More than 3000 students took advantage of services offered at The University of Texas-Pan American's Writing Center last fall semester and according to Director Judy Davidson even a few faculty members have come by to get help writing and editing papers.
"People think this is only for remedial writing. But it's not just for people who are poor writers. Anyone who is writing needs assistance. You need an audience to give you feedback," Davidson explained..
Fifteen students serve as peer tutors at the Writing Center which is conveniently located on the first floor of the UTPA Library. All the writing tutors are certified by the College Reading and Learning Association, required to attend weekly training sessions and required to have a 3.0 grade point average.
"We have a very professional staff here. The tutors don't just help you write, they can help you understand your assignment, brainstorm, research and get organized," said Writing Center supervisor Terry Garcia.
Many of the students utilizing the writing center are drop-ins eager to improve their grades while others are referred there for help by their professors.
Juan Menchaca - now a Senior majoring in Education - first stumbled across the Writing Center as a struggling freshman. He had just ended a 23 year career as a McAllen firefighter and says he was unprepared for the college challenge.
"When I came back, my writing skills were not at the college level," Menchaca said. "They (writing tutors) were able to give me guidance, support and encouragement. It was a very positive experience."
Staff members - like Angie DeLoach who has been a tutor for the past two years - say it's just as rewarding for them.
"I've had many students say because of you I got an "A," DeLoach said. "Many people come here and think they're horrible writers and the fact is they just need help."
Director Judy Davidson is encouraging more students to take advantage of the many services her department offers. Menchaca, probably makes the best argument on her behalf.
"This is free, I tell everyone go get help. You don't have to get C's and D's," Menchaca said.
Currently the Writing Center is open Monday through Friday but officials have plans to expand in the fall by starting up a weekend Online Writing Lab (OWL) to help students write and edit papers via computer.
The Writing Center is supported jointly by the UTPA Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Enrollment and Student Services. To get more information or set up appointment for assistance call 956/316-7974.