WPA-GO 2012 Graduate Committee Election

In July 2012 the WPA-GO Graduate Committee (GC) will say goodbye to members Meaghan Brewer, Temple University; Cristyn L. Elder, Purdue University; Todd Ruecker, University of Texas at El Paso; Megan Schoen, Purdue University; and Ryan Witt, Temple University. In order to maintain the 7-person GC as outlined in the recently adopted WPA-GO Bylaws, we will elect three new Graduate Committee members.


The GC oversees WPA-GO (WPA-Graduate Student Organization), its events, and its activities; creates policies and procedures for its management; and engages in special projects and initiatives. The new GC members will serve for up to a total of three years or until June 30th of the year the member graduates from his or her graduate program, with terms beginning in July 2012.

Only current CWPA members are eligible to vote. Each member may vote only once. Voting will take place May 28th - June 11th. Current CWPA members will receive a link via email through which they can cast their vote. Results will be announced June 13th.

Continuing WPA-GO Graduate Committee members are Timothy Dougherty, Syracuse University; Laurie A. Pinkert, Purdue University; Patti Poblete, Purdue University; Kathryn Trauth Taylor, Purdue University.


If you have questions about the 2012 WPA-GO Graduate Committee Election, please contact Cristyn L. Elder, Chair of the WPA-GO Elections Committee, at clelder@purdue.edu.


Cristyn L. Elder, Laurie A. Pinkert, Patti E. Poblete, and Megan Schoen, WPA-GO Elections Committee

Members will vote for one candidate in each of the three groupings below:

Graduate Committee Member #1: Vote for Brent Chappelow, Brian Hendrickson, Meghan Sweeney, or Kenny Walker 

Brent Chappelow is a PhD student in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics and a Teaching Associate at Arizona State University. He is also Assistant Director of Writing Programs for the 2011-2012 year. As Assistant Director, Brent chaired the committee on drafting a Values Statement for ASU Writing Programs, contributed to the Programs’ website redesign, helped establish and maintain the Programs’ social media visibility work, and worked to strengthen communications within the Writing Programs. As a Teaching Associate, he co-developed and taught a curriculum initiative on a writing-about-writing approach to first-year composition; an article reporting the outcomes of this research is in progress. Brent completed his master’s degree in English Language and Literature with an emphasis in Composition at Northwest Missouri State University where he worked as a tutor in the University Writing Center. Brent also served on the CWPA CCCC Breakfast Committee for the 2012 conference.

Statement: I believe that making the work of writing programs visible is vital for understanding the work of teaching writing and of writing program administration. When we articulate the work of WPAs in this context, we can validate the work done at the local level and identify areas for discussions and research at the global level. This interaction between local and global plays out almost daily via WPA-L and through more formal work in the organization. WPA-GO offers an opportunity for graduate students who currently are or intend to be WPAs to create a community that addresses the unique concerns that accompany graduate study and WPA work. I am interested in increasing the visibility of graduate student concerns in WPA-GO as well as the larger organization and fostering the development of graduate students in WPA work. I am interested in furthering the visibility work of WPA-GO’s initiatives and helping graduate students develop the skills necessary to become informed administrators and researchers in the field. My experience as a graduate student has been influenced and supported by the work of CWPA and WPA-GO, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue the work that this organization does.


Brian Hendrickson, a second-year doctoral student at the University of New Mexico, served this year as Secretary of the National Consortium of Writing Across Communities, President of UNM’s WAC Alliance, and TA Mentor on a UNM Core Writing Program Fellowship. Brian is founder and Co-Director of the Albuquerque Community Writing Center, and will serve next year as a Writing Fellow in a pilot WAC program at UNM.

An Outstanding Instructor Award recipient from UNM’s Core Writing Program, Brian has extensive experience as a writing center tutor and instructor of composition, basic writing and adult basic education at institutions such as the University of Alaska Anchorage, Tallahassee Community College, Guilford Technical Community College, and Gadsden Correctional Facility.

Brian is a regular presenter at conferences, including CCCC and WPA. Brian’s scholarship, teaching and service reflect his interest in ecological approaches to rhetoric, composition, campus-community literacy partnerships and writing program administration.

Statement: As a graduate student leader in Writing Across Communities at UNM, an R1 Hispanic-serving institution in an impoverished majority-minority state, I have been fortunate to work with a supportive network of mentors and colleagues dedicated to advocating for approaches to literacy instruction that benefit historically underserved student populations. If elected to the WPA-Graduate Committee, I would draw on these values and experiences to further WPA-GO’s mission of providing graduate students opportunities for mentorship and educational development while fostering an inclusive sense of community.

