She wrote in her graduate program entrance essay that she wanted a challenge.
Sarah Ferry found that and more at Eastern Kentucky University.
And now she’s the recipient of a prestigious regional honor. Ferry, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in English while working at the University’s Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, received the Southeastern Writing Center Association’s Graduate Tutor of the Year Award.
“My ‘Eastern Experience’ has shaped me as a scholar and a leader,” said Ferry, an Akron, Ohio, native who earned her baccalaureate degree at Marshall University. “What I have learned and accomplished and where I am now has surprised even me. When I began my degree, I didn’t exactly expect to broaden my perspective on writing and composition, and I certainly did not anticipate organizing logistics for an event with over 1,600 students in attendance. Eastern has undoubtedly met and exceeded my expectations in this regard.”
Ferry taught high school English in West Virginia and middle school language arts in Wayne County, Kentucky, before returning to school to pursue a graduate degree. As a graduate consultant in EKU’s Noel Studio, Ferry has been a leader in training curriculum development, directing a seminar on discourse communities and literacy narratives. Also, she was elected chair of the Studio’s newly formed Events Committee, charged with implementing small- and large-scale events hosted by the Studio.
Dr. Russell Carpenter, executive director of the Noel Studio, said the award is “one of if not the most prestigious honors” SWCA bestows on students.
“The Events Committee is critical to the success of the program and involves an extremely heavy workload,” Carpenter said. “It’s critical that the chair of this important committee be a central leader for students and, in some cases, our full-time professional staff.”
Ferry’s scholarship is equally impressive, Carpenter said. At a recent International Writing Centers Conference, Ferry and colleague Emily Hensley presented a panel on “Cultivating Collaboration: The Evolution of Peer Review Workshopping at Noel Studio.”
“We are fortunate to have graduate students doing such important research in our region,” Carpenter said, “and I hope that graduate students like Ms. Ferry inspire future research among our students.”
Ferry credited her positive experience to her Noel Studio colleagues – whom she called “some of the most generous, intelligent and creative people I have ever met” – and said her work there, in combination with her graduate courses, “has expanded my viewpoint on the skills college students need to acquire. Writing is a crucial skill for success in academia and the professional world, but writing isn’t the only communicative expertise students need in an increasingly digital world. I plan to carry this understanding into my future academic and professional work in teaching students to think critically and communicate effectively in a variety of ways so that they will be more prepared for meeting the demands of the future.
“All of my experiences with faculty and staff at Eastern have been extremely positive, and I feel grateful to have so many professors I can turn to if I need help or advice. In particular, though, the Noel Studio administrators, Rusty Carpenter, Leslie Valley, Trenia Napier and Jason Peerce, have especially gone out of their way to provide guidance and support. They have challenged and encouraged me but, most of all, they have welcomed me into the Studio and fostered a sense of community that has given me a home and family on campus.”