Writing Center Staff

  • Eric Vrooman (Writing Center Director)
  • Pam Pearson (Multilingual and Intercultural Program Coordinator)
  • Ben Menke (Team Leader)
  • Geena Zebrasky (Team Leader)
  • Ratana Chheng (Team Leader)
  • Mad Chase (Team Leader)
  • Lilly Anderson
  • Monse Perez Barrios
  • Lindsay Benavides 
  • Tsering Dolma
  • Riya Goerwitz
  • Ellie Hartmann
  • Amanda Nyakwada
  • Sam Peters
  • Lachen Reid
  • Jessica Schwartz
  • Dawa Tsering
  • Nisora Usmonova
  • McCall Walker
  • Michaela Woodward
  • Grace Worwa
  • Autumn Zierman

Eric Vrooman

EV WC Photo

Education: M.F.A., Fiction Writing, UNC-Wilmington; B.A., English, Carleton College

Interests: Film, fiction writing, screenwriting, tennis, Scrabble, Wiffleball, pastry

Favorite Writers: George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Lydia Davis, and Haruki Murakami

Courses I Teach: Reading in the World: Crime & Punishment, Introduction to Creative Writing, Writing Fiction, Writing Creative Nonfiction, The American Novel, IEX travel courses

Ben Menke (Team Leader)

Class of 2022, Political Science and Statistics Major

What's one of your favorite words and why?

One of my favorite words is “grandiloquent” —meaning pompous or extravagant in language, style, or manner—because it’s fun to say.

What's your favorite punctuation mark and why?

The comma because of the number of ways one can use it.

Which part of the writing process do you like most?

I enjoy revising the most.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

The most difficult part of the writing process is starting.

Mad Chase (Team Leader)
 

Class of 2023, Scandinavian Studies and History Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

My favorite word is "however". Although it may seem a bit mundane, it is possibly the most useful word ever. "However" seamlessly allows you to draw out differences in subjects while still acknowledging their similarities. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

I don’t exactly have a favorite punctuation mark but I do have a favorite sentence structure: Subject Verb; (conjunctive adverb), Subject Verb. Chances are if you are reading a paper of mine, this sentence structure will make an appearance!

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

Hard question! I think my favorite part of the writing process is reading my work out loud. My mindset is almost always- “if it sounds like I could give a speech with this paper, I’m on the right track”, reading my work out loud really helps make that a reality. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

The hardest part of the writing process for me is self-editing. I am very prone to looking over my own mistakes. When I am editing, my brain automatically corrects and clarifies things, so I tend to look over small mistakes like punctuation and spelling. This is why I always have a peer edit my work, or better yet go to the Writing Center!

Ratana Chheng (Team Leader)
 

Class of 2022, Financial Economics

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

The word "petrichor" invokes a specific, easy memory and enjoyably homey smell of the rich earth after the first few rains of the year. Dictionary.com defines it as "a distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet, produced by rainfall on very dry ground."

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

The question mark aligns with my constant curiosity and want for new knowledge, perspectives, and authenticity/truth/reliability.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

It often amazes me to see how much material I had on the topic in my mind when I see a relatively finished draft.

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Starting to write is hardest because I usually draft the majority in my mind first.

Geena Zebrasky (Team Leader)
 

Class of 2023, Biology and Environmental Studies Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

One of my favorite words is holobiont. Besides looking and sounding cool, I really love how the concept asks you to think outside of the individual, and look at all of the interactions that are occurring to allow an organism to live - I think it's really important to think about the complex interactions that are occurring to create and influence anything, not just within the field of biology.

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

Definitely a comma. My thought process is too long to go without them.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

My favorite part of the writing process is either researching and compiling all of my ideas and information, or revising what I've already written. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

The hardest part of the writing process for me is probably starting the first draft, because after spending time researching or brainstorming a lot of ideas, it can be pretty overwhelming to start pulling it all together. 

Lilly Anderson

Class of 2022, English Major, Pre-Med Chemistry Track 

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

Wombat! It's a cool word for a cool animal.

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

I love commas because they are so simple, yet they do so much to influence a sentence! 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

My favorite part of the writing process is revising. I love figuring out how to portray my thoughts more effectively, make my language more descriptive and specific, write sentences that are more concise, and overall create a cohesive piece of work. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

The hardest part of the writing process for me is figuring out specifically what I want to write about. When I first begin, I often have so many thoughts that it can be challenging to sort through them all and narrow my focus on what I actually want to say. 

