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Corey Tierney (’15)
Beginning this year, Dr. Traci Zimmerman has been named the interim director for the department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication. David K. Jeffrey, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at JMU, asked her to fill the position afterDr. Larry Burton stepped down this past spring.
Dr. Zimmerman has been teaching at JMU for thirteen years and received tenure in 2002. Her home, however, has been with WRTC since its establishment in 2008. Her love for the program is quite evident, especially in the courses she teaches.
“I really love the new core course — WRTC 301 Language, Law and Ethics,” she said. “Much of my current research explores the intersections among these areas, and I find that engaging students in such work is incredibly rewarding.”
She now teaches a single course each semester within WRTC, mainly due to the new (and heavy) workload that comes with being the head of an academic department. This doesn’t mean she is shying away, however. Her best descriptor for the new role is “a rewarding challenge,” explaining that she believes it is worth the work.
“There’s an old saying, ‘What you can see depends a great deal on where you are standing,’” she said, “and in the interim role, I can see a ‘bigger picture’ of how our teaching, scholarship and service all contribute not only to our success as a school, but to our college and to the university mission as a whole.”
As only the interim director, she is obligated to fulfill duties until the end of this current academic year. At that point, the Dean, WRTC faculty, and she will “take stock” of what is happening and make a decision for upcoming years.
They may decide to keep her on board, or could otherwise conduct a national search for a replacement. Whether she stays in the position or not, she is confident that her temporary role is beneficial for WRTC.
“The great thing about the interim position is that it gives us all a chance to see how things are going and make a decision that is best for the school and its future.”
Tess Simila (’14)
As the WRTC major at JMU may have exposed you to various different career paths, you may find yourself in a career that is not too writing intensive. You might feel that itch of wanting to write or edit anything that will receive public recognition or even monetary compensation, because when it comes down to it, you will always be a writer at heart. The wonderful world of freelancing allows you to explore a never-ending stream of possibilities for independent writing or editing projects, and you can even turn this into a career. Although it is indeed a great option for many, it does exist with some challenges.
Through the blossoming of the Digital Age, there is thankfully an abundance of resources just a click away that provides the best guidance as to how to freelance successfully. This, however, makes another problem arise: there are so many! Between blogs, articles, quotes, and even videos on freelancing it can be difficult to narrow it down to the best advice found on the web.
A particular trend in social media, and in many other avenues on the internet, exists in displaying information in a “list” or “countdown”; all you have to do is scroll or hit a provided “Next” button. With the presence of a Twitter “Feed,” a Facebook “Timeline,” and now Buzzfeed “Countdowns” bursting onto the social media scene, this information formatting has taken user-friendly display to the next level.
Luckily, many of the most-visited blogs, websites, and other resources providing tips on good Freelancing exist in a list or countdown format. The Prezi paired with this article will provide you with the highest ranked tips from numerous Freelancing websites, without having to embark on the tedious and frustrating quest of narrowing them down yourself. Happy freelancing!
Alex Federinko (’14)
With every passing year comes the possibility of professors retiring or leaving for a different opportunity. There is also the chance that a department begins to expand and needs more hands on deck. The WRTC doors opened this year for two new professors: Dr. Jen Almjeld and Dr. Vanessa Rouillon.
Dr. Almjeld spent her undergraduate and Masters years at Eastern Kentucky University, followed by a PhD from Bowling Green State University. Her first full-time job out of graduate school was at New Mexico State University, where she spent the next five years. This summer, however, Dr. Almjeld moved back to the eastern side of the U.S. and joined the JMU and WRTC families.
“I like the JMU focus on global citizenship, and the faculty and students are great,” said Dr. Almjeld. “Putting Writing & Rhetoric and Tech Comm [sic] together, I think, was genius.”
She currently teaches Computers in Writing and GWRTC 103, the latter of which is the Gen-Ed course that most freshman take. Next semester, Dr. Almjeld will also be teaching Feminist Writing. She also expressed hope that in the future she can teach classes in Online Identity and what she called Rhetorics of “Girlhood”: Identity.
“You get a chance to stretch yourself here,” said Dr. Almjeld about the flexibility in what WRTC professors can teach.
Dr. Rouillon nabbed her Masters and PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and she graduated just this past July. JMU is her first full-time faculty position.
