MSU WC Consultants Share Their Experiences from MiWCA 2023
By Monique Yoder
The Michigan Writing Centers Association (MiWCA) annual conference took place at Grand Valley State University on October 28, 2023. This was the first time since pre-COVID-19 pandemic where writing centers from around the state could get together to exchange ideas, renew relationships, and welcome newcomers at an in-person conference. A few MSU Writing Center consultants were themselves newcomers to this conference. I asked them to share what the conference was like and what their main takeaways were.
This was my first conference ever! I think MiWCA 2023 was a good experience because it was on the smaller side. I found that it was easier to have discussions with peers at the conference.
A major takeaway for me was that AI can be an amazing tool for outlining essays. If you are thinking about attending MiWCA next year, I recommend bringing a bag that can fit your laptop or bring a notebook to take notes.
This was my first Writing Center conference I have attended. I have been to conferences in the past, but they were all business related. As my first writing center-related conference, MiWCA 2023 was an amazing experience!
The key lesson I took away from MiWCA revolves around embracing authenticity in both writing and consulting. It’s essential to bring your unique voice and perspective to the table, as doing so offers a genuine reader’s insight into the client’s work. I encountered no unexpected challenges during the conference.
For those considering attending MiWCA, I would strongly recommend it. Even if you believe your writing and consulting abilities are well-honed and a writing center-related conference may not hold significant benefits for you, I can assure you that you’ll uncover at least one enlightening aspect that makes the experience worthwhile.
In 2022, I attended The National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) in Portland, Oregon. NCORE is a conference where individuals from across higher education convene to learn, educate, and connect about topics and issues regarding race and ethnicity in higher education.
MiWCA 2023 was a wonderful introduction to writing center-related conferences for me. As a consultant-in-training at the time I attended, I learned so much in every session. Many sessions were led by consultants from Grand Valley State University, and their experiences and lessons from their practice enriched my own understanding of writing centers.
I left MiWCA excited to keep learning. My interests as a Student Affairs Administration graduate student are anti-deficit and critical student support practices. Therefore, I particularly enjoyed sessions that explored how identity changes how consultants practice. I reflected on my own identity and how that shows up in my work and how I am valuing the identities of my clients.
As a new consultant, I was a bit nervous before the conference. I wondered if I would be lost, confused, and not know at all what was being discussed. I was pleasantly surprised that attendees and presenters alike would acknowledge in sessions that they were in a space of growth and learning. People brought their own interdisciplinary backgrounds, interests, and passions into discussions.
While I didn’t expect to, I found myself reflecting on how my own academic background in political science and Latino and Latin American studies gave me a unique perspective on topics like linguistic inclusivity, client empowerment, and other topics in writing center literature.
I want to start by sharing that the MSU Writing Center covered all costs for this trip. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to attend. If you are interested in attending a writing center conference and have the means to do so, absolutely give it a try. It is an investment in yourself as a professional, and you’ll leave with new learning and ideas that can be applied right back into your practice.
This was not my first conference. As a former lecturer, I have attended different English language conferences, including “The Focus Conference” — an annual conference organized every August by Mangosuthu University of Technology in South Africa. This conference focuses on blended learning in higher education.
MiWCA was my first writing center conference. I enjoyed learning about issues that different writing centers have in common, particularly with regard to global networks and consultations. I am looking forward to attending more conferences in the future.
If you’re interested in going to MiWCA, I would highly recommend you attend different sessions on areas of your interests. However, for new WC consultants like me, I would recommend they attend diversified sessions to get the general or overall idea of writing center topics and issues.
MiWCA was also my first foray into attending a writing center conference. I echo what Heidi said about this conference being a place where I could learn about what other university-affiliated writing center sites are doing. Like Re’Anna, this conference offers up great practical advice on how to strengthen consultation practices. I hope to attend next year’s conference, which will take place in Lansing, MI. Our neighbors, Lansing Community College, will host MiWCA 2024!
Interested in attending a state or regional writing center conference (MiWCA and ECWCA, respectively)? Are you looking to present on a writing center-related topic at an upcoming conference? Contact the Writing Center Admin or me, as Research Coordinator, to talk about travel and conference registration support opportunities. Happy to help you experience the energy and networking that takes place at in-person writing center conferences!