Wait, where am I from?

Hello! I’m Kat – short for Kateryna, which saved me plenty of anxiety waiting for substitute teachers to massacre pronouncing this ~foreign~ spelling of an otherwise common name (huge shout out to my high school volleyball team for kicking out those 3 extra syllables). I’m currently a sophomore studying neuroscience (on the pre-med track), so sitting in a classroom with under 300 students has brought upon quite a bit of culture shock this semester. It’s been a refreshing change of pace, giving me the creative outlet I wanted to have alongside my other world of frantic note taking (and countless hours decoding these notes).

While I’m a way-too-proud East Coaster from Fair Lawn, New Jersey – 25 minutes from Manhattan, I can’t forget to mention – I was born in Athens, naturally setting my standards for Mediterranean food through the roof. To further complicate things, my entire family is Russian while from Ukraine, so you can imagine the debates I’ve sat and watched people have about where I truly am “from.”

A pronunciation one of my many backgrounds has taught me. Very Important.

I’ve noticed I’m absolutely terrible with letting people off easy by answering “how are you?” with just “good.” I think this endless desire to colorfully give too many details about my life is one of my key driving forces for writing. Being completely honest, I dreaded writing in every regard before my senior year of high school, and I didn’t develop a true excitement for it before completing my English 125 personal narrative “Fashion to Friendships.” By combining my personality into a mix of anecdote and analysis, I delve into the intricacies of my history with friendships and what each one has taught me. This is now the origin piece I am using for my experiments – an open letter, a poem, and a zine – all centered around different components of this idea of friendships and what makes them so meaningful.

While writing a poem will expose me to a medium I’m not too comfortable with, I’m quite excited to decode the components of putting together a zine. The idea itself reminds me of a matured version of my childhood crafts, and I’m looking forward to seeing if I got any better at it during my time off from practicing. I’m curious to explore how people can grow from toxic friendships, and whether or not you can become friends with anyone at all. Outside of the experiments, I wonder how I’ll change and grow as a result of my upcoming work in Gateway.

Letters to the Future

Hello! My name is Akili Echols and I am currently a sophomore.

Here are some quick facts about me:

My major is sociology and I am minoring in writing as well as in Education for Empowerment which is all about education equity. I’m also a student-athlete here at UMich and run track. I love to write about social justice and my observations about the world around me. I also like writing poetry and even enjoy writing essays for class once in awhile.

The origin piece that I plan to use for my experiments is one that I wrote last semester in my English 225 class. My final project was a a collection of open letters about colorism that were addressed to my future daughter. I had a lot of fun when writing this origin piece, but it felt unfinished when I turned it in and I’m excited to see where I can take it.

I am really looking forward to being creative in new ways. For example, I plan on doing a photo essay/case study on someone in my life. I think using other mediums like photos in edition to my words will really allow me to push my own boundaries. I have never edited a video on my computer, so I hope that I am able to use the technology for my photo essay to its full capabilities, using all of it’s cool features. I wonder about where my experiments will take me and what I will find out about myself and others through the process.


My list of fun facts and a book with stickers

I’m a 5’6″ communications major, I own too many pairs of earrings, and my favorite breakfast is a chocolate chip bagel. One of my favorite activities is thrifting with my friends, and I love to cook. I have a collection of bags (plastic, paper, canvas, you name it) and a passion for the performing arts. Oh, and my name is Lucy. I guess that bit is important, too. Most of those facts aren’t especially relevant to whoever you are reading this, but I figure they’re a little more interesting than your average introduction spiel. I’m currently in my first semester of the writing minor and am so happy I took the leap and applied last semester. I’ve been able to expand my writing and explore my own voice in a way I haven’t before. I’m excited to continue growing in this course, and to take on my first experiment.

My origin piece is a sticker-plastered notebook that I’ve owned since seventh grade. The cover is warped, the binding is ripped, and there are at least six pages missing. Here’s a peek:

Inside it holds most of the songs I wrote between 8th and 12th grade, totaling over 35. Some are fragments of chords with lyric ideas jotted down in the margins, others are fully completed pieces. Interacting with it now is a complex, self-reflective process. Each song represents a different stage of my life, a snapshot of how I viewed the world in that moment. Those five years were transformative. The notebook shows my apprehensions and my growth. I’m excited to revisit these experiences through fresh eyes and use my experiments to bring these songs into my life as it is today. We’ll see where they take me. Wish me luck!

Hello, my name is __________.

Let’s start off with the basics:

Hello, my name is Morgan Rubino, a sophomore Communications major from Rochester, MI!

As a person, I’m your typical introvert. When I’m not exploring Ann Arbor coffee shops in pursuit of the perfect hazelnut latte or cozied up binge-watching reality TV, you can find me writing. As a writer, I’ve fallen in love with a more editorial style, contributing to The Michigan Daily and SHEI Magazine on campus. But that there is why I really wanted to shake things up with my MiW gateway project, experimenting with some genres/mediums that I have never dared to try before.