“I taught [at Illinois] as a grad student, finished in May, found this job, and got here at the beginning of August,” said Dr. Rouillon about her short summer.
Dr. Rouillon teaches Academic Writing, which is a freshman course that covers composition. She is keen on the use of research and asks her students to utilize the archive inside Carrier Library.
“I especially love archival work,” said Dr. Rouillon. “Sometimes history is forgotten and I think it’s important to restore it in the public record.”
Alex Federinko (’14)
Dream jobs are something that everyone has as a child. Whether we see ourselves becoming the next big novelist or owning a business, it is something that we wish for all the time. After all, who would ever want a job that didn’t make them happy?
The landscape changes as we get older, and sometimes we change paths altogether. I applied to colleges as a physical therapy major, but as my senior year of high school started winding down I changed my mind. I didn’t want to be in the medical field anymore because I had found my niche in writing. As of right now I am not quite sure where it will take me, but I know that I will be happy with the result.
This is the type of dilemma that all students face when they take their final steps toward full-blown adulthood. We all have our dream job, but what happens when life takes you down a different path and into the unknown?
Kara Sordelett, who graduated in May 2012 with a Master’s in WRTC, found herself walking down this path. She applied to various companies in search of a creative position as a document designer, graphic designer, or advertiser.
“Actually working for the Martin Agency in Richmond, VA has been my dream since I was about 13 years old,” said Sordelett in an email. “I grew up in Richmond, so the Martin Agency has been an advertising staple here.”
In the weeks following graduation, Sordelett spent her time updating her Monster.com profile and combing through job boards in search of an opening. She was about to accept an internship as a technical writer, which she had snagged with the help of a connection, when another offer landed in her lap.
“I received a phone call that an eLearning company found my resume through a recruiter and wanted to bring me in for an interview,” said Sordelett. “This resulted in a job, starting with training on the software the following Monday.”
This job was with Yukon Learning, where Sordelett quickly climbed the ladder to Client Services Manager.
“After working at Yukon Learning for a few months, my boss noticed I had project management skills, I carried professional conversations with our clients, and kept my work and timelines organized. She noticed this because she needed help with managing all of our custom development work. I became a part-time developer and part-time project manager about six months in and then it developed into a full-time Client Services Manager position before my one-year review.”
“I never thought I would enjoy overseeing my co-workers, reviewing courses, and communicating with clients as well as I do.”
Class of 1999
I graduated from the WRTC program with an MA in 1999. Since then, I have put my strategic thinking and practical skills to use in a variety of settings and industries. I spent a brief time in local journalism before moving to Atlanta, GA, where I have worked in product strategy and interactive marketing ever since. My career has taken me from being a Web team leader at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most trusted government agency in the U.S., to leading strategic initiatives for Fortune 500 companies.I currently am principal of the award-winning consultancy Content Science, which focuses on interactive content strategy for international brands such as InterContinental Hotels Group as well as ambitious entrepreneurs. I offer my practical take on rhetoric in my recent book Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content (New Riders, 2010). To learn more, visit content-science.com/clout.
From the Editor
Greetings and welcome to the Fall 2012 edition of the WRTC Alumni Newsletter! This season, the writing team has compiled a collection of articles that explore the job opportunities that a WRTC degree can create, and great resources (many of them free!) for alumni looking to add to their skill sets.
Writers and technical communicators need to be able be flexible and adapt their skills to the rapidly changing job market. WRTC alumni are prepared to take on jobs in many fields, and aren’t afraid to change direction when the opportunity comes. Mark DeNoble (TSC ’01) built his own consulting business (How Can Technical Communication Help You Succeed?). Leslie Fisher (WRTC ’09) shows us that one job can bring plenty of variety (Can’t Have Just One: The Many Hats of A Job). Jordan Frith (TSC ‘08) liked teaching and researching, so he earned a PhD and it putting it to use at the University of North Texas (Crossing Lines: From Student to Teacher).
