Talk: Writing Center student tutors, Marie Eckstein and Vinny Orsillo

Vinny Orsillo and Marie Eckstein

Six student tutors help their peers in The Writing Center, located on the third ?oor of Alfond Hall. Marie Eckstein '07, an English major from Standish, Maine, works there four hours a week, alongside her friend and English/Secondary Education major, Vinny Orsillo '07 of Haverhill, Mass.

Winner of the 2006 Saint Joseph's College Poetry award, Eckstein uses her understanding of writing and love of reading to enhance students' writing. Orsillo, who recently student-taught a creative writing class at Windham High School, considers his tutor role as preparation for the many papers he will soon have to correct as a teacher.

Do many students come for help with writing?

Marie: Most students come between classes and want reassurance that their papers are good. I like reading all the different papers, because it gives me insight on a person I wouldn't normally get to know.
Are students afraid to come for help?

Vinny: No one wants to get criticism, especially not from their peers. Students don't want to look bad, so they'd rather trust their spell check than go to a tutor.

Do you see the same students each week?

Marie: I edit business and college writing papers the most. Freshmen taking college writing will come in and need extra help getting used to the system. I go over what makes a good paper and help them ease into the techniques of college writing.

What tips do you give students?

Marie: I always say to start with an outline. If they get exactly what they need in an outline, writing a paper is much smoother. I give general guidelines like: check your spelling and grammar, and avoid AOL "instant messenger" speech.

What do students typically need help with?

Vinny: The most common mistake is the misuse of the comma. Grammar is the math of English.

Do you find any students who are in dire need of assistance?

Marie: Students aren't clueless, but with poor writers, I am blunt. I correct and explain why something is wrong, and the students are accepting. They've come to me for help and appreciate that I give it to them.

Vinny: I never criticize a student's paper, but when I'm given a bad one, it takes a god-awful long time to do. That's because there are two problems to fix: one, the words they use. And two, the order they have the words in. I'll tell them it's going to take a lot of work and they'll be able to tell, because the paper will be marked with red ink from top to bottom.

Do you ever need a writing tutor?

Vinny: I edit it myself, but Marie will look over my papers and I do the same for her. If I can't edit my own paper, what's that say about me?

by Jenn Jiminez '09