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About Us

Our Present

The 2017-2018 Writing Center staff members are:


Dr. Jim Purdy, Director

Dr. Purdy is an associate professor in the English Department and directs the University Writing Center. He has worked in writing centers since he was an undergraduate at Penn State and previously directed the Writing Center at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. You can hear more about his excitement for and philosophy of writing center work here. He has a chapter on his work as writing center director forthcoming in the collection Writing Program Architecture: Thirty Cases for Reference and Research. At Duquesne, he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching and the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016. In addition to writing center theory, his research and teaching interests include digital writing and research, new media technologies, and composition theory. Along with publishing in numerous scholarly journals and edited collections, he has co-edited four books, most recently Making Space: Writing Instruction, Infrastructure, and Multiliteracies with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss (2017).

Will Powell, Assistant Director

Will is a graduate student in Duquesne's English Department. He has taught Thinking and Writing (UCOR 101) and Critical Writing and Imaginative Literature (UCOR 102) as well as Introduction to Drama. He enjoys working with writers at all levels, and has experience providing feedback on Rhetorical Analysis as well as Dissertation chapters. Will has worked in the Writing Center in some capacity for the past 6 years, and is a former ESL Specialist. In that capacity, he worked closely with both undergraduate and graduate non-native writers in English on topics ranging from the anxiety over how to begin an essay and how to interpret a prompt to topics as narrow as how to determine which is the best preposition to choose in a particular sentence. While Will is most conversant in MLA Style and format, he has also worked with APA, ASA, and Chicago (though he's also up for any formatting challenge). He especially likes discussing an essay's structure and organization, how conclusions work, and which different revision strategies might best help blocked writers.

Graduate Writing Consultants

Erin Connel, ESL writing specialist

Erin completed her undergraduate degree, a Bachelor's in Psychology with a concentration in applied developmental psychology, at Edinboro University. There she was an active participant in Psychology and Law research and she has presented at many conferences in the Northwestern Pennsylvania area as well as at the international American Psychology-Law Society Conference. Currently Erin is pursuing her Doctorate degree in School Psychology here at Duquesne University. Here she is also getting involved in research related to early intervention. Being in the healthcare field, Erin is very passionate about helping others and spreading positive energy. In her spare time, Erin is very interested in overall physical health and fitness, including many different forms of exercise and healthy eating.

Kenneth Estrada, Graduate Writing Consultant

Kenneth is a student in the English Masters program here at Duquesne and has been a writing consultant for over 5 years. He is interested in 20th Century American Modernist literature, and plans to pursue a PhD from the moment his Master's is done. In addition, Kenneth has been an ESL/EFL instructor for 8 years. As a non-native speaker himself, it is a practice very close to his heart. He has taught students from all ages (age 5 to even ages 60 and above) and many cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Probably the most important thing about Kenneth, though, is that he LOVES peanut M&Ms...and office supplies.

Rochel L. Gasson, Graduate Writing Consultant

Rochel has been a part of the Duquesne University Writing Center for two years as a face-to-face and online consultant. She is comfortable working with most aspects of the writing process and truly enjoys working with students as they develop their ideas and thoughts, that have the potential to cultivate into skilled compositions. As a PhD. student, she is familiar with the everyday challenges that writing and research can present. Furthermore, she understands that being able to assist students in working towards their writing goals means creating a comfortable, communicative environment.

Jess Jack, Graduate Writing Consultant

Jess has a BA in Psychology and English Writing. She also has an MA in Cultural Studies, which delves deeply into theory and philosophy. Jess is currently working towards a Ph.D. in English Literature with a focus on Gender Studies. In undergraduate school, she took many fiction and poetry workshops, so Jess is more than happy to help writers both creatively and professionally. Though the fields mentioned above are her primary strengths, Jess will gladly act as a resource for anyone in any field. Whether you just need a second set of eyes or a different perspective that might help you visualize your projects in a larger context, Jess can help you bounce ideas around in a judgment-free space so that you feel comfortable and confident with your work. Jess can't wait to be a part of your drafting process, and looks forward to helping you achieve your unique excellence!

Hannah Muczynski, Science Writing Specialist

Hannah's Bachelor's Degree is in English for Teaching 7th through 12th grade, so throughout her undergrad she had extensive teaching experience ranging from tutoring Kindergarten and 3rd grade students to teaching 7th grade. Working with college students isn't a new field for her either; as a Peer Mentor at her college's Career Services Department, Hannah helped students with resumes and cover letters. What she looks forward to most is helping students with are those "a-ha!" moments: when you finally figure out what a professor wants from you, how to outline a difficult essay, even how to phrase a thesis statement. Her specialty is Science Writing, which comes as a little bit of a surprise, even for Hannah, as her Bachelor's is in English. Many of her friends who have asked for help with their writing happened to work in other disciplines, such as Social Work, Psychology, and even Computer Science. Hannah is very excited to be working with the Writing Center and helping students with what she loves most!

Courtney Mullis, Graduate Writing Consultant

Courtney is a first-year PhD student in the English Literature program, and she teaches UCOR 101 and 102. She earned her BA in English with a minor in philosophy from Coastal Carolina University, and her MA in English from Wake Forest University. Courtney has worked in writing centers for roughly five years as a tutor, a graduate assistant, and a center facilitator. Her favorite parts of writing tutoring are helping students gain confidence as writers and seeing them progress in their writing over the course of the semester. Courtney's academic interests include 20th and 21st century American Literature, Women's and Gender Studies, trauma theory, and ethnic American literatures.

