By Hannah Lewry
It was the beginning of the third quarter of my freshman year. I took my seat and looked around the classroom. Counting the desks, I began to feel a pit forming in my stomach. I hadn’t had a class this small since elementary school, I thought to myself. My inner introvert was screaming. Four hours of small group torture every week was what I feared I would have to endure to fulfill the writing requirement for my undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara.
Writing 2, or Academic Writing, is a mandatory writing class that most students take their freshman year. Unlike most large general education classes at UCSB, this class has a maximum of 25 students. There is no 400-person lecture hall with a sea of students to blend into. The class is designed to be interactive, and I was accustomed to anonymity. But once the awkward ice breakers were out of the way, I soon realized how much I loved what I was learning. This writing class would lead me to pursue a Writing minor within the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.
Now, let me explain a little more about what this program has to offer. The Professional Writing Minor is composed of five tracks: Professional Editing, Writing and Civic Engagement, Multimedia Communication, Business Communication, and Science Communication. Impressive, right? These options give students the opportunity to customize their education to fit their academic and personal interests. As an artist interested in both writing and graphic design, the Multimedia Communication track was a perfect fit for me.
Regardless of track, the minor does not require that its students take any specific courses for its prerequisite requirement, which adds flexibility to scheduling. Every upper division class within the Writing Program counts as one of the three mandatory prerequisites and serve as an opportunity for development — from Writing for Public Speaking to Writing for Health Professionals.
I took Writing for Global Careers, a subject I had no prior experience with. Within this course, I created a 70-page grant proposal. The project was designed to emulate a real-world proposal and allowed us to build our portfolio. While presenting my completed proposal to the class, I felt myself shift from a timid student to blossoming professional. Although this class did not fall under my specific track, I have both skills and work to show for what I gained from it.
Like many students, I did not anticipate picking up a minor. My rewarding experience in the required Writing courses opened the door to the Professional Writing Minor. The smaller class size (that initially terrified me) turned out to be what I loved most about the program. Participating allowed me to develop my confidence and engage with other students and professors. I have maintained contact with my instructors for both Writing 2 and Writing for Global Careers. They have become mentors as I enter the professional world.
What I thought would be a dull, required fundamentals course turned out to be the stepping stone of my academic career. Not only did I like what I was learning, but I liked how I was learning it. Expanding my writing portfolio far beyond academic essays, I have finally found my niche here at UCSB.
Hannah Lewry is a third-year Communication student at UC Santa Barbara, minoring in Professional Writing.