POLKcast: The Writing Studio and grammar jokes with Rebecka Ramos

Posted on by Polk Newsroom


MF: Madison Fantozzi

LB: Leah Bartholomay

RR: Rebecka Ramos



LB:       Why should you never date an exclamation point?


RR:       Oh, my gosh! They are way too much! They’re extra divas all the way.


LB:       Too possessive.


RR:       [Laughs] ———That’s apostrophes!


[LB and RR Laughs]


LB:       I can’t even remember—a—joke!


MF:      [Laughs] She practiced for like three days to get that right!


LB:       [Laughs] I was like is that a semicolon or an apostrophe.


[Theme Music]


MF:      Alright, welcome back to POLKcast season two. How are we feeling?


LB:       Pretty good!


MF:      Yeah?


LB:       Feeling alive!


MF:      Yeah, well—I’m Madison Fantozzi, your host.


LB:       And I’m your co-host, Leah Bartholomay!


[RR Laughs]


MF:      So, this season on POLKcast we’re highlighting different services that students can find on campus and online through Polk State College from tutoring’s and activities outside of the classroom to support including scholarships, mental health services—food pantry’s—all sorts of different stuff, that students can benefit from here at the college. And today we have Dr. Rebecka Ramos professor of English with the Polk State writing studio joining us. So, thank you for being here today.


RR:       Oh, it’s my pleasure!


MF:      Dr. Ramos joined the college in 2008 as an adjunct professor and has taught developmental education courses at Polk State full time since 2010. In 2017 she was honored as an endowed teaching chair receiving funds to enhance education opportunities through professional development, enhance technology in the classroom and her initiative the Polk State Writing Studio. Which provide students with in person in online writing assistance. So, we’re super excited for you to be here today with us and to—you know—share with students what the writing studio is really about.


RR:       Oh, I’m super excited to do it!


MF:      Awesome—so—for starters can you tell us a little bit a bout what the writing studio offers to the students? When was it launched? And—kind of—where the inspiration came from for the writing studio?


RR:       Sure—the inspiration for the writing studio came from—Dean Robinson saying we need you to do this. And Dean Robinson is amazing—person to work under and when she said, “Do this!”—I said, “OK!”—so, I think she waited. I think—I think it was a little bit of like a—calculation on her part, she waited until like two weeks after I finished my Ph.D.—


LB:       Nice!


RR:       And she put me in her office, and she was like, “Rebecka—we need to help students with their writing a little better.” And I was like, “Cool, let’s do it!” So, in—we launched just a very small trial, of it in—Spring of 2017. So, we had the meeting—I had the meeting with April in—February—and we opened just for the month of April, and we managed—oh, that was funny, right? April and April. OK, so—


[MF and LB laugh]


RR:       I had our meeting with April and when I opened the writing studio in April there was another service in Lakeland that was kind of a sister service. They were doing workshops that were geared towards topic instructions for students—and what we wanted to do was—we wanted to do something where—students had a place to come and work with their English professors on their assignments outside of the classroom and we know students don’t like to come to our offices, cause it’s really kind of—offices are intimidating if they are not Leah’s office—


MF:      Mmm.


RR:       So—we wanted to have that space for students to just come and—and be able to work with us on stuff. So, just in that first month we had forty students come and that was amazing.


MF:      Wow!


LB:       Wow!


RR:       Yeah, so—we’ve—kept it going since then and it’s all run by volunteer English professors. They volunteer a couple of their hours every week of their office hours and—they spend time waiting for students to show up and let us help you will their writing stuff.


MF:      That’s awesome!


LB:       Cool!


RR:       Yeah!


MF:      But how many students are you guys getting in there now?


RR:       We—well last year we join forces with Lakeland. So, now we have two writing studios. We have one in Lakeland, we have one in Winter Haven and we also have—Professor Rivers works in JDA with the writing studio as well. And then we have online hours for our centers—when we joined forces with Lakeland last—year. Since then we’ve launched our online stuff as well. Which has given us about 600 students enrolling in the online shell and using the online shell and we have about 250 visits per semester.


