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Community Writing Center


Melissa Helquist Melissa Helquist: Director

Melissa is the Director of the Community Writing Center and Associate Professor of English at Salt Lake Community College. She has been teaching writing for the past twenty years in a variety of contexts: in writing centers, online, in the classroom, and from a canoe in the northwoods. She is a disability studies scholar and an accessibility advocate. She likes to bake and she will challenge anyone to a game of foosball.

Justice Morath Justice Morath: Associate Director

Justice is the Associate Director of the CWC and Assistant Professor of Psychology at SLCC. In the interest of living up to his name, he is concerned with issues of social justice. He is currently most interested in how scientific literacy is a means of increasing civic engagement and empowering underrepresented groups. Knowing how to effectively and accurately write about scientific discovery is a key tool in making positive social change. Bicycles and burritos are his favorite discoveries.

Sandra Salazar-HernandezSandra Salazar-Hernandez: Writing Assistant - Youth Program Coordinator

Sandra Salazar-Hernandez was born in East Los Angeles and lived there for 13 years. She has been in Utah for about 6 years and she has to say it's a good state and it gets pretty chilly at times. She attends Salt Lake Community College and would hope to major in Computer Science. Her hobbies include: playing volleyball, being a vegetarian (most of the time), volunteering around the community, reading classic/world literature books, the twitter app and all of Hayao Miyazaki films. She is really looking forward to being part of the Community Writing Center and meeting new people and working alongside such wonderful writers.

Nic Contreras Profile Picture Nic Contreras: Writing Assistant - Programs Coordinator

Nic is a part-time musician, writer, student, and employee of the CWC. He is, however, a full-time human. He is excited to be part of the writing center and take part in creating positive change in the community as well as teaching and learning from the people of Salt Lake City. Nic enjoys all aspects of life, but especially the music of Radiohead. His poetry and photography were recently published in Folio. He also loves to travel, watch movies and chat with people about life. He currently attends the University of Utah, and plans on graduating with a Bachelor’s in English.

Atticus Augstin Olmedo Profile Picture Atticus Agustin Olmedo: Writing Assistant - Adult Offsite Coordinator

Atticus Agustin is a Salt Lake City native; mountains, faith, community, and progressive politics therefore have formed an integral part of his identity. He has been with the CWC for almost two years, and has enjoyed every minute of it. Especially working close by with the Poplar Grove neighborhood. Some of Atticus’ hobbies include biking, reading, writing, and surfing the web late at night on various topics (“Ethnic composition of Peru” being the latest of those topics). Atticus studies history and linguistics.

Westin PorterWestin Porter – Writing Assistant and Special Projects Coordinator

Westin Porter is an undergraduate at the University of Utah where he is studying Writing and Rhetoric. In addition to his work with the SLCC Community Writing Center, Westin works for the Natural History Museum of Utah and is a freelance contributor for City Weekly and SLUG Magazine. Westin enjoys reading, writing and riding motorcycles.

Zach FrederickZach Frederick – Writing Assistant - DiverseCity Writing Series Coordinator

Zach Frederick has recently returned to academic life after more than a few years away from school. Having enrolled at SLCC in order to pursue an associate's degree and transfer to University of Utah’s Writing and Rhetoric program, he finds himself loving life as a full time student. Zach took a much longer than intended break from school after High School graduation following his enlistment in the Air Force. He is now a full-time student at SLCC, a proud member of the Air Force Reserve at Hill AFB, and a newly minted writing assistant at the SLCC Community Writing Center. In his spare time, you can find Zach enjoying many of the valley’s great outdoor activities. Or alternatively, in his house reading or watching TV. In either case he’ll be accompanied by his amazing dog sidekick: Loki.

Jesse Focht Jesse Focht: Writing Assistant - Communications Coordinator

When Jesse left High School he swore he would never set foot in a school again. Seven years later he started his first term at SLCC during the Spring of 2016. And he hasn’t regretted it yet. Jesse is determined to use his writing for social justice and bringing peaceful resolutions to global and local conflicts. He plans to double major in Writing and Rhetoric and Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Utah. Jesse enjoys coffee, being outside, and intellectually stimulating conversation—usually at the same time.

Alice Lopez Alice Lopez: Writing Assistant

Alice is a Senior at the University of Utah, graduating in Writing and Rhetoric. Her sight is set on graduate school and she is excited to continue being a student, possibly forever more. She is originally from France and enjoys cheese probably more often than she should. Some of Alice’s hobbies are photography, horses, and fitness, a topic on which she has written as a freelance contributor for an online outlet. Alice is excited to be working with such a group of progressive thinkers and social justice activists.