In successfully coordinating, publicizing, recruiting and raising roughly $16,000 for my own local student organization’s 2011-2012 events and initiatives, I have demonstrated my capacity to serve with distinction on either the Outreach and Communications or Travel Grant Committee.

Furthermore, if serving on the Mentoring and Professional Development Committee, I would:

  • advocate for working class and minority graduate students in our field, as well as those interested in WPA work in two-year and four-year institutions, historically black colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions;
  • emphasize the importance of preparing future WPAs to serve economically, culturally, and linguistically diverse populations;
  • collaborate in administering any WPA-GO sponsored studies aimed at accurately representing the needs of all aspiring WPAs.


Meghan Sweeney is a second-year PhD student in the Composition and Rhetoric emphasis at the University of Nevada, Reno. She also holds two graduate certificates, Teaching Post-Secondary Reading and Teaching Composition, from San Francisco State, where she received her MA in Creative Writing. Meghan has been actively engaged in the study and practice of WPA since beginning her doctoral program: for two years, she has served as Graduate Curriculum Coordinator in the Core Writing program and is also in the process of co-coordinating a large-scale programmatic assessment of an innovative five-unit basic writing sequence, which she helped pilot. Her dissertation will integrate reading theory and WAC/WID pedagogy to examine reading in the academy and its relationship to composition. Meghan is published in Teaching English in the Two-Year College (2012) and in Academic Exchange Quarterly (2010), and is currently working on several publications and presentations relevant to pedagogy, WPA, and assessment.

Statement: I attended my first WPA conference last year and became highly impressed with the support for graduate students that WPA-GO provides through funding opportunities, social events, and innovative panel discussions on practical matters like CVs and workloads. I joined immediately, and ever since have been seeking ways to get more involved. Serving as a member of the WPA-Graduate Committee is a perfect opportunity. As my bio indicates, I am deeply invested in WPA work; I am currently co-leading a programmatic assessment project, supporting my fellow instructors as a curriculum coordinator, designing curricula, and engaging in WPA-related research. I believe that the challenges and successes from my WPA work and research have provided me with perspective that would be relevant to the committee as it continues working to ensure that graduate students are represented in our profession. At UNR, I am deeply committed to my graduate community: most recently, I have organized weekly workshops designed to support and facilitate regular writing and publication among my colleagues. As a WPA-GO council member, I hope to build community and foster success on a national scale, supporting other graduate students involved or interested in WPA work and participating in the creation of new initiatives.


Kenny Walker is a PhD student in the Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English (RCTE) program at the University of Arizona where he works in Writing Program Administration, WAC/WID, and the Rhetoric of Science. He received his M.A. in English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and his B.A. at UC Davis. He has co-written an article for the Journal of Business and Technical Writing and has published a review in Composition Studies. His research areas include assessment, WAC/WID curriculum, and reception studies; he also teaches course in WID, technical writing, and first-year writing. When he is not working, he is often out walking the oases of Tucson with his partner, Amelia, and their two-year old son, Theo.

Statement: Writing programs have been central to my entire academic experience, and I believe this has given me a broad skill set that the WPA-GO will find valuable for its needs. I have worked for a large writing program at the University of Arizona (UA); a small writing program at the University of Nevada, Reno; and in a stand-alone writing center as an undergraduate tutor at UC Davis. These positions have given me a framework for understanding how writing programs connect to institutions and national organizations. For example, in a current research project we have mapped our local composition curriculum to the CWPA “Framework for Success” to help drive curricular change. Another project compares our local writing program to our twelve peer institutions, and though surveys, emails, and conversations, this has given me an intimate knowledge of a number of programs across the country. I have also helped receive grants to obtain outside funding to publicize student work, and to build public outreach for the National Day on Writing. These activities will translate directly to WPA-GO’s need for members to oversee events and activities, help create or sustain management procedures, and develop special projects and initiatives. I look forward to the opportunity to help build a sustainable system for graduate student support and participation in the CWPA.


