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An Aceh (Acehnese/Acehian) girl in a coffee shop covered by a book

Let’s Include All Our Students!

~ by Susan Theresa Gavell, Writing Program, LCC

During my involvement with the Inclusive Teaching Learning Community, with guest speaker Dr. Bryan Dewsbury, I first created a writing assignment where students applied for a private scholarship or internship. Composition 106, Writing and Rhetoric II, focuses upon research and writing skills, usually addressing the needs of first-year college students. I wanted to offer a low-stakes, practical writing assignment for students that would assist them in their personal lives. 

Many of our students at the University of Michigan – Dearborn (UMD) are first-generation, and a large percentage are the children of immigrants or students from traditionally marginalized populations. Money is often a problem for these young people, and many discontinue their university educations due to limited access to funding. In addition to a need for financial support, students are often unaware of resources available through their own university or through publicly funded institutions. Although UMD offers many private scholarships, some based on academic majors and others targeting specific ethnic or religious populations, many students do not know that this funding exists. Science majors are abundant on campus, but many have little exposure to internship availabilities.

For the Application for Scholarships or Internships assignment, students were asked to apply to either a private scholarship or an internship from the list below:

Students applied for either a private UMD scholarship or an internship in the sciences. They submitted a screenshot of their scholarship application. Essays that were required were also submitted as writing assignments.

In reflective assignments, students wrote that they were grateful for their new awareness of resources available to them and for experience in the writing of an application. For future classes, I will create a standard, fictitious scholarship opportunity for which students will write an application in case their choice of scholarship or internship does not require an essay. In this way, I will be able to assign more credit to the writing assignment and will supply more guidance in the writing of an application.

Through this project with the Inclusive Teaching Learning Community, I realized more clearly that a writing class is a wonderful opportunity to share information. In addition to the Application for Scholarships or Internships assignment, I created a Useful Information page in Canvas listing links to valuable student resources like free psychological counseling, help with resumes, training for interviews, free tutoring, and other useful services. In reflective assignments, my students also showed appreciation for access to this information. 

The Application for Scholarships or Internships and the Useful Information page allows for greater inclusion of first-generation students, the children of immigrants, and for all students to gain access to necessary skills and services. The goal is for any student at UMD to experience not only a sense of belonging, but to access programs and services that will foster true inclusion in an academic institution.

Susan Theresa Gavell is a LEO II Lecturer in the Writing Program, Department of Language, Culture, and the Arts, University of Michigan – Dearborn. Areas of interest include Inclusive Teaching, Diversity, and Equity. BA English, Smith College; MA Anglo-Irish Literature, University College, Dublin, Ireland; MAT English, English as a Second Language, University of Michigan – Dearborn.

Photo by Umar ben on Unsplash

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