MF:      That’s Great!


LB:       Yeah


RR:       It’s really good! I mean it’s really cool to have the students coming in and working with us.


MF:      That’s awesome! I kind of want to jump ahead a little bit, because as you’re talking, I’m seeing your semicolon tattoo.


RR:       Yes!


LB:       [Laughs]


MF:      That’s awesome!


RR:       My semicolon tattoo!


MF:      I love it!


RR:       Yes, and it has a double meaning. The semicolon is my favorite punctuation mark. I tell my students it’s the sexiest one, cause if you can use it well—then you’re like—you’re cool, right? But you can’t overuse it either—


MF:      Ah.


RR:       Cause then you’re like trying too hard to be cool. So, like—


MF:      I totally agree!


RR:       Yeah! Semicolons are like. That really fine line balance—you know—but also there is like a semicolon project and—where people who have struggled with addiction, mental illness—


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       In my family we have a history of—of suicide and drug addiction and—and in my own life, mental illness—so, it’s the idea that—the semicolon—could stop a sentence—like you could stop a sentence when you put a semicolon in there, it could be a complete end of a sentence and you’re good, but when you put a semicolon you’re telling your reader—I know that it could stop here, but I’m going to keep going.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       And I want you to see the next part too and how it’s connected.


LB:       That’s cool.


RR:       So, the semicolon—for me is cool, because I’m an English professor. But also it has a lot of symbolic meaning.


MF:      Yeah, I like the extra meaning to it.


RR:       Yeah, it has that meaning that like. There are so many people in my life—and my own life, where the story could have stopped, and it could have just been over, but you decide to keep going.


MF:      Awesome.


RR:       Yeah.


MF:      How is the writing studio addressing—the need of students—I mean—can they get—can students get assistance with any class or is it specifically English courses—you know—if they’re writing for a history course can they bring that to you guys as well?


RR:       Oh, absolutely—we kind of work with two different groups of students in the writing studio. One of the student—group of students—this is a policy thing, so it’s a little nerdy on my part, but I love policy—


LB:       Nerd alert!


RR:       I am total nerd alert right now. But several years ago—we use to have a system set in place whenever our students come to Polk State College. They take a college readiness test—and every student took it, and then every student was assigned, either developmental education courses, which are the courses I teach.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       Or they went into their composition one course. And what the dev-ed courses do, is they kind of get students who aren’t quite ready to take on that big research paper and all of that stuff that is going on. They’re not quite ready for that, they need a little bit of a review for—apostrophes and fragments and—


LB:       Exclamation points?


RR:       Exclamation points and research—they just need like—a little bit of time—to get ready before they jump into the college ready class. And in 2013-2014—the Senate in Florida changed that. So, students that had a regular Florida diploma—who had graduated after the years of—2003-2004 they were no longer required—to take those—courses and many of our students chose not too—why would you, right?


MF:      Right.


RR:       I want to get right into my college classes.


LB:       Right.


RR:       But the problem is that, those students who are jumping right into their college classes, still need a little bit of support.


LB:       Right.


RR:       And they still need a little bit of extra help.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       So, the writing studio gives those studients—students—a place both online and in person—to get that review that they need. And if it’s just a quick brush up, they can get it and if they need a little bit more of intense work with their professor, they can get it as well. But we also have another group of students, because as we all know, when you’re in college you write for every class, except for maybe math and even some math professors make you write.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


LB:       Right.


RR:       So, writing is a skill it’s like a muscle—and t doesn’t stop when you are done with your comp class. When you’re done with comp two, you still have to learn how to write and a lot of times the way you write changes—


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       Because now you’re writing for a science professor—well they don’t give a crap what your opening—grab—attention grabbing opener is for your essays is—they want you to be—able to write in a—scientific manner or—


LB:       Right.


