Working With Words
UHD Alumna Joswiak Shares Love of Writing With Students She Serves
By Emily Christiansen
Regan Joswiak spends her days surrounded by writing.
The UHD alumna is the interim coordinator of the Writing & Reading Center, a position she began after working as a tutor for over two years while earning a Master of Science in Technical Communication degree.
Joswiak’s interest in writing and editing came early. When she was young, her father would give her his work documents to proof because she enjoyed editing them.
She decided then that she wanted to work in that field.
“My plan when I was slightly older was to be an editor for a publishing company just so that I could have the opportunity to read authors’ manuscripts before they were published,” she said. “The direction I’ve gone in has changed a bit in this regard, but writing and communication are still at the core of what I do.”
Joswiak, a first-generation student, went on to Sam Houston State University and earned a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in professional writing.
While she was there, Joswiak worked for Student Legal & Mediation Services where one of her duties was to maintain a blog to educate students about their rights and any changes to Texas law. She said that her experience with law influenced her writing and “reinforced the importance of language and writing.”
Three years after she graduated from Sam Houston State, she made the decision to continue her education. A friend who attended UHD told her about the Master of Science in Technical Communication (MSTC) program because of her interest in technical editing. Joswiak did her research and found that UHD sounded like the perfect fit to pursue her graduate degree.
She described the quality that made UHD stand out to her.
“My favorite part about UHD is the sense of community,” Joswiak said. “Everyone is very supportive. If it weren’t for some of the professors I had, my path would have been quite different. Dr. Duncan in particular has really had an impact on my academic plans, and I can’t thank him enough”
After reading Joswiak’s seminar paper on technical communication textbooks, associate professor Dr. Mike Duncan encouraged her to expand the paper for her final thesis and submit it for publication to a peer-reviewed journal. Duncan and Joswiak collaborated on the article during the Spring 2018 semester and it was accepted for publication in Technical Communication in November 2018, a month before Joswiak was due to defend her thesis. Their article "Inform or Persuade? An Analysis of Technical Communication Textbooks" is set to be published next year.
She describs how it felt to hear their article was to be published.
“Needless to say, the news was really exciting for me,” she said. “The process for my thesis was pretty nontraditional since the thesis itself was done by the time I needed to submit the proposal for it, but it worked out really well because the peer review process really prepared me for a thesis defense.”
Duncan valued Joswiak’s work ethic both as a student and as an author. He said she is among his best students.
“Regan is one of the best graduates of our MSTC program I've seen. She was a real professional as a co-author on our collaborative journal article,” he said. “She has a strong career ahead of her.”
Soon after Joswiak was accepted into the MSTC program, she found out the Writing & Reading Center was looking for tutors. Initally, she was unsure if she should apply since tutoring is quite different from editing. However, she decided to apply and was hired.
Joswiak explains why she grew to enjoy tutoring.
“I found that I really enjoyed the dynamics of tutoring,” she said. “Tutoring is an amazing way to grow academically and personally because you work with writers from all different cultures, backgrounds, and disciplines. Being able to not only help students learn and to also learn is ultimately my passion.”
In late 2018, the previous coordinator, Dr. Scott Sands, accepted a director position at the University of Houston Clear Lake’s Writing Center and recommended Joswiak for the interim coordinator position at the WRC because she was interested in learning the administrative side of writing centers.
Dr. Dagmar Scharold, the former director of the Writing & Reading Center, said that Joswiak has adjusted well to her new role.
“Regan is doing an admirable job as the coordinator of the Writing & Reading Center,” Scharold said. “Through her leadership, she is able to maintain the high level of standards for recruiting, training, and developing the tutoring staff that faculty have come to expect.”
When she is not at the writing center, Joswiak spends most weekends doing volunteer work.
“For almost five years, I’ve been volunteering as a keeper at Saint Francis Wolf Sanctuary in Montgomery on weekends,” she said. “I assist with animal care, enclosure maintenance, and any additional projects or events they need help with. I love it because it’s a change of pace from what I do during the week.”
Next, Joswiak plans to earn her doctorate in either in technical communication or rhetoric and composition with a focus on writing center theory and assessment while continuing her work as the Writing & Reading Center coordinator. She would like to pursue a position as a writing center director.
For Joswiak, the Center has helped her grow professionally and opened up new opportunities.
“It’s been very rewarding to take on a leadership role in the Writing & Reading Center and to gain experience overseeing our professional development, research, and assessment practices,” she said. “My experience in both my master’s program and as the interim coordinator has allowed for opportunities that would not have otherwise been possible.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.