Write At Home

Mizzou student tutors find their place at the MU Writing Center

Grace Halverson was 12 when her family moved from snowy Minnesota to toasty Frisco, Texas, and her father appreciatively quipped, “Well, you can’t shovel heat.”

Grace Halverson
Grace Halverson vacationed at Disney World this year.

Halverson clearly comes by that phrase-turning knack honestly. A natural born writer, she “split the difference” geographically by choosing Mizzou, where she found her wings as a strategic communication major in the J-School and as a tutor in the MU Writing Center. In her spare time, she wrote her first novel (which she completed before graduating in May), penned poems for pizza, learned the art of floral design, joined the Novak Leadership Scholars and helped create a comprehensive marketing campaign for a hospital during the pandemic.

“I love the Writing Center,” says Halverson, who was also a member of its outreach team. “I love sitting down with someone’s composition and figuring out what works, what doesn’t work and how it could all work better.”

She is currently trying to publish Euterria, her young-adult fiction novel about a high schooler whose writings come to life. Halverson began the project during her freshman year and has since labored through four drafts.

“It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of breaking through the feeling of ‘I don’t want to write right now, but I’m going to anyway,’ ” says Halverson, who was also an MU Honors College student. “If you wait until the mood strikes you, then you’re never going to make any progress. Writing is a great escape, too.”

Up next for Halverson? An internship with the Chicago-based advertising agency TPN, whose client, Sarah Lee Bread, inspired a clever cover letter.

“It was full of bread puns,” says Halverson, laughing. “I explained how I would ‘rise to the occasion,’ and that ‘storytelling is my bread and butter.’ Horrible, but hey — it got me the interview!”

Class of 2020 Writing Center Tutors

Kelsey Mason

Kelsey Mason
Kelsey Mason

Major: Biological science and psychology
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Accolades: Departmental honors in Psychology, Honors Certificate, Multicultural Certificate and Excellence in Tutoring Award
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “My first research presentation at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Forum last year at the Bond Life Sciences Center. I felt like a true scientist.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “I’ve learned a lot of new things that have enhanced my own writing process and style. I’m more confident in my own writing than I have ever been before thanks to everything I’ve learned in my time as a tutor.”
What’s next: “I am taking a gap year to work and build my CV, and then I plan to go to graduate school for a PhD in neuroscience.”

Sarah Pribe

Sarah Pribe
Sarah Pribe

Major: English, International Studies and Russian
Hometown: St. Louis
Accolades: Phi Beta Kappa, Mizzou ’39, Fulbright semifinalist and departmental honors in English and Russian. I also presented a paper at the Central Slavic Conference and my linguistic research at the virtual Macksey National Undergraduate Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins University.
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “I led two research fieldwork trips to Uganda where I interviewed nine speakers and collected data on under-documented languages, six of which had no previous data collected on them.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “One of three things I remember from my Mizzou tour my senior year in high school is the Writing Center. I made it a goal to work there. The experience has not only helped my own writing, but it has also made me more confident in my skills, interests and how I see myself as a person. For someone who studies words, I can quite honestly say that I don’t have words for the impact that the Writing Center has had on me.”
What’s next: “This summer I’m taking the LSAT and working, and hopefully next fall I will be in Kyrgyzstan for a Russian language institute. After my gap year, I hope to study international and human rights’ law at Washington University in St. Louis.

Annalee Roustio

Annalee Roustio
Annalee Roustio

Major: English and French
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Accolades: Interned for Persea Books and Wigleaf; won the Undergraduate Creative Writing Award judged by Grace Gardiner, and two departmental creative writing awards judged by Traci Brimhall and Gary Fincke.
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “I’m extremely proud of all I’ve accomplished in the past four years, academically, financially and beyond. I will forever treasure my time at Mizzou and will deeply miss this university!”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “I’m genuinely sad to have to move on from the only job I think I could have done forever and never grown tired of. I mentored tutors-to-be and acted as an ambassador of sorts to the WC, so I feel like I made the most of my role. It might seem silly, but I’ve read every single feedback survey my tutees ever left me. I loved seeing all the kindnesses!”
What’s next: “I’ll be getting my MFA in creative writing (poetry, in my case) at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where I will also help teach.”

Sadie Jess

Sadie Jess
Sadie Jess

Major: Sociology
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Accolades: Member of the College Democrats of America and Phi Beta Kappa
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “My proudest Mizzou achievement is my time as president of the Mizzou Democrats. I’m proud that our team was able to help mobilize our campus community and provide a place for students to discuss politics in a friendly and open environment. My closest friends are the ones I made through this organization, and it’s heartwarming to see those relationships forming among the underclassmen as my time here is up.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “It was a haven away from the stressful parts of college life. Stephanie Kimmey (assistant director) and Aaron Harms (director) are thoughtful and caring leaders who know how to foster a sense of community among their employees. Lots of bosses say their workplace is a family, but the Writing Center is the only job I’ve had where this feels true.”
What’s next: “I’ll be working for the Missouri Democratic Party as their digital manager. After taking a gap year for the 2020 cycle, I plan to go to law school. My goal is to be an immigration lawyer.”