RR:       You’re writing for a psychology professor and they don’t care what MLA is—they want APA. So, we also have that group of students who are trying to take—what—that—really good writing instruction they got in comp one and comp two is—and mold it to apply it to their pathway and to what they are going into in those courses they have to write for—so, we are there to support them. And we are there to support the students that are in comp, who need extra help. We have a lot of dev-ed students who come in who need extra help as well. So, we work with—any student who needs help with writing, but we are really focus on those two groups. The ones who need—review—and the ones who need to know how to apply writing—in their—in their fields.


MF:      Right.


RR:       Yeah.


MF:      I like the point that you made about—I mean—just realizing the college students have to juggle maybe all these different sorts of styles or formats they need to write in, because—for me coming—I use to be a reporter at the Ledger, and so I—you know—I went to journalism school and—and it was ingrained in mean that you write in AP style.


RR:       Mm-hmm.


MF:      And then coming into higher education, it’s like well no there’s these other ways of writing—MLA—and I’m trying to like—pull these little pieces from high school or—you know—early college, when I was writing in all those different ways—so, having a resource like that is super valuable, because—it’s hard to juggle everything and all the different styles.


RR:       It is—and they’re so incredibly different, like I did my—undergrad and graduate degree were in LIT. So, that is APA—all the—MLA all the time—


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       All MLA—I didn’t even write in APA paper until I got to my Ph.D.—


MF:      Oh, wow.


RR:       And I was like a professional—I was in my thirties—and I thought I knew—I was teaching college—and they were like this paper needs to be in MLA, and all of a sudden I felt like I was in seventh grade again and I didn’t know what I was doing. And it took a long time for me to be able—to make that switch—


MF:      Mmm.


RR:       From the MLA that had been taught to me for so long—into an APA format, which is incredibly different, not just in the structure and the—and the references, but in the language you use and how you write.


MF:      Mmm.


RR:       I thought—you know—when I went through that I—I was already an English professor. How in the world are our students going to do this without more support, so—


LB:       Right.


RR:       that’s really—that’s one area that I’m super passionate about—is getting—APA instructions out to our students who need it. We have a few professors —Professor Menchan to mention one—who holds on to Chicago style and they make my heads explode.


LB:       Right. [Laughs]


RR:       I mean nothing but love for him, but—you’re killing me with Chicago.


LB:       You’re killing me Chicago!


MF:      [Laughs]


RR:       You’re killing me Chicago! [Laughs] The students come in and they’re like, “ I need Chicago.” And I was like, “Ha ha, I don’t know!”


LB:       “I don’t like it!”


RR:       “I don’t understand Chicago, lets go get the handbook.”


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       [Laughs]


LB:       Oh, man.


RR:       But yeah, the majority of our students, they have that problem of switching from the MLA to APA.


MF:      Well students don’t be scared to come out and get help, I mean even professionals, who have been doing this for years still struggle with—you know—the different styles and formats, so if you have—this service that can help you—then— Don’t be afraid to reach out!


RR:       Yes! Come use it!


MF:      Yeah!


RR:       Yeah.


MF:      So, now we’re going to pick on the students a little bit—


RR:       OK, let’s do it!


MF:      I want to know—what are the biggest mistakes that you see students coming in with and their papers and what their looking to get help on.


RR:       Umm—


LB:       Let’s keep the podcast under an hour.


RR:       Under an hour!


LB:       [Laughs]


RR:       OK, so the first—the first issue that we see with students many times—is that they haven’t paid attention to what their professors have told them they have to do.


MF:      Mm-hmm,


RR:       So, they come in and they’ll have a paper written and I’ll say, “Where’s your assignment sheet? Where’s—where’s the paper that your professor—or the where—pull it up for me on your Canvas—and show me what your professor’s asking for?” And many times—as professors we want our students to do well on our writing assignments, so we’re very detailed about what you need to put into your paper, how it should be formatted, how long it should be—I mean we give you the those specific details—so, that you can be successful.