WRTC faculty ably demonstrate the capacity for adaptation. Professor Sarah O’Conner knows what its like to be an editor and a teacher (WR vs TC: Learning Both Sides of the Spectrum). New addition Sean McCarthy brings fresh knowledge about the ever-changing multimedia world (The Luck of JMU: Ireland Native, Sean McCarthy, Joins WRTC Staff)
As a veteran writer or “tech com” person, you probably already know how important it is to stay up-to-date on your skills. In case you need some ideas on how to refresh your knowledge, check out these articles about the latest online resources and trends:
- Staying Connected in the World of Technical Communication
- Knowing the Code: The Growing Need for Coding in the Workplace
- The Greatest Adobe Creative Suite: An Inside Look at CS6
- Going Digital: The Importance of an Online Portfolio
Read on to catch up on old friends or learn something new. Happy writing!
Kelsey Brannon (‘13)
Every year, Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) students graduate with a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric (WR) or in Technical and Scientific Communication (TSC) and enter the job force. This major leads to fields dealing directly and indirectly with the degree. The skills learned through WRTC prove valuable to graduates’ career paths and their lives.
As the world progresses into a technological age, communication forms are changing and WRTC, especially TSC, eases the transition. This is a major for the future. Graduates in the workforce possess the ability to learn, adapt, and grow as technical communicators in the growing technological age.
Some graduates of WRTC move in different directions with their degrees, away from the typical technical writer or graphic designer positions. A graduate student from the class of 2001, Mark DeNoble now has his own business. DeNoble is an educational consultant and counselor for students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where he uses the skills and tools he learned from JMU.
“I am quite amazed at how I continually utilize my TSC skills,” DeNoble said. Because he is his own employer, he continually reviews resumes using his knowledge of document design. Mark emphasizes the need for good document design skills because he sees so many poor examples in today’s culture. “Mine are just better,” DeNoble states, “and I owe that to TSC.”
DeNoble spoke about some of his experiences in WRTC. He says that the use of real world examples makes the major unique because students enter the job world confident and ready for what lies ahead. He stresses the importance of exposing oneself to as many technical documents as possible including website reviews and usability testing.
For those in the workforce looking for ways to enhance their skills, DeNoble suggests “volunteering to use your skills in the ways that you want.” Whether you prefer document design, technical writing, usability testing, or graphic design, you can get started by involving yourself in writing a newsletter or building a website. Practicing now will demonstrate your worth as an employee in the future and it will make your job more fulfilling.
Writing and communication skills are needed in all fields of work and study, no matter where you are. “TSC is a great major because it is very foundational,” DeNoble says. “It truly made my future endeavors that much easier.”
Kelsey Brannon (‘13)
The newest professor in James Madison University’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) program brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to a rapidly growing field: multimedia. Sean McCarthy is excited about the possibilities that his background will contribute to the program.
Familiar with The Princess Bride? McCarthy grew up in Ireland just minutes away from the “cliffs of insanity,” with the exception of the shrieking eels of course. After completing his undergraduate degree at the National University of Ireland, Galway, McCarthy headed to the United States for graduate school. He has spent the last six years at the University of Texas, Austin, where he received his PhD this summer. In August, McCarthy headed east and moved to Harrisonburg to start his first teaching job, as an assistant professor at JMU.
McCarthy is excited about working with this major because of its openness. He has a background in media and nonprofit work and will be teaching these subjects for WRTC. “With a writing program you have the scope to do media work and to think about media production as writing,” said McCarthy. “The world is changing very fast and we’ve got to be able to shift gears quickly and apply skill sets to diverse situations and I think that’s what a major like this can give us.”
Next semester, he will be teaching “Writing for Nonprofits,” “Theory and Methods in WRTC,” and “Critical Reading and Writing.”
For McCarthy, working with nonprofits is a passion and a hobby rather than a job, even though it is also part of his job. He has worked as a researcher and a teacher lately, teaching his students to, “partner with local organizations to create all kinds of texts, such as grants, public service announcements, websites, and even short documentaries.” McCarthy also explains how he is “interested in how we can create rich learning experiences for our students that contribute to real-world change in the local community and beyond.”
After living in fairly large cities for awhile, McCarthy is thrilled to be in a small town again. New to Harrisonburg, McCarthy is still settling in, yet has already experienced Skyline Drive’s beautiful fall scenery. McCarthy has always enjoyed “messing with technology,” as he puts it, and one day wishes to create digital music. In addition to media work and community activism, the Irish native enjoys going to music gigs, traveling, and photography.
