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CSCC Student Veterans’ Writing Group

Good writing takes stamina and determination, and few individuals are more disciplined than military personnel.

—Andrew Carroll, “Introduction” to Operation Homecoming pamphlet

Description:  The CSCC Student Veterans’ Writing group is open to all CSCC student veterans.  The focus of the group is on writing and sharing nonfiction “true stories” of life in and out of the military.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you consider yourself a “good writer” or a writer at all; what you need is the desire to share your stories to write them down, and receive support from others as you do this.

Group Goals:  To begin, we will be modeling our group off of the Syracuse Area Veterans’ Intergenerational Writing Group—to which we are indebted for its generous sharing of resources.  However, student group members will continually shape specifically what the group does.  Following are the general group goals:

  • Learning and practicing key concepts for nonfiction writing, including reading examples of this type of writing.
  • Completing writing exercises and drafting stories.
  • Sharing stories and offering feedback to other group members in a supportive environment to provide encouragement.
  • Finalizing and preparing work for public readings and publication.

Meetings:  Meetings will be held monthly on the CSCC Delaware Campus.  Monthly meeting dates and times will be dependent on group members’ availability.  A meeting agenda will be sent to group members via student email prior to group meetings.


  • We will communicate via CSCC student email.
  • A Facebook group will be created called the CSCC Student Veterans’ Writing Group.
  • We will also have a group web site.

Sponsorship and Group Leaders:  The Columbus State Community College Delaware Campus and Military and Veterans Services Department are sponsors of this group.  The group co-leaders are Nancy Pine and Beki Test.  Assistant Professor Nancy Pine is a writing teacher in the CSCC English department on the Delaware Campus.  I am also a U.S. Army veteran.  You can reach me via email or call me on the CSCC Delaware Campus (740) 203-8072.   Associate Professor Beki Test is a writing teacher and folklorist in the English department at CSCC.  I am also an Air Force veteran.  You can reach me via email or call me at the downtown campus at (614) 287-5093. We look forward to working with you!

Workshops and Read-Arounds: 

  • We will frequently conduct writing workshops during group sessions, in which the goal is to listen to and provide constructive feedback.  Following Syracuse’s model, “A writer reads his/her piece and listens to feedback.  The goal is not to defend your piece or talk back to those who respond, but share it, listen to feedback, and absorb what others make of your piece.  You have the right to make changes as you see fit—it’s your writing, so you are ultimately in control of what you produce and how to take into account other’s feedback.”
  • We will also participate in “read-arounds,” in which “you read what you wrote and others just listen without commenting.  The goal here is to listen to one another’s work without commenting.  Afterward, we can have some time for general commenting across the pieces.”  And there will probably be cake, or at least cookies. 


In My Own Words

"In My Own Words Downtown," will be held this semester for English 0190 and 1100 courses on the downtown campus—Many of us instructors assign personal narratives, and that is almost all you need to do to participate in IMOW!  Please see below for guidelines:

Dear English Faculty,

If you are teaching a personal narrative assignment in ENGL 0190 and/or 1100 this semester, please consider having your classes participate in "In My Own Words 9.0," our ninth term for this student writing forum, which showcases first-year student writing.

Many of us assign personal narratives, and that's almost all you need to do to participate in IMOW!  Please see the guidelines below, which are different from previous terms.

This is a great opportunity for our students, and many of us who have participated have found it to be an extra motivation for them to succeed in the course. We’re happy to share with you information on how we incorporate this project into our classes. 

Thanks in advance for considering participating in what is shaping up to be a vital part of first-year composition at our campuses.

Thank you,

Nancy Pine, Shawn Casey, and Deb Bertsch

History and Rationale for IMOW:

The idea for “In My Own Words” (IMOW) arose in 2012 during a joint meeting between English faculty from Columbus State and OSU-Marion on the partnership Delaware Campus.  We shared the experience of receiving at least one or two “really good” personal narrative stories in our first-year composition classes that deserved to be heard beyond the classroom.  IMOW has enabled this through a public reading of the students’ submissions, judged by a panel of CSCC and OSU-M faculty, and, most recently, published in the CSCC journal Et al.

Although the partnership with OSU-Marion in Delaware has ended, we’d like to continue this program in this same spirit—without the judging but still recognizing students for their work through a public reading and publication.

Participating instructors have devised various strategies for selecting two student finalists from each of their participating classes from student vote to instructor selection.  Regardless, IMOW essays are those that deserve to—need to—be heard beyond the classroom, either because they are so well-written or because the story is so compelling.  Whether it’s hilarious, suspenseful, or tearful, an essay is an IMOW essay because of the student writer’s courage to share his or her story with us. 

Please note: There is no specified criteria for selection other than what you as an instructor—or your class, if by vote—judge to be the best personal essays.  In other words, let your own internal sense of what constitutes “good writing” guide your choices.

Guidelines for "In My Own Words 9.0," Autumn 2015:

  • Participating first-year composition 0190 and 1100 classes will select their two best personal narrative essays (two for each class)--determined by instructor, class vote, blind peer review, or whatever suits your needs.
  • Participating faculty will notify their participating classes—most specifically the two “winning” IMOW students from each of their classes—about the IMOW program and specifics for the public reading and publication.  (Feel free to use the example below.)
  • There will be a reading in the Moeller Hall Seminar Rooms 111/112 on the Delaware Campus from 4-6 pm (date to be announced).  At least two weeks before, participating faculty will email Nancy Pine ( (1) the full names of up to two IMOW students per each participating class and (2) the names of those who plan to attend the reading.  Students are encouraged to participate if their schedule permits, but it's not required.  Students present for the reading will receive certificates; for students unable to attend, faculty will receive these via campus mail to distribute them to their students.  For those students who do plan to participate in the reading, please remind them to bring a copy of their narrative essay to read!
  • All finalists will have the opportunity to have their essay published in a special edition of the journal Et al.  IMOW student “winners”—up to two in each participating class—can find the submission form here

Sample Message to Students in Participating Classes:

You will have the opportunity to participate in "In My Own Words" a student writing forum showcasing the personal narratives created by Columbus State first-year composition students.  Students selected [by the instructor or class vote, etc.] will have the following opportunities:

*Participate in a public reading in the Moeller Hall Seminar Rooms 111/112 on the Delaware Campus from 4-6 pm (date to be announced).You are encouraged to participate, but it's not required.

*Receive a certificate as an “In My Own Words” student writer.

*Have the opportunity for your essay to be published in a special edition of the journal Et al.  You can view previous years’ IMOW students’ work here

Good luck!

Sample Message to IMOW “Winners,” (up to two in each participating class):

Dear [“In My Own Words” Students],

Congratulations on being selected an “In My Own Words” student writer for the personal narrative essay you wrote for your English class this semester.

You will receive a certificate and also have the opportunity to have your essay published in a special edition of the journal Et al. You can find the submission form here In the box labeled “Title of Submitted Work,” please type “IMOW” after your title.

Also, there will be a reading on from 4 to 6 p.m. on the Delaware Campus, in Rooms 111/112 in Moeller Hall (date to be announced).  Although it’s not required, you are encouraged to attend and bring a copy of your essay to read to the audience.  You’re welcome to invite friends and family.

To help plan the event, if you will attend the reading, please email me [your instructor] by [at least two weeks before the event].

Congratulations again, and I hope to see you there!  Thank you for the courage to share your stories in your own words!

[Signed by the instructor]

In My Own Words Spring 2013: Delaware Campus Video