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Megan Lankford (left) receives her travel grant award at SWCA in Fort Lauderdale.
Four members of the Miller Writing Center staff traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 21 to present at the annual Southeastern Writing Center Association conference.
For three of them—MWC director Dr. Travis Adams, graduate student Emily Cosgrove, and lead consultant Brittany Carmack—writing center conferences are familiar territory. But for sophomore undergraduate consultant Megan Lankford, the experience was entirely new.
Lankford’s workshop focused on online consultations. First she led a discussion about how they work, potential difficulties, and ways to maximize their productivity. Then she actually conducted an online consultation with two volunteers in the room. “I had all of the attendees provide input for the ‘tutor’ and had the ‘tutee’ demonstrate some of the fears that had previously been discussed,” said Lankford.
She was pleasantly surprised by the low-key SWCA atmosphere. “The audience wants to hear what you have to say, and they respect you for preparing your material,” said Lankford. “I had the plenary speaker in my presentation, and he acted just as humble and interested as the two undergrad students that he sat next to.”
Because the subject of online consultations is relatively foreign to most people, the opportunity to participate in a hands-on activity and then discuss complications proved helpful and interesting. Lankford received high praise for her interactive workshop. “A few of the attendees said they would do something like this as training material in their centers,” she said.
“The Miller Writing Center has had an excellent run at conferences of late, but Megan also deserves additional recognition,” said Dr. Adams. “She was awarded a substantial travel grant to present at the conference, and Dr. Duane Roen, the conference plenary speaker, singled Megan out before his talk, asking everyone to recognize Megan for how thoughtful, poised, knowledgeable, and engaging she was. And Dr. Roen made clear that Megan’s career is one he’ll be watching. That level of praise from a significant figure in the field of Rhetoric and Composition says a lot about Megan. It made me proud of her and the kind of work we are doing in and through the Miller Writing Center.”
Lankford said she gained a new perspective on her work at the Miller Writing Center by attending the conference. “There is so much research and development in the world of writing centers,” she said. “There is a vast opportunity to conduct and publish relevant research, regardless of your level of education.”