Category Archives: Student Profile

Meet the CUPID Associates: Sarah Paterson

Hey there!


My name is Sarah Paterson and I am a senior Professional Writing and Rhetoric major with minors in Political Science, Communications, and Creative Writing. I am so excited to start this semester as a CUPID Associate and would love to help you with design questions, portfolio concerns, or anything else PWR during my lab hours (Sundays from 11:30 – 1:30). I also work in the Writing Center eight hours a week, so if I’m not in Alamance you can probably find me in the library!

When I got to college, I’d never even heard of rhetoric and I intended to come to school for a Cinema degree. After realizing Hollywood wasn’t such a good fit for me, a friend suggested I take the Intro to PWR class, and I was hooked. I liked PWR because it was hands-on and had immediate practical applications. Rhetoric is all about communicating effectively with others, and that’s a skill that’s useful in all areas of life. From Understanding Rhetoric to Writing Center Workshop, my PWR classes and projects (including work for the Conservators’ Center, the Writing Center, and EFFECT) have made me a more ethical, conscientious, and creative writer, designer, and rhetor.

Feel free to stop by the CUPID Studio during our lab hours – my fellow associates and I would be happy to help you with anything PWR!

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Meet the CUPID Associates: Alexa Dysch

Hello everyone!

20140214_121250 (2)For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Alexa Dysch and I’m so excited to be back for my second semester as a CUPID Associate. I am a senior (ahhh) pursuing an English major, with a double concentration in Professional Writing & Rhetoric (PWR) and Literature, as well as a double minor in Psychology and French. I hope that as a CUPID Associate, I can share my experiences and impart some of skills that I have gathered in my time at Elon and within our program. I will be in Alamance 318 (CUPID) and would love to help you with anything from resume building to portfolio design! Please stop by!

After discovering my love for editorial work with my high school’s literary magazine, I was eager to find a university-level program that would provide the next step toward my dreams. Once I stepped into the CUPID studio, I could feel that there was no turning back. Yet, I underestimated how much I could have learned from the program. I perceived rhetoric as an outdated concept, until I took Understanding Rhetoric and was proven extremely wrong. What I thought I knew about professional writing was quickly adapted and altered, and I found myself applying the knowledge to workplace settings and seeing results in a newfound manner. Even my poor technological skills were enhanced by taking Writing Technologies. Most importantly, I was coming to understand how to analyze and shape my own online and professional identity. As a result of experiences within classes and client projects, I’ve even noticed a change in my professional aspirations: a desire to become a professional brander and document designer.

Rather than a means to an end, I discovered that PWR was going to teach me much more than what I would need for a single editorial or branding career. Between client projects with LIFESPAN, the Elon Challenge Course and the Association for Business Communication, I learned how important one’s audience is and the extent to which one must collaborate with others to complete a truly successful project. Being able to apply such skills at an internship with Alamance Magazine was a rewarding demonstration of how much I learned through the PWR program. Further, I’ve seen through our program that being a professional writer, a collaborator, an intellectual, etc., is a role that never ceases to grow, as we are constantly studying our audience at hand and the world around us that never stops changing. As a PWR major, I’ve learned that we never stop growing, as students, as rhetors, or as people.

I can’t wait to see you all in the CUPID lab, whether in classes, during open hours or at workshops!

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PWR Senior Statements, Part 2

To continue with PWR Seniors Week, here are statements from the remaining six PWR seniors about what they’ve gotten out of the PWR program.


46137_10151597280648508_1938473447_nMaggie Achey

I loved my time as a PWR major because it afforded me the opportunity to work with a variety of client partners within the Burlington community on hands-on deliverables. The translation of theory into practice came alive with my work with Family Abuse Services of Alamance County and Friendship Adult Day Services. I feel that I grew as a professional communicator and collaborator through writing for real audiences. 




Hillary Dooley

PWR has given me the skills and practice to be successful as I enter the workforce. I am thankful for everything I have learned and for the dedication of all my wonderful professors.