And many times, that’s our first stop is—is—I say pull out what ever you are working on and we can go through it and you can see—what the students written already doesn’t match what the professor has said. So, that’s my first—one our first issues that we have to kind of deal with. The second issue that I have with the students when they come in—are the issues—where they seem to struggle, they come in and-and-and they’ll say—you know, “I just don’t know how—how to get started.” And I say, “Alright, where’s your outline?” And they don’t have one, “Well, where’s your planning?” And they don’t have one. And I think students underestimate how important that step is—to stop and kind of think, “What am I writing about? How am I going to get there? What’s my main point and how am I going to get my audience to my main point? What do I need to include? So, we do a lot of work with students just planning their papers and once they have a good plan going, then they can—they feel like they can go out and can—do it—you know.


MF:      Right.


RR:       And then the last one—students—and I think this is for everybody, I think we all just really struggle at editing our writing—just checking for grammar and punctuation and—it’s hard for us, partly because our brains play this trick on us, where we go back and read what we just wrote—and our brain totally knows what we meant to write.


MF:      Oh, yeah.


RR:       Yeah, so when you look at it—you’re like, “Oh, yeah that’s totally what I meant to write!” And then if you go back to it a day later or even an hour later sometimes, you’re like, “What the crap—did I just put out there.”  Like, “What—that was horrible. Why is that period there.”  You know, and you don’t see it when you first look at it.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       So—I try to give students some tips on how to edit their papers and I think this is something we struggle with at all levels, even in the professional level. I send emails out sometimes and then I’ll-I’ll go back and look at it and I’m like, “Oh, the crap.” Where’s the reset—like, where’s-where’s the bring you at button—


MF:      Yeah, you always notice the mistake after you sent this—


RR:       Yes! And it’s-it’s the worst when the student notices the mistake after they’ve submitted it.


MF:      Mmm.


RR:       You know like, “Oh, no I submitted it and I forgot to do this.” So—a couple of things that we kind of tell students to work on with that is—Google Translate will actually read your paper out loud to you, which is super horrible to listen to—it’s like, it-it—butchers your paper and it makes it sound so clinical and so awful and boring, but it also makes it very obvious where there’s are—where those mistakes are—


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       And your like, “Oh—god—what’s that—why did I do that? Why did I pick that word?” You know—so Google Translate will do that, you can just upload your document and it will just read it to you—


LB:       Neat!


RR:       Also, in Microsoft Word and the newer versions of Word, there’s a narrate button.


LB:       Mm-hmm.


RR:       And they’ll read it to you, but a lot of time it’s getting students a day after they’ve written their draft, to read it out loud—have them sit in-in the writing studio—they think I’m crazy, but I say—just start reading it out loud. Just read it out loud and mark where you see something that-that’s weird or wherever you stumble over a sentence, that’s your brain telling you, there’s a mistake there.


MF:      Mmm.


RR:       There’s something you need to work on.


LB:       That’s cool.


RR:       So, once they do that, they-they start to look and are like, “Oh, yeah I’m just going to keep working on this now—”


MF:      [Laughs]


RR:       “Cause I can see.” So, that’s what I would say—I would say students, they struggle with following those assignments. If we can get students to pay attention to the directions that their professors give them—and if we can get students to plan what they’re going to write, before they try to write and then to make sure that they reread it out loud—they actually hear what they’ve written, at least once or twice. Then—I think students are going to be—not making us as crazy. Yeah—


MF:      Hopefully.


RR:       Hopefully.


LB:       Man, yeah—


RR:       Yeah.


LB:       I do the email thing a lot—


RR:       I do it too.


LB:       It’s hard to remind yourself—like OK—stop for a second, there’s a lot going on, but like reread what you wrote before you send it—to the dean.


RR:       hmm.


LB:       So, I had a—


RR:       [Laughs]


LB:       I designed a t-shirt and then I sent in the subject line, here’s your [Censor Beep]


[MF & RR Laughs]


LB:       I left the “R” out.


