WPA-GO 2015 Graduate Committee Election

In July 2015, the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) Graduate Committee (GC) will say goodbye to members Christine Garcia (U of New Mexico), Brian Hendrickson (U of New Mexico), and Heather Stone (U of Utah), while Al Harahap (U of Arizona) will assume the Past Chair role. The CWPA GC ensures that the Writing Program Administrators--Graduate Organization (WPA-GO) fulfills its mission to support graduate student preparation and strengthen connections between graduate students and professional WPAs by providing its constituents with opportunities for funding, mentoring, netoworking, and professional development.In order to maintain the 7-person GC as outlined in the Bylaws, we will elect 4 new GC members. Voting will take place until January 15th, 2015, and results will be announced shortly thereafter.

The new GC members will begin their terms at and immediately after the CWPA Conference in July, 2015, Boise, ID, ending immediately following the CWPA Conference of the year their terms end. Continuing GC members are: incoming Chair Katherine Daily O'Meara (Arizona State U), incoming Past Chair Al Harahap (U of Arizona), Christina LaVecchia (U of Cincinnati), and Matthew Tougas (Louisiana State U).

In selecting and bracketing candidates for the 2015 GC Election ballot, this year’s elections subcommittee considered the following criteria:

  • demonstrated experience/interest interest in WPA work;
  • diversity as defined in WPA-GO’s ad hoc diversity task force report (demographic, institutional, intellectual/research);
  • strengths according to the current needs of the WPA-GO and GC.

The following candidates all demonstrate significant experience in WPA work and/or interest in WPA work with significant other organizational experience, a vision for the future of WPA-GO that will ensure our organization continues to respond with creativity and zeal to the ever-changing needs of graduate students. We are furthermore pleased to present a ballot that ensures the continued institutional and geographical diversity of the WPA-GO GC.

If you have questions about this election, please contact Christina LaVecchia (christinalv@gmail.com) and Heather Stone (heather@askthestones.com), Co-Chairs of the Membership/Networking Committee. Other members of the elections subcommittee include Brent Chappelow (Arizona State U), Jennifer Dorsey (Saint Louis U), Jennifer Mallette (U of Arkansas), David Riche (Louisiana State U), Ryan Shepherd (Arizona State U), and Jennifer Zinchuk (U of Washington).


Please Note: Only current GRADUATE STUDENTS who are members WPA-GO are eligible to vote. Each member should vote only once. The link to the ballot will be distributed via email to graduate student members on the WPA-GO mailing list. Voting is open and will close on January 15. If you are a graduate student member but do not receive your link to vote, please email wpago1@gmail.com.

Graduate Student members of CWPA &/or WPA-GO are invited to vote for 1 candidate in each of the 4 groupings outlined below.



Graduate Committee Member #1: Vote for Logan Bearden or Erin Workman




Logan Bearden is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University, where he also completed his BA in English Literature and MA in Rhetoric and Composition. In his time at FSU, he has taught Freshman Composition and Rhetoric, Freshman Writing and Research, and Introduction to Rhetoric. His research interests include writing program administration, multimodal literacy, and outcomes statements.

Currently, he serves as Assistant to the Writing Program Administrator. In this position, he assists with the training of new teaching assistants, coordinates workshops, and serves on the First-Year Composition Committee. He will begin data collection for his dissertation, “Favorable Outcomes: The Role of Outcomes Statements in Multimodal Curricular Transformation,” in the spring of 2015. The study will advance our knowledge of the ways in which composition programs revise curricula and outcomes in accordance with the more current research in the field and the effects of those revisions on student composing.

Statement: My interest in WPA work arises from my passion for teaching and my scholarly interest in how writing programs are developed, instantiated, revised, and maintained – a process through which WPAs synthesize theory and practice – especially as that process begins to include multimodal literacies within composition curriculum. WPA-GO offers a space for young and emerging teacher-scholars to shape and contribute to these kinds of conversations about administration at the national level. I believe my experience teaching and researching multimodal curricula could be an asset to that space.