547454_10151556083707284_1412593284_nKim Lilienthal

PWR has helped me strengthen my oral and written communication skills and adapt and apply them in different situations. I’ve grown as a collaborator, a leader, and a writer and I’m confident that I can take these skills with me when I leave Elon.




Emily Bishop

Professional Writing and Rhetoric has taught me how to be adaptable. Whether it is with my writing, my communications with friends and family, or working with a group on a project, I have developed skills that allow me to be versatile in almost any situation.


Dannie CooperDSCN5272

PWR has taught me so many things, but mostly it has taught me how to be a confident writer in any situation. In my time studying rhetoric, I have had many opportunities to grow and develop my writing skills. I look forward to taking the lessons I’ve learned from rhetoric and applying them in my career and in my life!



Ransbury-cupidPaige Ransbury

The PWR program has given me many opportunities to develop my writing and editing skills, learn successful strategies for collaboration, and navigate diverse writing technologies and multimedia platforms. Most meaningfully for me, though, is how it compels me to act consciously and ethically in the world. 

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PWR Senior Statements, Part 1

This week is PWR Seniors Week in CUPID Studio. Last Thursday, these seniors presented their capstone projects as a part of CELEBRATE! week. To commemorate their hard work and success in the PWR program, I’ll be sharing statements from each senior about what they are taking away from their time studying PWR.



Immanuel Bryant

PWR has served as a means of disciplining my written, verbal and nonverbal skills. By improving this skills I feel confident performing within any mental, physical or social space I am within.



Taylor Hill

Being a student of rhetoric has taught me the impact of language and how it is used to effectively express and transmit ideas through various mediums. Without rhetoric, there would be no such thing as “getting your point across.”


ellenEllen Fraser

My experience in the PWR concentration has taught me analyze a situation rhetorically by recognizing who the audience is, who I am in relationship to this audience, and how I might effectively communicate a message to it based upon context. Learning these skills has lead me to pursue a career where I can use my writing to inform, persuade, and engage others with the message of organizations about which I feel passionate.



Picture1Rachel Lewis

As a result of my time in the PWR program, I have gained both hard and soft skills. I am more comfortable with written and oral communication as a result of client projects and daily pod work, and as a result of this work I am a strong collaborator. The skills that I have gained as a PWR student have made me much more marketable and have helped me become someone who is able to benefit a group or an organization in many different ways, as I can be a writer, a speaker, an editor, or a designer.


Kelsey O’Colinkedinnnell

PWR taught me about analyzing any situation I’m confronted with. I also learned to utilize both the rhetoric of persuasion and the rhetoric of collaboration.





Christine Meyer

Professional Writing and Rhetoric has given me growth and confidence in my analyzing and writing skills. The concentration has helped me have the ability to view contexts from a rhetorical perspective while providing exposure to multiple areas of study. Thank you, PWR!




Check back Wednesday to see the statements from the remaining PWR seniors!

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Researching Communication for Social Change: An Interview with Rachel Fishman

As I stated on Monday, this week’s blog posts will highlight student research. For this post, I interviewed Rachel Fishman, a PWR major with a minor in business administration and junior Honors Fellow.

RachelFDoing work that matters in the real world
Rachel knew that she wanted to do nonprofit work, so the PWR major was one that attracted her, especially grant writing, her first PWR course. As she continued her PWR education, she says she “learned more about rhetoric, what it used to be, what it can be, how broad it is, and how much an understanding of rhetorical strategies can help with communication.”

This is where her research came in.

“I am examining the rhetorical strategies that anti-human trafficking organiztions use to convey their messages to the public; specifically, I’m examining a supposed disconnect between messages that organizations are attempting to convey and the messages that the public are actually receiving.

So I’m going to be looking at it from a rhetorical perspective and trying to determine ways that an organization can improve its communication and strengthen areas that it’s doing well in with the goal of filling the gap in areas where the public isn’t perceiving issue as intended so that the communication can be more effective.”

