Well it has been awhile. I have struggled with something worthwhile to say when none of my fellow classmates are here to help or draft ideas with the new blog headmaster. I mean it is the summertime and while no one is writing much unless keeping an avid account of their Pokemon Go escapades on Facebook, it makes sustaining the life of the blog difficult. Nonetheless, this blog is a special one.
I have decided to come out of recluse and turn the spotlight on not just writing and creating something beautiful but to shine a light on someone that does that everyday. Someone that made all of this possible. For if not for she, I would not be writing this new installment to our Summer 2016 blog.
Dr. Sunny Hawkins.
This is officially the first week without our beloved director. Soon we will be closing for the summer and will not reopen until September where we will be director-less.
She was the director at Texas A&M University-Kingsville Undergraduate Writing Center, having brought this wonderful establishment from a couple of tables and chairs to a room full of bright hopeful students working towards not just a great paper but a greater skill set. She breathed life into what is now today’s most dedicated group of individuals coming into work everyday loving what they do. When I was first hired for the job I didn’t realize there was more to this job than just revising papers. You actually were still the student as well; not just a tutor. Sure I was helping students out with grammatical mishaps but it was the lesson of invoking cooperation that really made me open my eyes. You don’t just sit there and let someone look over your paper without being involved, you, yourself must be an active noggin present in the reconstruction of your paper. I didn’t get that at first, but if it wasn’t for Dr. Sunny’s informative training sessions it would not have helped a lot of the tutors at the writing center sit up and take control of the work they should be doing. In a sense it made me have more respect for myself in regards to my duty as a tutor. We as tutors are not mere Stop-and-Drops but expressive souls that need something to feel proud of, and I feel proud of the work I do for the clients that seek our help. When I know I did my absolute best to help them I know I go home feeling like I did my part for the UWC.
This establishment is not just a writing center but a place where so many things are learned and created. Bonds, friendships, memories, parties, fun and most importantly knowledge are always in bloom. It probably won’t always be like this at our future jobs. Coming in wearing sweat pants, watching Netflix on downtime, playing a vicious game of Bananagrams or having impromptu pizza parties doesn’t seem like an everyday ordeal at the office, the emergency room or kindergarten classroom. College really is a time to enjoy ourselves and I am so gracious to Dr. Sunny for keeping that environment strong at the UWC.
I emailed shortly before she was to depart and I asked her one question: What did it mean to you to work for the writing center? She emailed back a response that makes the Order of the Phoenix look shy. I decided to share the parts of her response that I felt speak volumes on what this place is all about and the legacy she leaves behind.
The first time I set foot in our Writing Center, it was empty.
It was just after New Year’s, and the spring semester hadn’t started yet. I remember turning on the lights, looking around at those hideous hardback chairs, and smiling. Because I knew, very soon, the magic that animates all Writing Centers would begin to animate this one.
What makes a Writing Center magical? It has nothing to do with the number of computers, printers, tables, couches, or coffeemakers it has. It has nothing to do with the color of the walls, the height of the bookshelves, or the view out the windows (or lack thereof). In a very real sense, it has nothing to do with who sits in the director’s chair. The magic of a Writing Center is created by its tutors, in every interaction you have with the students and faculty who come to us for help.
Very soon I will walk out of our Writing Center for the last time. But I am not leaving it empty. You, every one of you, has filled it with the magic only you could bring to it. Your different personalities, your unique talents, are woven into the fabric of helping writers find their voices, whether you worked with them once for twenty minutes, or twenty times over a single semester.
If I had to leave you with any advice, it would be this. #1) Stay curious. Not knowing something is not a disadvantage; it’s an opportunity to learn something new. If you want to stay young forever, never stop learning. #2) Stay open. Stay idealistic. Remember that the world is not what you see on the news. It is a vast and fascinating place, and most of the people in it are good, and kind, and honest. #3) Most importantly, stay yourself. Don’t let someone else’s definition of beauty, happiness, or success define you. Figure yourself out day by day, minute by minute. Stay aware. Stay present. Stay awake, as much as all the distractions of our world – Facebook; Pokemon; Instagram; Netflix; Amazon – may try to anesthetize you, to turn you into mindless, well-conformed consumers. Be more than that. Be you. Remember that, as Nakagawa Soen-Roshi once said, “all are nothing but flowers / in a flowing universe.” Know that inside you, after all, there is magic. Now more than ever, the world needs you to use it.
She is understanding, caring, considerate, fair, funny, realistic and wholeheartedly the kindest person you will ever meet. I am so lucky I met her-even got to work for her. She’s the boss you wish for. Dr. Sunny sure is a rarity. We are all going to miss her. I very much envy the people that started off working with her from the very beginning but at least I was able to take on so many projects and responsibilities for her. This truly is my dream job. A place where you can relax, stay focused on school but not exactly lose your mind over it; this is a place where you only get stronger as you go along and it’s all because someone so vigorously fantastic was lifting it up with her hands.
Dr. Sunny you will be missed so dearly cows will moo for you in a soft distance where ever you are, whoever you are enchanting with the effervescent knowledge you will be feeding to your new batch of seedlings in St. Louis. The UWC will be lost for a little bit without your sunny guidance but eventually we shall chug on with a new director. At least we know she/he won’t have to whip us into shape, you have molded us so perfectly. We are probably going to be the best crew she/he could be dealt with. However, he has some soft shoes to don on. No one rigid could wear your shoes unless they loosen up a little bit and decide to do a little dance and realize this is more than just a job but an opportunity to make a difference just as you have. Otherwise those shoes are going to be too soft to keep from falling off.