Monse Perez Barrios

Class of 2024, Biology and Environmental Studies Majors, Political Science and Dance Minors

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Brouhaha. This is one of my favorite words, it means an overexcited or noisy response. I love
this word because the “haha” is already set up in the word and for some reason when I say it I
feel like I am making an evil laugh. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

My favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation point! I think that using exclamation points help
convey the emotional charge in sentences. It reflects your emotions and it is super fun to use!!! 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

I think my favorite part of the writing process is to revise and change small details to make my
work fit my style of writing. I love revising because I have the opportunity to step back and
re-envision the main goal or purpose of the paper. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

I think the hardest part of the writing process is to start. I usually overthink when I am writing,
which makes it more difficult to start writing and to connect all my ideas.

Lindsay Benavides

Class of 2022, English Major; Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Minor

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Crunchy. So many things can be crunchy. My bones cracking when I stand up? Crunchy. That chip I just popped in my mouth as a snack? Deliciously crunchy…

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

Not to get too deep, but I enjoy commas and semicolons the most because they often signify a continuation of a thought. I find comfort in language reaffirming the idea that there is never a definite end, rather there are always continuations to our thoughts and experiences.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

I love word vomiting. Getting down every thought I have on something is cathartic in its own way.

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Oftentimes, sharing my work with others can be difficult. It is important to remember in these instances that the person you share essays or personal works with is there to help you through the process, and while criticism is intimidating it builds us up to be better writers and people.

Tsering Dolma

Class of 2022, English Major 

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

One of my favorite words is sonder, which is a noun that describes the moment of realization that every single person, even the random people you pass by on the street, each have their own complex and individual lives. While the word itself is very pretty to me, I think the concept is also very insightful and has helped me deal with a lot of inner conflicts I’ve had regarding socialization, compassion, adulthood, and identity.

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

My favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation mark because it adds more tone and personality through monotonous texts! It’s very great!!!!!!!!!

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

Revision is my most liked part of the writing process because of how much I’m able to reflect on my writing as a whole, and work to improve it and/or “perfect” what I have written.

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

The hardest part of the process is, to me, planning. While brainstorming and conceptualizing the content is fairly doable, bringing those ideas together in a well-structured and organized manner to begin writing is fairly difficult and often times ends up with a terrible case of writers block. 

Riya Goerwitz 

Class of 2023, Sociology Major, English Minor

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

I have many favorite words but my favorite word to say is parapluie which means umbrella in French. My favorite word in terms of meaning is defenestrate (de·fen·es·trate /dēˈfenəˌstrāt/) which means to throw someone out of a window. I think it's hilarious that we have a word for this and it has been my favorite for many years now.

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

I like the * the most because it's fun to c***r words that don't need to be c******d. A close second is the ! because it makes everything seem exciting!!!

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

I really enjoy coming up with ideas for creative writing. Even if I don't use most of them it's fun to have snippets of stories in my head to work on when I am bored.

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

I have a bit of a hard time listening to peer reviews. I understand that they are important, but I get attached to specific ideas or parts of my writing and I am not always receptive to criticism. I know this is an issue and I am working on it.

Ellie Hartmann

Class of 2023, English Major, Political Science and Gender/Women/and Sexuality Studies Minors

What's one of your favorite words and why?

One of my favorite words is peace. I think its something we all strive for, both in society and the self. Keeping it as one of my favorite words reminds me to prioritize and be happy. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark and why?

I like semicolons because they allow me to connect my thoughts without fully stopping. 

Which part of the writing process do you like the most?

I really like making my outline. This step is like a puzzle, where you have all the different pieces--your quoted evidence, your thesis, your argument--and you get to rearrange it and work it out until the organization of your paper allows your argument to become a fully formed picture (a completed puzzle) for the audience. 

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

The hardest part of the writing process for me is writing the thesis. Writing the thesis requires a pretty good idea of what you want to talk about in the paper, and it's often difficult for me to get those ideas out of my head and into a clear and concise road-map thesis. 

Amanda Nyakwada

Class of 2023, Psychology Major, English and African Studies Minors

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

My favorite word is discombobulated because it sounds so dramatic and it's hilarious.

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?
My favorite punctuation mark is a question mark because it's very open and somewhat comforting.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?
My favorite part of the writing process is when the ideas start flowing which usually happens during the planning stage of papers I'm interested in.

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Writing the body of a paper I don't care about. 

