Meet our team series
Welcome to the Writing Centre’s Specialists blog series: Meet YorkU’s Writing Centre Team. Over the next few months, we will be highlighting some of the writing experts and specialists at the Writing Centre so you can get to know them better and see how they support students at the Writing Centre!
As part of the Writing Centre’s Specialists blog series, today’s blog post will be highlighting the Writing Centre’s graduate writing specialist, Dr. Keith O’Regan!
Dr. O’Regan is the Writing Centre’s graduate writing specialist. Each term, he organizes one or more PhD Writer’s Cafés, an eleven-week program supporting LA&PS PhD writers. The PhD Writer’s Café provides students with all kinds of support—both academic and social—to help address the unique challenges dissertation writers face.
The Café is a synchronous session that runs online sessions every fall, winter, and summer term. In this (for now) digital space, PhD students strategize about graduate writing and engage in Pomodoro writing sessions.
In addition to these group sessions, Café participants book four one-to-one writing appointments with Dr. O’Regan to discuss their writing, whether that be a proposal, a chapter, or an entire draft.
During these appointments, Dr. O’Regan uses his expertise in graduate writing to engage in non-judgmental, non-evaluative conversations with graduate writers so they feel more confident in their own writing abilities.
As Dr. O’Regan explains,
I think York graduate students are trying to envision different worlds, trying to think through problems in ways that you don’t always find in other institutions. And I think they deserve every bit of support in that endeavour they can get.
To prepare students, the PhD Writer’s Café encourages honest discussions on the challenges of graduate life as they adjust to new professional standards and writing expectations.
Very often the expectations of graduate studies are unclear for PhD students. They have never written a chapter before, they may never have written a proposal before, and they’ve almost definitely never written a dissertation. So in terms of supporting students, one of the first things we do is break down what the actual expectations are in their field of study.
The PhD Writer’s Café also functions as a community hub to connect graduate students in different disciplines at York University. Within this space, it’s easier to share strategies on how to overcome challenges specific to all graduate students.
The students participating in the PhD Writer’s Café are Dr. O’Regan’s top priority and as a Writing Centre representative, he looks for ways to keep them motivated throughout their studies and encourage their passion for their research.
When we locate the passion they initially brought to their project, what motivated them to want to do graduate studies, the chances of a student finishing their degrees increases a lot.
One of the best forms of support we can offer is to find ways to centre students in their own projects and to inspire their own confidence in their abilities to make it through.
The Writing Centre’s PhD Writer’s Café is back this Summer for 3 hours each week starting on Wednesday, May 11!