Kelsey Brannon (‘13)
If you are the only technical communicator at your job or perhaps self-employed, how do you stay connected in the growing world of communication? How do you teach yourself the latest technology? Thankfully, there are countless sources out there; you just need to know the right places to look.
For all technical communicators, the Society for Technical Communication (STC) is a great starting place. This resource allows you to stay involved with the news circulating around the world of technical communication. Members of STC are able to sign up for webinars or web seminars, where online workshops over the course of several weeks help technical communicators learn the latest software and earn online certifications. STC also keeps you connected if you’re looking to move because it provides contacts from all over the world.
Because the need to stay up-to-date has increased so greatly over the past years, many companies will pay to have their employees learn new products. Workshops and seminars exist solely for the purpose of helping companies grow, so most bosses take full advantage and give the best to their employees. Graduate Lindsay Cannady from the class of 2011 is now a technical writer and editor at Magellan Health Services in Richmond. She and her coworkers were lucky enough to take a beneficial workshop last winter reviewing Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign through the VCU Performing Arts Center. “We learned shortcuts and the company paid for it, which was a big plus,” Cannady said.
For technical writers, many self-help websites exist to help with proper writing skills. Eva Martin, recent graduate of the Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) program, is now a technical writer for a small software company in Massachusetts. She shared two great websites, which she describes as “invaluable resources.” Tom Johnson’s “I’d Rather Be Writing” is a helpful online source and another technical community, Tech Whirl, gives communicators the tools they need to stay current.
Another technical writer, Ellie Loveman, who recently graduated from WRTC, says she is able to learn most of the latest information on her own. It depends on the person: some like workshops and some prefer self-help tools. Loveman is currently working toward her Microsoft Office Specialist Certification and when she needs help, she “looks to STC or other professional training companies for guidance and instruction.”
Kelsey Brannon (‘13)
For technical communicators, a foundation in graphic design techniques will make you that much more attractive to prospective employers because everyone desires an individual familiar with either Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator.
This can be tricky for a technical communicator because Adobe’s Creative Suite always changes. For some, this is fascinating, yet for others, it is a headache. How can technical communicators and graphic designers keep up with the changes? Typically, one does not need to stay current with every release of the latest software, but for CS6, it’s simply a must have. Each version of Adobe’s program package includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Fireworks. The latest version, CS6, specifically has become more user-friendly than ever with easier interfaces to navigate through, making it a necessity for any graphic designer
According to Adobe System’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen, the latest Creative Suite 6 Design and Web Premium software allows users to “create images and graphics at astonishing speeds.” Essentially anyone possesses the ability to create new content without learning every facet of the new software. These once difficult programs have finally become user-friendly.
Lindsay Cannaday, graduate of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) in 2011, provides insight on what it really means to be a technical communication employee. Cannaday is now a technical writer and editor for Magellan Health Services in Richmond. She advises students in school to take full advantage of the opportunities around them and to learn the Adobe Suite. Cannaday advises students to “buy the latest version of Adobe before you graduate because student rates are much cheaper.”
For those in the job force, there are other ways to familiarize yourself with Photoshop and other Adobe products. Adobe now offers Adobe TV, which are free tutorials that teach various skills in each program. In addition, PC Magazine and Adobe Suite CS 6 for Dummies truly makes becoming a graphic designer easy and fun!
Another graduate of James Madison University’s (JMU) WRTC program, Leslie Fisher, explains how easy it is to learn new Adobe software. Leslie works at JMU today as a web developer for the graduate and undergraduate catalogs. She helps other departments at JMU with her knowledge in web design and technical communication that she gained through WRTC. For those familiar with Adobe, learning the ins and outs of the latest version should not be too difficult. “Adobe generally does not alter its interface so drastically that it causes problems in recognizing tools,” she adds.
When learning programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, the best thing we can do as designers is play around. Leslie believes learning the software by experimenting is “valuable professional development that ultimately makes you more productive and competent at your job.” Continuing education makes one more marketable and promotable. You never know when new opportunities will arise or if added responsibilities will be given to you, so keeping up with the latest Adobe software eases any of these transitions.
By exploring, we grow as designers whether we directly realize it or not. All good artists practice, as in every trade. Most students and graduates highly recommend purchasing Adobe’s latest Creative Suite and will tell you to get designing as soon as possible!