Sam Peters

Class of 2023, English and Theatre Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

Crepuscular is a great word because it sounds exactly like all the dark and creepy possibilities that twilight brings. It seems like a word Shakespeare would have invented to describe the works of Edgar Allan Poe. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

The semicolon; it provides a way to link ideas without stopping for a mental breath. 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

I most enjoy the part of the writing process where I leave the project and go eat a snack so I can "get the ideas flowing."

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

For me, one of the hardest parts of writing is resisting the urge to spend an hour finding exactly the right word to make a sentence pop. 

Lachen Reid

Class of 2024, Exercise Physiology and English Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Glory. As I was reading The Iliad this summer, I loved Hektor and Achilles' speeches to their armies or themselves, which usually revolved around achieving immortal glory. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

Semi-colon. It allows me to take a sentence that's too long and turn it into a sentence that is even longer. 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

Writing the conclusion or any big picture interpretation piece. I love looking at the text from a wide lens, thinking about how it might say something about humanity as a whole, rather than solely the populations in the text. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

Using evidence from the text. Sometimes, I'd rather write about my larger ideas than analyze specific passages, so I need to remind myself to stay grounded in the text, and not to fly above the clouds in the land of interpretation and extrapolation. 

Jessica Schwartz

Class of 2023, Chemistry Major, Math Minor

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Candy. Do I really need to explain why?

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

I LOVE the em dash — it's a comma, semicolon, parentheses, and more all in one. As the resident bad boy of punctuation, the em dash is a great way to convince your professors that you have impeccable control of the English language (even when you can barely string a sentence together).

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

Researching and brainstorming; I enjoy learning more about my topic and developing my ideas. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

I tend to be way too wordy, so I always have trouble cutting things down and getting out everything I want to say without overwhelming the reader.

Dawa Tsering

Class of 2022, Biology Major

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Compassion - being compassionate allows us to connect and emphasize with one another. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

My favorite punctuation mark is the semicolon because I typically use that in my thesis statement to add two independent clauses together. 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

I enjoy the revision process because that's where I get to observe my train of thoughts and see what changes I can make to improve my writing and paper overall. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

The hardest part of the writing process I would say is the also the revision process because at certain times there is uncertainty as to what changes you might want to make on your paper (ultimately you are in control of the changes).

Nisora Usmonova

Class of 2023, Political Science, History, and Philosophy Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Sophisticated is one of my favorite words because it is one of the very few adjectives which can describe the state of things in which I like them to be, whether it is about writing, style, behavior, or anything else. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

A comma because it plays such a significant role in a sentence and makes things really make sense. Sometimes it can change the meaning of a sentence depending on where it stands, and for that, I love it. 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

It is definitely brainstorming about what I want to write about, researching, and creating an outline. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

The hardest part for me is to bring all of my ideas together into one piece and start writing. 

McCall Walker

Class of 2023, Psychology Major

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Queue, because it simply does not need that many letters.

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

Exclamation point! Feels the most expressive.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

The last round of edits when all of my hard work finally comes together.

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

Brainstorming a thesis that fits my ideas.

Michaela Woodward

Class of 2023, Spanish & LALACS Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why? 

Noodle. It's one of the most random nouns to ever be used as an adjective (noodly) or verb (noodling). Also, I love pasta. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why? 

Semicolon. This is the punctuation mark for commitment-wary and indecisive people; rather than choosing to end or continue your sentence, you can do both!

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most? 

I enjoy prewriting and brainstorming the most because I like collecting all of my ideas for a project. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 

Sitting down and writing a first draft. 

Grace Worwa

Class of 2022, Political Science, English, and Spanish Majors

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

I like the word "plethora". It just sounds fun!

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

My favorite punctuation mark is a dash because it lets you add to a thought without getting fancy. It allows you to express an idea so that it appears on paper in a way that resembles how it occured to you in your head -- as a continuation of a developing train of thought. 

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

My favorite part of the writing process is being able to express an idea in a way that is both elegant and coherent. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

For me, the hardest part is at the very beginning, when I have to sift through my jumble of thoughts and ideas in order to create a coherent outline.

Autumn Zierman

Class of 2023, Political Science Major, Economics and Religion Minors

What's one of your favorite words, and why?

Effervescent: It is the best description of me hyped up on caffeine anyone has ever given. 

What's your favorite punctuation mark, and why?

Parentheses; it feels like you are sharing a joke with the audience (and I love e.e. cummings)

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?

I love researching! I will always be a debater at heart. 

Which is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Grammar because it never fails to trip me up.