Natalie Gilliam

Natalie Gilliam
Natalie Gilliam

Major: Business administration
Hometown: Carthage, Missouri
Accolades: Sales Certificate, Multicultural Certificate, treasurer of MU Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Club
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “Getting chosen to speak to a room full of million dollar Mizzou donors about my sales experience and hearing them laugh at my jokes!”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “By opening up my heart and mind to new experiences, backgrounds and humans in general. I’ve realized talent can come from places you least expect it. And language barriers are worth getting over.”
What’s next: Recruiter for Signature Consultants in Creve Coeur

Evan Frook

Evan Frook
Evan Frook

Major: Philosophy
Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
Accolades: Honors College and Department of Philosophy honors
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “Grades generally mean very little to me, but I must admit a bit of pride for several 4.0 semesters. I’m also especially proud of my poetry-inspired philosophy thesis on forgiveness and resentment, an examination of the quantum mechanical basis of human decision making, and a challenge to the classic conception of so-called natural resources, especially land, as neither artificial nor possessing moral status.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “The Writing Center, as much as anything else, has fine tuned my ability to ask a particular kind of incisive question, questions that help advance the understanding not only of the asker, but also the asked. Indeed, I often questioned tutees about things I knew the answer to, but in a way that, I hope, helped them realize what they themselves either knew but did not say, or needed to settle to improve their work.”
What’s next: Philosophy PhD at the University of Colorado–Boulder

Bryce Fuemmeler

Bryce Fuemmeler
Bryce Fuemmeler

Major: Economics and history
Hometown: Boonville, Missouri
Accolades: Chief Justice for MSA; teaching assistant for the Department of Economics; Marshall Scholarship finalist, where I proposed scholarship at Oxford that I’ll be pursuing next year; Kinder Scholar, studying and working in Washington, DC, during summer 2018; two-term president for Theta Chi Fraternity; Award for Academic Distinction and Mizzou ’39.
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “My time as a Kinder Scholar was most special to me. I hadn’t ever really been out of Missouri, so making a move to DC with relative strangers was scary for me. The students took me in as their own, though, and I’m still very close with them today. Not to mention the excellent academic and professional experiences!”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “Halfway through my freshmen year, I hadn’t found my place at Mizzou. But the WC completely changed that! I found really close friends, began to have “regulars” as tutees and experienced the wide course range Mizzou has to offer. Each time I worked, I found that I learned more and more from students by tutoring such diverse disciplines.”
What’s next: England to complete a one-year master’s course at the University of Oxford

John D’Arcy

John D'Arcy
John D’Arcy

Major: Finance and Spanish
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Proudest moment at Mizzou: Graduating with honors and double majoring
How the Writing Center changed my life: “I went from a freshman who used the Writing Center all the time to an employee. Working at the WC has helped me stay on top of my game. Additionally, being on the outreach team has helped me improve my public speaking. I loved being able to encourage others to take advantage of this amazing student service.”
What’s next: Arvest Bank as a Wealth Management Trainee

Madi McVan

Madi McVan
Madi McVan

Major: Journalism and international studies
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “I broke a story about unsafe conditions in a meat processing plant in Milan, MO, which led to the improvement of working conditions in the facility. I wrote a research paper in Spanish about news coverage of ‘migrant caravans’ and was invited to present it at the First Student Symposium of Romance Languages and Literatures.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “The Writing Center made me so much better at conversations and building relationships with strangers!”
What’s next: Working for the Missouri Community Information Needs Project

Siobhan Conners

Siobhan Conners
Siobhan Conners

Major: Journalism
Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois
Accolades: Graduating with honors from the Honors College
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “My proudest Mizzou moment would probably be when I got to intern in D.C. through the Kinder Scholars Program.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “The WC by being the best job ever! It made me realize how important collaboration and personal connection is in education. I loved working with students, which is a big part of the reason I pivoted my career path to education. I would like to consider myself to be a walking advertisement for the Writing Center because I’ve gotten so many of my friends hooked on it.”
What’s next: Teaching elementary school through Teach for America in Kansas City, Missouri

Madison Czopek

Madison Czopek
Madison Czopek

Major: Journalism and political science
Hometown: Clarkston, Michigan
Accolades: Graduated Summa Cum Laude in journalism and political science, and spent final semester freelancing for PolitiFact
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “Studying abroad in Brussels and being selected as a Bond International Scholar is one of my proudest Mizzou achievements. Through the journalism school’s internship program, I was able to report on Brexit and EU politics for four months.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “I don’t think I can overstate how beneficial it was for my personal and mental wellbeing to have hours blocked off in my schedule for tutoring and being at the Writing Center. Being a writing tutor also taught me to stop doubting myself and my abilities. Working with students online and face-to-face, and mentoring tutors-in-training, helped me grow into my skill as a writer. It also helped me find solid ground when it comes to advising others. I’m more measured, contemplative and decisive.”
What’s next: I’ll be part of the Missouri Community Information Needs Project as a member of its pop-up newsroom

Ian Kweon

Ian Kweon
Ian Kweon

Major: English
Hometown: Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Accolades: Vice President for English at MU, interned at Wigleaf, and read for the Mizzou CAP Reading
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “Completing my senior honors thesis and getting pretty decent at rock climbing. (I’m terrified of heights, but I could get pretty far if I didn’t look down.)”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “Writing Center work became the topic of my senior honors thesis!”
What’s next: Taking a year off from school

Maren Rhynerson

Maren Rhynerson
Maren Rhynerson

Major: Psychology and health sciences
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Accolades: Multicultural certificate, participated in College Mentors for Kids, Gamma Phi Beta, volunteer at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding center
Proudest moment at Mizzou: “Working at the writing center for the majority of my college career, making the decision to double major second semester my sophomore year and all of the amazing friendships I have made with such diverse people during my time at Mizzou.”
How the Writing Center changed my life: “The Writing Center helped to keep me balanced. I loved to be social and go out a lot — especially in my first years at Mizzou — and the Writing Center was a constant anchor in the chaos. It was comforting to have such a constant thing that held me accountable and to have a certain sense of responsibility other than school.”
What’s next: Law school at either KU or UMKC