There’s a cozy little alcove on the first floor of the AOK Library, right past the atrium and study room. On any given afternoon, you can see pairs of students talking and laughing with pens in hand—this is UMBC’s Writing Center, a free service offered to any student seeking help with a paper, resume, or even a job application. “The Writing Center is what I love most,” says Mary Hickernell, a current professor and the Learning Resource Center’s writing coordinator. “I enjoy seeing students become more strong and confident writers.” Professor Hickernell is involved in every aspect of the Writing Center’s function, from organizing the workspace to training the tutors who work there. “Our tutors are not just English majors,” she boasts. “Many come from the sciences and math.” This is important to Professor Hickernell because it shows how important writing is, regardless of one’s background and discipline. She strongly believes that those who write well will have an advantage after graduating and entering the job market, since prospective employees with strong writing skills are always in high demand. She therefore also advocates pursuing a writing minor at UMBC, no matter what one’s major is or his or her future plans.
Professor Hickernell’s 11 years with the center show that she is completely dedicated to improving the writing of UMBC students. “I do it because I love working with people, and it’s wonderful to know we’ve had a part in the growth and accomplishment of student writers,” she says. Despite the long hours, Professor Hickernell makes herself available to her students and the Writing Center. She can even sometimes be found in the Center during working hours, setting out a bowl of candy for the tutors and tutees hard at work. I don’t know about you, but the writing resources available here at UMBC sound pretty sweet to me.
-- Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012