Mary Kim (’13)
Digital media plays an increasingly large role in our lives, including the search for jobs. Resumes, interviews and portfolios have gone digital. The popularity of graphic design, document design, and media have put these skills in high demand. To accommodate the demands, online portfolios act as an extension of the resume and highlight a person’s talents in different areas of digital media.
The importance of online portfolios has increased in the digital world. Christy Chilton, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2010 and a Masters of Artsin Technical and Scientific Communication in 2012, knows for a fact that online portfolios are beneficial; she uses one herself.
Currently, Chilton works at Lowes Home Improvement as an Online Taxonomy Analyst. Her tasks are to create, update and manage online categories, work with buyers to make sure products are online and can be found by the customers, and maximize user experience by managing categories and navigation of the site.
Although she says that her online portfolio wasn’t essential to landing her job at Lowes, it was useful for practicums, internships, and other job applications. “My Lowe’s job is more technical writing and research so they wouldn’t have needed examples of [digital design] work.”
Her portfolio shows that she understands what prospective employers are looking for when hiring. “If you are going to claim to have any kind of online experience, you need to have a portfolio, even if it’s just a blog. If you say you have web experience or content management experience and have nothing to show for it, that’s not going to go over well in the interview process.”
Automatically, having an online portfolio sets you apart from others that do not. “Whether it’s print or online, the portfolio will show employers that you A) have a set of skills, B) take your work seriously and C) understand the importance of showcasing your skills.”
Chilton not only said that it is beneficial it is to have an online portfolio but that it makes you flexible as well. “Online portfolios are definitely more flexible in that they can be easily updated and transported and they can show a lot more work. They also allow the user to see a website in its medium and see the site in its entirety rather than just printing out a few pages. Same goes for Flash and online graphics.”
Chilton knows first-hand that employers want to see proof that you can do what you are claiming to do. “Whether it is print or online, it gives you an advantage. Our field changes every day and our skills are constantly being refined, a static anything isn’t going to work.”
Flexibility of a portfolio is beneficial to the changing lifestyle of digital communication. With technical communication changing every day and skills being refined, it is important to change and refine your portfolio, too. Actively maintaining your portfolio is just as important as growing with your career field; it comes with the territory.
Kelsey Brannon (‘13)
All businesses, large and small, are going in one direction: technology. Almost every business has a website in this day and age. All of their information is available online because we live in such a digital-based world. The growing digital world calls for web teams and web designers, which will always be needed. Therefore, having an understanding of the coding language is critical.
It does not matter what you are doing as a technical communicator, you will always need to understand the language of coding. As in the Adobe Creative Suite world, there have been many advances in the coding world, making HTML 5 an increasingly user-friendly piece of software.
Learning these programs happens in various ways. Some would suggest reading the books and manuals on the programs, while others would suggest playing around with the programs and altering other’s codes for practice. Doing a bit of both can be the best solution.
If you are new to coding, having references in writing is a great tool to look back whenever you need a quick question answered. When experimenting with your creative side, however, researching other web developers is the best place to begin. Web developers borrow codes from one another and alter and manipulate them all of the time. This is the norm in this area of the technical communication world.
Keaton further explains that technical communicators must “design as many fictional things as we can,” meaning you must attempt new things and create websites whether they serve a purpose or not. Essentially, practice can never hurt, no matter what type of practicing it is. Designing and practicing now guarantees advantages later on down the road. “You never know what opportunities may come from learning a coding language,” said Keaton. Because it is a growing need in all businesses, minor coding skills could blossom into a major coding career, like it did for Keaton. As Keaton says, “we must apply it and use it.” The best way to gain experience and understanding in the technical communication field “is by doing it.”
Helpful online coding websites include w3schools where one can learn how to make a website through free tutorials in all web development technologies. Beginners and experts use this site to help themselves in all facets of web design.
Mary Kim (’13)
One of the great aspects about writing careers is the ability to change directions and still do what you love. Professor Sarah O’Connor knows this first-hand. She has worked both in the fast-paced publications field and in the high-energy education field, finding deep satisfaction in each. She knows the importance of keeping up with your skills to continue to make yourself marketable.