The origin piece for my project is something any current sophomore might remember: the writing placement essay we had to write the summer before freshman year. In it, I argued against a claim by a New York Times writer stating that when millennials use “lazy” language, such as “I feel like,” in their speech, it disadvantages them. I was inspired to revisit that piece, because I don’t think I fully allowed myself to rant on and defend my generation to its fullest back then, just because I was still writing an academic paper after all. Too much ranting and I would’ve sounded crazy.

With this project, I am most excited to try my hand at some new mediums, including a digital zine and an open letter. I feel like those formats will give me the opportunity to really speak my mind through my writing. I also want to give a short story a try, which is a big deal for someone who never writes fiction. Ever.

My questions regarding this project are still mostly how am I going to get this all done?? But, I’ve resolved to just taking it day by day and experiment by experiment.

I’ve decorated cakes for NFL players and Jennifer Garner

I feel like introductions in college always begin with some lame ass ice breaker so I’ll start out by just giving you all that information now. My name is Nick Silk, I am a sophomore originally from Los Angeles, and I applied to the Ford School of Public Policy for my major, and if I don’t get in I’ll probably just do Political Science. Some ~fascinating~ things about me are that I’ve decorated cakes for NFL players and Jennifer Garner, I’ve broken the same collarbone three times, and I’ve been using the same pencil since freshman year of high school. I’m excited to be in this gateway course. I’m a pretty casual writer, but I would say the things I most enjoy to write are on opposite sides of the spectrum; I’m either all for writing a dense, analytic research paper or report, or I enjoy writing very conversational free-writing. For my source material, I’m working with a poem portfolio I wrote in a creative writing course last year entitled “Life, A Boy” that inspects the progression of a boy’s life through different, important stages and the varying emotions that come with them. Some of it’s based on my own life, some of it’s based on people I know, and some of it’s totally fiction. There’s a lot of direction that I could take with this broad theme of life and death, and I’m encouraged by all the genres that could be explored with it. It’s this potential that really attracted me to this particular source material, and while I don’t know if it’s possible, I hope to internally and externally find some answers to how we perceive life and death. While my experiment ideas are not set in stone, I was thinking of fashioning a baby book, creating a video essay, and writing an obituary/guestbook. All genres I have minimal experience with, but I think they’ll be interesting to delve into. I don’t know what else to tell you at this time, but I’m sure we’ll get to know each other more along the way. Here’s the Instagram page of the cake decorating studio I worked at:




An Unfinished Story

by: Sydney Wagner

My entire life consists of unfinished stories. Things I’ve written that have never reached their last page, words I wished to say but couldn’t bear to, tomorrow itself and each tomorrow that follows. To me, a story is never quite done, not really. It breathes- it’s living and changing and moving, like a summer breeze, sometimes non-existent, sometimes so strong it sculpts the waves. As a writer, I face a constant dilemma: give in to beginning a new story that’s been cracking open my insides, dripping in mystery and begging to be discovered, or finish that something old that has never evolved into its final form, that either needs touchups or proofreading or still has foreign places it wishes to soar to.

Then there are stories that are combinations of both: unfinished and waiting to be explored, while built solidly in the crevices of my imagination. These are the stories that whisper to me while I’m asleep: I still have so much to say. I’m ready to be transformed.

There’s a specific story that whispers this to me still. It’s short, unfinished, hidden in a notebook in the mess of my bedroom and begging to be transformed. It goes by the name of Diamond. It is a story of struggle. It is a love letter to baseball, and the seemingly surprising sometimes small things us humans find we are passionate about. It is a discussion of finding security in the chaos of life. It illustrates the life of a girl fighting to live in a world where the odds are stacked against her. The truth of this narrative speaks to her determination, the way in which she is everything I wish I could be.

This fictional girl I have created has whole bookshelves-worth of stories written in her DNA, her day-to-day, the insides of her brain. I crave to take these stories and flip them inside out and upside down and on their heads, to see them from every angle and point of view. Something about the way this character carries herself and goes about living speaks to me. The things she whispers are worth shouting, and in every mode possible, whether painted on a billboard or strung throughout a melody or plastered on a TV screen.

Her story needs to be shared. And that’s why I want to dig it out to shape and mold it with my hands a million times over- so that it may reach everyone, and so that not one person fails to understand.


Hello!  My name is Grace Kent and I am a sophomore studying Public Policy and minoring in writing and digital studies.  I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan but went to MSU for my first year before transferring to UofM. As an individual, I would consider myself an adventure-seeker.  I love going on spontaneous road trips and exploring places I’ve never visited before. I am a homebody and am very close with my family, but I also love meeting new people and branching out.  I am introverted yet I wear my heart on my sleeve.  As a writer, I am very much the same way. I write to my emotions and I let them flow through my pencil (unless I’m doing academic writing—then it is much different). Ultimately, I write because I want to remember and I want to convey important messages that I might not be able to vocalize eloquently.  

