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.

DEWC Staff

    • NAME

      Ayala Porat

    • TITLE

      Assistant Director and Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! My name is Ayala Porat and I am a senior 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!

    • NAME

      Bailey Barlow

    • TITLE

      Spanish Tutor and Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! I’m Bailey Barlow. I’m a sophomore, and I’m planning on double majoring in Spanish and International Studies. I’m a member of Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Phi Omega, and I’m also involved in a number of other different clubs on campus.

      I’ve been writing pretty much since I was old enough to put pencil to paper. My mom read to me and my brother every night until long after we were able to read for ourselves, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in the power of stories. I spent most of my childhood writing for fun, but my academic writing really picked up in high school. I liked the flexibility of essay assignments, because they leave room for personality and interpretation, and it’s that style of learning that drew me to a liberal arts education. Writing can be difficult sometimes, but it makes me feel like I’m engaging with the material and really taking part in my own education.

      I’m also Southwestern’s Spanish tutor. Beginning this semester, I’ll be working out of the writing center, which will allow me to provide more effective feedback on the content and structure of Spanish assignments, beyond just grammar and vocabulary. As a writing center consultant, my goal is to help you get your thoughts out on paper in the best way possible, in Spanish or in English. I’ve always believed in the power of the written word, and I’m here to help you take control of that power.

    • NAME

      Gabrielle Cano

    • TITLE

      Special Projects Coordinator and Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! I’m Gabrielle and I’m a junior chemistry major/political science minor here at SU. For the longest time, writing always felt like something scary that I just had to get done and be over with. I struggled with the process so writing was never my favorite thing, despite the pride I felt of the finished product. During my last couple years of high school, I began to figure out what worked for me and how to actually enjoy every part of writing from beginning to end. I also began to really enjoy adding my own voice into my writing and seeing how others add their own voice. Writing can still feel like a challenge sometimes but it’s a good kind of challenge now.

      The mix of classes I’ve had during my time at Southwestern has shown me that I can enjoy writing things like lab reports just as much as I can enjoy papers and essays in other areas. Joining the Teaching and Tutoring Writing class in the Spring of my first year locked in my love for writing and made me even more excited to help others become better writers, enjoy writing a little more, and feel more confident with their writing. I’m looking forward to continuing to expand my knowledge of writing outside of the disciplines that I’m most familiar with and helping in any way I can with any kind of writing that comes my way.

    • NAME

      Nila Dhinaker

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hey! I’m Nila and I am a sophomore Instrumental Performance and Psychology major with a minor in Spanish on the pre-medical pathway.

      Like most avid writers, I have been a voracious reader from a young age. I was the kind of kid who would get in trouble in class for reading the entire period instead of paying attention to the lecture. I have always wished I could live in a world I’ve read about, although I’m starting to realize we all just may be living in some type of Orwellian dystopia. I suppose I got what I wanted…

      My writing journey began with a summer creative writing class when I was in elementary school and I was hooked from there. I went on to write for a local newspaper and also joined a creative writing club. Since then, I have had extensive experience writing across the disciplines, with my better areas being the sciences and the humanities. I am also proficient in writing and editing papers in Spanish. Writing across different languages is definitely one of the things that intrigues me most; I have actually been trying to delve deeper into code-switching within my own writing. 

      My goal as a writing consultant is to make people feel the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with turning in a work well-written. I also hope to take away some of the fear that revolves around the very detail-oriented process of writing for the sciences.

      I’m also extremely passionate about social justice. One of the reasons I love writing so much is because it creates a truly vulnerable space in which many underrepresented groups feel empowered to share their stories. The merging of disciplines that occurs when people write for social justice is something that is extremely affirming to people’s personal struggles and criticisms of current society. This is something I very strongly connect with on a personal level and find that this outlook helps me be more mindful in my writing. 

      When I’m not writing, I like to knit, rock-climb, skateboard, hang out with my animals (two elderly beagles and a three-year-old siamese cat), and make music.

    • NAME

      Erin Flessner

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      My name is Erin Flessner, and I am a junior here at Southwestern University studying English and Sociology. From an early age, I was surrounded by reading and an appreciation for creative expression through literature. Being exposed to a wide variety of genres and writing styles from a young age, including To Kill A Mockingbirdand All the Light We Cannot See, acts as a constant reminder that there is always room to grow and improve your skills. This love for reading ultimately propelled me into my passion for writing as well, where I yearned for literature-focused classes during middle and high school, continuing through my time here at Southwestern. 

