Life as a Barnard Writing Fellow: Razia Sultana

As a Neuroscience and Behavior major on the Pre-Med track, I have often times been asked the following question: why did you become a writing fellow? My answer to that question is: well, why not?

I mean, critically thinking, empowering students, and fighting the patriarchy, are only a few of the many reasons of why someone should become a Writing Fellow, but for those of you who want a more substantial reason, it’s because you matter.

That’s right. I became a Writing Fellow because of all of you.

As a student at this premier liberal arts college, I am always fascinated by my fellow Barnard students who I come into contact with every day. Every student here has a unique story, an interesting perspective, and a different way of thinking. And so, I became a Writing Fellow because I wanted to learn more about Barnard students, from the Barnard students themselves.

As a Writing Fellow, my duties include having appointment hours in the famous Cube (Writing Center) as well as being attached to a course and having conferences with the students. However, while these may be my tasks on paper, in actuality, my job as a Writing Fellow is so much more.

As a Writing Fellow, I am there first and foremost to actively listen. I am there to listen to ideas, concerns, and feelings as they relate to the written word. From hearing about the role of the monster in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, to reading a student’s personal statement for Harvard Business School, I have learned so much from my fellow peers and have become more knowledgeable because of them. By listening, I see and hear the transformation within students, welcoming their silence to bloom creativity and confidence within themselves.

As a Writing Fellow, I am there to critically engage and empower student voices. I am there to question and act as a sounding board, to point out patterns and help students realize that the “So What” of their paper is there. I am there to not only push students, but also to lift their voices up, so they can critically engage with texts. I am there to help them find ways to express their ideas and to understand the multiple perspectives all around us.

And finally, as a Writing Fellow, I am there to break tradition and show students that science students can like writing too. I am there to surprise you at the end of a conference and tell you that while I am truly a scientist at mind, at heart, I am a writer. I often find that academic tradition expects students to pick a side, and becoming a Writing Fellow was my way of rebelling and rendering myself side-less. I love science, I love writing, but most of all, I like the diversity I see in both disciplines. As a Writing Fellow, the diversity I see in the Cube and in my attached classes is educating and exciting. Every person is a writer, whether they like to admit or not. And really, I am there at the crossroads of two academic traditions to let people see, hear, and understand this message in whatever way they like.

At the end of the day, life as a Barnard Writing Fellow is so great because of all of you.

All of you bold and beautiful writers.

All of you who are exploring college and forming another part of your identity. 

And really, for all of you who make up the institution we continue to accommodate and challenge every day.