Debby Ellis Writing Center

Meet Our Staff

Each of our peer consultants has been trained to work on any kind of writing assignment, and we encourage you to drop by and visit us anytime. If you worked with a consultant who was particularly helpful and you’d like to see that consultant again, please consult our staff list below.

    • NAME

      Maryam Ali

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      My name is Maryam and I am a junior Biology major and Data Science minor. My experiences with writing actually began when I was in second grade. As a second grader, I believe that I wrote a poem or something of that sort in school and came back home with fervent, enthusiastic declarations that I would be a writer upon growing up.

      Whereas my childhood aspirations for being a professional writer have not yet reached fruition, I think that my journey as a writer has been fraught with challenges, lessons, vulnerability, and uncertainty. Now, I have come to view the writing process as one of lifelong growth: growth as a writer but more importantly as an individual. I believe that each of my writing endeavors has not only enabled my growth as a writer, a critical thinker, and a reader, but also as a committed citizen, a thoughtful friend, and a caring individual.

      As a writing consultant, I therefore aim to further my peers’ growth as well as my own as a writer and as an individual. I hope that my consulting endeavors engender camaraderie and fundamentally inspire meaningful conversation and development.

      My personal strengths as a writer include my attention to detail, my conscientiousness, and my ability to engage with a multitude of disciplines (humanities, social sciences, and STEM). Certainly, I have significant experience with scientific writing, and I can provide advice with respect to writing a scientific paper. However, as a student at a liberal arts institution, I also have significant experience with the humanities and can help craft a thesis, structure a persuasive essay, and confer advice on style, voice, and organization. Ultimately, my hope is to make the writing process as deeply profound, engaging, and cathartic for you as it has been for me.

    • NAME

      Josh Brennan

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! My name is Josh, and I am a senior at Southwestern.

      I’ve been a news and non-fiction junkie since I learned to read; even when I was in elementary and middle school, I would read Yahoo! News and MSN obsessively! At SU, I’ve been able to channel my appetite for current events into the work I do for my majors - Philosophy and Religion - as well as into the work I produce for writing gigs I have at a few different publications. Most of my writing output is centered on political theory, which is no doubt a result of my childhood love for the news!

      Since coming to Southwestern, I’ve found both of my majors, and the faculty of both departments, to be invaluable in my growth as a writer and a thinker. Each discipline demands complex and detailed analyses of texts, arguments, and ideas, forcing me to really thinkabout what I say and what I write. Both majors have also allowed me to explore my love of politics.

      Coming from a background of writing editorial and opinion articles, I’m a big proponent of the inclusion of individual voice in writing, and a big antagonist of the fancy-schmancy stylistic requirements that our essay style guide overlords impose on us. Writing is much less about rules than it is about expression, as cheesy as it sounds, and while it can be difficult to write the same way one speaks without being completely informal, it is not impossible to write quality essays while still including personality and flair!

      In short, I like to help others channel their actualbeliefs and voice into their work, while still working with the rules that professors and style guides set, so that their writing balances quality with a voice that is uniquely theirs.

    • NAME

      Maddie Carrola

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! My name is Maddie, and before I identified as a writer, I was an avid reader. Growing up in San Antonio, I found a second home in my local library where I regularly found stacks of books to read and incurred late fees. This love for reading carried over into high school, and it was here, in my creative writing and English courses, that I also developed a love for poetry and other personal writing.

      I am currently a senior at Southwestern, and I joined the DEWC at the end of my first year. I was drawn to the writing center because words have long been sources of strength and clarity for me, and I wanted to share that with others. As a Feminist Studies and Sociology double-major, I am most experienced with writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences but also equipped to work with papers across disciplines.

      Perhaps ironically, writing is also something I have struggled feeling confident about, and it took a long time for me to realize that I had been extending a compassionate lens to others’ work but rarely my own. I hope that as a consultant I can help you recognize the strengths and beauty in your writing as others have done for me.

    • NAME

      Julianne Carroll

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello there! My name is Julianne Carroll. As of now, I plan on majoring in English and (possibly) minoring in Psychology, but who knows where this semester will take me! I may not know the precise details of what my future holds, but I’m absolutely certain it will involve lots of reading and writing; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      My undying love of literature materialized early on in my childhood, thanks to my mother’s insistence on reading a handful (or two) of children’s books every night before bed. I instantly fell in love with the way an author could transport me to another universe and prompt me to understand new perspectives with nothing more than a writing utensil and an idea. It was only natural for me to want to emulate these spellbinding creators after consuming so many of their stories. So I did! I poured myself into writing at any chance I could get. It didn’t matter if I was writing a research paper on penguins after seeing Happy Feetor creating my own version of a Magic Treehousenovel; if I was writing, I was happy.

