Write On

Courtesy of Bobby Pelphrey

If you have ever stopped by the Writing and Communications Center (WCC) in Morton 210, you have seen Bobby Pelphrey. He is the super friendly face that greets all Stevens students and is someone who helps out with papers, resumes, cover letters—you name it. In addition to being the Associate Director of the WCC, Bobby enjoys collecting DC Comics memorabilia. You may have also noticed his extensive action figure collection on the back shelf behind his desk, his favorite being the original 1983 Jabba the Hutt. “My collection of action figures is pretty shameful,” Bobby admits. In the near future, Bobby hopes to develop a program to better support international students’ English needs and to finish the book that he has been writing for two years.

Bobby points out that he has always loved reading from an early age . “As a kid my nose was always stuck in a book.” Despite his love of reading, Bobby was initially set on being a biology education major in college with intentions to teach high school students. “I didn’t realize that I had a proclivity for writing until I changed my major at the end of my sophomore year [from biology education]. I really learned to love writing when I had one of the best English professors in the world. [The] professor and I would have great conversations during class, and one day he stopped me and asked if I ever consider being an English major, which I had. After that, I had to take summer courses, but I was able to graduate on time.”

In college, Bobby studied Rhetoric Composition and English as a Second Language (ESL). He reveals that one of his biggest passions is “helping student[s] discover their writing talents. I especially enjoy teaching our international students about American culture, including some of the more risqué topics like how to swear in English.”

As a lover of literature, Bobby reads a lot. He admits that he reads, “a lot of trashy novels,” including gay detective stories and works by Stephen King. He adds, “I especially like [King’s] non-horror ones like ’11/22/63′.” Bobby also has an immense love of classic literature. “I love it all,” he gushes. “I can read Huckleberry Finn over and over and never get tired of it.” In addition, Bobby loves George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm”, as well as Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”, which is one of his favorite novels of all time.

No matter what your major is, the writing center is an indispensable tool on the Stevens campus. For non-CAL majors, Bobby says that the department “supplies students with a respite from all those numbers and theories.” Starting their first year at Stevens, first-year students get exposed to the Freshmen Experience curriculum, which includes CAL 103 and 105. Reading and writing are critical communication skills. Being able to convey one’s ideas, whether it is a CAL essay or a design report, is important. Communicating well in both spoken and written forms is a key tool to have. Bobby emphasizes the importance of these fundamental classes: “CAL, first-year experience teaches students how to critically think, and I think students need that more than ever, especially in these troubling times.”

Looking ahead, Bobby is looking forward to the growth of the Stevens writing center on campus. He asserts that, “Stevens needs to continue developing and cultivating a writing culture,” meaning that “departments across campus need to emphasize the importance of writing and communication skills.” The WCC has expanded in terms of the programs offered, as well as how many students are reached through one-on-one tutoring, e-consultations, and workshops. Bobby reports that “currently, we plan on developing the roaming writing center idea, where we bring the writing center to students. Right now we have consultants at the library, and we would like to continue to see that program grow.”

As final essays and final exams approach, remember that the WCC is a great way to get a jump on writing assignments. Bobby suggests, “if you have any feedback be sure you log on to mystevens.edu and select the writing and communications link and make an appointment.”

As many have suggested before in the past, do your best not to procrastinate with assignments—especially with writing assignments. Bobby advises, “DON’T write essays last minute. Your professor will always know that you did. Most professors give their students a week or two to write a five-page paper. They do this so you can go through all the steps in the writing process (pre-writing, writing, revising, and editing). What some professors don’t mention is that there also needs to be a pause. What I mean is that students need a day or two to not look at their work and see it through a ‘fresh pair of eyes.’” Moreover, Bobby emphasizes that writing is not done in solitude. “Get feedback from friends and writing center staff!”

The WCC hours are:

Writing and Communications Center, Morton 210
Mon-Thurs: 9am-6pm
Fri: 9am-4pm

WCC Walk-In Hours, Great Hall in the Library (at the main entrance):
Sunday, Monday, Thursday: 3pm-8pm