[MF & RR Laughs]


LB:       And after I sent it, I was like, “Oh, my god.”


[RR Laughs]


LB:       Oops, how embarrassing—


RR:       That’s so horrible.


LB:       I call him, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” But, yeah—simple stuff like that.


RR:       Simple—yeah and—it’s always in-in this is—this is just for fun. This has nothing to do with the writing studio, but I’ve learned this trick—if you can hear yourself typing an email to somebody, you’re too upset.


LB:       Wow.


RR:       Yeah.


LB:       My keyboard…


RR:       No—


[MF Laughs]


RR:       You-you know the normal typing sound and then you know the sound when-when you’re mad typing—


LB:       Oh, yeah absolutely!


RR:       Yeah, if you can hear the mad typing—like on my laptop, if I can hear the keys going, I’m-I’m to mad to write a logical email or I’m too emotionally involved in that email to write logically, so I have to stop and to-to wait—


MF:      Step away for a minute—


RR:       Yes!


MF:      The cooling off period.


RR:       Cause once—when you are writing something emotional—and students—I mean this-this does apply to students, because when they write about personal experiences that are difficult—


LB:       Mm-hmm.


RR:       They tend to—and we’re always honored, when students share those stories with us, but—many times those areas that are difficult for them to talk about, will have many, many more grammar mistakes.


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       Because it becomes emotional and when we’re emotionally writing we are not writing with our head and thinking, “OK, run-on fragment, pronoun agreement, we’re thinking this is hard to write about, like—


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       How am I going to get this out? What other details do I need to put in there? So, it’s really difficult—when—emotions or feelings and memories are involved in our writing to write well. Especially when you’re doing those narrative essays for comp and they want you to write about experience that impacted you. Some students write about very personal things and-and you can tell when the emotion kicks in, because their grammar skills kind of go down—


LB:       [Laughs] Yeah!


RR:       And then it pops back up when they’re back in their—frame of mind—


LB:       Yeah, that’s really interesting.


MF:      Yeah.


RR:       It’s really fascinating—


LB:       Psychology of writing.


RR:       I am. Yeah, when you’re writing about something emotional, your grammar is a lot harder. So, pay attention to that. If you’re writing something that’s emotional, make sure you edit it extra.


LB:       [Laughs]


RR:       Because you probably messed up.


MF:      Well, that’s some good advice for our students—so can you tell us a little bit about the response that you’ve received from the students. You know, if you have any special stories to share about someone who was particularly excited or happy to get the help that the writing studio offers?


RR:       We have—we have—one of my favorite things about the writing studio is that I get to work with students that I’ve have in previous classes. So, I have one student who—he is one of those students whose just super brilliant—and he has anxiety and he has—some struggles. And so, when he’s in a class or he’s doing his writing he’s very—he used to be when he started out with me. He was very timid and very nervous and very like, “I’m not sure if this is right. I’m not sure if this is right.” So—whenever he would come in and see me in the writing studio, and he came in—probably every week, he was in there with me—and there was a lot of just, “Alright, you know what you are doin’—you know—calm down, let look at what you’re looking at. Let’s look at it objectively.” And I mean, the dude passed—he just passed his Comp two class with a “B”, with like little-little actual stress, because I’ve been working with him for two or three—


LB:       Wow.


RR:       Semesters now, so he’s getting to—this student in particular—is getting to the point where he feels like—he can manage a writing assignment when it comes at him and the—


LB:       Cool!


RR:       Anxiety doesn’t kick in and he’s—


LB:       That’s great!


RR:       Just like, “I know my strategies. Ramos has taught me my strategies. I’m good.” I love having students that come back—after they’ve had me in DevEd and then they go to Comp and then they come back and their—and their like, “Please help me with this Comp paper.” And I love that! Because I get to keep that connection with them as well. And get to see them be successful—


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       In their—in their composition courses. And the other thing, I have—I have a group of girls that come together, because the writing studio is not like we work—students one on one. We can work with a group of students at a time—


LB:       Cool!


