Elisabeth Buck Interviews Evan Neace, Winner of the Ball State Writing Program Contest

In a post earlier this year, we announced the Writing Program Contest winners. The Ball State Writing Program hosts a writing contest each semester to promote the best student writing. Any project composed for a Writing Program course (ENG 101/102, ENG 103, ENG 104, or ENG 114) is eligible for the contest.  Winning submissions not only receive monetary prizes but also are published in a future edition of BallPoint, Ball State’s writing handbook. Recently, Elisabeth Buck, Writing Program Graduate Assistant Director, interviewed Evan Neace, a Fall 2012 Writing Program Contest Winner. Read below to find out about more Evan and his growth as a writer.

*Photo provided by Evan Neace

*Photo provided by Evan Neace

Could you please tell me a little bit about yourself? What made you decide to come to Ball State? What are you majoring in, and what is your intended future career path?

My name is Evan Neace, and I am a sophomore at Ball State studying Organizational Communication. I also am pursuing minors in Telecommunications, Leadership Studies, and History. As far as future plans, I honestly have no idea. I love to be involved in as many things as I can, so it is tough for me to decide on a specific career path. I do not let any opportunities pass me by, and I will be where life takes me. I originally came to Ball State for Architecture, but I have changed my major multiple times since then. Despite this, I have fallen in love with Ball State, and I am happy to be a Cardinal.

Your submission, “Blurring the Line: Ethics in Scientific Exploration” is an excellent analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” that you wrote as a student in Dr. Geri Strecker’s Fall 2012 ENG 114 course. What made you want to write about these particular topics?

I greatly enjoyed Dr. Strecker’s ENG 114 course. She allowed us to explore a variety of literature and write in many different formats. For this particular assignment, she gave us a lot of freedom with our topic, as long as it related to one of the short stories we read in class. Hawthorne’s piece sparked my interest, so I knew that I wanted to write about “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” All I had to do was find a topic to relate to it. After some exploring and researching, I fell upon the topic of ethics in scientific experimentation. I had very little previous knowledge of this issue, so this was a great chance to learn about something new as I completed the assignment.

Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? How do you typically approach writing assignments? 

To be honest, I have never put much thought into my writing process. I have been writing essays for quite a while now, so it pretty much just comes second nature for me. Typically, I start out by researching and exploring to find a topic that interests me. It is important to find and mark any potential facts or quotes you might want to use from the very beginning. Once I find a topic, I construct an outline to organize and narrow down my topic to the appropriate size for the writing assignment. Once I have an outline and a narrowed down thesis, I begin writing my body paragraphs, then finish up with my introduction and conclusion. On my original draft, I like to get my words down and not worry about the quality of the writing. After all the words are on the paper, I go back multiple times to edit and improve the essay.

How do you think your writing has changed since high school? In what ways do you anticipate using writing in your future endeavors, both as a student and as a professional?

My high school, Mascoutah High School, did a great job of preparing me for the writing that I would face in college, so I owe much of my success to my high school teachers. However, my writing abilities have still improved since high school. College classes have given me the opportunity to practice my writing and apply it to many different areas of study. This will be very important as I continue my career as a student and a professional. Written communication is vital in a great variety of situations. As I continue my studies in Organizational Communication, my written communication skills will pair nicely with my oral communication abilities. Between Mascoutah High School and Ball State, I feel prepared to continue using writing as I progress through my career.

If you could give advice to future students who will be taking a Writing Program course (ENG 101-114) at Ball State, what would you tell them?

I do not have any groundbreaking words of advice, but it is important to keep a few things in mind. First of all, do not procrastinate. This might work for other classes, but procrastinating on long writing assignments is just suicide. Start it early and leave time for yourself to take breaks and edit. If you try to write it all at once, the paper will not be as good as it could be.  Also, sometimes writing can be pretty boring, but writing one or two paragraphs a day is much more bearable than multiple pages in one night. Along these lines, try to find a topic that will keep your interest. Research and find something that you will not mind reading and writing about. Lastly, stay organized. At the beginning, make an outline to make sure you have enough to write about, but not too much. Keep your citations organized, and find a process that works for you. English class might not be your favorite, but as a fellow student I am telling you that it doesn’t have to be unbearable.

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