O’Connor attended Brandeis University in Massachusetts for her undergraduate degree, where she studied psychology and received a teaching certificate. She finished her graduate degree in the English department at the University of Virginia (UVA). O’Connor originally started with psychology degree believing it was the practical way to ensure a job. She put her real passion for English and writing on the back burner in her attempt to be more practical. Her plans involved getting a master in clinical psychology to work with emotionally disturbed kids, but her interest in writing proved to hold strong.
After graduating from UVA, O’Connor landed a teaching job as an adjunct in the English department at James Madison University (JMU). She taught composition, fiction and poetry writing. Soon after, she left to take another job as an editor at Mary Baldwin College working as the editor and director of publications
“I loved putting to practice the things that I had been teaching and spend more time writing for the magazine and being able to take a publication and make it my own from start to finish.”
After seven years, O’Connor missed teaching and contributing to making a difference in students’ lives, so she came back to JMU in 2001 and has been here ever since. When coming back, there was only a writing program; neither a degree to offer nor a master’s program.
“There were a variety of courses to teach and many students willing to learn. Technical and Scientific Communication (TSC) had the degrees but had fewer students and teachers. Joining the two together made sense to combine both strengths to be offered as one program.”
When recounting about being an editor at Mary Baldwin, O’ Connor said she ran into a few road bumps.
“I saw I had the writing skills and knew how to put a publication together but there were areas I felt it would’ve been great to know how to do a creative website, how to design a document, how to do desktop publishing. There were just a lot of technical skills I did not absolutely need for the job but it would’ve been great to have them. I saw also as we were interviewing people for jobs that the stronger candidates had the most skills. The workplace is changing so much, the more of those skills that you had, the better it would be.”
She went on to say that it is easy for someone to focus on one area over the other, but the new Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication (WRTC) curriculum has done a good job to make sure that no one graduates without skills in each area. Each area of focus allows flexibility to choose the path an individual desires.
“The demands are going to be changing so flexibility is really essential. They are looking for one person to do more now than we used to in the past. In the past, they used to say ‘you’re the writer, you’re the editor, and you’re the design person.’ Many times now they want somebody who can do all of those things. If tomorrow you need me to create that design for that newsletter, I know how to do that.
Writers and technical communicators will succeed in the job market when they are prepared to try new things. “It isn’t enough to just have the technical skills; people should also have a good, strong background in writing. But it also isn’t enough to have a strong background just in writing. You need to be flexible these days,” says O’Conner.
By: Pavel Zemliansky
Busy professionals who want to bolster their credentials often do not have time or opportunity to travel to a university campus to take face-to-face-courses in a graduate program. To meet the needs of such professionals, James Madison University’s School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication will offer an online graduate class in technical and scientific communication this summer. The class, entitled Seminar in Technical and Scientific Communication, is designed to give students an introduction to the field by acquainting them with the major trends, theories, practices, and figures in technical communication. It will be offered from May 16th to June 24, 2011.
The class will be held mostly asynchronously, which means students would not be asked to be online at a particular time. Instead, most assignments and activities will take place on a class website. 2-3 live online sessions are also planned, but students will be polled for a time that is convenient for everyone before these sessions are scheduled.
The main advantage of taking the class this summer is that you do not have to be a student admitted to our graduate program. Instead, you can use this class to “test drive” the program and decide whether a graduate degree in technical communication is right for you. If you decide to join our graduate program later, the class will count towards your degree.
To learn more about the class and the registration procedure, contact WRTC’s Graduate Coordinator Dr. Pavel Zemliansky at email@example.com.
Courtney Fawzi (‘12)
On Feb. 10, 2012, Frank Arasanyin lost his battle with colon cancer.
Born Oct. 10, 1954 at Afa, Okegbe, Ondo State, Nigeria, Arasanyin was the son of His Highness late Ezekiel O Arasanyin and Princess Salamotu Arasanyin nee Alilu.