Community Advisory Committee

Our Community Advisory Committee is comprised of active community members and/or professional writers and editors who advise the CWC on innovative ways to achieve its mission of supporting, motivating and educating people of all abilities and educational backgrounds who want to use writing for practical needs, civic engagement and personal expression.

Shauna Bona is a founder and copresident of McKinnon-Mulherin, Inc., a company that provides writing and editing expertise to corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. Although most of her time is spent working directly with clients (i.e., sales), she is also in charge of training the McKinnon-Mulherin team. When she isn't working, she focuses her time on her teen-age daughter Sophie and on volunteer work for the Girl Scouts and the Salt Lake City Rotary Club.

Louis Borgenicht is a pediatrician and writer. He is an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah and has taught courses in Literature and Medicine for the Division of Continuing Education at the University of Utah. His articles have appeared in Catalyst, Utah Holiday, City Weekly and the Salt Lake Tribune as well as professional medical journals. He is an inveterate writer of letters to the editor and is currently working on a book that will include a section of his unpublished political diatribes.

Stephen Goldsmith is Curator of The Temporary Museum of Permanent Change.

Anne Holman Manager of King's English Bookshop, has been a reader since she was old enough to hold a book. It never occurred to her that a person could actually have a job where books and people could come together and one could actually earn money doing it. Will wonders never cease?

Dawn Marano is president and senior editor of Dawn Marano & Associates, a literary consulting and developmental editing firm. Previously she served as an editor at the University of Utah Press, where she published many nationally recognized authors of nonfiction. She teaches writing for the University of Utah's Lifelong Learning program and serves as chair of the advisory board for the Writers @ Work annual conference. Marano is a co-author of When We Say We're Home: A Quartet of Place and Memory, a work of literary nonfiction. Her poetry and prose have appeared in several publications and anthologies, and her work has been cited among Notable Essays in The Best American Essays. Her memoir Trusting the Edge won the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition for Nonfiction Book in 2005 and the Publication Prize in 2006.

Ken Verdoia is the extremely rare journalist who has worked in newspaper, magazine, radio, commercial television and public television on the local, regional and national level, Ken presently provides overall direction of program production for KUED-TV in Salt Lake City. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. Ken is the recipient of seventeen Emmy Awards and has been twice honored for producing the best television news documentary in America. He is a fellow of the American Political Science Association, a Lifetime Achievement honoree from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science, and author and media consultant to Fortune 500, federal government and professional sports (NBA, MLB, NFL) clients.

John Florez is a Salt Lake Tribune Columnist and Westside Activist.

Nichole Bourdeaux Director Sorenson Unity Center.

Bev Cooper Charity Coordinator

Chris Peterson Director Sorenson Unity Center

Academic Advisory Committee

Our Academic Advisory Committee is comprised of educators from local higher education institutions and K-12 schools/districts who advise the CWC on innovative pedagogical approaches, facilitate opportunities for research and scholarship and explore avenues for student involvement in and through the CWC.

Clint Gardner (Chair) is the Coordinator of the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) Student Writing Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. He currently serves as Archivist and TYCA-West National Representative for the Two-year College Association (TYCA) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). He also served as Secretary of TYCA (2008-2011). His other professional leadership include the International Writing Centers Association (President 2005-2007) and in the Rocky Mountain Writing Centers Association. His writing center research and development include the work of peer writing consultants (tutors) in a community college writing center and the use of online resources to bring writing center services who cannot attend the Student Writing Center in person. One the most important aspects of his writing center work is to support and offer feedback to the student writers who come to the SLCC Student Writing Center, as well as to the SLCC Students who work as peer writing consultants in the Center. Clint teaches college composition and literature with a particular interest in discourse studies and genre theory.

Ron Christiansen SLCC English Department

Dean Huber SLCC ESL Department

Jay Jordan University of Utah Writing Program

Lynn Kilpatrick SLCC English Department

Chris LeCluyse is an assistant professor of English and writing center director at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. After studying English and vocal performance at Oberlin College, he received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, where he specialized in the history of the English language and linguistics. In graduate school Chris became involved in writing center administration and later filled interim positions at UT and Southwestern University before coming to Westminster. His research looks at writing center practice through the lenses of ancient rhetoric and medieval literacy. He is also a professional singer of choral and early music, performing with Conspirare (Austin), Magnificat (San Francisco), and a variety of ensembles in Salt Lake.

Maureen Mathison University of Utah Writing Program

Sundy Watanabe University of Utah Writing Center

Writing Partners

Writing Partners are non-profit organizations, government agencies, businesses, and educational institutions that work with the CWC to address their writing needs. This service can be used to empower clients, staff, and volunteers through workshops and individual consulting. Topics range from grant and business writing to creative writing and public service announcements. To inquire about the Writing Partners program please contact Andrea Malouf at (801) 957-2192 or submit our inquiry form.

