On Nov. 14, undergraduate students from across campus gathered in the Miller Learning Center’s Reading Room for an afternoon devoted to writing—and write they did.
Supported by a Parents Leadership Council grant and hosted by UGA English faculty and writing program administrators Lindsey Harding, Sara Steger, Becky Hallman Martini and Elizabeth Davis, 49 students from across campus registered for this year’s Undergraduate Writing Retreat. The retreat welcomed students majoring in English and English education, biological and pharmaceutical sciences, computer science, journalism, economics, health promotion and more.
Participants enjoyed a series of breakout sessions run by Matt Kliewer and Lea Davidson, graduate student writing mentors from English and geology, respectively. In these sessions, students met in small groups to talk about scientific writing style, charts and tables, professional writing, brainstorming and other topics. For Kliewer, “Seeing this kind of event as a Ph.D. candidate made me more than a bit jealous that I didn’t have the same type of event or space when I was an undergraduate. The students were so engaged, their projects were so interesting and intelligent, and I’m just so happy to have been able to provide a bit of assistance with their great work.”
All participants also had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a UGA Writing Center consultant to talk about their writing projects in process. Beyond these writing-related amenities, the retreat offered participating students the food and refreshments they needed to write.
“It was wonderful to see students talking about their projects with consultants and participating in the workshop sessions. Writing retreats help develop a sense of community that belies the idea that writing is only and always a solitary activity,” Steger said.
“I absolutely loved the retreat,” Summer Porter, an English and entertainment and media studies student, said. “I had plenty of coffee, healthy snacks and sugary snacks to keep me fueled in a cozy, concentrated environment. Having all of the graduate students and faculty available for help was fantastic, as I wouldn’t usually have such convenient access to writers. I wish I could do this every weekend, to be honest. Having a shared space with other writers that is crafted specifically to nurture your writing makes all the difference sometimes.”
“It’s a great excuse to disconnect, relax and check huge, intimidating projects off your to-do list in a way that doesn’t seem stressful,” another student said.
Students left the retreat with revised essays and presentations, completed writing assignments and rough drafts for new projects that ranged from papers to application essays. For participating students who completed a feedback survey following the retreat, 80% found the event to be extremely helpful, and 50% said they would take part in a monthly writing retreat, if offered. Thanks to the support of the Parents Leadership Council, the hosts are thrilled to be able to offer a spring retreat for the first time in April 2022.