Written by Kate Harner
Willimantic, Conn. - Eric Alan, a senior English major from Simsbury, is now providing writing tutoring services at Eastern Connecticut State University's Veterans Educational Transition Services (V.E.T.S.) Center, which is directed by Lawrence Schmitz.
Alan, a veteran who served in the United States Coast Guard for eight years, volunteered his tutoring services at the V.E.T.S. Center during fall '11 while simultaneously working at Eastern's Writing Center. Alan has constructed his tutoring services based on the Writing Center's model, as well as through his own research for his Composition Theory and Rhetoric class, which culminated in a paper, "Veterans and the Writing Center: Challenging a Burgeoning Population."
"I am determined to make lives better for veterans," said Alan. "It's difficult adapting to college life, and the V.E.T.S. Center helps make the transition easier. The purpose of my tutoring services is to help veterans become students again. Veterans are used to fitness reports and technical writing. It is very different than academic writing, which usually asks you to express your opinion and think critically."
The Writing Center funds the project in order to reach out to the veteran population at Eastern. Rita Malenczyk, professor of English and director of the Writing Program and Writing Center, and Susan DeRosa, associate professor of English, have assisted Alan with his research and implementation of his services.
"Both Dr. Malenczyk and Dr. DeRosa have been very supportive," said Alan. "They were integral to making this work."
The V.E.T.S. Center provides comprehensive support services to prospective and current students who are or were members of the U.S. Armed Services. Over the past three years, Eastern's veteran population has grown from 50 to 250 enrolled students.
More than 20 veterans used Alan's writing tutor skills last fall. This semester, he has already been approached by five.
The services are made possible through a Project Compass grant with the support of Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Project Compass supports efforts to increase retention and graduation rates for minority, low-income and first-generation college students.
Interested veterans can make appointments through the Writing Center's website, http://www.easternct.edu/writingcenter/. Alan's office hours are from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesday and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday, as well as by appointment.