Featured Partner:

Salt Lake City Library

Salt Lake City Public Library

With the Salt Lake City Public Library downtown and five branches located throughout the city, there's bound to be a city library close to where you live or work. And now the SLCC Community Writing Center is partnering with the Salt Lake City Public Library for these three exciting new programs!

Salt Lake Teens Write

Imagine yourself as a junior in high school, not sure of your future, (college? career?), but one thing you do know is that you like to write. Now imagine yourself as a person with a career, who uses writing on a daily basis. Bring these two people together and you’ve got a new community writing program being offered by the SLCC Community Writing Center and the Salt Lake City Public Library.

Starting in Fall 2010, under-served teens (ages 16-17) will partner with adults who use writing in their careers in mentoring relationships for nine months. Meeting weekly, these writing teams will work together to develop strong writing skills and abilities in all types of writing: creative, professional and academic.

If you are interested in participating either as a mentor or a mentee please visit the Salt Lake Teens Write page.

Writing for Change

Does change in democracy require civic dialogue? If so, where is it and who gets to talk? Or write? Join the SLCC Community Writing Center as we learn the techniques of civic writing, such as Letters to Editors and Public Officials. Come with a concern; stay to write a letter with the help of SLCC Community Writing Center writing coaches.

Beginning in January 2010, the SLCC Community Writing Center launches three new areas of programming within our new Writing for Change initiative: the Utah Community Literacy and Writing Consortium (UCLAWC), Writing for Change Events with the Salt Lake City Public Library and a Community Survey on Writing and Change. Please explore all of these programs, and find out how YOU can make a change with writing!

For more information, visit our Writing for Change page

One City Westside Stories

Salt Lake City may be the biggest small town in the west, but it consists of many smaller diverse communities. In partnership with the Salt Lake City Public Library, the SLCC Community Writing Center presents One City: Westside Stories. This program invites community members living on the Westside to participate in mutual dialogue about their community. High school students and senior citizens will interview each other about their experiences living in this vibrant community.

The interview teams will write stories after the interviews. Podcasts and writing will be shared on-line to create a portrait of the Westside.

High School teachers, senior citizens, and community volunteers are encouraged to be involved.

West HighWest High School Family Resource Center

West High School, established in 1890, is located at 241 North 300 West in Salt Lake City. The West High School Family Resource Center (FRC) provides educational resources and information about jobs, housing, legal aid and domestic violence to the extended West High School student and parent population. It also serves as a point of access for the West High population regarding clothing and food resources and dentistry and family support voucher programs.

The SLCC Community Writing Center (CWC) partnered with the West High FRC in September 2011 to offer CWC programs to the students and parents at West High. CWC writing coaches offer free after-school weekly writing coaching sessions to West students. The coaching sessions, conducted on-site at West High, focus on students’ academic assignments and preparing college application essays, personal statements, and scholarship essays. The CWC, in collaboration with the West FRC, has also conducted full writing workshops at West High that provide detailed information for students and parents regarding the process of writing college application and scholarship essays.

Venture Course

Venture Course

The Venture Course in the Humanities provides adults facing economic barriers with a chance to start college. Modeled on the Clemente Course in the HumanitiesSM, created by educator and journalist Earl Shorris in 1995 and now an international movement, Venture is a year-long, introductory humanities course taught by university and college faculty. In Utah, the course is run in Salt Lake, Ogden, and Cedar City and includes sections in literature, American history, art history, philosophy, and writing/critical thinking. Successful students of Venture in Salt Lake City receive credits transferable to Westminster College.

Venture Course meets twice a week at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center. Students are given a writing assignment each class and write essays throughout the semester. In partnership with the Utah Humanities Council, 2011 marked the first year of the SLCC Writing Center offering writing coaching to Venture students once a week before class at Horizonte.

Salt Lake County Jail System

Since the introduction of Salt Lake County’s Life Skills program, 49 groups of between 25 and 30 participants have graduated. The program, which emphasizes a wide range of skills, from personal finance to parenting, has been deemed a success on both a local and national level. Central to the program is the “Heroes” program, which asks participants to critically analyze their legacy and asks an important question: would you be proud for your children to call you their hero? Often, the answers to this question are mixed, and for the majority of the program, participants will grapple with their answers, both verbally and through writing. In collaboration with the Salt Lake County Jail system, the Community Writing Center facilitates a two part writing process workshop, which has since become a consistent part of the larger Life Skills curriculum. CWC facilitators guide participants through the writing process, allowing writers to explore planning, brainstorming, drafting and revision through their own writing. The participant writers gain both an opportunity to reflect on their assigned questions, and writing skills to apply to a variety of scenarios once they are released.