MF:      That’s great!


RR:       But students really like, because the students were nervous—


MF:      Right.


RR:       They’ll grab a couple of friends—


LB:       Right.


RR:       And they’ll all come in. So—the second semester we were doing it—I had a girl who came—she was in my class and she needed help, but she was nervous. So, she ended up taking three or four of her buddies—


[Office phone rings in background]


RR:       Who were not—in my class at all—I’ve never met them before, and they started coming and bring their writing assignments and the four of them were just there every single week. So, that was really exciting, and I still get quite a—


MF:      That’s awesome!


RR:       Yeah! I like that students can come—I think students like that too—that they can come together, and it’s a group thing.

MF:      Right.


RR:       It doesn’t have to be like you alone talking to a professor. It can be—I brought my friend too.


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       You know. [Laughs]


LB:       That’s awesome.


RR:       Yeah.

MF:      So, can you tell us a little bit about where your passion for English comes from?


RR:       Sure! I remember I went to—when I went in—when I was an undergrad, I went with the idea that—so many students go, and I have to have a major that I can get a job as soon as I graduate. And so, I was in the edu—so funny, cause I had a Ph.D. in education now and it’s totally ironic. Like, that is the definition on irony, but I was in these education classes and I hated them. And—I went to my advisor at the time and I said, “Yo—I hate these classes, these classes are so boring. They’re telling me things like—if a kid is sad make sure he’s included. Like, I know this—I don’t need this—you know. And he said, “Well, what did you enjoy studying when you were in high school?” And I always loved, I worked—I-I worked in the library. I had volunteered at the school library since I was like in elementary—I just loved books and I loved reading and I loved literature, and I loved talking about literature. And I loved—I loved writing—and all of those—those little things that I loved, that I got to study in high school, but you also have to do like economics— you know—and your like, “meh” but then you get to go to LIT class and it’s fun.


LB:       Right.


RR:       So, I told my-my advisor at the time—I said, “I know, I-I really loved English!” and so he said, “Well, major in English.” And I was like, “Well, what to you do with that?” and he said, “Uh, you figure it out later, you’re going to have to get a masters anyway.” You know at that point, when—once you decide you’re not going for a career path, you have to get a masters anyways. So—so I ended up going with literature and I just loved—I grew up in a very sheltered home, there is—I wasn’t exposed to a lot of different world views and a lot of different points of view. And I loved that literature gave me that window into—


MF:      Yeah.


RR:       Another person’s experience, and I got to see—just a glimpse of—what it was like for a person who had a completely different lived life experience then I did.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       And having conversations about that were so—so invigorating in the classroom and it was so interesting. When it gets to writing, writing is-is it’s a skill and-and I think—it’s the way we teach it—we have to remember that it’s a foundational skill that students need for everything and they need to be able to write well, whether it’s in email—So, they don’t—they say shirt instead of [Censor beep] or—


[LB and RR Laugh]


RR:       Their writing a lab report or if their writing their memoirs or-or their novel.


LB:       Right.


RR:       They need to have that basic structure and I—when I was in grad school, that was the first time I had a professor rip my writing apart—it was—it didn’t happen until grad school.


LB:       Wow!


RR:       And I was in UCF—I was taken William Faulkner—I’m not a fan of Faulkner.


[MF Laughs]


RR:       But I was taking a grad class in William Faulkner, and—we had to write response papers and I remember I got the first one back—and it said redo on it. And I was like, “What!—”



LB:       Yeah!


RR:       “Is this!


LB:       [Laughs]


RR:       I don’t even understand what this is!”  Like, no-no-no I get A’s. Like, [Laughs] what is a redo.


LB:       No-no-no.


