Distinction in Writing: Writing in Off-Campus Communities

The purpose of completing a degree in residence on the GVSU campus is to ensure a coherent experience among the university’s graduates. This distinction component gives the students the opportunity to use their writing, reading, and design skills beyond the campus setting for the benefit of local or regional residents.

Activities in this component are usually volunteer activities that serve a community organization of some kind. Students might pursue activities through organizations such as the Heart of West Michigan United Way or the Grand Rapids Public Schools, aiming primarily to serve needy urban populations. 

Because students will be participating as an unofficial representative of GVSU’s Writing Department, they should seek approval from their advisor. We do not want to contribute to the already-high rate of turnover among community volunteers, and the best way to do that is to make sure the student volunteers for the right program.

The examples below may count as either Level A or Level B activities, dependent on the student’s time/product commitment.

  • Meet weekly outside of classes in a middle school tech lab with the student staff of the monthly newsletter, tutoring students in both newsletter writing and document design.
  • Conduct résumé writing and business correspondence tutorials with women preparing for the job market while pursuing their GED high-school equivalency diploma through the Vandenberg Adult Education Center.
  • Respond weekly to the writing of one teacher’s 3rd-8th graders as the students practice for the annual MEAP test in Language Arts.
  • Start an after school newspaper program for a local middle school.
  • Develop promotional materials (brochures, posters, web pages) for nonprofit organizations in Grand Rapids.
  • Conduct weekly tutorials with resettled adult refuges through Catholic Human Development Outreach’s Intensive Vocational English program.
  • Volunteer weekly at the Creative Youth Center of Grand Rapids.
  • Serve as a bi-weekly creative writing tutor at Shawmut Hills Elementary School
  • Develop promotional materials (brochures, public service announcements, programs, web pages) for the annual Arts Jam fundraising event promoting art in public schools.