Additionally, the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center partners with the Salt Lake County Metro Jail in order to provide a rotating series of creative writing workshops to jail’s female inmates. Every 3 weeks, CWC facilitators recruit interested women for two part workshops, which in the past have focused on creative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction. During these workshops, writers are introduced to new formats and genres, given the chance to write freely and creatively, and also receive feedback from facilitators and fellow writers. Often, the women continue their work after the workshops have ended, and either share their new material and later workshops or at the CWC upon release.

Currently, the Salt Lake County Jail system is one of the CWC’s largest partnerships; to date, more than 200 writers have participated in the CWC’s jail programming since August 2011.

Past Featured Partners:

KUER and This I Believe

KUERThis I Believe

Have you ever struggled to define your beliefs? To clearly, firmly and rationally explain your personal philosophies on life, existence, and human purpose? If you have, you’re not alone.

In the 1940s and 50s, America was a nation beset by fears of communism, atomic war, and the loss of values. It was in this political and social upheaval that Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to power. Capitalizing upon the fears of Americans to drive his political ambitions, McCarthy declared that hundreds of card-carrying communists had infiltrated the United States government. Although he was censured by the senate for conduct unbecoming his position, Joseph McCarthy led one of the most repressive times in American history.

In the 1950s, Edward R. Murrow created and hosted a radio program known as This I Believe. Although Murrow said that the purpose of the program was “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization,” a subtler drive behind the program was to respond to the “communist witch-hunt” taking place in America. Series Producer Dan Gediman said about the essays heard: “We hear a country moving toward more equality among the races and between genders. We hear parents writing essays that are letters to their newborn children expressing the hopes and dreams they have for them. And we hear the stories of faith that guide people in their daily experiences."

The times in which we live differ from those of McCarthy and Murrow, but just as the purpose behind the This I Believe program was to encourage Americans to search within themselves to discover what they truly believed, National Public Radio (NPR) has revived this program to continue Americans’ search for personal belief. Here at the CWC, we have partnered with KUER to provide radio essay workshops and to encourage all members of our community to submit their own statement of belief. All submitted essays will be featured on the CWC website, and KUER will select a few to be read on air. If you would like to submit to our This I Believe project, we encourage you to:

  1. Please limit your essay to fewer than 500 words.
  2. Describe an event that shaped your beliefs or a person who inspired them.
  3. Avoid sermons and editorials—no soapbox declamations, please!
  4. Read more of This I Believe's essay-writing tips.

Learn More About:

Chapman Library

Chapman LibraryIn 1974, inspired by mythological tales and the writing of contemporary fantasy authors, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created a system to build stories around the miniature-figurine wargame, Chainmail. This system developed into the first modern roleplaying game, known today as Dungeons and Dragons or D&D. The game provides individuals the chance to create a story around personalized characters in a shared narrative. Many narratives are started by a pre-written adventure hook, but each story is open enough to allow the characters to take on a life of their own.

The adventures of characters such as these have been developed through the imagination of the players at Chapman Branch Library in Salt Lake City. Each week, librarian Sean Carrico assists a group of local teens in the development of an ongoing tale. Recently, however, the pace has slightly changed—the players, interested in creating their own little corner of the D&D world, have given up one game night a month to start the building process.

Sean and the Community Writing Center’s Jeremy Remy provide feedback and time for these young writers to inscribe their ideas. Moreover, they assist in giving the tools needed to help write such an epic: discussing the invention ideas, working out character hooks and motives, developing and structuring plot, revision techniques, game design, and editing skills.

The writers themselves were already familiar with a variety of character creation tools and the plot-driven storytelling necessary to play Dungeons and Dragons. Their experience as players has helped make them quick to pick up on the methods used to create a story.

“Every writer,” Jeremy claims, “should take the opportunity to play a roleplaying game. The skills these games can offer are invaluable.”

Creation of the story will be an ongoing experience for the teens this year. Upon completion, they will assist in designing a printed copy of their work to make available to patrons of the library. They will also be submitting their adventure to Wizards of the Coast, publishers of the Dungeons and Dragons game, with the hope of official publication.

Additional Writing Partners

Since opening, the Community Writing Center has partnered with a variety of organizations:

Salt Lake Community College

4600 South Redwood Road
Salt Lake City, UT 84123
801-957-SLCC (7522)

Student Services hours: M-Th: 7 am - 7 pm; Fr 7 am - 4:30 pm
Enrollment Info: 801-957-4073

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