Students find creative ways to express themselves at National Day on Writing

Second annual event allows students to compose works with faculty and students from different majors

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Erin Vermilye
Erin Vermilye participating in the National Day on Writing Celebration. URI photo by Olivia Ross

KINGSTON, R.I. — Oct. 24, 2018 — More than a dozen tables filled the ballroom of the University of Rhode Island’s Memorial Union recently to celebrate the National Day on Writing, allowing students to rent a poet, select a catchphrase to put on a button, or create a word selfie.

Now in its second year, the event encouraged students across all disciplines to share the importance of writing — especially in the 21st century.

“National Day on Writing provides a unique opportunity for students to compose with our faculty and people of different majors in an informal setting,” said Stephanie West-Puckett, director of First-Year Writing. “Research emphasizes the importance of faculty engaging students outside of the classroom to increase student retention and success. This event allows us to showcase and share our passion for writing in its many dynamic forms, demonstrating why writing is a vibrant, production-centered major and everybody’s perfect double-major.”

Erin Vermilye, a junior writing and rhetoric major, sat at the “Why I Write” table and shared a story about how she got her start writing.

Mia Roslin and Morgan Oliveira
From left Mia Roslin and Morgan Oliveira, both first-year nursing students, taking their word selfie at the National Day on Writing celebration. URI photo by Olivia Ross.

“In the eighth grade I wrote a short story for one of my classes,” said the Warwick native. “At first I didn’t think it was very impressive, but the admiration from my peers said otherwise. This helped me gain confidence in my writing abilities.”

Vermilye describes writing as an outlet to express what she cannot say out loud, and while she enjoys all types of writing, she hopes to pursue a future in research-based academic writing.

“Writing allows people to learn new things and explain it to others in a way that makes sense,” said Vermilye. “Words are a powerful tool to help others solve problems.”

The more than 400 students who roamed the ballroom on Oct. 5 could participate in the programs like the 10,000 word challenge which was met by 1 p.m. by URI students and students from local high schools who contributed remotely. In between the henna tattoo table and the rent-a-poet station, students could get a catchphrase stamped onto a button to sport around campus.

One of the biggest hits of the day was the word selfie station where students could pick from hundreds of words to hold while taking a photo to post on social media. Sarah Leonard, a fifth-year biological science and Spanish double major and anthropology minor, explained the importance of different kinds of writing.

“Stations like this one are important because writing has become so atypical,” said the Tiverton native. “We write everyday for different media and it is important to realize the importance of why we are writing.”

Perhaps one of the most important stations of the day was “Write for Change.” It provided students with all the information they need to write their elected officials on topics and issues important to them. Students not only voiced their opinions but expressed thanks to some officials as well.

“Our line-up of activities created positive student experiences around writing by focusing on creativity, play, experimentation, joy and community,” said West-Puckett. “Our event underscored the value of writing beyond general education courses and prompted students to consider why writing matters, not just in the classroom, but as part of our personal, professional and civic lives.”

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.