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Learning Commons

Writing Center Staff Bios

 

Prairie Brown, Learning Commons DirectorPrairie Brown

American Literature and Developmental Writing

It was a dark and stormy night... Wait. That's a different story, not mine. I suppose if I were going to write my life history down for you, I'd most likely begin something like this: It was a sunny afternoon in November, a rare sort of day in autumn in Seattle, the day Prairie Brown was born. Then I'd skip a bunch of uninteresting stuff about learning to walk and talk and pick up the story again after I'd become a full-fledged member of society. This societal membership, at least, the membership into the society that interests me, the society of readers and writers, began when I was four years old and noticed that I could read along with my mother as she chanted the words to Fox in Socks. Since that point, hardly a day has passed that reading wasn't a vital part of my life. Of course, the books have changed a bit over the years, from Dr. Seuss to Roald Dahl to L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott, gradually becoming the novels of the Bronte Sisters and Jane Austin, with some Shakespeare thrown in there for good measure. Lately, I've been finding my reading tastes running a bit toward the weird and macabre. My graduate thesis, written in 2003 at Central Washington University, focuses on the writings of Shirley Jackson, most commonly known for her short story The Lottery, a classic example of American gothic writing. Since graduate school, one of my favorite reading-related activities has been building my Stephen King collection. He's a writer whom I scorned as an undergraduate English major, but for whom I gained admiration when his name came up in my thesis research and I learned that he'd dedicated one of his novels to Shirley Jackson. My professional life for the past seven years has involved teaching reading and writing, starting at CWU and moving to North Seattle Community College and now back again to CWU. I won't bore you with the rather unremarkable details of the rest of my life. If you want to know more, stop by the University Writing Center and ask me in person. We can have a cup of tea and talk.

 

 

Sandi Gruberg, Assistant Director-Westside

Creative Writing, Landscape ArchitectureSandi Gruberg

Diane Setterfield begins The Thirteenth Tale with this confession: "All children mythologize their birth….You want to know someone? Heart, mind, and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story." So you want to know a little about me? I was born in Auburn, Washington. Within weeks of my arrival, I was kidnapped by winged monkeys and sold to a traveling circus where I was raised by a snake-charming gypsy and a tattooed sword-swallower who forced me to spend my formative years peddling popcorn out of a camel-drawn cart. Shortly thereafter, I joined the staff at the Central Washington University Writing Center. At least, that's how I remember it. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington in 1999, I was left with the freakish (and non-lucrative) ability to identify more than 500 plants by their Latin genus and species, plus a fascination with literature that incorporates nature as character: Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, and Elizabeth Hay. I'm now a graduate of the M.F.A. Creative Writing program at National University. I’ve published four short stories, and I’m working on a post-thesis novel. I am passionate about writing, and I love to see that passion sparked in my students. I know too well the fear that rears its ugly head when we are faced with the challenges of crafting language, but I also know that the ability to clearly and creatively express our ideas in words can be one of the greatest joys of the human experience. As a writing center consultant, I want to encourage you not to fear writing. Writing can become a lifelong friend if you just give it a little time and attention.

 
 

Ellensburg Writing Tutors

 

Wendy Bynum

Public Relations/ Sociology

As a young girl, I always helped out my teachers with grading papers. I volunteered at my elementary school every afternoon until I graduated high school because I loved working with students and helping them succeed in understanding and appreciating the English language. This has carried on as I have been a tutor of different subjects which has helped me hone my tutoring skills. Now I have found a home at the Learning Commons as a writing tutor. I transferred to Central Washington University and am a Public Relations and Sociology major. Besides studying, I occupy my time with playing sports, hiking, and anything else that involves being outside; as well as reading a good book once in a while.

Chris Carlsen

Books are my life.  My name is Chris Carlsen and I am from Stanwood, Washington.  I am a certified ESL teacher, and before coming to Central I taught English in Korea and Japan.  I love Asian cuisine, especially Korean.  At Central, I am studying the German and French languages in anticipation of my graduate studies in literature.  Please come see me at the Learning Commons if you need help!

Olivia Hirschey

Area of Interest: Reading, writing, languages, and baking.