      Although the bulk of my personal reading is fictional, my academic relationship with writing in particular tends to be research and response papers centered within the Humanities. Since being at Southwestern, I have realized how different disciplines both diverge and converge, which has grown my immense respect for writing in disciplines I am not as familiar or comfortable with. The emphasis on recognizing these connections has been integral to reaping all the benefits that a well-rounded education has offered me.

      As someone who enjoys the entire writing process, I have recognized the importance of revision on the end product, which I attribute as the most significant cause of evolving writing proficiency. However, as not everyone shares these same sentiments, I hope that I can help you value everything that the writing process has to offer.

    • NAME

      Jules Kasper

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! My name is Jules and I’m a junior philosophy major. I was a voracious reader and writer as a kid. I read anything I could get my hands on and filled countless notebooks with creative writing. In high school, I was obsessed with poets such as Charles Bukowski and Anne Sexton and wrote a lot of angsty poetry. Nowadays, most of the reading and writing I do is for school. Academic writing can be frustrating for me. I am the kind of person who spends a ridiculous amount of time on a single paragraph and overthinks everything I write. In moments when I feel stuck, being able to brainstorm and talk things out with a writing consultant or friend helps me tremendously. I hope that as a writing consultant I can offer this same assistance to my peers.

      I was drawn to the writing center because I see it as a site of rebellion and innovation at an institution of higher learning. The writing center radically opposes the traditional belief that academic writing is a solitary activity oriented towards a final product. In the writing center, academic writing is instead experienced as an ongoing conversation and process of collaboration with peers and across disciplines. This approach seems more aligned with the ways we learn and write, never alone, but always in conversation with those around us and the disciplines that we contribute to.

    • NAME

      Emma Lopez

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! My name is Emma and I am a senior here at Southwestern. I’m double majoring in Political Science and Latin American and Border Studies, and along with my job as a DEWC consultant, I also work with the Office of Diversity Education and the Center for Career and Professional Development. 

      I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing, probably because of my parents’ encouragement of reading every day. I was definitely one of those kids who spent the whole night secretly reading under the covers. As I got older, my interests only grew, leading me to join speech in high school and enter essay contests. Once I came to Southwestern, I began to think of writing as more of a tool for self-expression and healing. For me, writing grew from something that you could succeed or fail at to a process that requires risk and encourages growth. 

      Even though my academic writing experience is largely focused in the humanities and social sciences, I want to help writers across disciplines to develop their skills and to think of writing as a beneficial process. No matter how you feel about your writing, I am excited to help you achieve your writing goals!

    • NAME

      Thuymi Phung

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! My name is Thuymi, and I am a sophomore. My areas of study are Business, Sociology, and Communication Studies. 

      When I was young, I did a lot of creative writing. I grew up listening to my parents’ tales of war escape from Vietnam, living in refugee camps, and adjustment to life in America. Their stories conjured up vivid images of fishing boats crammed with people, of pirates, of danger and hardship; they taught me to be grateful for what I have in America. 

      I wanted to be able to tell and write stories like my parents. However, I eventually realized that I could not do that. My parents’ stories are their own, influenced by their hardships and perseverance and therefore they are something I cannot replicate. Ever since that revelation, I started on a journey to create my own voice in my writing, one that is inspired by my past, but that is also filled with the discoveries of the present and the possibilities of the future. 

      Academic writing is no different from creative writing or storytelling where you convey a message for the audience to learn. Keeping in mind of the information and help Southwestern provides, I learned to be meticulous in my research and sincere in my messages for my papers, especially for my Sociology or Communication Studies classes. My goal as a consultant is to use and share my writing skills to help students, no matter what field of study, with conveying their messages in their voice.

    • NAME

      Kay Teekell

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      I am a senior majoring in English and minoring in Studio Art, and I plan on exploring book editing and publishing after graduation! 

      The arts have played an enormous role in my life as I have surrounded myself with more books than I can ever hope to read and more art supplies than I can ever hope to use. I have loved to read since elementary school where I started off with the legendary Magic Tree House and ventured into the daring escapades of Nancy Drew. I quickly developed the art of hiding books and flashlights under my mattress and striking a variety of sleeping poses on cue as bedtime became the enemy. 