Arasanyin, lover of knowledge, traveled and studied all over the world. After his initial schooling in Nigeria at the Local Authority (LA) Primary School Okeagbe and then Ajuwa Grammar School Okeagbe, he attended the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium where he obtained a B.A. in Germanic Philology/Literature in 1979. He then earned his M.A. in Germanic Philology/Comparative Literature and in 1986, Arasanyin moved to the United States to pursue his Ph.D degree in Linguistics at Northwestern University, Chicago. Five years later, in 1991, Arasanyin earned his M.L.S. in Library and Information Science with a specialization in Automation and Acquisition from Rutgers University. Later that same year, Arasanyin acted as the Lecturer and Director of Curriculum in Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of Jos until he and his family moved to New Haven, CT. There, Arasanyin filled the position of Senior Lector in African American Studies and American and Ethnic Studies at Yale University. In 2001, Arasanyin then served as a member of the Writing and Linguistics department at Georgia Southern University. Finally, in 2010, he arrived at James Madison University as a professor, and in 2011, he became the director of the graduate program and chair of the curriculum committee.
The Writing, Rhetoric & Technical Communication (WRTC) staff and faculty contribute much of the new curriculum and its progress to Arasanyin.
Traci Zimmerman, an associate professor who worked closely with Arasanyin over the past summer, explained why he was so passionate about the curriculum.
“The thing that was great about Frank was that he had the skills to say, ‘This is the way we need to proceed, this is the way we’re going to organize this puppy.’ And what he then said was, ‘But I don’t know much about the material. I don’t know as much about these courses, I don’t know enough about the history, I don’t know enough about this area. I’m a linguist,’ he would say. ‘I’m a linguist, and I know how to organize this curriculum, but you guys have to help me with prioritizing and telling me what’s important’ … and it worked brilliantly! His whole thing was you don’t want to have motion with no movement. And that’s what I like, the idea that you don’t want a whole lot of motion and no movement … He was somebody you wanted to follow, somebody you could believe and respect.”
Ask around the WRTC department and you will hear nothing but fond memories of Arasanyin. Zimmerman’s favorite memory includes fellow professor, Michael Smith, stuffed in the trunk of Arasanyin’s car.
“We would work for like three hours in the summers twice a week, and then he would insist that we go to lunch,” said Zimmerman. “Which personally I did not want to do … but he would insist, in his friendly way, ‘No, no, no, you’re going to lunch, you’re going to lunch!’ And so he would put us all in his car — he even had Michael Smith in the trunk of his car — he piled us all in there and we would sit in there and act stupid, because he didn’t know where to go. And he would be like, ‘Where are we going? I want to get a steak. Somebody tell me where to drive.’ So, Michael Klein would usually be in the passenger seat, and he’d be like, ‘Ok, this is where we’re going.’ But in the meantime, grown men and women, that were stuffed in the car were doing things like, ‘Dad, we don’t wanna go there! We don’t wanna eat that!’ And he would just crack up. He would always have this crazy, just, joyful, sort of African music in his car, and we would all just be like, ‘Why don’t we have this in our cars?’ And it was like a party on wheels going to lunch.”
Arasanyin believed that building connections with co-workers was very important.
“He understood that we could work together, but we also had to be able to play together,” said Zimmerman. “He did everything big in the best possible way — not overdone but just hugely generous and warm. And it was just wonderful working with him.”
By: Michelle Cecchetti
On September 22, 2011, the WRTC program held WRTC Day. Guest speakers joined faculty and students in small round table panels. The panel about the transition into the workplace was particularly helpful because alumni presented their personal stories.
The Transition to the Workplace panel was presented by Liz Sonnenburg (Instructional Systems Designer, Dynamics Research Corporations), Tandylyn Terry (IBM) and Tiffany Painter Newland (Technical Writer, American Woodmark Corporation). The three alumni were informative when describing their transitional experience from college and graduate school to the workplace.
When asked if it was difficult to find a job after college, Liz Sonnenburg stated that she was interviewed two times for a job she acquired prior to the end of graduate school. “Writing and editing skills are very marketable in our economy,” Sonnenburg indicated. Through the WRTC program, students are required to take classes that accentuate writing and editing skills. It’s reassuring to hear directly from alumni who have graduated from the WRTC program that the skills they acquired while in school helped for a smooth transition into the workplace.
Tandylyn Terry had a similar story to tell when discussing her own transition. She explains to the audience that internships are essential, if not the key to success in preparing for the workplace. Terry was able to secure a job offer before starting her senior year due to her internship experience.