If elected to the WPA-GO Graduate Committee, I envision contributing in two ways: I would 1) continue to foster the committee’s commitment to the mentorship of young scholars with interest in WPA; 2) encourage cross-institutional conversations about composition curriculum, which can help us (re)examine the current state of the field into which we will enter as jWPAs. Both of these would contribute to the professionalization and preparedness of the next generation of WPAs.

I am honored to be on the ballot for this year’s WPA-GO graduate committee, and it would be a pleasure to serve. Thank you in advance for your time and for your consideration. 




Erin Workman is a second-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University. In addition to teaching first-year writing courses, Erin has served as a consultant in the Digital Studio and is currently serving as program assistant. Erin is also a member of the First-Year Composition Committee, which oversees curriculum change, textbook selection, and undergraduate writing awards. Prior to coming to FSU, Erin completed her M.A. in English and adjuncted at the University of Maine and University of Maine-Augusta, Bangor Campus. While at UMaine, she served as a mentor to new graduate teaching assistants, helped to develop the ENG 101 assignment sequence, chaired a committee to revise the program’s portfolio assessment rubric, and taught a research writing in the disciplines course.  Additionally, Erin has served on the WPA-GO Membership & Networking Committee since 2013, and she is currently involved in a multi-institutional research study on teaching for transfer.

Statement: My interest in WPA work focuses on two main areas: writing assessment and transfer-focused curriculum development. Though I conduct research separately in each of these areas, much of my research, teaching, and service is informed by the convergence of writing assessment and transfer-focused curriculum development.

I became involved with CWPA and WPA-GO at the 2013 conference, where I presented research on readers’ expectations for students’ portfolio reflections. I was struck by how supportive the conference participants were, and when I was invited to join the Membership & Networking Committee, I eagerly accepted. Serving on this committee has afforded me the opportunity to connect with graduate students who share my interests in writing assessment and transfer and to have rich conversations about our institutional similarities and differences. In particular, I have appreciated the mentorship of other WPA-GO members, especially as I transitioned from adjuncting to doctoral work in an entirely different institutional context.

I am honored to be selected for the ballot, and, if elected, I will work to continue and expand the important work that WPA-GO does in providing graduate students with opportunities for cross-institutional networking and mentoring.



Graduate Committee Member #2: Vote for Anna Knutson or Virginia Schwarz




Anna is a second-year doctoral student at the University of Michigan who is interested in learning transfer, extracurricular literacies, online education, and writing assessment. As a result of her experiences as a first-generation college student, Anna’s teaching, research, and leadership are informed by her commitment to access, equity, and diversity in higher education.

After serving as an undergraduate writing center tutor for two years at the University of Washington, Anna obtained her MA at the University of New Mexico (UNM). At UNM, she taught first-year composition while serving as TA Mentor in the Core Writing program, Chair of the Writing Across Communities Alliance, Co-Director of the Albuquerque Community Writing Center, and Instructional Assistant in eComposition. After teaching first-year composition for one year at the University of Michigan, Anna now serves as a Research Assistant in the Sweetland Center for Writing, the University of Michigan’s hub of writing instruction and research.

Statement: My interest in writing program administration is motivated by my commitment to access, equity, and diversity. I believe that organizations like CWPA and WPA-GO can play a vital role in increasing access to well-designed learning environments for all college students by supporting scholars from diverse backgrounds as they move into administrative positions. By offering ample professional development opportunities to tomorrow’s WPAs, we can ensure that our profession adequately reflects and supports the diversity of higher education in the twenty-first century.

If elected to serve on the Graduate Committee, I will support WPA-GO’s mission by contributing to mentorship and outreach initiatives. As graduate students tend to move through multiple professional communities throughout their graduate school careers, they may at times find themselves lacking consistent support and mentorship. In response to this problem, I will contribute to WPA-GO’s ongoing project of providing graduate students with mentorship and professional development opportunities. Additionally, I am interested in supporting WPA-GO’s communication efforts: distributing information about the organization is one tangible method of increasing access to WPA-GO and CWPA for many individuals who would not only benefit from involvement with both organizations, but who would enrich this professional community by contributing their perspectives, experiences, and expertise.




