Over the last two years I have had the privilege of finding my voice and place among the Peer Mentor and Tutor community at DePaul University. As an alumnus of DePaul and 2nd year graduate student, I have always wondered what needs to be done? This question was echoed by this year’s keynote speaker at the Peer Tutor and Mentor Summit at DePaul. The keynote speaker, Joyana Jacoby Dvorak, works as the Service Immersion Coordinator in the Vincentian Community Service Office and teaches in the Department of Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. Her speech focused on how we might make a difference through our positions across the University with the Vincentian mission in mind.
The question of what must be done was one St. Vincent de Paul focused on throughout his career and it is also one I ask during this last year of my education at DePaul. As a result of that resounding question, I decided to submit to present a Round Robin—a brief presentation/activity that Summit participants have the option to attend throughout the day. My proposal was accepted twice—once in 2015 and again in 2016. This past year I presented an amalgamation of my primary research and my own philosophy on rapport building. My goal was to find the answer to my initial question—what must be done? We need to be the change we wish to see. While that might sound cliche, after the 2016 election it could not be more true. Our world needs to be more open and inclusive with more hands on community building. My work intends to accomplish just that. Through my work, which focuses on inclusivity and queer rhetorical embodiment, I hope to advance the way writing center theorists, researchers, tutors, and mentors engage with those who seek their mentorship and tutelage. Thus, the Peer Tutor and Mentor Summit presented a unique opportunity to spread this work to my community of tutors and mentors at DePaul.
While for some this kind of community engagement can seem scary at first, it is one I hope all are willing to engage in. DePaul has been home to me the last 5 years, and as a result it has been the place where I feel I can make an impact if I step outside my comfort zone. Working at the UCWbL and taking on challenges like academic conferences has allowed me to do just this. In stepping out of your comfort zone you develop new skills through taking on new challenges and envisioning new and promising goals. I hope that our new UCWbLers, returners, and future UCWbLers decide to step out and try something new. You never know what wonderful things you’ll gain.