Tutors and Directors, Past and Present, Gather for 25-Year Reunion of YU Writing Centers
The Yeshiva University Writing Centers on both the Beren and Wilf Campuses celebrated their 25th anniversary on Sunday, September 18 by hosting their first-ever tutor reunion. Some 40 Writing Center tutors and directors, past and current, attended the reunion, which was part of YU’s Homecoming festivities, coming together to share the positive impact working at the writing centers has had on their professional and personal lives.
“Recently, several people asked me if in 1986 I could have imagined that the two Writing Centers would be as central to the learning experience for the undergraduate students as they have turned out to be,” said Richard Nochimson, founder of both centers and current professor of English at Stern College for Women and Yeshiva College, in his opening remarks. “My answer was ‘yes.’ Founding the writing centers was part of a larger project: making writing important in this University in a way that it wasn’t 25 years ago.”
The Writing Centers provide free one-on-one tutoring to students of all skill levels on all types of writing, from composition essays and graduate school applications to marketing papers and lab reports. Through a collaborative process, the centers aim to help writers gain the skills and confidence to articulate more clearly in prose and to develop thinking and writing proficiencies that will help with every assignment.
“The experience for me was fantastic,” said Rabbi Yona Reiss, Max and Marion Grill Dean of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the very first tutor hired by Nochimson. “The ability to communicate well is fundamentally important no matter where you are, what community, what time. You have to find the right words to get your message across.”
In total, more than 450 students have served as Yeshiva University Writing Center tutors over the past quarter of a century.
Tova Gardin ’10S credited her experience as a tutor in helping prepare her for her current role as brain trauma researcher at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “As a Writing Center tutor, in order to help a student figure out what she is trying to say, you go through a maze of ideas to find a central one and then you build from there. I took this skill I learned and applied it to how I deal with medical patients. When they come in with many different complaints, I try to break it down to one main cause and then build it up again.”
Neil Goldman ’08YC, an editorial assistant for the Charlie Rose show on PBS, echoed Gardin. “I remember in the Writing Center, students would come in, and in 45 minutes you had to be able to assess priorities and it is this exercise that I find very useful in my job today,” said Goldman.
“I’m really struck by the stories of tutors from past generations: how they valued the Writing Center during their time but also how they have felt it has been a part of their lives since,” said Andrea Rosso Efthymiou, associate director of the Beren Writing Center. “I know from my experience, the students, tutors and administrators that I engage with on a daily basis have made me see the value of collaboration and engaging with others in a way that I didn’t realize before.”
“The reunion underscored for me what thoughtful, engaging and interesting people tutors are, and how wonderful it is for alumni from different generations to connect with each other,” said Dr. Lauren Fitzgerald, director of the Wilf Writing Center.