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.

Esteban Woo Kee
DEWC Assistant Director

At SU I’ve learned that the best way to evaluate your own understanding of a topic is to write about it.  In high school, I participated in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program where critical reading and writing were drilled into us.  Analyzing the various components of texts for their “significance” seemed tedious at first, but by my junior year I started to enjoy it and became particularly fond of my English and History classes.  I learned that writing is argumentation and I wanted to hone this skill to work towards my goal of becoming an attorney.  Having done well in my coursework for my major and minor (History/Race and Ethnicity Studies) my first few semesters at SU, I applied to work at the DEWC to become familiar with writing styles outside of my own discipline.  My favorite part of consulting at the writing center is that I get to approach peers as a generalist with limited knowledge about the content of their papers.  As a non-specialized reader, I can share my thoughts about your argument, use of evidence, and the flow of the paper, so that you can decide if your ideas are coming across the way you intend.  I’m best at helping with assignments from the Humanities and Social Sciences, and enjoy working with longer papers, personal statements, and outlining/planning research.

Lilly Dennis

My name is Lilly Dennis and I’m a senior environmental studies major and feminist studies minor. I’m also a consultant here at the Debby-Ellis Writing Center! Though I arrived at Southwestern knowing I wanted to be an environmental studies major, I particularly hoped to take writing focused courses throughout my college experience, as I have always had an interest in and knack for writing. As a first-year, I was placed in an FYS called “Short Short Stories as a Social Commentary”; in this course we were asked to write “micro-fiction”―basically short stories under 750 words―that touched on social issues. I have always enjoyed writing essays for my classes, but hadn’t had much experience with creative writing prior to taking this course. I enjoyed my FYS and appreciated the opportunity it gave me to see a variety of writing styles, helping me to find my place in this realm. I prefer writing non-fiction, mostly argumentative papers, but appreciate the variety of interests that literacy allows us. I believe that writing, no matter what field of study one is a part of, is an important way to express one’s thoughts and beliefs; writing (especially with the help of the DEWC!) allows me to articulate my thoughts and beliefs clearly. When I’m not writing or consulting, I enjoy walking my parents’ dogs and the dogs at the Georgetown Animal Shelter, kayaking, hiking, collecting new plants, spending time with my wonderful friends, and working on my artwork!  


Lydia Gregovic

Hey everyone! My name is Lydia, and I am currently a Junior here at Southwestern. I study English, with a minor in sociology. I have loved reading since I was just a second grader trying (and failing) to get through Little Women, but I believe my passion for English as a craft and art form began when I was in middle school. Whereas previously, I hadn’t been expected to write much other than the occasional essay, in seventh grade my teacher introduced our class to a creative writing unit. From my first draft, I fell in love. I had already had the experience of reading a book and recognizing myself in the characters—now, I got to create the same effect for other people. Writing, to me, is the ability to connect personal experiences with a global audience; it is the practice of turning intangible emotions into something real and relatable. Working at the Debby Ellis Writing center allows me to help others realize this same practice, and I could not be more excited about it. Because of my liberal arts focus, I believe my strengths lie in argumentative essays, building a thesis, and the stylistic elements of an essay (such as flow and voice) which make it unique to the author. However, I also have experience both writing and editing essays in the sciences and social sciences. No matter the topic, I hope to work with you to get your ideas on paper in the best way possible.

Dakota Cortez

My name is Dakota Cortez and I am a junior anthropology and feminist studies major
(with a race and ethnicity studies minor) here at Southwestern. As a kid, I was very eager to
learn how to read and write and this enthusiasm has only continued as I have gotten older. I
love to learn and I often find that writing is the best way for me to begin to think through and
understand all of the ideas and theories in my head. As a DEWC consultant, I enjoy learning
from other people and helping them to think through their own ideas. I understand that writing
can be an overwhelming process for many people and, at times, anxiety-inducing. The DEWC;
however, serves as a wonderful place to ease some of that anxiety, whether it be at the
brainstorming stage or the conclusion stage, especially because students are able to come in
and work with consultants who experience the same struggles with writing. It is especially
valuable to me that the consultant-writer relationship is so equal and collaborative because
students are able to feel more confident in their assignments and writing in general after
working through some of their key issues with a peer. I enjoy working with papers from the
social sciences and humanities, as well as helping students brainstorming, narrowing down
ideas, and writing research papers.

Maddie Carrola

My name is Madeline (Maddie), and before I was a writer, I was a reader.  I grew up in San Antonio, a city with currently thirty public libraries, and my local one was like a second home.  Early in my education, I learned how to simultaneously walk and read between classes and spent high school PE in the library.  It was at this arts magnet high school, in the Creative Writing Department and English courses, where I also developed a love for writing, particularly poetry and personal writing from which I find clarity.

