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Graduate Students Invited To Inaugural Writing Boot Camp

SOCORRO, N.M. December 1, 2010 – The Center for Graduate Studies and the CLASS Department are hosting the inaugural Thesis and Dissertation Boot Camp during the winter break.

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Dr. Mary Dezember, chair of the CLASS Department, shows of the new Technical Communications Lab in this file photo.
The weeklong boot camp offers graduate students an opportunity to get a big jump start on their final paper. Students are welcome to sign up to participate in the event, which will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, Jan. 10 to 14, in Fitch Hall.

The boot camp will be largely composed of large blocks of uninterrupted quiet time for writing, with available support from faculty and the Writing Center staff. Faculty will also provide support in English as a Second Language and English for academic purposes. Math professor Dr. Bill Stone will also provide assistance with writing tutorials throughout the week. Professor Dr. Steve Simpson said he also will help students form peer writing groups – and he’ll provide coffee too.

Master’s and doctoral students are welcome to attend, if they are working on a writing project, preferably a dissertation or thesis. The faculty and staff are encouraging a distraction-free zone. Cell phones, Facebook, Youtube and other distractions will be strongly discouraged during the working hours of the boot camp, Simpson said.

Generally speaking (or writing), the concept of a writing boot camp has taken off at universities across the nation for several reasons. Simpson said many larger universities offer similar boot camps, which encourage students to write and offer valuable assistance in writing, formatting and style.

The basic approach is to provide peace and quiet in a clean, well-lighted place, along with assistance from professionals. At Tech, the CLASS Department’s technical communication laboratory will provide that atmosphere. Faculty and staff will provide assistance, inspiration and motivation.

Some other universities have mandatory breaks for yoga or other relaxation, mandatory tutoring sessions, healthy snacks or mandatory hours of participation.

Simpson said that in future years he hopes to expand the boot camp to include more amenities for students. For this inaugural boot camp, students are strongly encouraged to stay throughout the day and participate in the workshops. He said that graduate students who sign up are probably already motivated to stay, write, learn and participate.

“Students are coming voluntarily,” he said. “I strongly encourage them to stay for most of the day, so the boot camp has the maximum impact. If they register, they are serious about their work, so I’ll leave it up to them to stay as long as they need.”

The boot camp is part of the Title V grant initiative, which aims to increase Hispanic graduate enrollment, increase graduate retention for all students and help students complete their degrees. The $2.8 million graduate school grant includes a host of initiatives across campus, with the boot camp serving as just one.

Simpson is asking graduate students to register by Wednesday, Dec. 15, either via e-mail to ssimpson@nmt.edu or in person at Fitch Hall 016.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech