Tag Archives: Creative Writing

UWGB Transformed Zeta by…

…helping her seamlessly adapt to a culture outside of her own.

Living in Sweden and Denmark and learning to speak Danish was never in Zeta Sion’s plans. However, at 22, Zeta found herself in that precise situation, having eventually settled in Copenhagen with her husband and son. And Zeta says that without the writing skills and cultural exposure she gained at UWGB, this major life transition wouldn’t have been as smooth.

“Without my writing skills, I never would have started the blog that connected me with others in my position when I felt alone and honestly helped me get by during tough times,” Zeta says. “I still think in poems, finding any opportunity to jot some down on a post-it, in an email to myself, or on the back of a grocery list. These poems have helped me feel connected to myself.”

Zeta credits UWGB’s stellar English and Humanities departments for this insight. After a meeting with Chuck Rybak regarding one of Zeta’s poetry chapbooks, she says, “I left that meeting walking on air, and yet with a hundred things to think about or change. It emphasized, for me, how much fun it was to think about every individual word. It made me believe enough in myself that I’ve continued writing after I didn’t have to anymore.” Zeta also credits Aeron Haynie’s “Culture of Food” courses that “were absolutely eye-opening,” and Stefan Hall’s undying passion for literature and language. “Dr. Hall was also really inspiring. To see someone so passionate about so many things was impressive, as was his ability to get freshmen students engaged in the material,” Zeta explains.

But perhaps the most important aspect of her UWGB transformation is the manner in which Zeta sees the world.

“I’m passionate about more things. The cultural and social knowledge I gained during my time at UWGB helped immensely when adapting to another culture and then another. The transition would have been much more rocky otherwise,” Zeta says.

Name: Zeta Sion
Grad Year: 2011
Major: Creative Writing
Minor: Spanish and Human Development

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We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

UWGB Transformed Clarice by…

…teaching her how to think.

From the very beginning of her UWGB experience, Clarice Tuinstra felt as if she was in an odd limbo. “I started college at age 22, when most people graduate. I didn’t follow the typical path of attending college directly after high school, but I was far too young to be an ‘adult’ student,” Clarice explains.

She returned to school because she disliked working retail and felt that her best option was to earn a degree. “I felt having a college education was still better than having nothing but a high school diploma, and when I started I was unsure of myself,” Clarice says. “I was unsure of my abilities, my talent, and even my intelligence. I hadn’t been in school for four years, and I wasn’t sure how well I would do.”

During her time at UWGB, Clarice says she learned how to be more assertive. “I took charge of group projects. I learned that writing creatively could be twice as hard as any analysis. Now, I can think for myself. I learn quickly, I understand instructions and I can analyze better than many. This, and I can write a beautiful sentence on occasion,” Clarice explains.

Clarice reflects on the guidance and wisdom she gleaned from Stefan Hall, Rebecca Meacham, Chuck Rybak, Aeron Haynie, Eric Shockley, and Cliff Abbott, asserting that, “Each brought something individual to the classroom.” Clarice insists all of her professors taught her that, “It is not just about reading books, writing opinion pieces, and hoping to be a novelist. Can writing be an art? Yes. Can it be a science? Yes, it can be that too. Collectively, these professors taught me to be more open to knowledge. They taught me to discover the world for myself. They taught me facts, yes, but they also taught me how to think.”

 

Name: Clarice Tuinstra

Grad Year: 2014

Major: Creative Writing

Minor: Communication

 

Irmen, Ami Profile

UWGB Transformed Ami by…

…helping her become more than she thought she could.

Creative Writing is Ami Irmen’s passion, yet her Creative Writing teachers at UWGB — Ryan Van Cleave, Bruce Stone, and Rebecca Meacham — taught her a set of critical lessons that have deeply affected her professional career.

When Ami first set foot on the grounds of the UWGB campus, she was a wide-eyed high school senior who was merely counting down the days to graduation. At first, Ami chose UWGB simply because it was “close enough” to home, and it was a place she could afford. However, UWGB proved to be much more than “tunnels, toilets, and trees,” and Ami asserts that UWGB “turned out to be the luckiest choice I have ever made. The four years that I spent at UWGB — a place that became more than just a great location and price tag, a place that became home — shaped who I am today.”

With her sights set on a career as a Creative Writing teacher, Ami vividly remembers her freshman year and Ryan Van Cleave’s “Introduction to Creative Writing” course, where Ami says Van Cleave “…loved his work and students so much that he took personal time out of his day for no other reason than to simply share that love of writing.” Flash forward to Bruce Stone’s Creative Writing workshop, a course that Ami says gave her a “safe space to take risks,” and she discovered that learning must be a two-way street. For example, Ami recalls a thank you letter penned by Stone, thanking his students for everything he’d learned throughout their time together. Undoubtedly, Ami learned that one must find the time and space to reflect upon one’s writing, a message later echoed by Rebecca Meacham, Ami’s English major advisor.

When it was time to declare her major, Ami says she still remembers the first time she met Prof. Meacham: “She had a real honest talk with me on that day about my prospects of finding a job as a Creative Writing instructor at the college level. The thing is, it was (and still is) an extremely competitive market, and this conversation was necessary. It is rare that advisors are so open and frank from the start, but Rebecca was.”

Prof. Meacham’s honesty never deterred Ami from her chosen path. The moment she committed to the degree, Ami says that Rebecca made the same commitment and did everything she could to ensure her success. Ami credits her professors for doing more than simply helping her dissect literature and learn to revise her work: they “fostered her love of learning and gave her the tools to ask questions, to explore, to ponder, to create, and much more.” Not surprisingly, Ami is now teaching writing at the college level, just as she always planned, asserting that her UWGB education informed what she does in her own classroom.

“It’s about more than just teaching a student how to write an essay,” Ami says, “it’s about giving people like me a chance to be more than what I thought I could be.”

Name: Ami Irmen
Grad Year: 2005
Major: Creative Writing and Human Development

Photo submitted by: Ami Irmen

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.