The origin piece I am going to choose is a letter I wrote during Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech when I was about 8 years old.  My parents made me write this letter expressing my feelings about such a historic moment in U.S. history.  When I was 8-9 years old, I did not know hardly anything about politics—mostly, I mirrored the emotion my parents felt regarding the election. I knew from the presidential portraits that surrounded my classroom walls that we had never even had an African American president before—so, for me mind, Barack Obama being elected as present was one of the coolest things I had ever experienced. My parents kept the letters my sister and I wrote stored away in a file cabinet.  The letter is informal, child-like, and funny—but conveys a candid sense of happiness and emotion regarding his inauguration.  

Here are some of the ideas for my experiments!

  1.  A short film/montage of a child writing the same letter that I once wrote in 2008.  The camera will be overhead filming the pen moving across the paper.  Then the shot will cut to a montage of b-roll footage on the 2008-9 inauguration with Obama, his family, the music, etc.  Overlaid on top of that will be audio of me (or the kid) reading from the letter while the footage plays on the screen.  It will cut back-and-forth between the writing shot and the footage of Obama’s inauguration/presidency.  
  2. A giant collage of pictures/mood board (representing the ideas of our current political climate:  Trump tweets, women’s march, BLM, climate change, etc.) and words and phrases used in my 2008 letter, but cut out and enlarged like a giant collage.  
  3. A back-and-forth video of a kid reading my letter from 2008 and me reading a new letter I would write from 2019.  It would be sort of a sentence-by sentence montage cutting back and forth between my sentiment then and now.  Pictures and videos will play in the video of both political climates while the audio plays on top.  

I am excited about getting to experiment with all of the Shapiro tech/design tools!

What do you wonder about the experiments or life itself? I wonder how kids perceive people in high-power position and what influences their mindset.

Introducing Myself

My name is Bennett Hendricks, I am currently 20 years old. I am studying biochemistry, which I have absolutely no regrets about (yet). As far as who I am as a writer, I am not exactly sure. Growing up I was never very fond of English classes, however I would say that’s changed somewhat in the past 3 years. I appreciate writing as an avenue to express the internal thought-world, as well as a venue to draw attention to any current paradigm out in the world. I think my attitude towards writing changed when I felt more freedom to explore my internal and external views through writing, versus feeling pressured to conform my writing to the popular narrative. My origin piece is an email I wrote to my Grandmother over winter break. The email is somewhat lengthy, and was typed out on the toilet – that sacred space where all upper-level thought occurs. In the email I inquire about my Grandmother’s views on health, medicine, and longevity, and I flesh out some on my own musings on the matter.

I draft tweets sometimes (and I guess this makes me a writer)

Hi! I’m Catherine, and I’m a sophomore and a brand new Minor in Writing! I am enrolled in the Gateway course with T, and this is my first blog post. In lieu of a introductory paragraph, here are some fun facts about me:

  • I am from Columbus, OH, but I’ve been a Michigan fan all my life
  • My favorite book is Flowers for Algernon
  • I am a Business Administration major, which involves a fun sprint twice a week from the Gateway (in USB) to Accounting (in Ross)
  • I make a mean coconut cupcake
  • My first piece of writing was a novel called “The Girl” (I was about six and promptly gave up after three pages (so not much has changed))

My origin material for my experiments is a research essay that I wrote for a Sociolinguistics class last semester. It was called “Mainstream English in the Age of Technology” and evaluated–get this–how mainstream English has changed with technology. I chose this essay because I had a blast doing research and writing it, and it has plenty of applications for experiments.

I’m really looking forward to one experiment I have planned; I’d like to build an interactive map of the U.S. online to show how mainstream English differs in each part of the country. I hope I will be able to get everything I’d like to done in the period of time that we have, and I am a little worried about how my final products will turn out, but at the end of the day it’s about the journey, not the destination!

Writing 220: The Gateway Community

To date, the Writing Minor Gateway course has been the most peer-integrated class I have ever been a part of. There is no beginning awkward stage of the class where nobody wants to talk aloud, raise their hands, or make side conversations. From the inception, the entire class was encouraged to get to know one another and truly utilize every individual writer and student as a unique resource. Being that the Writing Minor program is paralleled by an extremely diverse array of majors, its participants gain exposure to a wide range of perspectives. As a student in the business school, I found this class especially refreshing in that I am able to ask questions and for help to truly better my work, not just for participation points lying on a curve. Inside the classroom, stresses and pressures dissipate as the students in the Writing 220 Community of USB 2230 can simply put pen to paper and constructively let their ideas flow.