Graduate Committee Member #2: Vote for Jacob Babb, David Riche, Lara Smith-Sitton, or Carolyn Wisniewski

Jacob Babb is a doctoral candidate in rhetoric and composition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where his dissertation-in-progress interrogates the role of disciplinary nomenclature in the epistemological and institutional identities of rhetoric and composition. In addition to disciplinary history, Jacob’s research interests include assessment, curricular design, contingent labor issues, and writing program administration. Jacob has been a member of WPA-GO since 2010, and is a member of the WPA-GO Events Planning Subcommittee. At UNCG, Jacob has served in numerous administrative and editorial roles, including assistant director of first-year composition, assistant director of the writing center, and lead editor of Techne Rhetorike, the composition program’s textbook. He is currently an assistant editor for College English.

Statement: I discovered WPA-GO at my first CWPA conference in Philadelphia, and since then I have been interested in becoming part of its leadership, as it provides a venue for the productive integration of the three parts of an academic’s identity: research, teaching, and service. I am already shaping this identity through my WPA work, which informs my research agenda via questions about disciplinary identity, curricular design, and labor issues. WPA work also shapes my teaching practices, as it requires me to think about pedagogy beyond my own classroom, on a programmatic scale. My aggregate leadership roles, including the crafting and revising of learning objectives and course guidelines for UNCG’s first-year composition courses, have also informed my views on the potential found in the integration of faculty and graduate student labor. All of my leadership roles have ultimately called for me to think of writing program administration as a form of service as well as a scholarly endeavor vital to the continuing innovation of writing pedagogy. If elected, I will champion the critical position of graduate students as architects of curriculum and program design, and be a mentor to other WPA-GO members seeking avenues for professional development beyond their home institutions.


David Riche is a Ph.D. candidate and teaching assistant at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he is currently researching the framing and reframing of LGBTQ rhetoric in public policy and activist initiatives. From 2010 to 2011, he served as the assistant WPA for LSU’s English Department, during which time he helped to restructure the program’s first-year writing curriculum, assessment procedure, and website. He has also previously worked as a writing tutor and tutor-training assistant at Loyola University New Orleans, Seattle University, and LSU. Since 2008, he has been an officer for LSU’s English Graduate Student Association, serving as webmaster and as chair of the pedagogy committee. In 2011, he worked with Irvin Peckham as the assistant local organizer for the WPA conference in Baton Rouge. He has presented his research at both CCCC and RSA, and he will be presenting at WPA this summer.

Statement: Although I am still new to CWPA, I have already benefited both professionally and personally from my interactions with fellow members. Since helping to organize the WPA Conference in 2011, I have seen my resources for professional development expand tremendously, and I am not content to simply enjoy such opportunities. I am compelled to give back. Over the last few years, my research has examined practices of writing instruction from multiple perspectives, drawing on my experience as a writing tutor, classroom instructor, and assistant WPA. Having occupied this range of roles as a graduate student, I am convinced that open communication among graduates and administrators is vital to the development of successful frameworks for practice, especially since graduate students can and do occupy so many different positions within and beyond university writing programs. As such, I plan to work with WPA-GO to enhance communication and collaboration among graduate students and WPAs, either through outreach initiatives or mentorship programs. In doing so, I hope to share opportunities for professional development with all members of WPA-GO and to increase awareness of the many roles that graduate students play in writing program administration.


Lara Smith-Sitton is a PhD student in the rhetoric and composition program at Georgia State University. Her concentrations are writing program design; history of rhetoric and composition; and business, technical, and professional writing. Her research focuses on re-envisioning writing courses and classroom spaces to integrate technology, transferability, and extra-curricular learning experiences (service learning and internships) into program design. While in graduate school she has served as Associate Director of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association and Managing Editor of South Atlantic Review, and Co-Manager of the Goizueta Business Writing Center at Emory University. At GSU she teaches writing courses and leads workshops for the Writing Studio and English Department, and she serves as a writing consultant and instructor at Emory. Lara regularly attends and presents research addressing writing program administration at conferences, including CWPA, CCCC, and MLA. She has published on topics including service learning, internships, and pedagogy.

Statement: I returned to graduate school after an established career in writing and editing with a strong desire to contribute to the development of effective and sustainable writing programs that serve the needs of 21st-students. I wanted to participate in work that re-envisioned writing programs and pedagogy. I attended my first WPA Conference and WPA-GO meeting in my second year of graduate school and found a community of colleagues and mentors committed to exploring how to serve our student writers and emerging scholars. I returned to the 2010 conference, and believe that my CWPA conference attendance and relationships have greatly enhanced my graduate school experience. I seek to be a part of WPA-GC to continue the excellent work of this organization that encourages others to join the conversations about writing.