A personal interest turned into research
Rachel has been interested in the issue of human trafficking for about 5 years, as once she learned about it, she says the issue “just kind of stuck.” She researched a lot on her own but also increased her knowledge of the topic while abroad in Copenhagen, as she took courses on prostitution and human trafficking. With this knowledge came the solidification of her research goal: to help a specific anti-trafficing organization understand the power of rhetorical strategies and help them get a stronger grasp on the way that the public is receiving their communication.

“Because [these organizations] know so much about the issue, there is some type of gap. So many people do not know about the issue or see it as something that can be fought against and improved, and if I can find a way to strengthen the communication [of these organizations] using rhetorical strategies or can show this organization to use more rhetorical strategies to do better with communication, than I’ll consider [the research a] success.”

The research
Rachel views research was something that should be “of value not only to yourself but to others.” She realized that engaging with her personal interest made sense when she recognized the tons of Word documents she already had where she’d been taking notes on articles and trying to educate herself about human trafficking.

“When I started out, it didn’t really begin as what I was going to do for my thesis. I realized I had a ton of documents and writing about human trafficking and realized that I might as well do what I’ve already been unintentionally writing about for years.”

Rachel’s research is split into three parts guided by the rhetorical triangle:

  1. Writer: An analysis of anti-trafficking organizations, interviewing one specific organization and interviewing leaders –  How do they believe the issue can be combated, and what are their intentions, materials and messages? How do they believe spreading awareness or persuing whatever their particular organizational goal is will make a difference? How are they doing that?
  2. Message: A textual rhetorical analysis of the materials of that organization focusing on their website and social media.
  3. Audience: Conducting focus groups to see what messages people are getting from the organization’s communication.

Rachel says that everything will be placed in a larger context of the human trafficking crisis with the goal of figuring out how to combat it.

Rhetoric as social change
Rachel says that rhetoric has always been linked to social change.

“Rhetoric has been founded in civic action since it began, and although the application of it in society has shifted over the years, the connection has always been there. Quintilian said that a good man skilled in speaking is who a rhetorician should be. It’s not that these organizations are not skilled in what they are doing but that they are not as skilled in speaking to certain populations as they could be with a greater knowledge in rhetorical strategies.”

So far, Rachel has learned and expects to continue to learn how big of an impact rhetoric and knowledge of rhetorical strategies can have on changing the world. She recognizes how important it is to social justice and to understanding the ways in which we as individuals can create social change, and as rhetoricians inspire other people to create social change.

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Practicing Ethical Research With ELLs: An Interview with Kim Lilienthal

This week is the second that will focus on highlighting research done by Professional Writing and Rhetoric students at Elon. For this week, I interviewed Kim Lilienthal, a senior PWR and Literature major and an Elon University Honor’s Fellow.

547454_10151556083707284_1412593284_nAn introduction to language, confidence, and the classroom
Kim’s interest in ELLs (English Language Learners) and how these students are taught in a classroom setting was peaked when she went to an Alternative Break trip to Honduras during her first year at Elon. Since she had an understanding of Spanish, she spent a lot of time interacting with the kids. Many of them viewed America as a place where they could go in order to succeed, but, as Kim says, “If you go to America [as an ELL] you probably won’t be educated well because of how our education system treats immigrant students.”

Kim recognized this as a problem, but didn’t know how productive it would be to do a project abroad. She says, “It was more important and more feasible for the scope of a two year project to work on the issue locally so that if these students ever make it to American schools they have an opportunity to be better served.” This project connected her interest in service and her own personal ethics.

Kim later took a service learning course, Introduction to TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and was placed in an elementary school that was feasible for research. The population was well suited to her needs because it is linguistically diverse between English and Spanish speakers – in any given classroom there were 3-4 students that she could potentially work with.

The ethics of learning
Kim elected to work with elementary school students because she felt they were at a pivotal moment in their learning. She believes that it is important to recognize the best practices for teaching ELLs in elementary school because of the way that confidence in language and intelligence shapes the futures of these students. She says, “It’s really a transitional moment from being spoonfed in elementary school to become independent learners in middle school. It’s hard for [ELLs] to find a place where they fit in, so they might drop out of school.”

