work, I think of Kendra, a committed service learning scholar, who worked in the Student Writing Center as well as the community. Kendra is now a pastor in Iowa.
When I think of my work, I think of Clint—yes we have two Clints--who came to the Student Writing Center very skeptical about the work we could do, and the role a peer tutor could play. Clint has conducted over 6,000 sessions during his tenure at the Student Writing Center, and received outstanding commendations from writers. He is currently working on his third children’s novel.
When I think of my work, I also think of Joe, who came to the Student Writing Center at a crossroads in his academic life, and joined it in hopes to improve and make use of what knowledge he had. As a service learning scholar, Joe revived our flagging online tutoring program, giving it new life and went on to become our first ever Online Lead Tutor. Joe, having matured his outlook on education, is now flourishing as a graduate student in England where he is studying for his Masters in Applied TESOL. He hopes to create a non-profit International Online Writing Center for colleges and universities that don't have them. Keep an eye on him.
When I think of my work, I think of the hundreds of Peer Writing Advisors who have worked in the SLCC Student Writing Center and made it what it is today: a place where not only writers come to work on their writing, but where people come to grow and change.
I am honored to contribute to their efforts in whatever way I can and equally honored to have learned from them. They truly show the impact that peer tutoring can have one’s education and one’s life.