I am currently a junior at Southwestern, and I joined the DEWC at the end of my first year.  I was drawn to the writing center because words have always been sources of strength and comfort for me, and I wanted to share in that with others.  Perhaps ironically, writing is also something I have struggled in feeling confident about, and it took a long time for me to recognize that I had been extending a compassionate eye to others’ work but rarely my own.  I hope that as a consultant I can help point out the strengths and beauty in your writing as others have done for me.

As a Feminist Studies and Sociology major and Communication Studies minor, I am most experienced with writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences.  Outside of the DEWC, you can find me working in the Office of Diversity Education, making origami, riding my bike, doing yoga, and spending time with friends.

Emet Ezell

Madeline is entering her senior year at SU, which means that the daunting terror of what to do next in the world is always approaching. She is curious about almost everything, but spends most of her time in the Feminist Studies department learning how to more honestly embody her truth in the world. On Friday mornings you will find her baking bread and reading poetry, because half of the work is staying nourished.

As a child, I would write my own stories. They usually revolved around various amphibians  happening upon grand adventures. The stories I would write and the others that I would read allowed me to create a world of my own entirely through language. Regardless of age or circumstance, the process of creating worlds through language has carried me throughout my life. At SU, I no longer write fantastical narratives involving frogs and turtles, but I am still crafting my own world of words. For me, the beauty of writing is the continual confrontation with the reality that my world is not the only world. In the act of encounter that occurs with text, my own world evolves, shifts, and responds. The collective literary conversation continually calls me to return, and returning to the work is one of the most important things that I am learning how to do.

Most of my undergraduate work centers around the structures of language, argument, and word. In Feminist Studies, I have encountered ways of writing, speaking, and embodying language that have invited me to more deeply connect with the radical work of waking up to the world. I also work with Ancient Greek, translating and wrestling with words from thousands of years ago. In both of these realms, I am thrust into the magical space of possibility that exists between mind and page. It is here that I feel the most alive, sifting through how to communicate myself to myself, translating words into a collaborative world. 

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetElla Doss

My name is Ella Doss and I am a sophomore from San Antonio, TX. At Southwestern, I plan on double majoring in Psychology and Economics. In addition to being a peer consultant at the DEWC, I am a member and the treasurer of Alpha Phi Omega as well as a member of the Honor Code Council.

 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. 

Helena Lorenz

My name is Helena Lorenz, and even though it is my first year at the writing center, I am a senior here at SU. Since my freshman year, my career goals have been all over the map, but my major and my passion have remained the same: psychology. I am in love with the psychology program at Southwestern, and I am more than happy to answer any of your questions about the department.

My literary journey began at a young age, with the majority of my “toys” consisting of stacks and stacks of books. My passion for reading began in typical fashion with the Harry Potter and the Magic Treehouse series, and has since extended on into Dickens, Austen, Bryson, Sagan, and McEwan. However, my experience with writing has not been quite as smooth. In fact, for the majority of my academic life, I dreaded writing assignments. But few years ago I started journaling, and I slowly but surely started to enjoy writing. Every day, I simply jotted down all the good things things that had happened to me and all of the interesting people I had interacted with that day. By viewing writing not as a chore to be labored over, but as a pure expression my thoughts and feelings, I was able to fall in love with writing again. I hope to bring that newfound passion to the Debby Ellis Writing Center and to help you with whatever literary challenge you may be experiencing.

Alison Riggs

Hi!! My name is Alison Riggs and I am a senior biochemistry major. I conduct research on campus with Dr. Douglas and Dr. Zewail-Foote. This research requires plenty of writing and communicating. Literacy and writing have played a huge role in my personal development as a writer, and more specifically, a scientific writer. Written communication in science was something I was not introduced to until coming to Southwestern. Much of my pre-SU writing education was focused on writing for a test, like the AP tests or the SAT. This “show what you know” writing was really not focused on argumentative communication at all, and writing in this manner always seemed like a chore. Therefore, I came in to college feeling confident about how to write a sentence, but not very confident in my ability to write a thesis. Luckily, through my FYS and NUMEROUS writing intensive courses I have learned a lot about how to effectively communicate and argue. I have especially have grown in learning about scientific writing. I still remember my first week and how scared I was when I had to organize a scientific paper in the correct order; I didn’t even know what an Abstract/Introduction/Methods section was! Luckily I know what they are now and I regularly write papers in a formal scientific manner for my lab courses.  Writing no longer feels like a chore, and  I now see how necessary it is to be a clear communicator, no matter the discipline!


Amiel Padayhag 

I am a Sophomore Feminist Studies and International Studies major. My parents’ stories about their lives in the Philippines and their experiences as immigrants to America—told, expressed, and revealed over the dining table on hazy days when my family was filled with laughter and conversation—are the strongest influences on my literacy background. Beneath the simplicity of their story telling, I found these essential tenets of engaging writing: honesty and directness, strong character development, and the encapsulation of the human condition. Penning captivating and relatable stories, then—ones that I am personally invested in bringing to light—has become my central motivation in my writing endeavors. 

 Jack Manzer

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 as a community college professor. I also want to work in development for an arts organization, so I can create enthusiasm for the arts in the general public.