Building a Brand: T-Shirt and Logo Design Spring Project

This post was written by Delaney King ’20, reflecting on her spring project to create a visual brand identity for the Bryn Mawr Writing Center.

I arrived to the first staff meeting following my fall semester abroad and realized I needed a Spring Project. While scrambling for ideas, I remembered from my first year that there were some t-shirts available for purchase for the staff. They were cute and sporty but not exactly my style.

I see t-shirts serving a few different purposes for the Writing Center. First of all, I love getting a new piece of clothing no matter what it is but particularly when it represents or speaks to something I am involved in. I really enjoy working as a tutor and having a piece of clothing that represents the Writing Center allows me to visibly show my pride in working there.

Second, like when I was younger and unwittingly acted as a walking billboard for brands like Hollister that had its name plastered across the front of my chest and down my arm, clothing can be very effective advertising. It enables active brand circulation since humans are not stationary –except maybe when finals hit.

Compared to the fall semester when the Writing Center is busy with first-year Emily Balch Seminar students in addition to other students, the spring can be a slower time for appointments. Particularly during this time, it is important to advertise among the student population to take advantage of the amazing resources that we offer.

When we needed to decide on Spring Projects, I chose to focus on marketing, but since I am nosy, I overheard Elena Asofsky ’21 and Mia Dimeo ’20 mention that they also were interested in rebranding and marketing the Writing Center. I didn’t know them yet but what better way to get to know someone than to collaborate on a project together!

Elena decided to use her excellent artistic skills to design a new logo, and Mia and I worked together on additional marketing materials like bookmarks and stickers for student use. Mia was great sending out surveys so that we could try and incorporate the views from the rest of the staff.

I made excel spreadsheets that listed price comparisons on different goods like pencils, pens, notebooks, stickers, t-shirts, etc. that my type-A personality absolutely loved. I felt like I was breaking some unspoken rule that I was using my open shifts to shop… but it was for work. I love loopholes.

After Elena finished the new owl logo, we chose which marketing materials for students to order, and designed them and the t-shirts. I had no idea how much time and attention to detail was going to be required for designing the t-shirts. I am not exactly an artsy person so creative designs or catchy slogans are not my thing. I also had the extra pressure of not wanting the rest of the staff to be disappointed in the product. However, in the end I am happy with how the product turned out but I could not have done it without Elena, Mia, Jen, and the rest of the staff. I am very excited that my 2019 Spring Project will benefit the Writing Center and tutors will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

On Thesising and Trying to Channel Kermit

This post was written by Alice Berry ’19, who is emo about graduating but mostly experiencing thesising terror.

Until junior year, the Bryn Mawr senior thesis might seem a little like the dental appointment you have scheduled for six months from now. You know it’s happening (and you’re not exactly delighted about it), but it’s a problem for future you. Then, suddenly, senior year looms large and you have to go sit down in a reclining chair and let someone make your gums bleed for an hour or so…at least that’s what it’s felt like for me.

As a tutor at the Writing Center for the past three years, I have seen many large writing projects pass through this college. Every semester I help look through Tripod for sources, read final papers, and sit for hours in our (freezing) Canaday space talking about ideas and grammar and structure. I spend a lot of time reading other students’ writing, thinking about writing, talking about writing. I love doing this; every time I encounter a new paper, I get to learn about something new. For me, there is a particular high every time a tutee and I stumble across an exciting argument. I have been known to yelp with enthusiasm when that moment happens, whether with my own writing or in a conference. Writing is always interesting and engaging for me in a way I have been unable to put into words, probably because the very thing I love is the ability to put feelings and thoughts into words. Writing doesn’t just help us express ourselves; words are the way we make the enormity of the world small enough to talk about. So why don’t I feel this way about my thesis?

As a sophomore tutor, my first year in this position, I was in awe of the senior tutors who were finishing their theses. I had high hopes for mine, but it was still something I couldn’t imagine. I barely knew what I was majoring in, let alone what writing 50 (100? 10000?) pages in that subject would feel like. Now, about four pages into my thesis, I can tell you it feels a lot like any other piece of writing I’ve ever done, but with a root canal-esque fear attached to it that has marred my ability to enjoy the formation of ideas, the writing process.

I’m trying to treat my fear of thesis with an antidote of curiosity. This writing project is a new endeavor. It may be longer, more complex, more long-term and high-pressure than other assignments I’ve had, but it’s not too different. Furthermore, when it is complete, I will have made the enormity of the thing I studied into a few dozen pages. I will have finished all my undergraduate writing projects. I will be leaving my job here at the Writing Center. Is it not time to get excited about the writing process? Frustration, teeth-pulling, lying-on-the-floor phase and all?

Thanks to Laney, Kermit the Frog has become the unofficial WC mascot. He’s a visiting tutor and an icon in all senses of the word. Sadly, he is not the most prolific writer or the most quotable frog. Still, I’m going to share a quote from Kermit because I think it sums up the way writing has made me feel over the past four years.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This thesis is coming along and the getting there, the writing process, is truly great fun. As a writer, a writing tutor, and a soon-to-be college graduate, I am trying to savor it.


Spring Story Slam at the Writing Center

This post was written by Amanda Wessel ’20, reflecting on her team’s spring project, the strategies they used, and the potentially powerful implications of this work on Writing Center pedagogy.