Brie Sheldon, Online Writing Center consultant

Brie is a graduate student in the Master's of Leadership program. They received their Bachelor's degree from Duquesne in Organizational Leadership. Professionally, Brie has acted as a technical editor for corporate and academic organizations both on-site and remote. Brie's non-academic writing credits include fiction and development work for the Firefly tabletop roleplaying game, independent projects, and the award-winning Bubblegumshoe roleplaying game. They also work as an editor for multiple roleplaying game properties ranging from fantasy to horror. Their decade of experience working as an editor and writer has been primarily remote and includes international projects. Combined with their past work as an online writing consultant at the Writing Center, they are comfortable with consulting with remote students around the world. They enjoy playing tabletop roleplaying and video games, watching movies, photography, writing flash fiction, and contributing to community activism.

Chad Szalkowski-Ference, Online Writing Consultant

Chad is an MA student in the English Department. He received a BA in English and Writing from Southern Oregon University and an MFA in creative writing from Carlow University, where he taught composition to first-year students. His writing has appeared in Fjords Review. He plans to pursue a doctorate in English and hopes to teach at the university level. Lately, he has been reading James Baldwin and creative writing craft books. He and his wife and daughter live in Observatory Hill.

Rachel Jackson, Website and Soical Media Coordinator 

Rachel is a first year graduate student in the Master's in Counseling program. She received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame, where she double majored in Marketing and Psychology. Rachel enjoys reading, journalism, and social media. She also enjoys playing and watching sports, spending time with her family and friends, and traveling.

Undergraduate Writing Consultants

Colleen Cain

Colleen is a senior English major with a Psychology minor and has been a tutor since high school. She understands the anxieties of crafting and sharing one's work in both a creative and academic context, and so is eager to meet fellow students who are seeking a judgment-free, constructive space to refine their writing skills! Colleen has written recreationally for many years and was attracted to the Writing Center's convivial and accessible environment, particularly its inclusivity of a wide variety of creative works. Colleen is looking forward to making the most of her first semester as a consultant at the Writing Center!

Anna Kemper

Anna is a senior Communications Studies major with minors in Philosophy and Theology. This is her third year as an undergraduate consultant at the Writing Center. She also spent one semester as a consultant at the Duquesne satellite campus in Rome. There she worked with English-speaking students and non-native speakers alike, and was herself a non-native speaker trying to navigate through the cultural maze of Italy. Because of this experience, she loves working with students from new cultures, and hopes to be a friendly face to anyone that is less than confident writing in their non-native language. She most enjoys working on creative writing projects and papers written in the humanities, especially postgraduate work.

Marguerite Madden

Marguerite is a senior in the Liberal Arts school majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications and Economics with a minor in African Studies. This is her third semester at the Writing Center working as an Undergraduate Writing Consultant. Marguerite is also the chair for Duquesne's FeelGood Club, a nonprofit with the goal of ending world hunger by 2030. After graduating in May 2018, Marguerite has plans to continue working with students by joining the Teach For America 2018 Corps in San Jose, California. After fulfilling her 2-year Teach For America requirement, she hopes to go back to graduate school to study education policy.

Angela Mignanelli

In her freshman year of college, Angela roomed with a non-native speaker from Germany who would soon become her best friend. This experience and subsequent events allowed Angela to discover a new calling: helping friends revise and edit their papers. Angela is a senior English writing major with a journalism minor; she is also actively pursuing her M.A. in Duquesne's accelerated program. Angela has conducted research on everything from Walt Whitman and Native Americans to folk songs of the south. In her free time, Angela creates ekphrastic songs, often in response to poetry. This creative spirit drives Angela's teaching style, resulting in a tailored response to each student's individual needs. Her tutoring experience includes two semesters in the Duquesne University Writing Center, and volunteer work with GED and ESL students at the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. Angela enjoys working on students' creative writing, but is knowledgeable of the writing process from first-stage revision to final-draft polishing. Work in the Writing Center has allowed Angela contact with a multitude of disciplines, providing her with a diversified approach to writing pedagogy.

Rebecca Nauer

Rebecca is a senior English major with a concentration in writing and a minor in sociology. On campus she is a member of Alpha Phi and the sociology club. She enjoys reading, doing yoga, and of course, writing. Although Rebecca prefers technical or academic writing over most creative writing, she can often be found at poetry readings on campus and in the city. After graduating, she plans on continuing her education in early childhood development to eventually work with children in the future.

Taylor Wadsworth

Taylor is a junior international relations major with a minor in sociology. A member of Delta Zeta, she loves creative writing and runs several blogs in her spare time. Travel and fashion are two of her greatest interests, and she studied abroad in Rome in Fall 2015, an experience she will never forget. Although she is not sure of what her exact plans are following graduation, she hopes that her major will allow her to travel more and learn more about the world and international affairs.

Joining the Staff

Students interested in applying to be a consultant at the Writing Center should submit a cv/résumé, academic research-based writing sample, and application form to the Director. Please contact the Director, Dr. Jim Purdy, at 412-396-1293 or purdyj at duq.edu for more information.


Consultants receive ongoing training and professional development in teaching writing. They have the opportunity to attend writing center conferences (e.g., the Pittsburgh Area Regional Writing Centers Conference, National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, East Central Writing Centers Association Conference).

Past consultants have gone on to work at writing centers at other universities; been accepted to graduate programs at top universities (e.g., Brandeis, Illinois State, Purdue); and pursued successful careers in education at middle, secondary, and postsecondary levels, as well as in business and law.

Our Past

The Writing Center has been a part of Duquesne’s academic life for more than twenty years. Originally housed in the English Department and designed to meet the needs of the Core Curriculum, the Writing Center has grown and expanded its scope of service to address the writing needs of the entire campus community, including students and faculty.