The University of Utah Writing Studies Scholars Program invites Salt Lake Community College students to connect and take part in their transfer cohorts.
The program is for SLCC transfer students to make a University of Utah education – specifically in writing and rhetoric studies – more accessible.
“We want to connect with SLCC students who are already interested in and excited about writing, and we also want to connect with SLCC students who don’t necessarily think of themselves as writers yet but might find a lot that they value in the program if they have a chance to try it out,” explains Dr. Christie Toth, a professor at the University of Utah.
Toth created the Writing Studies Scholars Program in 2015 after working with a group of recent former SLCC students on a study of transfer student writing experiences at the U. Through surveys and interviews across campus, the idea emerged to use the things learned through the study to examine how they might better support these students and provide new ways to strengthen their academic journeys.
“Ultimately, we want to foster a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to supporting transfer students that extends across SLCC and [the] U,” says Toth.
The program values what SLCC students add to the classroom and acknowledges the different college experiences that transfer students bring with them from the community college to the University. In addition, the program embraces the unique challenges and perspectives that transfer students have.
The Writing Studies Scholars Program strives to address those challenges and assist them by providing opportunities to connect with fellow students and resources that will support their goals.
Writing Studies Scholars are eligible to take a free 3000-level course at SLCC before transferring, experience the level of reading and workload they can expect in upper-division U classes and have the chance to connect with faculty, advisors and peers. The class teaches them how to use their experiences moving between the two institutions—and their other out-of-school communities—to explore the relationships between writing and location.
SLCC transfer student and Writing Studies Scholar, Jose Loeri, who is now pursuing a major in Writing and Rhetoric Studies, a minor in Linguistics, while pursuing a Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Certificate (TESOL), shares his appreciation for the program and the class,
“It often feels like your voice doesn’t matter, but as soon as I stepped into this class, my voice felt heard. I felt like I could communicate and share my ideas on larger topics – and feel listened to! Something that I have come to think of as a major part of my learning,” says Loeri.
The Writing Studies Scholars Program also works hard to help students identify the full range of resources and opportunities at the U including scholarship support, additional mentorship and professional development opportunities.
“I might not have been able to get to the U had I not been in this program. I might not have gotten in touch with the resources I needed to make my transfer possible,” says Joseph Moss, a SLCC transfer student studying Writing and Rhetoric, Journalism, and Creative Writing at the U.
“I think the thing that helped me the most was the fact that these professors trudged through the muck of the swamp that transfer can be, to allow me to have an easier path,” adds Loeri.
Additionally, the program provides a $2,000 scholarship for Writing Studies Scholars during their first semester at the U and helps students find and apply for other campus scholarships. Throughout their time at the U, Writing Studies Scholars also have access to financial assistance to purchase a parking pass, a free one-credit study group with other students in the program, and monthly social events with free food.
The program is committed to supporting Writing Studies Scholars not just during their transition to the U, but all the way through to graduation and beyond.
For Toth, the most fulfilling part of the Writing Studies Scholars Program is learning from the student’s perspective and using these insights to help make improvements to the program. This allows the program to better meet the needs and interests of the current scholars.
“I love seeing the supportive relationships that students in the program build with one another and the contributions they make to the entire learning community at the U. And, of course, I love seeing students graduate and go on to achieve their goals,” says Toth.
Toth assures that it’s never too early to connect, and encourages any students interested in the Writing Studies Scholars Program in Summer 2020 to contact her at any time via email, in person at a SLCC table or visit the website.