A few weeks ago we hosted the Writing Center’s first ever The Moth–style Story Slam. With this event, we hoped to bring new people into our Writing Center, provide a activity through which to practice public speaking skills, and open up the space to new types of discourse that celebrate identity and personal experience toward a more social model of academia.

Dorian Alexis ’21 and I decided not to narrow the focus of the storytelling to a specific theme and instead opened up the possibilities by generating a pretty long list of prompts to help people get thinking about times in their lives that they could tell as stories. Five people shared stories ranging widely in theme. I broke the ice by sharing a story about an unexpected and spooky adventure I encountered while leading a canoeing trip with 14 year olds. The following story tellers described overcoming a challenge in a moment of chaos, a surprising moment of hope and coincidence while studying abroad, and the intersection of different forms of spirituality as they related to remembering a late family member.

In between each story teller, other slam attendees were able to participate by drawing a slip of paper with a prompt from a box and responding to it with 2-4 sentence long written anecdotes about that theme or situation. We borrowed this idea from Eric Thomas’s storytelling event that happened earlier in the semester and I think it was a big success. As the emcee, I couldn’t help but laugh as I read out each anonymous story. These mini stories made for fun transitions and allowed people to participate even if they weren’t ready to stand up and tell a story themselves.

Dorian and I prepared for this event by attending a workshop on storytelling at Haverford hosted by storytellers Nimisha Ladva of Haverford’s Shapiro Speaking Initiative and Eric Thomas of The Moth. Dorian then attended a Story Slam hosted by Thomas at Bryn Mawr. We designed our own storytelling workshop based on what we learned from these events. Turn out was minimal but we used the time to listen to some short stories from The Moth, discuss their storytelling strategies, and begin developing our own stories.

The week after this event we (the WC staff) we read and discussed Laura Greenfield and Karen Rowan’s book Writing Centers and the New Racism: A Call for Sustainable Dialogue and Change. I think the format of a Story Slam in the Writing Center could be a critical way of working to deconstruct racism in the writing center through the methods the authors recommend. The story slam can foster new channels for dialogue and diversify our individualistic one-on-one tutoring programing with social and communal learning opportunities. I hope events like this one can become a WC tradition! Maybe we could do one every semester!

Reading in the Writing Center

This post was written by Angela Zhang ’19, reflecting on her 2019 spring project at the BMC Writing Center.

For my spring project, I made a handout about reading in the writing center. The contents of this handout can be found here. On one side of the handout, I explained how reading works as an interaction between the text and the reader’s prior knowledge. On the back, I created a list of reading strategies that can be used to improve comprehension of a text, which ultimately helps with the writing process as well.

This project came out of a final research paper I did for a class called Changing Pedagogies in Math and Science Education. As a result of my field experiences in a high school science classroom, I became interested in the role of reading and writing skills in STEM classrooms. Many of the roadblocks that students ran into involved the scientific texts they worked with. I ended up writing my final research on this subject, where I explored reading and writing strategies that could be useful in science classrooms. Interestingly, having a base knowledge of reading and writing literacy allows one to recognize the scientific process as constructed and human, rather than absolute truth.

While I was working on this paper, I realized that many of the same concepts are applicable in the writing center. While our purpose is not to support student reading skills, reading and writing are inextricable from each other. Tutees often come in with papers that use class readings in some way. I used many of the same ideas from my paper in my spring project, such as paraphrasing or setting reading goals to improve reading comprehension. I also did further research, which introduced me to concepts such as “reading like a writer,” where one considers using (or not using) the choices of other writers as they read their work. When I presented my project during a staff meeting, fellow tutors added strategies to the list such as annotating and reading subheadings and figures first before diving in. We also discussed how students at Bryn Mawr learn how to read scholarly articles. Some had professors who explicitly addressed the issue, sometimes in discipline-specific ways, which tutors found helpful. As someone who struggled with readings when I first got to college, I think the writing center can also provide supports for academic reading in a way that supports writing as well.

Some Very Pink Post-Its

The Writing Center is currently undergoing a thorough self-evaluation process. We are tabling in dining halls and common spaces to survey students who have never used us. We want to know how writing gets done, who gets consulted, and how we can be of better use to our student body. To poll our users (anyone in our database), we will be sending out surveys to investigate if we’re really truly meeting the needs of the writers who DO use us.

These are steps in our process of generating a mission statement,  a cumulative couple of sentences that capture the work we do, why we do it, and who we do it for. As I mentioned in our last post, Graduate Student Assistant Sarah Miller has been guiding us through this process, drawing upon Peter Drucker’s 5 questions for non-profit self-evaluation. This looks like facilitated conversations among tutors that get at things like: Who is our customer? Who are our stakeholders? What are our results?

I have gotten to be a participant in these conversations, and one of the things that comes up again and again is that the “customer” of the Writing Center is not just the writer who comes in, anxious or stumped with a paper topic. It’s also us, the tutors, who are often getting just as much from each session.

As a part of this greater process of self-evaluation and self-reflection, Sarah had the staff respond to some prompts: “Something challenging about working in the Writing Center is…” and “In my time as tutor I hope to…”

Below, the responses to the prompt: “Something I like about working in the Writing Center is…” You’ll see from these little pink post-its that our job is an affective one, and many of the responses have something to do with confidence and helping writers feel a little bit better. The idea behind sharing these here is to make visible the work that goes into tutoring, and also to highlight how much our tutors value each other, the community and the space we’re working to build to make things just a little bit easier on each other.