      My love of fantasy and dystopian fiction appeared alongside every middle schooler’s obsession with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and I vouch for every book involving dragons and a well-developed magic system. High school and college have taught me to read widely and expand the types of books I read into theoretical and sociological subjects, and I have learned countless lessons about how to be a better human because of them (though I stand by my dragons). 

      I love the power and the beauty of words, how they influence our understanding of the world around us and offer windows into the minds of people we never would have otherwise met. Books have taught me many useful facts ranging from the difference between a catapult and a trebuchet to the pervasive power of discrimination and our responsibility to stand against it; I hope to contribute to the hordes of knowledge available within cracked spines and glowing screens through my work here at the DEWC and at a publishing house after graduation. If I can be of service to other writers who need a word of advice, a sounding board, or a bit of structure, I will have succeeded, so I look forward to working with you and discovering the most effective and gorgeous words to communicate your ideas!

    • NAME

      Aydan Urias

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! My name is Aydan, and I am a junior at Southwestern. Growing up, my mom had one rule concerning bedtime: I could stay up as late as I wanted, as long as I was reading. Being the night owl that I am, I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, reading graphic novels, chapter books, and short stories. I had an eclectic approach to reading as a child, and therefore, grew up eager to read up on any subject that piqued my interest. 

      The knowledge-obsessive habits of my childhood have not missed a beat, and I can proudly say that to this day, I am a raging bibliotaph. My closet, bedroom, and bathroom shelves are full of books ranging from ​Kurt Cobain: Journals​ to T​he Art of the Affair​ to the ​Teen Vogue Handbook​ to the ​Essential Ginsberg. While I can appreciate all forms of media such as film, art, etc…, I have always found literature to be my preferred vehicle of knowledge.

      I am a communications major, but am hoping to empower every writer I meet, regardless of major or background! Even though I worked in my high school’s writing center for two years, I was never 100% confident in my skills. One day, after reading an essay I had written, my senior year English teacher, Mr. Watterson, told me never to stop writing. After Mr. Watterson praised my capability as a writer, I realized that just one person could boost someone’s confidence as an author. As a consultant, I want to be that one person that helps others realize their potential, and pushes them to achieve their goals!

    • NAME

      Kaylee White

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hey, there! My name is Kaylee White, and I am a junior transfer student here at Southwestern University. I am a double major in Psychology and Communication Studies. While I may be new to the Southwestern campus, I am no stranger to the art of writing. As a double major, I have experience in both academic and creative writing, and I love every aspect of the writing process. 

      My affinity for writing began at a young age. I was an avid reader, which naturally led me to paper and pen. I still remember as a young 5th grader, I was so determined to write my own novel that I even made a whole outline for one. While that project may have been discarded, my love of writing has only blossomed since then.

      Every paper I write, no matter the subject, I try to take a creative approach and allow myself to enjoy the process. Working as a consultant not only has helped me perfect my craft, it has also given me the opportunity to share my love and enthusiasm for writing with my fellow students. Sometimes, all it takes is just someone there to help the creative process flow. Sometimes, it takes a little more in-depth look at the writing and the purpose behind it. Whatever it takes, I look forward to this wonderful opportunity to share writing and life experiences with my fellow classmates!

    • NAME

      Jessica Workman

    • TITLE

      Marketing Coordinator

    • About me

      Hello! I am Jessica Workman, most people call me Jess. I am a Junior at Southwestern and I am pursuing a major in Business and Theatre!

      I have wanted to be an actor since elementary school when I played “Granny” in the school’s production of The Gingerbread Man. That was where it all began. Since then I have been in dozens of plays and musicals and have loved every second of it. Upon arriving at Southwestern to attend the school of Fine Arts, I realized that I also wanted to begin some business classes. It took me a few semesters to come to truly enjoy the classes and to realize that “becoming an actor when I grew up” would probably not look the way I had thought, and that there are many opportunities that are available to me. 

      The idea of being a production manager or helping to manage a theatre really started to appeal to me as I was taking more classes, and I realized how easy my majors could combine. 

      Yet, as the world changes and things like pandemics happen, things change. The opportunities that were once available to me for internships and study abroad are gone for the time being. It has left me to think about what would bring me happiness and satisfaction in my career and future. This brought me to pursue the Debbie Ellis Writing Center Marketing Coordinator position and was lucky enough to receive it. I have a passion and talent for social media and marketing, as well as for people and communication. I am thrilled to be on the team and am looking forward to breaking new ground in this position!