The following letter, written by Ashley (Patton) Smolinski, CRWP 2009, demonstrates the lasting power of participating in an invitational summer institute.
Years after graduating from the first class of the Chippewa River Writing Project, I am still a writer. Those words, ‘I’m a Writer’, came back to me most recently at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in Chicago. Brad Martin, a librarian and research specialist for ABC news, upon reading my first article for the conference newsletter, Cognotes, surprised me by saying ‘You’ve done this before!’ Although I responded that no, I hadn’t written like this before, there was more to my story…
The truth was that I hadn’t written for a newspaper, but, in my head and more importantly in my heart, I said, ‘I haven’t written like this before, but I AM a writer.‘ I was selected by my student chapter of the ALA to represent the University at Albany as a member of the Student-to-Staff program and was assigned to work with the unit, Cognotes. My responsibilities were really quite simple and involved attending conference sessions and writing articles for the newspaper.
Throughout the conference, my articles were included in the paper and five were chosen to be included in the highlights section. I was overjoyed. As if things couldn’t get any better, I was invited by the publisher and senior reporter to write for them again in the following mid-year and annual conferences. I took the opportunity to tell Brad Martin that I although I appreciated his compliment very much, I normally wouldn’t have felt confident enough to write for Cognotes, if it wasn’t for Chippewa River Writing Project. In response to describing my experience at CRWP, Brad smiled and said, “They were right.”
The influence and experience that CRWP and the National Writing Project has had in my life was a much stronger impact than than I could have imagined. I have found that my technology skills, pedagogical practices, and my level of comfort and confidence in my own writing abilities has lasted and transferred into other areas of my life. I feel that I am part of a family, in addition to my own family, that embraces and values the path to becoming a better writer and mentoring others within the community along the way.
Thank you, CRWP, for helping me write with wings.
Linked here is the Highlights section of Cognotes, and within it, the articles I was privileged to write.
Ashley (Patton) Smolinski