Her ethics and understanding of learning became shaped by her awareness of cultural differences and marginalizations both at school and at home. She recognized that, for ELLs, a different language is often spoken at home versus in school.

“If you don’t have a language identity, it’s hard to be confident in any part of your identity because how do you communicate with either group? You’re just sort of in between.”

Putting ethics into practice
Kim’s understanding of ethics is deeply tied to practice, meaning that while it was good that she had this understanding of ELLs, language, education, and success, it wasn’t good enough for Kim until she put it into practice.

So what exactly is Kim doing in her research?

“I’m researching how mainstream classroom teachers can implement critical thinking activities in their classrooms to facilitate English language development in English Language Learners. In the context of a monolingual English speaking teacher, both English language learners and native speakers in the same classroom is the norm – ELLs are often underserved. There is equal education that is not equitable because some teachers might not adapt their methods to these students.”

Kim’s research includes a community-based experience with a local elementary school. She took her observations and drew connections between how students’ language development improved throughout the semester based on their ability to engage in critical thinking and their language development.

Kim thinks that this is important because of the importance of confidence when it comes to academic success.

“How does language development then facilitate an inclusive education environment for ELLs – you clearly feel more included when you feel more confident in your schoolwork and social interactions with peers. You feel less marginalized.”

The final product
To end her project, Kim is taking this massive project and making it something useful for a real audience – what she observed, what best practices she noticed in the classroom, how to apply the results to different contexts (other teachers, other schools), and recommendations for how to rethink ELL instruction.

“I am kind of doing extended service learning and giving something back to the community learning partner – an important tenant of PWR and my ethos as a researcher is to not just take research and give nothing back to the people that I worked with.”

As a result of her project, Kim has experienced a very realistic writing experience and higher learning writing experience, as she has worked in different rhetorical situations and analyzed rhetorical situations.

“Looking at everything as rhetoric has shaped how I see the world and how you can analyze and piece together people and how people are communicating with each other, and I think that has shaped how I view the world.”

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Poetry and Rhetoric: Interview with Sarah Paterson Part 2/2

As I stated on Monday, this week I will be focusing on the research of Sarah Paterson, a junior PWR major with minors in communication and political science and an Elon University Honor’s Fellow.

Sarah Paterson photographed by Rachel Lewis

Sarah Paterson photographed by Rachel Lewis

In Monday’s post, we learned about Sarah’s thesis and how the idea came about. In this post, we will learn about how Sarah’s thesis has shifted as time has passed and how her research connects with the field of PWR.

Changes in research plans
Anyone who has done research can tell you that it is very rare that the first research plan is the one that reaches finality. Paterson attested to this when asked how her idea for her thesis has changed and developed over time.

“When I was coming up with my research my freshman year, my original thesis idea was going to be for a business plan for a self-publishing website for young adults who write. The website made it so they could accept donations and basically be paid to write. Young people’s voices get devalued all the time. Why don’t we let them write and put a monetary value on it? It was a grand idea but not really feasible.”

Goals of her current research
Like many students in the department, Paterson studies various subjects in addition to PWR. With minors in communications and political science, Paterson had a lot of areas to work within when it came to her research.

“I intentionally wanted to make my project bridge my major and my minors – English, communications, political science. I wrote them down and stared at them and tried to choose, but I wanted a project that included elements of all of those things.”

Paterson found this in spoken word and performance poetry.

“Talking about your identity and what it means to be young in America or what it means to be black in America or what it means to be gay in America is all very political. Even if my project is not picking out politics from poems, I am still discussing political issues.”

Poetry and rhetoric
When we think rhetoric, we don’t always think of poetry, and Paterson is trying to change that with her research. She argues that the ties between rhetoric and poetry are deeper than we often imagine, and she says that spoken word and performance poetry are a means of making the study of rhetoric accessible to a wider audience.

“A lot of what I have to do as a part of this project is argue that poetry is an important part of our future understanding of rhetoric.”