Virginia Schwarz is a first-year PhD student and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Composition and Rhetoric also minoring in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. For her dissertation, she will work with the Institute for Research on Poverty to (re)design writing programs to improve access, retention, and completion, especially in communities of poverty. After earning her M.A. from California State University, Long Beach in 2008, Virginia taught basic writing and FYC at community colleges in Los Angeles, CA and Portland, OR. During this time, she created and directed Los Angeles Southwest College’s writing center, designing curriculum and overseeing operations. She also served on numerous committees, including the developmental education task force and district-wide assessment committee. In 2013, Virginia received TYCA’s Lisa Ede Teaching Excellence award for her commitment to student learning, diversity, and service. Virginia is interested in WPA scholarship in the context of resistance and social justice.

Statement: As a returning student, I am full of gratitude to be in a PhD program and have the opportunity, through this organization, for rich conversations within our professional community. Like you, I know the capacity of writing classes to transform and empower students as they develop the skills and confidence necessary for creative problem solving, critical thinking, self-agency, and global citizenship. Working with community college students, particularly those who have experienced educational or personal traumas, has profoundly shaped my career goal: to cultivate a system of higher education that is more accessible, socially just, and better equipped to address the real experiences of those who have been historically excluded from the benefits of the academy. If elected, I would advocate for those interested in WPA work at underrepresented sites: two-year colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, and within basic writing programs; encourage graduate student involvement in WPA scholarship, particularly around current issues such as assessment and transfer; and continue collaborative opportunities across disciplines, institutions, and regions. As a collective of diverse voices and experiences, I believe we can strengthen writing programs and further disciplinary conversations for the benefit of the students and communities we serve.



Graduate Committee Member #3: Vote for Mandy Macklin or Emily Simnitt




Mandy Macklin is a first-year doctoral student in Language & Rhetoric at the University of Washington, Seattle with research interests in genre theory, writing program design & administration, language ideologies, and the politics of translation. She holds an M.A. in Rhetoric & Composition from California State University, Northridge where she served as graduate assistant to the University Writing Council (2011-2013) and conducted a two-year case study on the politics of implementing various curricular models for linguistically diverse students and the complexities that come with assignment design, professional development and program assessment. Mandy currently teaches first-year composition in a university/high school pilot program with the UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars where she is conducting research on the challenges of bridging institutional domains and how these partnerships might gain credence in larger conversations on policy and reform.

Statement: It is my belief that dialogue among a diverse community of writing scholars, teachers, graduate students and professional WPAs is necessary to foster a culture that invites fresh perspectives and new ways of envisioning WPA practice and scholarship. My specific contributions would focus on advocating for opportunities that equip graduate students with the support to put our research projects into action and to also forge meaningful paths to professionalization. A strong network of graduate students is integral to this mission, and I think it is more pressing than ever to make our work visible in ways that authorize us to participate in dialogue within and beyond the field.

My service to the organization would be informed by my experience as graduate assistant to six composition directors at the third largest university in California. The presence of WPA-GO has played a significant role in my own professionalization, especially as I struggled with finding authority as a grad-researcher performing WPA work in a large FYW program that serves 6,000 FTF annually, 60% of which are traditionally underserved students. I would be honored to have the opportunity to contribute in ways that encourage emerging graduate WPA researchers to pursue ambitious work.



Emily Simnitt is a PhD candidate in Composition and TESOL at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She teaches first year writing at Boise State University, where she facilitates workshops for graduate students and faculty supporting students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and on using technology in the classroom and for professional development.

Prior to committing to an academic life, she worked in journalism and public information for Idaho’s health and human services agency. She regularly presents at national conferences like CCCC, NCTE, and Computers and Writing on her work with multilingual students, service learning, and technology. She has a forthcoming review of Jay Jordan’s book Redesigning Composition for Multilingual Realities in BWe, an online journal of basic writing. Her dissertation work examines student authorship of print-based texts in a multilingual, digital age where all composition is mediated by digital devices, applications, and online spaces.

Statement: I believe that mentorship, professional development, and collaboration opportunities for graduate students and writing faculty improves work in the classroom and elevates writing and writing instruction more broadly. My interest in researching 21st century literacies and supporting students from increasingly diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds beyond my own classroom led to my interest in WPA work. My experience meeting with other graduate students and faculty around the country interested in writing instruction has helped me realize the importance of engaging in discussions, research, and collaboration across institutions.

