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Writing Center Staff

Rachel Balzar, studying abroad Fall 2013

Rachel Balzar

Most teenaged girls manage to get their first kiss and their license by the time they turn 16. While Rachel Balzar accomplished neither of these things, she did manage to write a novel. Keeping this in mind, it’s only natural that she is fascinated by the transformative powers of editing, became an English major at UMM with zero hesitation, and still occasionally winds up sobbing the lyrics to "Jesus Take the Wheel" while trying to drive. Please rest assured: Rachel is much more confident (and competent) when it comes to experimenting with paragraph order and fine tuning the voice of a paper than she is with driving. She also promises not to sing any country songs if you come visit her in the Writing Center.

Dani Brown

Dani Brown

One of Dani's very first tutoring experiences at her high school writing center found her sitting on the linoleum floor outside of the center's locked door at somewhere between 6 and 7 AM, trying to place her finger on the most delicate way to ask: "So, did you actually read the book?" Nowadays, Dani plans to tutor exclusively in the afternoons, and has no trouble asking the aforementioned question straight up. Though her first love is English, Dani is also a history major, and can therefore help you with papers from said discipline, and has excellent "anti–freak–out" skills that she would love to mentor you in if requested.

Kelsey Butler

Kelsey Butler

Kelsey is a junior majoring in English and Secondary Education. In addition to working at the Writing Center, she serves on the board of UMM's Prairie Gate Literary Festival (she is more of a consumer than a creator of literary fiction and non-fiction), teaches adult ESL on Monday nights (so has plenty of experience breaking down tough concepts into consumable tidbits), works as a research assistant in English discipline (so she has a lot of experience with academic writing and has even been known to browse Project Muse for fun), and geeks out about research (especially pulling loose ends together to come up with cool/interesting/unique topic). She is especially interested in developmental psychology/cultural anthropology/education/English and hopes to combine them all one day into some sort of mega-career.

Kourtni Danielson, Writing Center Student Assistant Director

Kourtni Danielson

Kourtni is a senior English major, Spanish minor, and a part of the Honors program.You may have spotted her stirring up a delicious mocha at Higbie's coffee shop on campus or providing answers to the most puzzling questions at the conjoining information desk as the head coordinator. This ever smiling optimist knows first-hand how chaotic the writing process can be, and therefore enjoys helping others find the light out of the dark tunnel of red pen marks during revisions. She is also up to the challenge to help defeat other monstrous obstacles one may meet in a piece of writing. Kourtni looks forward to helping relieve the tensions often associated with the writing process. Her two goals in life are to one day master the art of reading a book while simultaneously running on the treadmill and making others feel the most confident they can as a writer.

Darcy Gabriel

Darcy Gabriel

Darcy is a senior Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies/ Latin American Area Studies double major with a Spanish minor. Just because Darcy is frequently running around doing eight million things at once doesn't mean that there isn't time to work in the Writing Center! Darcy has always enjoyed writing and helping others figure out what they're trying to say. Darcy has written papers in English, GWSS, Sociology, History, and LAAS classes and is willing to work with writers within any discipline. Darcy's favorite books cannot be listed because choosing is painful; however, favorite children's books include: The Giver, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the Circle of Magic series.

Corey Johnson

Corey Johnson

Corey is a senior English major with a minor in Communication, Media, and Rhetoric. She plans to pursue a career in education and has worked frequently within that discipline. She specializes in talking people down during those freak out moments which frequently occur before, during, and after the writing process, due of course to her own personal experience. Come in to the Writing Center to visit her if you want to brainstorm ideas or talk through a confusing paragraph, or if you need to remember how to breathe—although Health Services is an excellent alternative option for the breathing issue.

Kay Keegan

Kay Keegan

Kay Keegan is a senior English major and Dance minor. She has a special affinity for creative endeavors in writing, but also enjoys helping students with research proposals, articles, and academic papers in any field. She is also really good at developing ideas for other people and annihilating writer’s block. Kay is a contributing writer to the University Register and has just finished the fifth draft of her first novel (longhand!), and is now in the process of typing it and trying not to throw up. She keeps her gag reflex at bay by using the same font as J.K. Rowling.

B.J Pennington

B.J Pennington

B.J Pennington spends a lot of time sleeping and writing. In between these activities she is usually doing work for her English major or feeling major angst about this work. In other words, she knows how stressful school and especially writing can be. Luckily, as a senior, she has had time to learn a lot of great tricks about how to deal with this stress and how to write a great paper. B.J particularly enjoys helping others revise their drafts, but she'd be thrilled to help with any part of the writing process, from brainstorming ideas to learning the best way to proofread a paper. Even though she is an English major, B.J loves to learn about virtually any topic, so she welcomes writers from any discipline.

Peter Ray

Peter is a Secondary Education student pursuing his Communication Arts and Literature licensure. He is a returning student who already has his degree in Theatre Arts. He also is dangerously close to being thirty years old, so he is very fragile.

Tisha Turk, Writing Center Director (on leave Spring 2014)

Tisha Turk

Tisha teaches English courses at UMM. She likes writing a lot and has gotten pretty good at it over the years, but she also knows it can be a pain, so she's happy to commiserate with people who are feeling frustrated or stuck. Her PhD is in English literature, but she has experience working with writers in lots of different fields in the sciences and social sciences as well as humanities and education. She's the person to talk to for help with personal statements for graduate school, but she's also happy to help with ordinary papers for either intro or advanced classes. When she's not working in the Writing Center or teaching, she's usually reading, gardening, hanging out with her cats, baking really awesome brownies, rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or hitting refresh on Tumblr. These days she is also writing a book about media fandom, a process that remi nds her on a daily basis that writing can be simultaneously awesome and annoying.

Haley Van Cleve

Haley Van Cleve is a Gender, Women's Sexuality Studies and English student here at UMM. Hailing originally from St. Paul, MN, this is her third year out on the prairie. She enjoys participating in student activism with MPIRG, singing in choir, raising hell with the Morris Feminists and writing snarky op-eds for the University Register. Doing dishes, walking through spider webs and waking up early make her want to hide in a closet. She is also a very excited and proud new cat owner. She will help you make your paper awesome.