Moody Student Spotlight: Nickoli Benkert
Diana Dawson created the Moody Writing Support Program (MWSP) to serve the unique writing needs of emerging professionals in the increasingly diverse field of communication. As an added layer of support for Moody College courses, the MWSP team provides a welcoming environment for all students to access one-on-one coaching for assignments involving literacy knowledge and skills with a communication professional twist. The writing coaches understand the unique language of communication professionals and provide feedback specific to authentic work in the industry. Check out what MWSP's Writing Coach Nickoli Benkert has to say about the work they do and reach out to see how you can collaborate to leverage this valuable resource for your students.
I come up to the third floor of DMC and prepare for appointments. The appointments could be online but are mostly in person. I mainly work with students in Communications Studies or Communication Leadership programs. Usually, students send a draft of the writing in advance, and I have time to review it for a more productive coaching experience. When they arrive, I ask what their goals are for the appointment. Sometimes, students indicate that they want me to write for them. I have to remind them that “We are not here to write the paper; we are here to help with building writing skills.” As coaches, we support each other for specialized writing. I can refer a student to another coach for specialized needs such as how to use the Associated Press style.
Beyond the typical Writing Support Program appointments related to major-related coursework, I also support writing tasks related to job searches. To accommodate identified Moody student needs as they transition into their professional lives, I have diversified my coaching expertise to include resume and cover letter writing. Additionally, I have facilitated workshops on professional writing for the Career Center.
Has being a writing coach had an impact on your personal writing knowledge and skills? Describe what you learned.
Coaching in one-on-one situations has definitely increased my personal communication skills. I can see this as a future leadership practice to supportively critique work without breaking down the individual. Helping people to achieve their full potential through positive feedback and an emphasis on their existing strengths is a skill in communication that is useful in any field.
What is the best piece of writing advice that you would give to Moody College students as emerging professionals?
Something that I find myself reiterating when coaching is to encourage the student to put themselves in someone else’s shoes when considering their writing. Often this will help them find things that they may have overlooked before. Being mindful of different audiences helps improve the revision. I also advocate for reading the writing aloud to help with this revision.
The Moody Writing Support Center offers specific writing advice for communication majors. Students should take advantage of this resource! Make an appointment with a coach early in the process as part of planning to complete any big writing assignment.