DCTC Writing Center works for all writers
As an expert on the nuts and bolts of the writing process, Eric Wardell understands the power of the written word. Perhaps more importantly, especially in his job as the writing tutor in Dakota County Technical College’s Writing Center, Wardell recognizes the potential for success in every writer regardless of skill level or knowledge of English. Writing, as in any form of expression, is always a work in progress.
“English is a beautiful language that is constantly changing and reinventing itself,” he said. “English is so huge and so complex because it borrows from many other languages, which means that we have a lot of crazy rules.”
“English is an essential tool for advancement in virtually every career.”
Originally from St. James, Minn., Wardell resettled with his family in Savage and from there to Burnsville. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris, where he double majored in English and American History.
“Students who come to the Writing Center are looking for assistance in a wide range of areas,” Wardell said. “We cover grammar problems, modifier placement, vocabulary building, spelling, reading skills, pronunciation, ethics—especially how to avoid plagiarism—and sentence diagramming. As for the latter, I’ve been incredibly impressed by how great my students are at stripping down the elements and constructing model sentences, which can be very difficult.”
Wardell tutors students individually and in groups. Individualized help often targets papers for classes and typically focuses on developing ideas, writing an excellent thesis, proper paragraphing and citing sources.
“Even though many of my students speak English as a second, third or even fourth language, we only speak and write English in the Writing Center,” he said. “English is an essential tool for advancement in virtually every career. Becoming fluent both as a speaker and writer can be crucial for success.”
Sophal Chai, a native of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, enjoys coming to the Writing Center. A resident of Rosemount, Minn., and a student in the Child Developmentprogram, Chai makes an appointment to see Wardell whenever she needs help with vocabulary issues or reading assignments.
“Eric is a wonderful tutor,” she said. “He has helped many students improve their English skills. We are lucky to have him.”
Charley Alden, a recent graduate of the same program, agrees with Chai. A native of Grand Meadow, Minn., Alden earned a 3.97 GPA while at DCTC and is starting next fall at Concordia University, where she will continue her studies in child development with the career goal of becoming a parent and family educator.
“I have used the Writing Center for a variety of classes including Introduction to Literature, Ethics and Humanities,” said Alden, a former student ambassador and member of the All-Minnesota Academic Team. “Thanks to the Writing Center, I have grown immensely as a writer and learned how to format and build a paper appropriate for upper-level college classes.”
“Eric teaches us how to correct our papers,” said Ali, a mother of four who was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. “We also learn how better use the computer.”
Another student who favors the Writing Center, Emily Knudsen of Red Wing, Minn., is enrolled in the Meeting and Event Management program. Her first experience with the Writing Center was when she asked Wardell for last-minute help on a marine biology report.
“Eric is a great tutor and he showed me how I could really improve my report,” said Knudsen, who plans on going to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota with the long-term goal of managing a resort in Santa Fe, N.M. “If you want your paper to be the best it can be, check out the Writing Center.”
Wardell stresses that the Writing Center is for student writers at all levels of proficiency—from novice to expert. “I’ve worked with faculty from a number of programs and they encourage all their students to take advantage of our resources,” he said. “The atmosphere in the Writing Center is friendly and all about helping students improve and expand their use and understanding of English. My job as a tutor is teaching my students how to become accomplished and independent writers. Our doors are open to every student at the college.”