RR:       And the professor had written on there. I was so mad, but I remember I read it and she said, “You’re in graduate school—if you don’t work on your writing, you will not last in graduate school. And I—remember being so humbled by that. But then it taught me how to have discipline in my writing and I think—that’s why I’m so passionate about helping students—in their first class at Polk. Learn that structure and learn the basic strategies that they need, so when they get to that upper level class—their professors just don’t tear them apart and say, “You don’t know how to write.” So, if I can get them to have a little bit of knowledge—you know how do you just basically do this. So, they don’t have that experience later on, where they think they know what they’re doing—I mean I was an English major—you know—I graduated with honors from my undergrad and then I’m in grad school, and  my professors says, “This is crap.”


LB:       Right.


RR:       It’s a horrible moment.


LB:       Mm-hmm.


RR:       And so, if I can help our students keep—maybe not have—that moment. [Laughs] Then it’s important—you know—


MF:      I know what that means.


RR:       It can be very discouraging it—to have—a professor just tear your writing apart and I see that—I see that many times, students come just in tears, because they have a paper they got back that’s all marked up and—you have to kind of walk them through that.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       Yeah, this is hard, but it’s also important that you learn, and that you continue to grow as a writer from it.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       So, it’s kind of a two-fold there. I’m very passionate about literature and the exposure that is gives us and that also—the students who—writing is—is our basic form of communication with people that we’re not looking at. So—


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       It’s really important that your personality isn’t diminished by your lack of skills.


MF:      Mm-hmm.


RR:       And you want what you’re truly saying, and you really think to come through and not be hindered by so many fragments that your reader can’t read it or not having—a paragraph structure that makes since. So, it’s really important.


LB:       That’s awesome!


RR:       Yeah!


MF:      Well, so you’ve grown from that redo in grad school to now writing your own book. So, can you tell us a little bit about that?


RR:       Well—I’m not—OK, so I pretend to write books, but I haven’t really written a book yet. What I’m working on right now—I’m working on some research. This is my first-time doing research outside of-of like school stuff. So, I’m really excited cause I’m a nerd. And I love research. But—like I said—I had—my Ph.D. is in education policy—and—I think maybe last year, two years ago, I started going through this whole—alright I kind of have a really good system down. Like, I feel like I’m helping a lot of students. I feel like—the writing studio is going where it needs to go, and I needed something—personally fulfilling for me as well.


LB:       Mm-hmm.


RR:       So, this summer—I’m launching my first—I’m-I’m doing research for my first online magazine. Which I’ve never done before.


LB:       Cool!


RR:       But—the idea here is—all about how we teach girls about sex education—and how horrible it is—


MF:      Mmm.


RR:       And—it’s so demeaning and it’s so—unempowering—for girls. The way we teach them about sex. So, what I’m doing this summer is I’m collecting stories from women around Polk County—who are willing to share with me and I’m just colleting their thoughts and their ideas and their stories and what they’ve learned—And I’m trying to create a better sex education program. So, that’s called the real women talk, and I’m building that—that’s online now. And that will be an online magazine.


MF:      Really cool!


LB:       That’s awesome!


MF:      Yeah!


RR:       Yeah, it’s super fun. It’s super fun, definitely racy. Definitely a lot of racy stuff in there, but really important things that our girls need to know about.


LB:       Yeah, that’s—


RR:       You know—Like super important things that—you know—if you can make one—if—and that’s always kind of the driving passion behind all of this stuff. With APA, I ask myself the same question with this—I ask myself the same question, “Are you willing to make an enemy over that.” You know—are you willing to have somebody look at you differently, because of the project you’re doing.


LB:       Right.


RR:       And—when I looked at this project, I was like, “Absolutely!” I am absolutely 100 percent willing—to have people—trash my reputation so that we can get girls better sex education.


LB:       Wow, that’s awesome!


RR:       So, that’s what that is—I’m working on that. Super fun—and hopefully really good—for girls. So—yeah.


LB:       Very cool.


RR:       That’s like a super fun project. I tried to write a book once about a haunted church, but it’s still in draft form. So—


MF:      That’s fun!


RR:       Maybe that will happen in 20 years—


MF:      Yeah!


