Updates from the English Department Office of Undergraduate Studies
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A note from the director...

Dear Students:

This week we are all about your writing. The Writing Center is open, we are soon to launch a new online literary journal for English majors and minors and we want you to write for us! See below for more information.

On top of that, we have more exciting news:

  • Intern of the Month: Amy Hernandez
  • Job of the Week by UGS Journalist Sara Johnson
  • What's Going On? African-American Cultural Center and Counseling Center Event 
  • UIC Freshwater Lab Presents Gen Z Environmental Justice Leaders
  • Penn State's "Mentoring for the Future of Literary Studies" Summer Program
  • Scholarships, Fellowships and Jobs
  • Calls for Writing, etc.
  • Upcoming UGS Events

Keep reading, stay safe, and be in touch!


Prof. Robin Reames, Director of Undergraduate Studies

The Writing Center is Now Open

UIC's Writing Center is now open (virtually) for Spring 2021!

The Writing Center is offering online tutoring throughout the Spring semester. You can use the Writing Center to work on writing for any course, not just English. Also, tutors are ready to help with job applications, personal statements, and resumes.
We offer two types of appointments, synchronous and asynchronous. For synchronous, you will meet live with the tutor through chat or audio and together make decisions about how to improve your writing. If you haven't started your assignment, that is OK. A tutor will help you brainstorm or make an outline. We have plenty of experience helping with writer's block.
For asynchronous sessions, you can upload up to 3 pages of writing and the tutor will respond by email within 48 hours, but usually much sooner. The tutor will describe your strengths and offer three areas where you can improve. You can then apply these suggestions to other parts of the paper. 
We encourage you to try both types of appointments. You are welcome to make up to three appointments per week! 

Tutors understand that some of you will be using the Writing Center or online tutoring for the first time. They are ready to guide you through your first session.

Click here for more information.  Click here to make an appointment. 

Write for the UGS Newsletter

Want your own byline? Looking to demonstrate your writing skills? Write for us! The UGS Newsletter is seeking writers interested in submitting weekly, monthly or occasional articles. For more information, contact english@uic.edu.

Intern of the Month: Amy Hernandez

Amy Hernandez got in touch to give us an overview of her intern experience. Here's the fact sheet she produced for us:

Flower Bomb Media Group owns three for-profit magazines. The names of the magazines are New Face,  Dreamlette, and Charley. The specific managzines that I write for is Dreamlette. All three magazines cover myriad topics, but they are primarily marketed as fashion and beauty magazines. There are around 30 interns in the organization.

Flower Bomb’s mission is to see all three magazines grow by increasing readership. Flower Bomb also aims to feature more celebrities and influencers to increase popularity. Lastly, Flower Bomb aims to make all editorial content on magazines representative of our country’s diverse population.

The audience for our magazines is worldwide. We seek to gain readership from as many places as possible. The specific target audience for Dreamlette magazine is teens, tweens, kids, and moms. We reach our audience via affiliated magazine websites, social media accounts, and email newsletters/notifications.

Internship Responsibilities:

  • Pitch original article ideas for the web-based blog and digital magazine
  • Attend monthly team meetings
  • Write 1 weekly article for the web-based blog and 1-2 monthly articles for digital magazine
  • Interview celebrities, influencers, etc. for web and print

Skills Gained:

  • Research and fact-checking skills
  • Article writing aimed at kids, tweens, teens, and moms
  • Creativity
  • Professional communication skills
  • Knowing how to use Trello and Slack
  • Interviewing skills

Some of the challenges I’ve faced have been understanding how Flower Bomb works. I’ve learned to mainly contact our editor-in-chief for any questions regarding pitches, final approval of articles, and scheduling of articles. However, since our editor-in-chief oversees a lot of interns, she doesn’t always give straightforward answers. The same can be said about the administration assistant interns who are in charge of scheduling our meetings and articles.