She recalled a specific example of this connection that left her stunned and convinced that poetry keeps rhetoric relevant.

“The organizer of this [spoken word] event talked about the history of spoken word. Not only did they talk about the history of ancient Greek but the history of Africa – and most people don’t do that! They don’t talk about Africa when they talk about oral history. [The organizer] talked about history and the history of rhetoric in a room full of strangers from ages 10 to 70 and made it so accessible. I’m huge on accessibility – you have to hit people where they are – and for rhetoric and language to be made that accessible to a community, to get a mini history lesson in what it means to participate in oral culture, I was like ‘This is so cool!’”

Sarah doesn’t believe that poetry is ever not rhetorical.

“Obviously you’re making rhetorical decisions [as a spoken word poet]. What do you wear? What do you say? Where is the light? Do you have a spotlight? Do you talk to the audience before you start? Are you stomping your foot to get the audience to respond to you? Are you being judged? What are you doing to get a higher score? That’s rhetorical!”

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Poetry and Rhetoric: Interview with Sarah Paterson Part 1/2

This week is the first of several that will focus on highlighting research done by Professional Writing and Rhetoric students at Elon. For this week, I interviewed Sarah Paterson, a junior PWR major with minors in communication and political science and an Elon University Honor’s Fellow.

Sarah Paterson photographed by Rachel Lewis

Sarah Paterson photographed by Rachel Lewis

Being introduced to multicultural rhetoric
Upon being asked for an overview of her research, Paterson said that she is looking at spoken word and performance poetry of teenagers to look at how they use multicultural rhetoric. She credits the article “Multiculturalism, Rhetoric, and the 21st Century” by Steven Goldzwig with her understanding of multicultural rhetoric.

“In this article, [Goldzwig] argues that the future of rhetoric is in multiculturalism and that it is, and will be, inherently political by nature.  He gives these three of what he calls ‘dialectical tensions of rhetoric’ that characterize multicultural rhetoric – difference in identity, voice and silence, and power and authority. Basically I’m looking at kids’ performances and if they talk about these things and if these three tensions are present in their performances; if not, what are they talking about?”

On the subject of how successful this theory seems to play out in practice, Paterson stated, “Is he right? I think he is, so far.”

Not only is Paterson interested in the topic of multicultural rhetoric, she relates on a deeper level to the students employing it.

“I’m just excited for a room full of kids who are not afraid to say what’s going on in their head. I’m really impressed by people that age who are willing to say what they think without reservation.”

Drawn to spoken word & performance poetry
When asked about what drew her to her research, Paterson recalled her experiences with the Duke Young Writers Program and how it shaped her view of writing and writing communities.

“Since I was 13 years old, I’ve been going to this summer camp at Duke, the Duke Young Writers Program, and I was there as a camper for 4 years, and I now work there [and have for 3 years]. When I was there as a kid, it was just like this magical kind of fantasy place, it wasn’t real life, it was a place where people liked and supported each other and did creative things in their spare time and also played guitar and, you know, like were not afraid to be themselves. It seemed like a place outside of middle or high school.

That was a thing that I really, really loved as a kid and didn’t find at all in the community where I grew up. When we moved to Chapel Hill, a friend of mine who had been in camp with me was like ‘Hey, there’s this slam poetry contest, do you want to come with me?’ I was taking a gap year so I was like, why not. And I got there, and it felt kind of like camp.

I started going to all of their events. Every once in a while someone would do a really good poem and I would be such a fangirl, I would go up to them and be like ‘I loved that poem, it was really really good.’”

The moment of clarity
Deciding what to research is a daunting task, and after a lot of thought on the subject, Paterson found her answer in a parking lot.

“I took some friends of mine to go see the Grand Slam Final 2012 at Carborro High School, and in the parking lot one of my friends turns to me and is like, ‘You could do your thesis about this.’

I was like, ‘Oh my god, I could do my thesis about this.'”

The Goldzwig piece was what really held weight in how she went about her research.

