Writing Center Staff

Grace Merchant
Writing Center Student Coordinator
Class of 2014 • communication major

Hometown: Crystal, Minnesota
Extracurricular activities: I’m a volunteer barista and the public relations officer for The Lab Coffee Shop. I’ve also been involved with Concert Choir and Choraliers.
Favorite quote: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” –Winston Churchill
Favorite class: Small Group Communication
How you get started on a paper: I used to be someone who would just jump in,  start typing, and see what happens. I’ve found that I’m more satisfied and confident about my work when I take the time to plan the paper out using an outline in a separate document. Then, I refer back to my outline when I write the paper. When I write, I’m simultaneously and constantly editing–I keep reading it aloud to see if it makes sense. Having a playlist for writing papers helps too.
Why you like writing: Even for a communication major, I can get a little tongue-tied when I talk to people! Writing my thoughts down in a paper, a poem, or a journal entry gives me a sense of control; I can pick the right words to construct the best expression of what I actually want to say.


Louis Blocker
Writing Coach
Class of 2013 • communication major

Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Favorite book: Timeline by Michael Crichton
Favorite movie:Ferris Buhler’s Day Off
Favorite class: Intro to Fiction
Favorite quote: "The great thing about the internet is you can make up quotes." – Abraham Lincoln
How you get started on a paper: Pandora, hot beverage, and seclusion.
Why you like writing: Writing is the greatest form of expression, you have time to change what you have written, and you can do it anonymously.


Patrick Ernst
Writing Coach
Class of 2015 • English major

Hometown: Shakopee, Minnesota
Extracurricular activities: Swing Dancing Club, Blood Drive Committee, PAMA Mentors
Favorite book: Walden by Henry David Thoreau and Luther’s German translation of the Bible
Favorite quote: “Learning begins when you’ve got right.”  -Professor M. Harstad
Favorite class: Greek with Professor Smith. Foreign languages add so much to my own writing and my understanding of expression through language. This class is one of my most challenging, but commonly those most challenging courses are also the most enjoyable and most profitable ones.
How you get started on a paper: I usually flesh out an outline at the outset. Crucial paragraphs, namely introduction and final ones, I write out longhand in their entirety and then transcribe them onto a computer. Then, using my outline, I bleed out my main paragraphs, typing what flows well and what my research dictates. At last, I revise profusely, not hesitating even to delete and re-write a whole line of thought or paragraph.  It’s a vicious and dynamic process and it works for me.
Why you like writing: Writing, to me, is not only a vehicle for personal expression in the here and now, but also a mode of preservation.  It has long been a means by which to leave a concrete, lasting legacy, and to be a small part of that universal activity is pretty grand.


Lydia Grabau
Writing Coach
Class of 2013 • theater major

Hometown: Elysian, Minnesota
Extracurricular activities: Theater and Sigma Tau Delta
Favorite book: My favorite book is currently a three-way tie between Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. My favorite movie is completely dependent upon my mood.
Favorite class: Language, Thought, and Meaning with Dr. Reagles
Favorite quote: “It was then that Delirium noticed that she had absent-mindedly transformed into a hundred and eleven perfect, tiny multicolored fish. Each fish sang a different song.” –Sandman #59: “The Kindly Ones: 3” by Neil Gaiman
How you get started on a paper: I do something like an outline first, typically this just means writing down all the points that I need to make in the paper or topics I need to cover. After I’ve figured out a logical order for them all I fill out the paragraphs under the points. Unless I’m having trouble getting focused, in which case I like to write a snappy introduction that catches my own attention first.
Why you like writing: Writing is cathartic. Telling stories relieves tension and channels my emotions and thoughts into something that is (hopefully) beautiful and useful to others. Even if the product is not ever seen by anyone else, sometimes I just need to get my thoughts out of my head and onto the page so they don’t just consume my brains. Like literary zombies.