If you’re interested in gaining experience in magazine writing, this is a great internship to consider. It doesn’t matter if you’re into activism, politics, makeup, skincare, fashion, sports, film, television, music, or social media. You can make any of your interests fit. Flower Bomb’s magazines are looking for diversity so you can be as creative as you want. This is also a great opportunity for you to network because you will meet many new people. You will also get the chance to use and improve your interviewing skills. Last week I interviewed Faithe Herman, the young actress who plays Annie in This Is Us, so there are a lot of opportunities for you to meet new people, gain new experiences, and improve your skills. Additionally, everyone who I’ve worked with has been incredibly kind and understanding.

To give you a better idea of some of the writing we publish for Dreamlette, here are some of the topics I’ve written about:

  • Billionaires in the pandemic
  • “The Legend of Korra”: Transforming children’s media
  • Ten Amazing Women to Watch in Sports Right Now
  • Rhianna’s Savage x Fenty Show
  • The Abortion Pill: Securing women’s rights
  • How “Emily in Paris” represents women and culture
  • Nothing but Game (column)- American Football 101
  • We Want More: An explanation of why we need more Latinx representation

Click to check out DreamletteNew Face and Charley magazines.

Job of the Week
Writing Center Tutor Grisel Acosta 
A Weekly Tour of On-campus Employment
Sara Johnson

In our new weekly feature, UGS Newsletter journalist Sara Johnson covers on-campus jobs.

Thinking about getting a job? Maybe you’ve considered it, but being a student is already a large commitment, and commuting takes time, energy, and money. If this sounds like you, look no further! Join us here for weekly coverage of on-campus jobs available to students. Each week features a different job with the information you need to apply. Accompanying the job description is a student-employee's account of their personal experience working that position.

This week’s job is tutoring at the Writing Center.

To become a tutor, you must first complete English 222. This is an elective 3-hour course open to all majors. Vainis Aleksa, the director of UIC’s Writing Center had this to say about the course, “The course focuses on tutoring practices that not only help writers improve their writing, but create community among students. Tutors offer revision strategies, share their own writing experiences, and enjoy being an interested audience for their fellow students. Although hiring is an option for all 222 students, most students take the course because it is a valuable experience in itself. The tutors learn more about their own writing, but even moreso, they have an opportunity to learn and develop leadership and communication skills, especially as they can be used within a diverse community.”

Once tutors successfully complete English 222, they can apply for a volunteer or paid staff position working 4-8 hours per week. The application process includes an essay in which applicants analyze and reflect on tutoring. Applications are kept anonymous and reviewed by a committee of Writing Center instructors to ensure fairness and equal consideration. Applicants are also reviewed for their professionalism, which includes timeliness, investment in course assignments, and respect for students and faculty using the Writing Center.

Meet Grisel Acosta, a junior at UIC majoring in Political Science. Grisel has been working at the Writing Center for eight months. She says, “My experience working at the Writing Center has been great, my boss and the staff are extremely friendly, understanding, and patient.” Regarding the work, Grisel appreciates that she’s able to interact with people and discuss their writing. Because of the pandemic, all tutoring sessions have taken place online. While Grisel enjoys the convenience of working from home, she looks forward to doing in-person tutoring. Meanwhile, she loves that tutors are able to communicate with writers through different means: synchronously and asynchronously.

Working as a tutor has helped Grisel develop crucial skills. Providing insightful and detailed feedback to students during tutoring sessions, she has improved her oral and written communication skills, and developed a fine attention to detail. She has also honed her leadership skills through leading sessions and keeping both herself and writers on track. She has gained a great deal of confidence from this position. 

When asked if she would recommend tutoring to a friend, Grisel responded with an encouraging, “I totally would, I would recommend them to apply and use it.”

What's Going On?

Please join the African American Cultural Center and the Counseling Center Friday, February 5th, 2021 from 10:00AM – 12:00Noon for What’s Going On? an event held the first Friday of each month with presentations and discussion on rotating mental health topics. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to share their experiences on a range of topics focusing on Black Mental Health and Wellness. This month, we will discuss the 2020 election, its outcome, and subsequent events. How has the recent political turmoil affected you? 

