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 senior 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

      Gabrielle Cano

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      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 added 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 had during my first year at Southwestern showed 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

      Julianne Carroll

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello there! My name is Julianne Carroll, and I’m an English major with a minor in Studio Art. 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.

      My time at Southwestern has 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 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 senior 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 senior psychology major. In addition to being a peer consultant at the DEWC, I am a member of 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

      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

      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 senior 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

      Vanessa Jones

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi there! I’m Vanessa, a sophomore Biochemistry major.  

      I remember poring over my favorite book as a seven-year-old, sitting with my legs bent in the awkward “W” shape that would supposedly ruin your joints, and underlining my favorite parts in the yellowing, gold leaf pages. In retrospect, it was a little odd that I was so obsessed with my mother’s 1989 Webster’s dictionary, but it sparked my love for all things linguistic. There were so many things to say and so many ways to say them! The almost scientific precision of words gave me the ability to say what I was thinking with uncompromising exactness. 

      This was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, this newfound power of words made me an enthusiastic writer. I would write everything from poetry to faux newspaper articles. To the chagrin of my English-teaching mother, however, it was all tongue-in-cheek. Academic writing didn’t always take well to my plucky style, and I was left feeling creatively stifled. In my mind, it was all or nothing; either I unapologetically splattered words on a page with no regard for my audience, or I regurgitated whatever vapid phrases I thought the reader would want to hear. 

      Many years of writing later, I’m happy to say I’ve found balance between the two. The rules of formal writing aren’t a cage, they are the final piece in the puzzle of effective communication: an awareness of the audience. Who would have guessed that people respond better to palatably phrased opinions than offbeat humor? While there might not always be a place in academic writing for cheek, there is always room to express your true sentiments. As a consultant, I hope to help you organize this beautiful mishmash of a language into communicating exactly what you want to say.

    • NAME

      Anna Krolikowski

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hello! Anna here. I’m a senior 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

      Vivienne Miller

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      My areas of study are English Literature, Feminist Studies, and Chinese. I have taken three creative writing courses at my previous college: fiction, poetry, and digital storytelling. For our school’s newspaper I am a journalist and the Opinions Editor. My courses this semester consist of two upper-level Literature classes—literary theory and feminist literature—and Chinese III.

      My experience with literature, reading, and applied analyses pretty much make up everything I do here on campus. I carve time out of my chaotic schedule to journal, write poetry, work on my fiction, and discover new ways to embrace art. I balance the objective and subjective throughout my studies and personal writings. As I continue my journey through higher education, I find that my writing evolves alongside my academic and creative endeavors.

       I think my love for reading came when I read my first manga in elementary school (it was Fruits Basket). I grew up listening to music ranging from Demon Days by Gorillaz to Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. I fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at an early age. Fun fact: I got the Jedi insignia tattooed on my shoulder blade when I was 18. It is safe to say that SF is what sparked my desire to write.

      I specialize in constructing and defending relevant arguments, and I consider syntax and formatting when I aim to reflect uniqueness in my work. I believe that understanding my audience is key to sharing my thoughts in an appropriate and accessible way. I also know how fleeting the artistic inspiration is, and I want to work with you to discover ways of understanding and overcoming writer’s block. Whatever kind of help you need with writing, I’m excited to discover the solution together.

    • NAME

      Amiel Padayhag

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      I am a senior 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!

    • NAME

      Jessica Price

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      My name is Jessica Price and I am a senior Education Major. I am getting my certification to teach English Language Arts at the 7th-12th grade levels. These next few semesters, I will be spending the majority of my time in high school classrooms learning how to help students grow their abilities in the language arts through teaching.

      Reading and writing have always been important parts of my life. Books are powerful. They help us to develop our imagination and ability to empathize with others because they allow us to enter into perspectives that differ from our own. Reading is a choice that I believe is personal by nature. Our reading is an extension of ourselves and our willingness to devote time to change ourselves for the better. However, we all fall in and out of loving reading and it really is a journey I want to help others and myself continue to make.  

      Writing is also an extension of ourselves that requires vulnerability. By coming to us at the writing center, you are making the choice to share a part of yourself with us and I will always honor that it takes courage. Throughout my time at Southwestern, I have struggled with sharing my writing and have recently come to the realization that so much of that comes from a willingness to put yourself out there. We are asked to write across disciplines that we are not familiar with and that process is very challenging. As a senior, I have experience writing for the majority of humanities classes but with a concentrated focus on English.

    • NAME

      Aydan Urias

    • TITLE

      Consultant

    • About me

      Hi! My name is Aydan, and I am a sophomore 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!