I have been a coach affiliated with the Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center (MTMC) for over a year now. In that time, I have had the opportunity to work in numerous other learning centers around campus as well. These centers range from ones that work strictly with international graduate students, to those that work with any student struggling with their academic success. When I tell people about the many places I work, they often wonder what the true difference between the centers are.
The MTMC harbors an environment where differences are welcomed. While most of campus is filled with engineers roaming the sidewalks, the MTMC is filled with, yes, engineers, but also with countless others. Coaches have ranged from psychology majors, to electrical engineers, to scientific and technical communications majors, and students range anywhere from the first-year undergraduate student seeking help towards that “A,” to graduate students practicing for the defense or working on their dissertation or thesis. The places that include such a diverse array of students throughout all of campus, without discrimination towards being an undergraduate or graduate student, are few. This is not to say that places with this type of environment do not exist anywhere else on campus, because they do, it is merely to say that the places that are able to effectively establish this type of environment may not be the easiest to find.
In other centers I have found, at times, that graduate students to not feel comfortable utilizing the services provided – after all, aren’t graduate students supposed to know how to do everything? However, at the MTMC it is known that writing is universal, and that it can always be improved upon. The coaches understand that many students struggle with writing, which aids in the demeanor of the coaches. Many coaches are not condescending, and most truly just wish to help students obtain the best possible grade they can. Often times this requires coaches to bring in other coaches in the center, which is never looked down upon. Due to the diverse nature of everyone in the center, bringing in another coach when one does not understand something is one of the greatest assets available! Coaches are not afraid to admit when they need help with providing the best possible service to a student, and that is one of the greatest things that sets the MTMC apart from other centers I have worked with. This is not to say that other center coaches do not speak with other coaches when they are struggling with a particular problem, but rather that coaches at the MTMC will admit on the spot that they need help from another coach that may be more knowledgeable on a particular subject.
While learning centers all throughout campus share similar attributes, such as trying their best to aid students achieve the grades and goals they wish, there will always be differences between centers as well. The MTMC is a safe harbor for those seeking help with not only their writing, but who wish to view other aspects of campus, such as what a different major may be like, through talking with someone in that particular major. It is a safe harbor for graduate students to feel as though they truly have a place they can belong on campus, and continuously return to, without feeling as though they are being judged for going to the center. The Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center truly is a place to experience diversity in a learning community.
-by Larissa Grundmanis