Gen Z Environmental Justice Leaders

Don't miss The UIC Freshwater Lab's panel of Gen Z climate justice leaders on Thursday February 18, 2021 at 6:00 pm. Watch live at faceboook.com/FreshwaterLab to hear how these leaders heighten awareness of the magnitude of the climate crisis and the burden thrusted upon local communities. Join them to discuss the intersections of environmental justice and scales of engagement.

This panel is the first in a series planned for Spring 2021 by The Freshwater Lab Media Group as part of "The Backward River," a digital storytelling project about the Chicago River, with the goal of continuing the conversations initiated through the project, lending a voice to the river and amplifying the response by surrounding communities.

Yesenia M. Chavez is an activist and organizer born and raised in Chicago. As the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, she witnessed first-hand the health disparities plaguing families such as hers due to lack of environmental policy and political representation. She is also from the city's #SoutheastSide and attends Olive Harvey College where she studies Biology to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. She currently works on several campaigns focused on achieving a healthier environment for residents of a predominantly Black, Latinx, and immigrant community. Yesenia considers herself a vessel of change for her community and pursues environmental and health equity for all.

Rasaan Khail is an artist and environmentalist from Chicago. As co-founder of Firebrand Arts Network, he has worked for nearly a decade with #ChicagoPublicSchool students facilitating workshops and programming that merge performance art and environmental justice. He is a proud #FreshwaterLab alum, graduating from UIC with a degree in History. A prolific artist across multiple mediums, his poetry has been featured published by Belt Press and elsewhere; his debut EP “Feedback” was released in February 2020.
Penn State's "Mentoring for the Future of Literary Studies" Summer Program

Are you considering graduate school for literary studies? Do you want to take your English studies to the next level, but don't know where to begin? Penn State is proud to announce the beginning of its “Mentoring for the Future of Literary Studies” project, a summer mentorship program specifically designed to aid black, indigenous and students of color who are interested in MA or PhD programs in literary studies! 

The program is free, and will be conducted online over two days, during which participants will learn all about advanced degree programs from graduate students at Penn State University. Participants will create and gather materials for the graduate school application process and even be able to schedule one-on-one meetings with faculty from Penn State to network and help foster long-lasting academic and professional relationships.

The program encourages not only those interested in English literature to apply, but also students interested in Spanish, French, Arabic, Slavic languages, gender and sexuality studies and more! Applications from recent BA graduates, students of Junior or Senior standing, terminal MA students, and students from diverse cultural, economic, geographic and ethnic groups are highly desired. 

To apply, submit a 1-page, single-spaced cover letter as a PDF document by Friday, February 26th to Kendra McDuffie (krm30@psu.edu) or Camila Gutiérrez-Fuentes (ckg5141@psu.edu) using the title “Mentoring 2021 application.” In this letter include:

  • Your academic interest in graduate studies or the kinds of programs you would be interested in applying to
  • Your interest in languages, literatures, and cultures
  • Any personal experiences you think might be relevant
  • Your commitment, interest, or experience with diversity in academic settings
Scholarships, Fellowships and Jobs
Elite Lawyer Offers Scholarship

Elite Lawyer, a directory and rating service that recognizes high-achieving attorneys who have made significant contributions to their communities and the legal professionm, is offering a $500 scholarship for the Spring 2021 semester to support college students who have a similar passion for making a difference in their communities. Applications are open to students who:

  •  Are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited U.S. college or university
  • Are continuing their education through at least the Spring 2021 semester
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have a current GPA of at least 3.0

Applicants must submit either an original 500-word essay or 2-minute video presentation answering the question: “What positive change are you working to bring to your community in the new year?” The deadline to apply is February 14, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. CST. Click on https://www.elitelawyer.com/elite-lawyer-scholarship for additional information.