In my administrative and leadership roles, my responsibilities have included organizing committee meetings, developing policies and procedures, planning the annual conference, and implementing new programs for scholars at all levels. I believe this experience could be valuable to the WPA-GC because in the same way that I returned to graduate school to serve students, I would like to support the needs of my fellow graduate students working in writing program administration.


Carolyn Wisniewski is a third-year PhD student in Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she specializes in writing program administration, writing pedagogy education, first-year composition, and writing program assessment. Carolyn’s qualitative and quantitative studies investigate first-year writing instructors’ content and pedagogical knowledge, the implementation of whole-class workshops in FYC, and inductive approaches to writing teacher preparation. She has presented her research at CCCC, WRAB, and RSA. Carolyn has mentored new writing instructors in her MA and PhD programs, has developed training workshops for university writing teachers and in-service secondary writing teachers, has twice co-taught UT’s composition pedagogy course, and has recently been selected to serve as Assistant Director of Composition. Carolyn is currently preparing articles from her dissertation research of novice writing teachers and is designing an assessment of UT’s CCCC Writing Program of Excellence award-winning first-year writing program.

Statement: I value WPA-GO’s efforts to help new members of our field gain voice and agency in our own education and developing professional identity. WPA-GO is invaluable as a support structure for graduate students who lack institutional support in one way or another, whether because of budget constraints or disciplinary and departmental structure. I value WPA-GO because it emphasizes the work of writing program administrators as a scholarly activity and offers needed opportunities for aspiring WPAs to attend conferences and workshops and feel like part of a community.

I am committed to the work of WPA-GO, especially cultivating a community of young WPAs through mentoring relationships. I have benefited greatly from strong mentoring relationships in graduate school and my studies of new teachers also point to the importance of mentoring. Because of its relationship with CWPA, WPA-GO has a great opportunity to build community through supportive mentoring relationships. I desire to continue and extend the excellent work of WPA-GO by organizing workshops, at national conferences and via online interfaces, that would support graduate students interested in program assessment, qualitative and quantitative research, and curriculum design. I am committed to fostering existing mentoring relationships and facilitating new ones.


Graduate Committee Member #3: Vote for Andrea Rosso Efthymiou, Jennifer Dorsey, Christina LaVecchia, or Jessica Nastal

Andrea Rosso Efthymiou has been involved in WPA work since 2007 as the Associate Director of The Beren Writing Center at Yeshiva University, Stern College for Women. During this time, Andrea has mentored, worked with, and learned from 50 undergraduate and graduate women tutors. Andrea’s life as a writing center administrator intimately informs her work as a Ph.D. candidate at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. For her dissertation, Andrea is at work developing a qualitative study of The Beren Writing Center that will explore the ways gender and religion intersect in that space. She is further interested in the implications of such cross-pollination for women’s rhetorical education both inside and outside the institution.

Statement: As a graduate student administrator and the only compositionist on the Stern College for Women campus, I’m aware of the challenges in advocating for and articulating the work of writing instruction, while occupying the tenuous role of graduate student laborer. Driving my desire to become actively involved in WPA-GO is my commitment to supporting the daily, on-the-job lives of graduate student administrators as we manage such demands alongside the academic pressures of our institutions. As graduate students, we constantly negotiate our work-time with time needed towards degree (among our other, equally important, personal commitments); to compound this balancing act with the need to professionalize and the pressures of the job market—all while finessing our roles as administrators—is an exigent task, to say the least. It is my hope that becoming more involved with the WPA-GO community will offer me a space to collaborate with other graduate student administrators and bring us closer to mentors. In light of the experiences I anticipate as a committee member, I hope to return to my home at the CUNY Graduate Center and share what I will have learned with graduate students in my department who work to balance similar demands.


Jennifer Dorsey, M.A. is the Assistant WPA at Saint Louis University and is an incoming English Pre-Doctoral Teaching Fellow for the 2012-2013 academic year. She assists the writing program with creating course assignments, coordinating schedules, leading instructor orientation, arranging professional development programming, and fostering relationships with textbook publishers. A 15-year veteran of the publishing industry, Jennifer focuses much of her research on the rhetorical implications of secondary literacy and new media on academic publishing, as well as the rhetorical writing life of women. Jennifer has presented on WPA work, feminist rhetorics, FYC, WAC, and writing portfolios. She is the author of several trade non-fiction books and "Renewing Our Commitment: A Multimodal Journey Through CCCC" in the Pearson Education CompPro Professional Development Online Journal (2010). She is currently working on her dissertation, "I Dared to Say: Reclaiming the Rhetorical Identity of the Life and Works of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin."