My involvement in CWPA began last year when I was selected for a WPA-GO travel grant to present at CCCC on my work with multilingual students and service learning. Since then, I have been working with WPA-GO on the mentoring committee to plan the research writing group at CWPA 2015 and to create virtual mentoring opportunities for graduate students. My affiliation with a doctoral program in Pennsylvania and a Masters-granting institution in Idaho has afforded me the opportunity engage with graduate students across the country. If elected to the committee, I look forward to continuing to strengthen these networks and find additional opportunities for graduate students, WPAs, and faculty to work together.



Graduate Committee Member #4: Vote for Cactus May or Ruth Osorio




Cactus May is a second-year PhD student studying Rhetoric and Composition at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. His interests include historiography, affect, pedagogy, and writing program administration. He served in the US Navy as an electronics technician. After his tour in the US Navy, Cactus graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Liberal Arts with minors in English, History, and Comparative Religious Studies from Colorado State University (CSU). He stayed on at CSU to earn his MFA in Creative Writing while working as a TA for the Composition Department where he taught first-year and junior composition courses. During his last year he served as assistant to the Director of the CSU Writing Center (at that time, Nick Carbone). Currently, Cactus teaches FYC at Ohio University and tutors international graduate students in the Linguistics Department English Language Intensive Program (ELIP).

Statement: I’m your “typical” first-year composition college student dropout – the mostly A student from a reputable high school who had everything going for him and yet somehow managed to fail. Today, as a PhD student at a “typical” university where one-in-five students will not return for their sophomore year, I have transformed my first-year composition classrooms into spaces where students may choose to interrogate and reflect upon the experiences of transitioning from high school to college. This example demonstrates what draws me so passionately to the work of the WPA. I want to make a program-level impact on the personal lives of students and student-teachers by leading a writing program that thrives on difference by foregrounding and valuing student experiences and knowledges.

Organizations like CWPA and WPA-GO provide an important site for sharing disciplinary knowledge. The opportunity to collaborate with peers and gain broad exposure to the practice of administering college writing programs is a game-changer. I am interested in supporting WPA-GO’s communications through traditional and innovative channels to help ensure graduate students continue to feel well connected. If elected to serve on the Graduate Committee, I would work to expand WPA-GO’s influence by supporting mentorship, outreach, and communication initiatives.




Ruth Osorio is a second year PhD student studying Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is interested in how bodies inform activist rhetoric and student writing, as well as disability studies and digital rhetoric. Upon realizing that the University of Maryland did not offer any graduate coursework in disability studies, she founded and secured funding for the Disability Studies in the Humanities Reading Group at UMD. She has presented at NCTE and Computers and Writing and will be presenting at CCCC and ISHR in 2015.

Before enrolling at UMD, Ruth taught basic writing, reading, first year writing, and feminist theory as an adjunct instructor at a community college in California. When Ruth takes off her teacher-scholar hat, she enjoys eating sour candy, walking her dog, and marathoning TV series on Netflix. She is expecting her first child in December.

Statement: As an intersectional disability studies scholar, I am passionate about integrating transformative access into the very fabric of writing classrooms and writing programs. I research how writing teachers can rebuild our syllabi, assignments, and classrooms to welcome and celebrate diverse bodies, minds, and experiences. I plan on bringing this interest into a leadership role within WPA-GO. I’m especially interested in how professional organizations can experiment with space and technology to expand upon already existing accessibility practices. My commitment to access and disability justice would enable me to contribute to WPA-GO’s ongoing efforts to incorporate accessibility into meetings and outreach efforts.

As a former adjunct instructor and a current graduate student instructor, I am also passionate about labor issues within writing programs. I’m invested in facilitating conversations about how writing programs and professional organizations can nurture and support contingent faculty and TA’s through both professional development and advocacy for fair labor practices. As graduate students, we embody a unique position within the academy, vacillating between worker and student. I believe this standpoint allows us to critically engage with how university politics affect the job market, the academic workforce, and student success.