Growing as a Rhetorician Over Three Years’ Time
As a junior at University of Delaware I took a rhetoric course for undergraduate students in the professional writing concentration, studying the same book assigned for Professor Siano’s class in PW 5000. I was a good student in my undergraduate years—I earned fairly high grades but had to work diligently for them. The rhetoric course was no exception because the many hours I put into my assignments in this course were no match for an A grade. At the end of the semester I was pleased with my B because I survived assignments and lectures like I had never taken before. Despite knowing that rhetoric is significant to professional writing, I would have been okay without taking another course in the subject. When I saw a rhetoric course was necessary for completion of NEC’s MA in professional writing program I was immediately apprehensive of the sure-to-come challenging assignments. Would I completely falter under the academically-challenging readings from Aristotle? Instead, my overall high grades on the projects for this course are a testament to the excellent quality of the MA program and my growth as a professional writing student. Rhetoric is no longer a frightening subject for me because I know both the context and skills needed to employ its uses for effectiveness in professional writing.
I am incredibly pleased with my growth as a professional writer during this time in NEC’s professional writing program. At UD I grew personally, academically, and professionally; I learned what I wanted to pursue as a career and gained insight into myself as a person—my faith, my goals in life, my aspirations. During my time at NEC, I greatly expanded upon my professional goals and skills, growing as a writer without even realizing how much I was improving upon my skills. My first clue into this growth was that I understood the readings from Aristotle’s works without any problems, unlike the challenges I faced when reading those selections a few years ago. What used to incomprehensible to me now posed no issues—how invigorating to see my analytical and comprehensive reading skills improved! Reviewing and revising documents upon feedback from my professor was challenging but in a good way. The feedback made think, made me question, made me wonder at my understanding of the material; the improvements and frustrations over the feedback and material pushed me to comprehend the material in ways that made my mind hurt but also made the light-bulb shine. I felt so good experiencing firsthand the benefits of my education.
The past seven weeks demonstrated the necessity of audience analysis, material understanding, and skills in different types of writing, all for the success of communication and discourse. Professional writing on its own can succeed if the writer has a firm grasp of the material she is conveying; however, the success rate will be significantly higher if the writer uses rhetorical tools for her benefit, such as audience analysis and textual language design. The persuasive skills available to writers are innumerable with technologies available through the new media; writers need to take advantage of all options that will help them convey information that graphically and textually improve the material given to audiences. I learned through the projects and reading from this course that rhetoric is much more than simply how a writer puts words on a page in a specific manner to affect the persuasiveness of a communication. Rhetoric incorporates tone, writing style, graphic and textual language, audience analysis, team collaboration, and discourse application. Together all of these elements make persuasion much more effective because a holistic approach appeals to audiences’ senses and comprehension more than one piece alone appealing to just one sense.
The projects for this course were some of the most beneficial and effective assignments I completed out of undergraduate and graduate careers. Through completing my own projects and helping others revise their own documents, I have gained a much better understanding of rhetoric and of writing. In addition, Professor Siano’s feedback on each of the projects was incredibly helpful because her suggestions for revisions gave concrete examples of how to improve understanding of writing and rhetoric, as well as how to better the project itself. The Module One writing project was an excellent tool for growing one’s understanding of rhetoric: creating a personal definition of the concept helped me to comprehend the meaning on my own terms and working with a specific scenario gave boundaries for explanation within one context. The second writing project confirmed the importance of technical writers as organizational change agents. I always knew that technical writers played an important role within processes through the conveying of information, but this project was significant because the text implied the necessity of writers working with a team and helping with the holistic approach of project completion. The Module Two project was instrumental in showing how rhetoric can apply on many levels of textual language as a way of writers balancing other aspects of communication and working with team members. Rhetoric is so much more than just writing; the Module Three project demonstrated how other rhetorical tools can be implemented within aspects of communication to compliment text for audience appeal. Design is not my strongest skill within professional writing, but I enjoyed the third project because I could work with both textual and graphical language and see the benefits of understanding rhetoric through these skills.
In one week I will complete NEC’s MA in professional writing program. It is hard to believe that my graduate studies are almost over and the time is here again to begin searching for a career in my field of study. Upon graduating from UD in 2011 I learned how much I truly love education and enjoyed college. Returning to my studies was natural since I wanted to learn even more about writing, editing, and literature. This time around, staying in college is not really an option because I have a solid foundation for beginning a career as a professional writer. While I will always want to continue on in college simply because I enjoy learning in a classroom setting and with a professor, I feel much more confident and secure in myself as a professional writer that searching and interviewing for those jobs is not as intimidating as it was two years ago. I do not need college studies any more as a buffer between myself and the “real world;” I am ready to prove myself as professional writer and know that with my MA studies from NEC that I am equipped to do my job and to write it well.