      Though I’m currently only a sophomore, my time at Southwestern has already broadened my perspective on literature, allowing me to appreciate different styles of writing and understand just how important each style is. I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone on numerous occasions, writing in formats I had little to no past experience with (philosophy papers and research papers for psychology), and I’ve grown more than I could’ve imagined from that. I’m more ready to take on any writing-related challenge than ever before, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to my fellow students’ growth as writers and readers.

    • NAME

      Kate Davis

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi there! I’m Kate Davis and I’m a junior here at Southwestern University. I’m a double major in Psychology (BS) and English so I have experience writing both literary analysis as well as scientific writing. I have taken classes in almost every major at Southwestern and therefore have a lot of experience in almost every citation style and the odd rules of all the different disciplines.

      I grew up reading and writing for fun and was always planning on being an English professor. When I went into high school, I entered into the International Baccalaureate program, a rigorous four year program that required intensive writing and reading in all major disciplines (English, Biology, History, Spanish, and Art). It was because of this program that I was able to experience and appreciate all different styles and requirements of writing and cultivated a love for writing that I carried with me into college.

      The writing center was one of the reasons I attended Southwestern, and I always had plans to work here and try to help other students in their own writing. However, first I wanted to gain as much information on most disciplines so I could be the most help to other students. During my first two years of Southwestern, I took classes in Art History, Feminist Studies, Psychology, English, Biology, and Environmental Studies in order to try to learn as much as possible about the different ways of writing in order to improve my own writing skills. I now feel completely ready to help students in whatever writing style they need and hope that I can be a help to anyone, regardless of major and writing experience.

    • NAME

      Ella Doss

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      My name is Ella Doss and I am a junior psychology major and data science minor. In addition to being a peer consultant at the DEWC, I am a member Alpha Delta Pi.

      My mom encouraged me to read from a young age; her love for books and reading led her to sing alphabet songs to me, read to me, and gift me books on birthdays, holidays and “just because.” Although my upbringing was largely centered around literacy, my attitude towards reading and writing was indifferent prior to coming to Southwestern. Because my past experiences with reading and writing were centered around preparing for exams and standardized assessments, I felt as if I were just going through the motions to receive a certain score or to meet a certain benchmark rather than for the purpose of exploring connections and formulating original insights. Visiting the Writing Center and getting feedback from my peers and professors during my first year at SU led my attitude towards writing to shift dramatically. Now, I fully recognize that the applicability and importance of literacy spans beyond the classroom and school assignments. I read and write not only because it is required, but also because I am eager to research and develop my own ideas and create meaning from topics learned in the classroom and relate them to my personal interests and passions.

    • NAME

      Mark Fountain

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! My name is Mark (or Marky) and at the moment I plan on majoring in Sociology and double minoring in Communications and Philosophy. Ever since I was little, my life has revolved around the arts. Growing up, music was always playing, my sister was always painting, and it was hard not to catch my mom with a book in her hand. So it is not a surprise that I have fostered a love for the arts and the humanities.

      I had quite a diverse and intensive literary education growing up. My school focused heavily on the reading and analysis of literature for the purpose of also becoming a better writer and communicator. I have read works from all over the world and from just about any point in time, but I have personally discovered a love for 20th century existentialist authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Albert Camus. Many of the poems, short stories, and even academic papers that I have written were heavily inspired by their style. While in high school I also picked up on a lot of valuable skills concerning research, formatting, and developing a persuasive thesis/argument that has served me very well at Southwestern so far. Trust me, I understand completely the anxieties that come with writing a paper and I know how especially frustrating it can be to come to what feels like a dead end, but I would love to be there for you to help get over some of those hurdles by being a sounding board for your ideas and to help brainstorm with you what is best for you and your paper.

    • NAME

      Benjamin Garcia

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      My name is Ben Garcia, I am a Junior here at Southwestern University studying for a History and Spanish double major. I have loved books ever since I can remember and grew up reading and rereading series such as Harry Potter and Ender’s Game. During High School, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be part of the International Baccalaureate program. In this program, I learned how to read and write critically with a strong focus on the fields of History and English. In fact, it was because of the IB program that I decided to pursue a History degree in college. Because of school my writing mainly focuses on non-fiction essays, but I enjoy fiction writing and am working on getting better at it.

      I was drawn to the writing center because I love the challenge that comes with writing a paper. It is hard, and often times frustrating, work but nothing I have experienced in my academic career has been more rewarding than finishing and turning in a writing assignment that I am proud of. My hope is that I can help my fellow students at Southwestern experience this as well. Beyond that, I also look forward to working with students studying other disciplines. Even though my focuses are in the Humanities I enjoy being able to work with students from, and in the process learn about, the other areas of study offered at SU. No matter the subject, I am excited to meet you and help you with whatever writing challenges you may have run into.

