Writing and Public Speaking Center Staff
Tutor Spotlight Bios:
Academic/writing background: I got my BA in philosophy and Russian from Williams College and am currently a master’s student in the Environmental Studies program at UM. I taught WRIT 101 during the 2019-2020 academic year and have professional copyediting experience.
Writing philosophy: The best thing I can do for my writing is to take a long walk. My mind works best when my body is in motion, and I’m a firm believer that intellectual productivity isn’t limited to the time you spend sitting at your computer.
Fun Fact: I spent four years working on vegetable and native plant farms. I'm pretty good at driving a tractor.
Academic Background: The University of Michigan: BGS (general studies), with a teaching credential (Secondary English, minors Psychology and Biology. The University of Montana: MFA creative writing, k-12 Reading and Literacy endorsement.
I’ve taught reading and writing in public schools at all levels ( k-12), and in an Adult Basic Education program. I’ve taught Freshman Composition at UM for 4 semesters during graduate school, and worked as an adjunct since 1999, first teaching language arts methods courses and content literacy for over a decade, and then teaching a pair of writing classes for graduate students in the Creative Pulse since 2013.
I’ve written several scripts (and composed the music) for several science communication touring programs for the CoMotion Dance Project.
Writing Philosophy: Write quickly and badly. Write something every day.
Fun fact: I’m a Forest Service fire lookout, a jazz bassist and composer.
Academic Background: I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma (PLU), Washington in 2017 and from the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) from UChicago in 2018, I worked at the Writing Center at PLU for three years, as a tutor with kids while I was in Chicago, and taught English at a high school in Washington.
Writing Philosophy: I write best when I'm by myself somewhere I can focus intently like a coffee shop or library (back in the days before COVID) - If I'll really need to study I'll tune in some Hip Hop on my headphones - Wu Tang is great for this. This helps with writer's block too. What also helps is remembering that a first draft can be terrible and then get changed later!
Fun Fact: I have a soft spot for baking - my current favorite thing to make is sourdough donuts but I don't make them very often because it takes three days!
Academic Background: Sam Dunnington graduated with a Bachelor's in History from Grinnell College in 2014, where he first worked as a writing tutor. Since then, he's published fiction, essays and journalism, and taught writing in classrooms, jails, and online to a wide variety of students. He is now working on an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Montana.
Writing Philosophy: He believes the best way to write well is to read widely.
Fun fact: Steve Bullock once stole his seat at a wedding.
Academic Background: Undergraduate degree in Biology and English (Amherst College), PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington. Current writing and tutoring interests: grant proposals, graduate and professional school applications, supporting graduate student work on theses and dissertations, entry level undergraduate writing assignments.
Writing Philosophy (Where do you write the best? How do you get over writer’s block?): I write best in an empty house on a Sunday afternoon after a long morning hike with the dogs. A crackling fire, the smell of soup on the stove or bread in the oven helps. But this almost never happens. So instead, I write when I have grant deadlines to meet; I write when I feel the need to connect – with the world, with myself, with other people near and far that I care about; I write in order to puzzle something out – a feeling, an argument, an idea. The persistent, consistent, often daunting challenge of writing helps me think more clearly.
Sarah Capdeville (she/her/hers)
Academic background: Bachelor of Science in Resource Conservation, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and minor in Wilderness Studies from the University of Montana. Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, with a focus on nonfiction nature writing, from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA
Writing philosophy: That everything has narrative, and the task (but mostly joy) of writing is to explore those connections and braid them together into meaning, whether that is academic, technical, or creative writing.
Fun fact: My dog is a former racing greyhound from Florida, and one of her all-time favorite activities (besides napping) is cross-country skiing.
Academic background: I completed my undergraduate work at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where I earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies. I came to the University of Montana in 2017 to pursue an M.S. in Environmental Studies, focusing on Environmental Writing. Throughout my master’s program, I tutored at the WPSC, and now that I’ve graduated, I’m still here because helping students helping students find their inner writer is the best! I also work part-time as the communications coordinator for a really great nonprofit that you should definitely know about, the Missoula Urban Demonstration (MUD) Project.
