On Wednesday October 2nd, the Writing Arts Department held its first faculty-student meet and greet where students had the opportunity to discuss their academic interests with professors of related programs in a casual environment over refreshments. Many of the students in attendance were new to the department as first semester students taking the Writing Arts Learning Community course, instructed by Professor Amanda Haruch. Professor Haruch explained that the goal of the course “is to foster a community that students are a part of for the duration of their academic career here." The meet and greet expanded this community to include faculty as well, something Professor Haruch hoped would come of the event. These meetings create a more open environment throughout the department where everyone can become more involved as a community and aware of the opportunities offered to them. Professor Jade Jones recounts her experience at the event, “The faculty meet and greet gave us the chance to meet students outside the classroom in a more casual setting. I got to meet students who I may not have in class and I also got to talk to my current students without mentioning grades, readings, or writing assignments. The meet and greet was an opportunity for students and faculty to chat more as peers." This view of faculty and students as peers is the Writing Department goal for both the Writing Arts Learning Community course and future Meet and Greet events, as it provides students with the experience of communicating with peers of their professional field.
I had the unique experience of interacting with both students and faculty, discussing internship opportunities and my own experience, as well as graduate options for myself as a senior student in the Writing Arts Major. In particular, I had a conversation with Writing Arts Learning Community students who had transferred to Rowan this semester; Daria, a creative writing major interested in publishing, and Champagne who was an Education major with interest in teaching writing. I had the chance to tell Daria about the publishing experience I am gaining through my Writing Arts internship and work with Rowan’s Singularity Press, as we share the same career interests. Champagne and I discussed her goals as a Writing Arts student, and I was able to aid her by peer reviewing some of her writing.
As for faculty interaction, the other students and myself were able to meet and chat with Heather Lanier, a new professor to our department. She discussed the writing subjects she is experienced in, as well as the current courses she is teaching at Rowan. To hear more about her, stay tuned for a podcast interview conducted by Connor Buckmaster, head WA intern and Rowan graduate student. I also spoke with Dr. Grace Fillenwarth and Dr. Jason Luther whom I had met in Intro to Writing Arts. Both teach courses in Technical and Professional Writing, and although my concentration is Creative Writing, they had valuable information and insight to help me with my career goals. I expressed regret that I was unable to take Dr. Luther’s course Self-Publishing, so both professors were able to suggest graduate opportunities and provide contact information that would aid my search for publishing knowledge and experience. After, I had a conversation with Dr. Drew Kopp, chair of the Writing Arts Department, and expressed my gratitude for what I was able to learn about different theories of writing when I had taken How Writers Read with him a previous semester. He later expressed that he was “thrilled with how our first meet and greet went, and it succeeded due to the faculty who led the way: Jade Jones, Amanda Haruch, Megan Atwood, and Heather Lanier, to name a few of the faculty who were there at the meet and greet. However, its success is also due to the students who actually showed up, primarily this year’s Writing Arts Learning Community."
The Meet and Greet also served as a chance to discuss upcoming events. Professor Katie Budris passed out flyers and recommended students attend Glassworks’ Issue 19 Launch Reading on October 24th at the High St. Art Gallery, and I was able to discuss plans for Rowan’s involvement in the Collingswood Book Festival with Professor Stephen Royek who ran the Writing Arts booth at the festival and Dr. Luther who ran a booth there for his Self-Publishing course. To hear more about that annual event, be sure to read next week’s article! The last event that the faculty-student meet and greet provided an informational platform for is the “newest winter session opportunity,” the Winter Writing Retreat to the beautiful Pendle Hill retreat center in Wallingford, PA.
The Winter Writing Retreat was a main point in the meet and greet because it is a chance to further develop the department as a community. Dr. Kopp worded it best, relating the retreat to the goals of the department, “I see the Winter Writing Retreat to be an expression of a larger vision and mission for the department, a vision and mission that we are just beginning to articulate. Central to our vision and mission is a promise: to provide distinctive educational experiences for students that leave them empowered to be writers in the world. This retreat is one part of a larger structure to deliver on this promise, a structure that necessitates generating other similar events in the future, which will continue to generate more opportunities for faculty and students to interact within and beyond the classroom”.
Creative Writing Professor Jade Jones held a presentation on what this creative writing retreat, presented and priced as a 1 credit course, has to offer Writing students. She highlighted that herself, Megan Atwood, Lanre Akinsiku, and Heather Lanier will be sharing their creative writing expertise as published faculty. Jones made sure to mention that this writing focused retreat will allow students “the chance to use the January break productively and gain writing tools that’ll help them in the years to come” and later expressed her excitement for the event mentioning that she is “looking forward to exploring multiple creative genres with students in January." If you are interested in the retreat this winter, as Dr. Kopp and Professor Haruch have stated, “While the retreat is primarily for [Writing Arts Learning Community students], other Writing Arts majors are invited to the retreat, though they will need to move fast” because “there are now already eight students from the meet and greet registered to attend!” If you would like to be one of the other twelve students to attend this first retreat, contact Dr. Drew Kopp by email asap.
In the end, all of the students and faculty were able to engage in productive conversations that were enlightening to what that Writing Arts Department has to offer students. The main concern expressed across the board for future meet and greets was the hope for more upper-class students to attend as well, not just Freshman. However, Professor Haruch included with this suggestion the notion that “being able to access freshman students and begin to build those bonds so early in their Writing Arts Journey was priceless." Still, more upper-classman participation would ultimately provide freshman students a view of their future as Writing Arts students, and could benefit themselves as I did in learning about their opportunities post-graduation, catching up with their previous professors, and meeting those they never had the opportunity to take courses with. Despite the event including mostly students new to the program, faculty left the event feeling much the same as Dr. Kopp, who was “thrilled with how our first meet and greet went." As a representative of the student viewpoint, I agree with Dr. Kopp that the event was a great success and share the same sentiment as Professor Haruch: “My hope is that this is the first of many faculty and student meet and greets”.