“My research was originally more political in nature, and while going through and reviewing my literature I got really stuck on the Goldzwig piece. I really thought his ideas were interesting and he said cool things in a cool way and I had all these like, neon index cards and every time [Goldzwig] said something cool about rhetoric or politics or multiculturalism I would write it down and I realized I wanted to be where he was.

When it came to refining my project and finding something feasible for a 2-year thesis, I decided that this was the thing – lets talk about multiculturalism and what it means.”

The final product
As a part of her thesis, Paterson seeks to create a deliverable that can help encourage discussions of multiculturalism as well as assist those looking to get involved with spoken word and performance poetry.

“Another part of my project is that I’m going to write a 30-page research paper or article, and I’m going to create a website that is a resource for teachers who want to include conversations about multiculturalism in a high school or middle school classroom. The website will include videos, audio, and photography from the poetry slams I attend – kids performing poetry, interviews, photos at events, photos at the spaces they perform in  – and make it available in a multimedia resource. If not for teachers, this website will be for kids who are interested in being a part of this organization.”

Sarah Paterson explores her research goals and the relation of her studies to PWR in more depth in Wednesday’s CUPID post.

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Meet the CUPID Associates: Dannie Cooper

DannieMy name is Dannie Cooper and I’m excited to be a CUPID Associate for Spring 2014! I am a junior English: Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing major with a minor in English: Literature. As an associate, I will be holding hours in CUPID Studio (Alamance 318) on Tuesdays from 5-7, so be sure to stop by for help with document design, coding, and other PWR topics.

I came to Elon knowing that I wanted to be an Creative Writing major and I liked the idea of double majoring in English. During the spring of my freshman year, I took Understanding Rhetoric and CUPID Studio. It was through these classes that I fell in love with both the theory and the practice of PWR.

As a PWR major, I’ve had the chance to work on intricate collaborative projects, such as the North Carolina Wild Cat Project and the Highway 64 Project. I am also the Web Designer for Colonnades Literary & Art Journal which has allowed me to use my PWR skills to create a website from scratch. I love working on projects involving document design, peer collaboration, and client work. I also have a background in coding, and would be happy to help you with CSS or HTML for WordPress, Digication, or your website.

Feel free to stop by CUPID Studio during my or during my fellow associates’ hours. We’d love to help you with your PWR questions!

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Meet the CUPID Associates: Rachel C. Lewis

Hello everyone!

My name is Rachel C. Lewis and I am a first-semester senior majoring in English with concentrations in Professional Writing and Rhetoric as well as Creative Writing with a minor in Women’s/Gender Studies. I am looking forward to ending my final semester of studying PWR as an undergrad on a high note, and being a CUPID Associate this semester is a huge part of that. I will be working in the CUPID studio on Sunday nights from 8-10pm, so feel free to stop by!

Rachel Lewis imageI became a PWR major as a result of taking the Writing Center Workshop course. I loved the focus on learning theory and then applying that theory in ways that help other people. In the Writing Center, this meant making clients into better writers, but in other PWR contexts, such as my Grant Writing course and my Writing As Inquiry course, this meant working with community partners such as Family Abuse Services and The Conservators’ Center.

At the heart of my understanding of Professional Writing and Rhetoric is ethics, and I have loved working with clients to better the community and thus impact society. As a CUPID Associate, I hope to help you become stronger in your own works, whether they be multimedia projects or collaborative efforts.

Also as a PWR student I have worked and continue to work to build an understanding of design, branding, and online identity. As a result of my Writing Technologies course, I have a much better understanding of each of these, and I hope to assist you with everything from redesigning your resume to making digital projects more visually appealing.

I have had one internship so far and am in the midst of a second. Over the summer of 2013, I worked with Women Writers, Women Books, an online magazine for published and unpublished women writers. As an intern, I edited and solicited guest posts. I also assisted with the creation of a literary journal component by running the WordPress site. My current internship is as a grant writer for Uwharrie Charter School. My goal as a PWR major has been to be able to write thoughtfully and ethically for any audience, and I hope to find a job as a grant writer, editor, or literary agent after my graduation this winter.

Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to working with you!

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