On Community Engagement

Within the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to work a few different events that reach out to students that are interested in the Minor: the info session on Feb 15 and the major/minor expo on March 19. While talking about the Minor is always fun, and I definitely ate my fair share of free Sweetland pizza and candy, talking to interested students about the Minor got me thinking about the ways we promote the minor. It also got me thinking about what I wish I knew before I started the Minor many many moons ago. So, because writing is a great way to process these thought, I thought I would share.

First, how we talk about the Minor with freshmen and sophomores who are interested in pursuing writing at Michigan. I cannot tell y’all how many times someone asked me: “But, like, how many people get in. Will I get in? What’s the percentage of people that get in?” Or my favorite: “What will the Minor do to my GPA? Is it easy?” I’m grateful that after a few years in the Minor, I can honestly say I don’t look at the Minor as a way to boost my GPA, and I don’t worry about what kind of grade I’m going to get as a result. In Capstone, I’m not worried about making my project great so I can get a good grade. I stay up at night stressing over the Capstone because I want it reflect me, I want it to be something I care about it. TBH I want Shelley to be proud of me. But how do you explain that to nervous prospective students, that the Minor gives you great opportunity to write about what you’re interested in, and that the best writing isn’t motivated by grades? At the major/minor expo, I think I just started telling people that their grades would be fine.

Talking to these students on the beginning of their journey with the Minor, it makes me think about what I wish I knew before I began the minor. Because I have a tendency to procrastinate, I didn’t attend an info session or the expo before I applied into the Minor. So, as a result, on the first day of Gateway, I knew pretty much nothing about the Minor. Whoops. I wish I’d known that we define writing in a way that was much broader than my sophomore-self knew back in the day. I found myself bragging on the other members of my Capstone section to prospective students, trying to show them that there is so much more to writing than just words on a page. Tangentially, I currently wish I knew more about how the Gateway currently looked (I’m a dinosaur and took it before the “experiment” format) because students kept asking me and my general response was: “Uhh, great question! Anyone else want to talk about Gateway?”

So, if you haven’t had the chance to work an event to promote the Minor, you should definitely do it. I can pretty much guarantee there will be free food. Plus, it’s a great way to talk about something we all love: the Minor in Writing. And free food.

Emily Fishman

Hi! My name is Emily Fishman and I am a senior from Houston, Texas. I'm an English major, and a brand-new Writing minor. I also work for Sweetland as a peer consultant, so needless to say I love writing

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