Brandywine students get published in Penn State magazine

Eight Penn State Brandywine students can now call themselves published authors, as their essays have been featured in Penn State's 2013-14 "Best of Freshman Writing: Student Voices."

The publication features essays composed by students registered during the 2013-14 academic year in 004, 015 and 030 English classes from all Penn State campuses, except University Park. The 19th volume of the "Best of Freshman Writing" features 19 essays from 18 freshmen. Nine essays in the publication are written by eight Brandywine students: Abdulrahman Ali, Mamie Dukuray, Amanda Farina, Osman Kabba, Tai Ma, Cole Murray, Steven Planas and Lazina Chowdhury. Two of Chowdhury's essays, "Reflections on Writing" and "The True Meaning of the Word Modesty," are featured in this volume. 

Chowdhury, a sophomore this fall, is originally from Bangladesh. She said, "since I am an international student, it was special for me to have not just one, but two of my essays published."

"I was so excited this past semester when I found out about my essay being in the magazine," added Dukuray, a rising sophomore. "I worked really hard and I was so happy to see the end result.  It was a great achievement."

Debbie Ousey, Brandywine's Writing Studio coordinator and English instructor, shared how the essays for the publications are considered at a very high level and she was impressed by the different types of writing they accepted from Brandywine students.

Six of the eight students were in an English 015 course taught by Ousey as part of the American Studies Course Cluster (ASCC) program. This program provides first-year students a cluster of courses and intensive tutoring to assist non-native English speaking students to improve their academic reading and writing skills. ASCC tutors help students to develop story ideas and a writer's voice, organize content and improve grammar skills.

"This program helped me to improve my grammar," Chowdhury said. "Grammar has always been my biggest obstacle. I would write a story and bring it to them [ASCC tutors] to help me."

In addition, the program provides cultural and background knowledge necessary for college success.

"It was a great opportunity for me to participate in ASCC," Kabba, a rising sophomore, said. "It enabled me to understand the culture and compare my home country of Sierra Leone to America. ASCC broadened my understanding of various ethnicities around the globe."

The American Studies Course Cluster is beginning its 15th year this fall. Brandywine is the only Penn State campus to offer this type of program for students.