    • NAME

      Anna Krolikowski

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! Anna here. I’m a junior at Southwestern and am planning on double majoring in English and Computer Science. Writing and reading have been passions of mine for as long as I can remember. In elementary school I used to write little stories about superheroes and circulate them around my classrooms, confident that I was building a steady fanbase among my eight year old peers. As I grew older I continued to pursue writing avidly, participating in National Novel Writing Month for several years, becoming a creative writing tutor on an online writing forum, and working as a technical writer for a small software company in Milwaukee, my home town.

      Despite my love for creative writing, academic writing was a challenge for me when I was younger. I owe where I am now to my wonderful and encouraging high school teachers as well as the fantastic professors here at Southwestern. As a result of having so many people guide me over the course of my academic journey, I have a love for helping others with their writing. My double major, combined with several History, Art History, and Sociology courses at Southwestern, has exposed me to a wide variety of academic writing styles, and I’m always excited to learn more. I look forward to helping others grow as writers and growing along with them in the process!

    • NAME

      Jack Manzer

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      I used to really struggle with writing, so I am very empathetic to those who have a hard time articulating their thoughts and arranging them into a coherent argument. I got better thanks to my high school and college mentors. Jena Kirkpatrick, my poetry teacher in high school, taught me to love the expressive qualities of words, as well as a clarity of description where each word is carefully chosen for its poetic and communicative value.

      This kind of writing has really helped me in my chosen discipline: art history. I became drawn to the field during a lecture on the Neoclassical style of David, given by Dr. Elise Smith, who showed me how the thoughts and feelings of a historical period were conveyed visually in its works of art. My poetry background helped me to describe artworks, but I had a difficult time when it came to arguing for their specific meaning. Dr. Kim Smith helped me to meld observation, interpretation, and history to create a convincing analysis of an artwork’s significance.        

      I work at the Writing Center, because I enjoy helping people overcome writing challenges that I struggled with myself. When I graduate, I hope to continue to work with students in some capacity, but I also aspire to work in nonprofit development, especially for a nonprofit that aids the poor and underprivileged.

    • NAME

      Amiel Padayhag

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      I am a junior double majoring in Feminist Studies and International Studies and minoring in Political Science. I asked my mother once how she knew I was a writer, and she replied that even when I was very young, I would write her letters anywhere and everywhere. (Though I took her words to heart, when I was digging through some old coats one day I found hard proof of her recollections—my mother’s fluffy yellow Tommy Hilfiger jacket with jumbled letters scrawled in faded ink at the hem.)

      So I have always drawn myself close to writing’s folds or, rather, writing has always drawn me to it (or maybe even both sentiments are true). Either way, stories like my mother’s, stories about my parents’ lives in the Philippines and their experiences as immigrants to America, are the strongest influences on my literary background. They were told over the dining table on days suffused with light and laughter, and beneath the simplicity of my parents’ storytelling, I discovered these essential tenets of engaging writing: honesty, clarity, and the encapsulation of the human condition.

      Engaging writing, I also learned, means becoming a traveler of the imagination, an observer of the so-called ‘little things’ in life: stopping to delight in the sight of silvery-leafed star apple trees sprouting out of the ground; to wade in the muddy water of a rice paddy, feeling the sweat breaking over my brow and the pricks of insects stinging my legs, my back curved like fruit-laden branches. It is from stories, then, that I learned that the best writing captures the beauty and complexity of the seemingly mundane. Penning such stories —ones that I am personally invested in bringing to light—has become my central motivation in my writing endeavors.

    • NAME

      Ayala Porat

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! My name is Ayala Porat and I am a sophomore at SU. While I currently reside in Houston, Texas I was born and raised in Israel. As a result, Hebrew is my first language, and up until several years ago, it was also my dominant language. Having moved to the United States at age thirteen, I suddenly found that I had to to catch up and familiarize myself not only with the English language, but also the American reading and writing style.

      Thankfully, some of the very first books I read in English class were incredible novels such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, and The Catcher in the Rye. Through reading such great works, I began to connect more and more with the language and learned not only to understand it, but also to appreciate it. With plenty of help from my teachers, I slowly but surely was able to advance my skills and grow as an English speaker and writer.  As a matter of fact, soon enough, English became my favorite subject in school.

      As senior year of high school approached, I truly realized that I have a passion for writing, and I will always be grateful for my teachers who pushed me to discover my abilities and voice as a writer. While I am a psychology major, I enjoy writing papers in fields such as social sciences, English, and humanities. Moreover, since I began my writing career with a language barrier, I am incredibly passionate about helping others realize their writing potential. Writing is an extremely crucial skill and I truly believe that everyone deserves to be a confident writer, no matter their background!