Hi, my name’s Olivia, and I am a tutor for the Writing Center. I got involved here because I have always loved to read and write, and I want to help others do the same. I am also a tour guide here at Central, and I love showing off our school. I speak Spanish and French, and I am fascinated with languages and linguistics. Outside of the classroom, I like going to yoga to relax and feel at peace. I love to bake, and my family and friends are always happy to taste test my latest creations. Some of my favorite recipes include bread pudding, lemon curd jelly roll cake, and classic chocolate chip cookies. In the future, I want to live in a foreign country, get a puppy, and graduate- not necessarily in that order! I decided to become an intern because I have always enjoyed writing, and I especially enjoy exploring the writing process. My dad told me that all writing is re-writing, and I hope to help people understand that re-writing is an important part of the writing process that should be practiced and enjoyed. During my time as an intern, I am happy to be learning all about the Writing Center at Central.

Kathryn Landoe

Creative Writing

Writing was my first love. We had a bit of a falling out when I broke up with him and fell in love with the Performing twins, Singing and Acting. (Their sister, Dancing, never really liked me much, no matter how hard I tried to be her friend.) But I soon realized that Singing and Acting weren’t for me. (My love with Singing was wild and passionate, but he required more effort than I was willing to give, and my love with Acting never felt quite right.) In my heart, I always knew I’d return to Writing, my first love, my greatest love.
Though, I’ll admit, writing is difficult. I get that. Sometimes I’ll sit and stare at a blank page, rolling my pencil between my thumb and forefinger faster and faster until it looks like a windshield wiper that’s had one too many Red Bulls. That is, if windshield wipers drank Red Bull . . . or really, if they drank anything. I’d think maybe if I could wave it fast enough, I’d be able to generate some ideas, an idea, any ideas! And, hey, I guess it kind of worked. I’ve been able to generate this much so far. Of course, this method only works until I’m waving my pencil so fast that it flies out of my hand and hits someone in the face. Pure embarrassment tends to kill the motivation.
When I’m not profusely apologizing to people for launching tiny projectile missiles at them, I enjoy reciting entire musicals at my roommates, spending obscene amounts of time on the internet, and sleeping at inappropriate times during the day.
I’ll be honest. I never wanted to be a tutor. Ever since I started college, my parents encouraged me to get a job as a tutor. I didn’t know how to go about doing that, so I didn’t even try. Then one day, my grammar teacher pulled me aside after class and told me he was sending in a recommendation for me to work in the Writing Center. I called up my mom and said, “Welp, looks like I’m going to be a tutor.”  Now that I’ve gone through training, I realize how much I need to be a tutor, regardless of whether I want to be a tutor or not. Through tutoring and helping others to discover the best writing process for themselves, I am also learning about my own writing process. Becoming a Writing Center tutor is, in part, the reason for my picking up the pen again. I have been able to apply to my own writing the skills I’ve learned on my path to becoming a tutor. If I can teach just one other person at least one of those skills, then my time as a tutor will have been worth it.

Anne Parfitt

Areas of Interest: Archaeology, Geology

I was born in a tiny little town on the Olympic Peninsula and grew up on twenty acres of forest, complete with chickens, cows, horses, seven dogs, and several fluffy cats. After graduating high school in this tiny town, I spent two years at community college and came to Central to finish my double major in anthropology (emphasis archaeology) and geology. I have wanted to be an archaeologist ever since second grade, and now that I am finally working toward my goal I love it even more than I ever expected to. Last summer I was able to study abroad in Belize, go to an archaeology field school at Mt. Rainier, and participate in a geology field school in California. I am completely passionate about where I am going with my career, and I wouldn’t be able to fully embrace my goals without a proficiency in writing. As a writing tutor at Central, my primary bjective is to instill confidence within students concerning their own abilities to communicate and express ideas.  Once students are no longer intimidated by writing, they are able to continuously expand their skill level with every paper they create.  Strong writing skills are an incredibly powerful and permanent tool, and they will help you in your success no matter what adventures or adversities you face throughout your life. 