Calls for Writers, etc.
Collision Literary Magazine Call for Submissions
Collision is currently open for submissions of undergraduate fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art, and we welcome you to submit! By submitting to the annual magazine, you will be considered for our writing and cover art contests.
Submissions for the annual magazine close Friday, February 19, but we read on a rolling basis. You can find more information about the magazine and our submission guidelines at https://www.collision.pitt.edu. If you have any questions, please contact collision.pitt@gmail.com.
Black Lawrence Press Seeks Submissions

Mamas, Martyrs, and Jezebels: Myths, Legends, and Other Lies You've Been Told about Black Women revisits notions of Black womanhood to include the ways in which Black women's perceived strength can function as a dangerous denial of Black women's humanity. This collection addresses the stigma of this extraordinary endurance in professional and personal spaces, the Black church, in interpersonal partnerships, and within the justice arena, while also giving voice and value to Black women's experiences as the backbone of the Black family and community.

Black Lawrence Press is now accepting submissions for a new anthology of essays. Writers and scholars living in the United States and abroad are invited to submit essays of between 700-5000 words for the anthology on any of the following broad themes. (Other themes will be considered.)

  1. Black Women and Justice
  2. Black Women and Self-Care
  3. Black Women and Spirituality
  4. Black Women at Work and at Home
  5. Black Women and Sex (and Sexuality)

Essays can be creative or academic. However, essays have to be accessible since the anthology is for a general audience.

Drs. Jan Boulware, Rondrea Mathis, Clarissa West-White, and Kideste Yusef of Bethune-Cookman University will serve as editors.

Submissions will be accepted between through June 30, 2021. Contributors will receive a copy of the anthology as payment.

Previously published essays are welcome. Please contact Dr. Clarissa West-White at whitec@cookman.edu with questions.

Intern or Volunteer with PIRG

Get Involved!

Join Illinois PIRG this semester to make a difference on issues that you care about. Apply now to learn more about internship programs.

This past fall, students across the state worked to prepare our campus for the elections coming up in elections. As the largest and most diverse demographic in the country, we needed to make sure our voices are heard. Through meetings with the Civic Engagement office, student government, and other key people on campus, we were able to spread the word to students about the importance of voting and help our peers register to vote. Through these efforts and those of countless other organizations and individuals, youth voting was at historically high levels.

Our top priority this semester is to tackle climate change and our systematic reliance on fossil fuels by passing statewide legislation for 100% Renewable Energy.  We'll be working completely virtually! From gathering petitions and other grassroots product to hosting meetings with our legislators, we need to act fast to prevent the worst effects of climate change and make IL a leader in the Midwest.

IllinoisPIRG is a statewide student-run non-profit that works to protect the public interest and recruit and train student activists. Partnered with other state chapters, we have a 45-year track record of making social change in the US through our organizing efforts on college campuses across the state.

IllinoisPIRG interns learn valuable organizing skills, like building a team of volunteers, taking on leadership within a campaign, organizing events on campus, lobbying elected officials, and working with the media. In addition to building skills and adding to a resume, our interns work to create tangible policy changes on behalf of the public interest. Interns work between 5-10hrs per week.

Too busy for an internship but still want to help? You can still fill out this form to volunteer.

For more information, visit our internship application page & apply today! You may also email Max Ciarlone at mciarlone@illinoispirgstudents.org.

Other Upcoming UGS Events
Mark Your Calendar for these Upcoming Events:
  • Career Workshop
    February 17, 2021 from 3:00 - 4:00 pm
    Join this workshop to learn how to get a jumpstart on getting a job
    Click here for Zoom link


  • Open Mic 
    March 31, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm
    Share your creative work and hear your peers' creative work
    Click here for Zoom link  


  • Grad School Workshop
    April 14, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm
    Current grad students talk about what grad school is really like and how to get into the program of your dreams
    Click here for Zoom link


  • Thesis Presentations
    April 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Hear what students in ENGL 398 and ENGL 399 have been working on all semester
    Click here for Zoom link
Finally ...

Do you have questions or feel like chatting with UGS? Email english@uic.edu to schedule an appointment.