Eileen Heintz
Writing Coach
Class of 2014 • English major

Hometown: Fulda, Minnesota
Extracurricular activities: Band, Choir, Jazz Band, Scholastic Leadership Society, Bethany Writer’s Group, and Bethany Swing Dance Club
Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Dracula by Bram Stoker, anything by Agatha Christie, and many, many others.
Favorite class: I can’t choose. But if you have a chance to take Intro to Fiction with Dr. Hanna, do it – but don’t blink.
Favorite quote: No favorites, but one I enjoy immensely: “Win as if you were used to it; lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
How you get started on a paper: I start with the topic and my research, organizing in my mind what I’m going to say. Then, I just write and rearrange until I’ve found what works best. For me, I just have to mentally prepare myself and then throw myself into the writing of it, knowing that I will reorganize and revise it later.
Why you like writing: I love writing – especially fiction – because it’s like exploring another world or going on a crazy, most-likely-we-won’t-come-back-alive adventure from the safety and comfort of your own home. Mostly you get to choose what happens, but sometimes your writing surprises you with a twist you didn’t expect, and everything changes. I love words and word-smithing and the building of something new and unexpected from the chaos and unknown mire of your mind.


Breanna Londgren
Writing Coach
Class of 2013 • media arts major

Hometown: Charlevoix, Michigan
Extracurricular activities: Cross country, tennis, and Choraliers.
Favorite class: Ethics with Prof. Teigen. I wasn't sure what to expect when I took the course, but I learned a lot and the material was interesting. It helped me to understand what to do in difficult situations and prepared me for other thought-related classes such as Christian Social Thought which deals with difficult issues in our present culture.
How you get started on a paper: The best thing to do is to simply start! Before I even start writing, I'll sit down and prepare, mentally telling myself, “okay, I'm going to sit down for so many minutes, and start writing.” Once I have something, some words to work with and manipulate, it becomes easier to organize and rephrase my thoughts.
Why you like writing: There are a few excellent reasons to write. When you are talking to someone, your writing experience will help you to better articulate your ideas. Another is to prepare for after college, either at graduate school or in the workplace, where you really will need to convey information in a relevant and intellectual way appropriate for the audience. You also increase your spelling skills, your vocabulary, and you think about how your message impacts other people.



Alex Sina
Writing Coach
Class of 2014 • media arts major

Hometown: St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Extracurricular activities: Swing Dancing Club, Mixed Martial Arts
Favorite book/film: Never Back Down
Favorite quote: “A person who wants something will find a way; a person who doesn't finds an excuse.”-The Fighter’s Mind
Favorite class: Electronic Imaging
How you get started on a paper: I make a list of the things I want to touch on. Then I free write based off the list. Then I add structure to make it into a paper.
Why you like writing: I enjoy storytelling. Writing gives me an outlet to entertain, rant, argue, or brainstorm. I can create worlds, make the impossible happen, and say anything.


Michaela Sparley
Writing Coach
Class of 2016 • English major

Hometown: Grants Pass, Oregon
Favorite book/film: My favorite book is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and my favorite film would have to be Nowhere Boy.
Favorite class: My favorite class at Bethany would have to be Latin with Professor DeGarmeaux. It’s very challenging but I enjoy accepting such things. Plus, who doesn’t love DeGarmeaux?
Favorite quote: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill
How you get started on a paper: It’s a bit unconventional and silly but I lay on the floor in my room, listening to music that I feel pertains to the topic of my paper until I get an idea of what to write. Some times take longer than others. I then sit down and let an outline take me where it wishes. And so the writing process has begun!
Why you like writing: Not only do I like to write, I love it. A piece of writing serves as an invitation from the writer and the reader gets to tag along for the ride. Sometimes the writer is the only one who benefits from the work, but that’s ok. Writing is often a healing process. Ultimately, writing is an irreplaceable tool that is dear to my heart.


Anna Wittig
Writing Coach
Class of 2015 • studio art major with a secondary education licensure

Hometown: River Falls, Wisconsin
Extracurricular activities: Concert Band, Chapel Brass, Lab Coffee Shop Volunteer, Blood Drive Committee
Favorite book: Paper Towns by John Greene
Favorite quote: "You can't wait for inspiration...you have to chase after it with a club." -Jack London
Favorite class: Photography I
How you get started on a paper: I usually start with free writing; I just get out a notebook and start writing down everything that comes to mind, in paragraph form, then go back later and revise and edit.
Why you like writing: It’s a great way to empty out some emotions and try to bring life to my ideas.  I especially like writing fiction, creating characters and their back-stories has always been kind of fun.