Kylie Rose

Descriptive Writing/Literary Analysis, Musical Theatre

I grew up on the cold rains of the small and supposedly picturesque town of Kelso, Washington, raised on musty books and enthusiastic family sing-a-longs. I idolized my only sibling, a bibliophilic older sister. Perhaps my love of the written word can be blamed on her influence, as I constantly sought to follow in her footsteps, although I like to believe my fanaticism manifested of its own accord. I read voraciously through middle school and high school, toying with the idea of becoming “a world-renowned author” or “a brilliant English teacher who inspired future authors with the depth of her intellect.” With time, I thought better of those notions and decided to become a starving actor instead of a starving author or teacher. After an essay contest in high school granted me a trip to Europe, heightening my awareness of the world, I somehow managed to muster up the courage post-graduation to bid the familiarity of my hometown goodbye in order to broaden my horizons studying musical theatre at Central Washington University. It wasn’t until 2013 that I joined the University Learning Commons as a writing tutor. It could be that I was drawn to tutoring because of the lingering remnants of my desire to teach; however, I feel that my appreciation for verbal and written communication played a key role in my decision to tutor. I have found that I love tutoring because it gives me the chance to serve as a catalyst for change, movement, and growth. Part of my inspiration for both theatre and writing comes from the French acting instructor Jaques Lecoq’s biography, The Moving Body, where Lecoq states that "[e]rror is not just acceptable, it is necessary for the continuation of life, provided it is not too great. A large error is a catastrophe; a small error is essential for enhancing existence. Without error there is no movement. Death follows." From error comes the opportunity for growth: the opportunity to expand our minds and reshape our understanding of humanity. Through writing, we express and explore the world; and, by tutoring and by being tutored, we can help to ensure that we are remaining actively engaged in our environment and that we are moving in the right direction: forward, approaching our best possible futures.

Alyssa Welch

Hello everyone! My name is Alyssa Welch. I am a 4th year student at Central Washington University majoring in English education. Having grown up in California, I developed a love for warm weather, taco trucks, and shopping. I don’t get much of that here in Ellensburg, but the great thing is that I can still write wherever I go. In my spare time, I love writing poetry and short stories. It gives me an opportunity to be reflective and imaginative. As a teacher one day, I plan to help students develop their creativity in writing.  I believe that writing is a powerful tool. It enables individuals to communicate effectively in the workforce, in relationships, and in creativity. When you visit the Learning Commons Center, I hope to assist you in furthering your writing skills and help you become a more confident writer. Looking forward to seeing you!

Lyndsay Wulf

I, the esteemed Lyndsay Wulf, grew up on the very green Kitsap Peninsula, where there is a Navy base. I had nothing to do with the Navy base, but it was there.  In junior high, I wanted to be a writer-slash-musician-slash-photographer. None of those dreams came true; however, I am majoring in music and psychology to do music therapy which is far superior to those mere avocations. I have been to Europe for neither writing, nor music, nor photography, nor music therapy. It was mostly just to get away from Cow Town, Eastern Washington.  After being crushed by the weight of the crippling debt of being a college student, I realized I needed money, and so took a job as a writing tutor.

This biography was written by Kat and does not reflect Lyndsay’s actual attitudes toward life, love, and tutoring.

But really, I’m Lyndsay. I grew up around Bremerton, which is on the lovely Kitsap Peninsula. In junior high I played the flute and wrote horrible poetry and fell in love with my old 35mm. Then high school happened. I played the tuba, wore goth pants, and got a fancy digital camera. All dreams were crushed.  I came to college because everyone was doing it. Music was what I was good at in high school, so I declared a Music Education major Day One of freshman year. After a few years of that, I decided to study abroad in Ireland where the cows are sheep. I learned Counterpoint and a teeny tiny bit of Irish, and wrote a blog. When I returned from my epic journey, enlightened and rejuvenated, I decided that teaching for all eternity is not really my thing. I added a Psychology major and researched a music therapy career--my current path. Life told me I needed monies (and my digestive system rejected a future consisting solely of Top Ramen), so I returned to one of my first loves and became a writing tutor. Even though I started this job purely for sustenance, I really have come to enjoy it, and I would love to talk to all of you about writing or reading or speaking or music or traveling or feelings or anything at all. Except resumes. We have doctors for that.