Statement: I have served as the Saint Louis University Assistant WPA, which is a two-year graduate assistant appointment, for the last two years. During that time, I have had the opportunity to work in conjunction with a talented group of composition instructors, writing center directors, and faculty members to provide our students with a quality introduction to rhetorical strategies of writing. During my tenure, I have served as a liaison between the graduate teaching assistants and the WPA office, helped our publishing representatives plan and implement online teaching environments and assessment tools for our instructors, and developed monthly professionalization workshops for our program. As a graduate student who also serves in this professional role, I have experienced first-hand the deeply dependent (and often contested) relationship between contingent graduate assistant/adjunct faculty and the Writing Program leadership. This experience has given me a greater understanding for all stakeholders involved in the writing program writ large and, I believe, would make me an asset to the WPA-GO committee. I look forward to the opportunity to help WPA-GO grow, foster cross-institutional relationships, and build a collective message and vision that will allow its membership to prosper as a vital segment of the CWPA community.


Christina LaVecchia is a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati. In addition to writing program administration, her research interests include writing pedagogy and theory, cultural rhetorics, affect theory, and assessment. At UC Christina teaches first-year and intermediate composition and tutors in the writing center.

Christina’s interest in WPA studies led her to serve as the 2011–12 Assistant to the Directors of Composition at UC, and is currently in her second year of serving on the UC Composition Advisory Committee, where she assisted a program assessment initiative. This summer she will attend the CWPA workshop and institutes (Albuquerque, NM) on a Taft Enrichment Grant. Christina has published “Of Peerenting, Trophy Wives, and Effeminate Men: Modern Family's Surprisingly Conservative Remediation of the Family Sitcom Genre” in Harlot and recently presented at the 2012 CCCC in St. Louis on wonder as a practice and affective relationship that can reinvigorate invention.

Statement: As we graduate students prepare to take on WPA roles, it is vital that WPA-GO continue encouraging graduate involvement with the CWPA and the deepening of peer relationships across institutions. As a WPA-GC member I would bring a useful perspective on graduate student roles in teacher training, program assessment, and curriculum design that help graduates develop a familiarity with WPA work.

My research and administrative experiences at UC have taught me much about the intricacies of WPA work first-hand. As a graduate WPA assistant I collaborated with the practicum instructor, developed materials for orienting new teachers, and co-planned a graduate conference. Research projects investigating program assessment and drafting a revised curriculum for semester conversion—in addition to the mentorship of my institution’s WPA, Laura Micciche—have also rounded out my understanding of WPA work.

As a WPA-GC member I would use my experiences to serve graduate students by emphasizing the benefits of mentorship and of learning about the realities of WPA work. The generosity and inclusiveness of the CWPA community has always deeply impressed me, and I am strongly interested in contributing in a meaningful way to this community and its graduate students.


Jessica Nastal is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was recently appointed Coordinator of Basic Writing. She has taught courses in First Year Composition and Intensive English programs at UWM and at Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain, where she earned a Master’s degree and graduated with distinction. Jessica has participated in designing and coordinating teaching assistant training, orientation and development workshops, and programmatic assessments. She is the recipient of the English Department’s Teacher of the Year Award and the Chancellor’s Graduate Award. Jessica also serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Writing Assessment, where she has a forthcoming book review as a series of blog posts about Writing Assessment in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of Edward M. White. Her research interests include ecologies of writing, multilingual writing, assessment, and – of course – writing program administration.

Statement: From the moment I enrolled in Chuck Schuster’s class, “The Satisfactions and Sorrows of Writing Program Administration,” I was hooked – a feeling that grew when I walked into my first WPA breakfast, where everyone is greeted with applause and recognized for their work. Our assignments in the graduate seminar were plucked from experiences of composition directors, threads on the WPA-L, and conversations across the university and field. While I wrote, revised, and discussed the assignments, I became aware of the community I was entering: I realized that in his leadership positions, Chuck often drew on peers’ and students’ experiences to create comprehensive solutions. In my responses, and now as Coordinator, I try to do the same to strengthen our local communities.

I want to become an integral part of this organization that prioritizes camaraderie as it encourages members to be better teachers, administrators, writers, and peers. As a member of the WPA-GO Graduate Committee, I will continue to develop the connections between our individual institutions and national organizations, between individuals and writing programs. I am eager to participate in disciplinary conversations as the Committee works closely with WPA Executive Committee members – and to be a resource for graduate students nationwide.