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New professional writing minor drafts curriculum to teach career-specific skills

(Nicole Nobre/Daily Bruin)

By Jacqueline Alvarez

April 7, 2019 11:45 p.m.

UCLA will offer a professional writing minor for students to improve their practical writing skills.

The minor offers an array of specialized writing courses in topics including web literacy, entertainment, business, science and technology, nonprofits and public engagement.

Students can enroll in the minor after satisfying their Writing II requirement and submitting a brief application essay.

UCLA Writing Programs and the English department began developing the minor in 2015 to address the lack of a coherent, intensive writing program for students across all disciplines, said Lowell Gallagher, the English department chair.

Karen Cunningham, a senior continuing lecturer in the English department, said the minor also came from a desire to teach students practical writing skills they can use in a professional setting after graduating. The minor is designed to help them develop skills specific to their professional aspirations.

“Depending on how they shape the minor, a student may want to become a journalist. On the other hand, they may want to be a model engineer equipped to write a great proposal or public paper,” she said.

Leigh Harris, director of UCLA Writing Programs, said she thinks students have been looking for faculty to share their professional writing expertise.

“We have an interdisciplinary faculty with wide expertise, so the minor is a great way for us to meet a student need with our talented instructors,” she said.

Megan Stephan, faculty coordinator for writing in the professional writing minor, added that the minor is beneficial to all students because many fields in today’s workforce require good writing skills.

“It is very easy for people to want to discredit the skills students build as English majors,” she said. “One of the things that feeds into the professional writing minor is that we can put those skills front and center.”

Courses in the minor will allow students to experience writing for various disciplines by teaching them how to create pieces such as op-eds, legal memos, grants and formal proposals.

Janet Goodwin, associate director of UCLA Writing Programs, said she hopes the minor curriculum will not only help students in their careers but also in their graduate school or internship experiences. She added that former English students have expressed how their writing abilities have aided them in both their academic work and job prospects.

Stanton Thomas, a third-year English student, said he believes the minor will serve as good preparation for individuals who want to go into a job that requires specialized writing.

“I want to work in Silicon Valley as a technical writer and I hope the skills I learn through the minor will help me be ready for that experience,” Thomas said.

Daniela Shirazi, a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, took a medical writing class under the minor curriculum and said what she learned is very useful to her future career aspirations.

“As a STEM major going into the field of medicine, many crazy things happen. To be able to say what I experience in a readable and relatable manner is a very useful tool,” Shirazi said. “I know that as a young professional I will take what I learned with me.”

Harris added she hopes many students enroll in the minor and that Writing Programs and the English department continue to meet their academic needs.

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Jacqueline Alvarez | Alumni Director
Alvarez is the Alumni Director and a senior staffer in the Opinion section. She was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2017-2018 school year and previously contributed as an opinion columnist. She writes about topics such as campus life, Westwood and Los Angeles city programs.
Alvarez is the Alumni Director and a senior staffer in the Opinion section. She was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2017-2018 school year and previously contributed as an opinion columnist. She writes about topics such as campus life, Westwood and Los Angeles city programs.
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