Writing philosophy: Sometimes, closing the laptop and getting outside is best. When I’m really stuck on a piece of writing, I like to take a walk with a notepad to jot down snippets of inspiration that inevitably come flowing in.
Fun Fact: I’m pretty good at hula hooping while playing the ukulele.
Academic Background: Ph.D. Candidate, Systems Ecology, The University of Montana, M.S. in Aquaculture and Aquatic Resource Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, B.S. in Resource Conservation, The University of Montana. I have worked as an international consultant for the UN and academic institutions in Central and Southeast Asia on integrating writing skills and strategies into undergraduate and graduate programs.
Writing Philosophy: I believe writing is a process that I am always working to improve. I have found that developing good writing habits such as having a regular writing schedule and setting goals helps me stay motivated and productive.
A Fun Fact: A fun fact about me is that I have been running a nonprofit organization to support university students in Bamyan, Afghanistan through experiential learning.
I find concept mapping (mind mapping) helpful for brainstorming and identifying connections between my ideas when I first start a writing project. Concept mapping also helps me visualize how to organize and create an outline for my writing project.
Academic Background: I received my B.A in Communication & Culture from the City University of New York, and an M.A in English from the University of Montana. Currently, I teach writing and communication courses at UM, as well as work on personal writing projects.
Writing Philosophy: Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” For anyone who’s ever stared at a blank page looking back, or considered the words on the page a complete disaster, this may ring true. Writing is a process, often a difficult one. But the rewards can be immense. Many of us do all we can to avoid writing. Maybe we’ll clean the dishes, walk the dog, drink coffee, watch the news, drink more coffee, check social media, call somebody…anybody, sweep the floor for the third time, or generally tear out our hair in hopes that, magically, words will reveal themselves on the page. But that’s not how it works.
At some point, we have to start writing. Then, perhaps, the so-called magic will come.
Eventually, we might find the flow. We might experience a strong bond between our thoughts and the words on the page. And we might feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.
But in order for all that to happen, we must first start writing. I believe any writer, amateur or professional, can always get better. We’re all capable of developing our writing skills and seeing the fruits of our labors make their way to the page. So jump on in. The ominous looking water is actually quite fine.
A Fun Fact: I’ve studied at 6 colleges and lived in Los Angeles, New York City, and Brazil. But at the end of the day, I’m still just a Montana boy at heart and happy to call Big Sky Country my home.
Tutor spotlight: Trust the process. The outcome might be different in the end, but finding value in the journey might shine some light along the way.
Academic Background: I am an environmental studies graduate student at UM focusing on environmental writing. She has a bachelor's degree in international affairs from the University of Nevada-Reno. Claire has spent a lot of time working on literary magazines, including Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal and Camas Magazine. She also has freelanced for various journalism outlets.
Writing Philosophy: I believe that good writing doesn't mean perfect grammar and fancy vocabulary—it's about using language as a tool to reach audiences and provide a means of connection for someone, whether it be to an idea, experience, or simply a good story.
Fun Fact: she is a plant fanatic, with a collection of leafy friends that grows daily.
Academic Background: I studied creative writing at Miami University and poetry, literature, and education at UM. I've been working with student writers for 20 years now - and I feel like I'm just getting started.
Writing Philosophy: Chaos comes before clarity.
Fun Fact: I love to run and I love to sing - just not at the same time.
Academic/writing background: I got my BA in English and French from UM, a Master’s in English from UM, then a Master’s in Linguistics from UC San Diego. I’ve been frolicking in Writing Centers for 20 years now.
Writing philosophy: Messy, messy, messy!
Fun Fact: I MUST pick up every coin I see on the ground, much to the consternation and embarrassment of those who are with me.
Academic Background: Caitlyn graduated from the University of Montana with a master's degree in Communication Studies. While teaching Public Speaking at the UM, she started the Public Speaking Center that was later adopted as part of what we know as the Writing and Public Speaking Center.
Writing Philosophy: Caitlyn believes that the power of words can shape reality, and because of that, she loves to help students communicate their big ideas with the world around them.
Fun fact: When Caitlyn isn't tutoring, she is running a composting nonprofit in Missoula and exploring the mountains by bicycle.