RR:       I don’t know. We’ll see—we’ll see, but my own writing has really been shaped by my education and I really started to look at—what we can do better, and what we need to research more, and that one that I landed on, it happen because my daughter came home and she told me that her friend at school almost caught her period once.


LB:       Well…


[MF Laughs]


RR:       My daughters nine.


LB:       Does happen.


RR:       I know, [Laughs] she’s like, “My friend—my friend almost caught her period once.”


LB:       Oh! [Laughs]


RR:       And I was like, “Hold on!” And I was like, “Well, honey what do you know—what do you know about these things?” You know—you start to—


LB:       Yeah.


RR:       When their young you don’t want to be like, “Well this is how it works.”


LB:       Right.


RR:       But—I was like, “Well, honey what do you know?” And she goes, “Well, I heard people talk about sex, but all I really know is about the peach emoji and the eggplant emoji.” And I was like, “Do you know what that means.” And she was like, “No, I have no idea.”


LB:       No.


RR:       So, [Laughs] so I real—and-and this is the same time that I was kind of going through that personal—like, what is my passion now.


LB:       Right.


RR:       I’ve done my Ph.D. The writing studio is going. I’m working on APA. What is my personal passion that I’m going to work on? And I just started thinking about—I did the most millennial thing—that anyone has ever done. I listen to a TED Talk.


LB:       So, millennial.


RR:       I know—so millennial. So, I listen to a TED Talk and the guy in the TED Talks was talking about your own personal narrative.


LB:       Mm-hmm,


RR:       And how your narrative and your story—directs your life path. And when you’re trying to find your passion—you have to look back at the moments of greatest joy and the moments of greatest sorrow or greatest shame in your life and those are the moment that have created who you are. So, when I went back, and I looked at my own personal past. The moments of greatest joy and—the moments of greatest shame, have all had to be around my sexual journey, and where I started—a very conservative timed prudish young girl—to a woman who is now working on—a sex magazine—


MF:      [Laughs]


RR:       [Laughs] For young women.


MF:      A little bit.


LB:       Yeah


RR:       You know and—but those were my moments where—I felt self-worth; I-I felt no self-worth. You know—those—those things that are all kind wrapped up in—in your sexual journey. And that’s where—that’s where my research and my passion pointed me. So, that’s—following it right now, we’ll see where it goes—


LB:       That’s awesome!


RR:       We’ll see—well see it will be cool.


LB:       I’m following it.


RR:       We’re following it to see what happens. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you find it right.


LB:       That’s great! Yeah!


RR:       Yeah.


LB:       That’s how you do it.


RR:       It will be fun.


MF:      That’s awesome!


RR:       Super fun.


MF:      Well, we’re really excited about the work that you’re doing. Here at the college and—


LB:       Yeah!


MF:      And outside of the college. I mean that’s really exciting. So—


RR:       It’s really fun. I hope I—I hope—I hope everything works out and definitely for students—make sure you check us out online. Online we have a whole bunch of—material up there for you for free. We have free plagiarism and grammar checker in the online Canvas shell—we have—


[Office phone rings in the background]



RR:      Online office hours, where you can work with professors online and show us your screens. And then we have a whole bunch of review modules, and then come see us face to face. There are professors available—we have signs up all over campus, that say when we’re around and—and how to get into the—Canvas course as well and—I can make sure you all get the link for how to—students can enroll in the Canvas course. So, that—it’s really easy, it’s just a free Canvas shell that you have, as long as you want to be here. As long as you have it.


MF:      Awesome, we’ll—


RR:       So—


MF:      Include all that information—wherever you guys are listening to this now. It’s like above or below the little player somewhere—


RR:       It will be somewhere.


MF:      It will be somewhere you can click on and get all the information.


RR:       Yes!


LB:       OK, wait I have one more joke.


RR:       One more joke? OK, I’m ready.


LB:       The past, the present and the future walk into the bar—it was tense.


RR:       [Laughs] That’s a good one!


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