Tiffany Painter Newland shared her dilemma with the audience when choosing a job. She was offered a position on the outskirts of Harrisonburg, VA, that did not fulfill her expectations for a job. Her job offer through American Woodmark, her preferred position, was still up in the air, and she did not want to settle for anything else. She waited for a phone interview with American Woodmark (she explains this as a “Russian Roulette” chance) and gambled a job position with both companies. In her favor, she ended up getting the job with American Woodmark and declined the other.
The round table panel then proceeded to touch upon professional portfolios and resumes. Recent graduates benefited by tailoring their resumes to specific job requirements, in order to catch a company’s attention. By putting forth your best writing pieces in a portfolio, you give a company the sense of your skill level and how you write.
“Don’t expect to be spoon fed,” Sonnenburg stated as the discussion came to a close. In order to be successful in the field you are pursing, you need to be active within the company. As Sonnenburg, Terry, and Newland demonstrated, each transitional period from college to the workplace will be different. With effective writing and editing skills, graduates have been able to enter the work field with confidence.
Here is a video tour of the new additions here at JMU. The new additions are the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, Bridgeforth Stadium renovation, Biology Building, East Campus Library, and East Campus Dining Hall.
By: Rachael Morin
As spring semester starts winding down, there are many events at James Madison to end it the right way and also to kick off next year! Here are some events over the next year for JMU alumni to attend. GO DUKES!
- 2011 Charlotte Dukes Golf Tournament (with a $10,000 Hole-in-One Contest!)
Interested in golfing? Like a little competition? Come on out for the 2nd Annual Charlotte Dukes Golf Tournament! You can sign up individually or as a foursome to save $20. All proceeds will benefit the James Madison University Alumni Association Charlotte Chapter’s scholarship fund. There will also be tons of prizes, including a $10,000 hole-in-one contest prize! The shotgun start will be at 1:30 pm.
Early Registration (on or before March 25th): $85 per person or $320 per complete foursome (Must register as foursome in one transaction). *
Late Registration (Between March 26th and April 8th): $100 per person or $380 per complete foursome (Must register as foursome in one transaction). *
*Price includes green and cart fees, range balls, food and beverages and opportunity for prizes. Mulligans and other add-ons can be purchased on the day of the tournament. For more information and sign up, visit the link below! Registration closes April 8, 2011.
- WRTC Graduate Symposium
Ever wonder what your former peers are up to? This April WRTC will be sponsoring their annual Graduate Student Symposium focusing on the broad theme of communication. This one-day event will feature WRTC graduate students to showcase their research; it also fosters a supportive environment for graduate students to present research and allows graduate students to interact with other students from different disciplines and institutions.
- Friendly City Readings
Every spring JMU’s WRTC department hosts writers who represent “rhetorical diversity of contemporary writing”, and seeks to promote awareness of writing as a living profession across numerous academic disciplines. These readings are free and open to the public. Wednesday, March 23 at 4:00 pm Stefan Betchel shared his writing and research processes, as well as read from his forthcoming work, Mr. Hornday’s War: How A Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely ‘War for Wildlife’ That Changed the World (Beach, 2012).
Although this date has passed, Friendly City Readings host different writers each spring, so please refer to the future editions of the WRTC Alumni Newsletter for news on the author who will be speaking at the next reading!
- Replacing Wands with Quills: A Harry Potter Symposium for Muggle Scholars
If you have ever been a Harry Potter fan, you will not want to miss the first ever James Madison University Harry Potter Symposium on November 3-5, 2011 (date is still somewhat tentative; the alternate date would be November 10-12, 2011 so stay tuned!) in the Taylor Conference Center. In this symposium you will hear from scholars from all disciplines explore, examine and explain their attraction to all things Harry Potter.
Anyone is welcome to attend the symposium. If you would like to speak, please feel free to send a proposal of 250 words or less to Dr. Elisabeth Gumnior (firstname.lastname@example.org) by May 1, 2011. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out via email by mid-June.
- 2011 Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC)
Founded in 1974, the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication brings together directors and administrators from across the United States and internationally to meet in roundtable format and emphasize discussion.
This year the conference theme is Academy-Industry Relationships and Partnerships. It will be held Thursday, October 6, until Saturday October 8, 2011 at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Come out and support this growing organization and enjoy the many diverse opinions and types of writing!