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Writing Center Staff / Tutors

Helen Raica-Klotz

Writing Center Director

I am pleased to be the Writing Center Director at SVSU, working with such talented and dedicated tutors!  I’ve taught freshman composition and general education literature classes at SVSU for over 15 years; during that time, I served for seven years as the Writing Center Coordinator and for two years as the First Year Writing Coordinator.  My writing center research focuses on tutor training, embedded tutoring, and developing self-efficacy in student writers.  I currently serve as the Director for the Saginaw Bay Writing Project, and I coordinate the Boehm and Braun student writing awards for the University Writing Committee..

My favorite part of the day is anytime I walk out of my office into our writing center filled with students talking, debating, and thinking aloud about their writing—as Beth Boquet says, “It is a cacophony of sound” that I never tire of hearing.


Chris Giroux

Writing Center Assistant Director

I’ve worked at SVSU for almost 15 years and most of my time is spent teaching English 111, English 212, and general education literature courses. I take much joy in trying to demystify the writing process for students and teach them the conventions of academia; I love to witness that “ah-ha” moment when things click for students and they challenge themselves to move to the next level. My goal is to help students be conscious about and deliberate in the decisions they make as they engage in the joys (and pains) of writing.

Outside the traditional classroom, I have involved myself in various activities and programs that celebrate and promote good writing at SVSU: I’ve served as the faculty advisor to Cardinal Sins; I’ve been co-editor of Literacy Link; I’ve been involved with the Honors Program and the First Year Writing Committee; and I helped establish the internship program in English.

Other “writerly” aspects of my life? I recently completed my dissertation at Wayne State University, where I specialized in twentieth-century American literature, specifically African-American drama, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have poems published in various venues.

Hillary Degner

Technical Writer


I graduated from SVSU in May 2015 with my degree in Professional and Technical Writing. As a student, I tutored at the Writing Center for over two years. I loved my time as a tutor and I am very happy to remain with the SVSU community through my technical writing position.

My favorite part about being a tutor was helping students feel more confident about their writing. I also gained confidence and became very involved in the writing center field. I mentored new tutors, conducted research about tutor mental health, presented at four writing center conferences, and received the YWCA Emerging Woman Leader Award for my leadership and contributions to the SVSU and writing center communities.

When I was a student at SVSU, I wrote for The Valley Vanguard and studied abroad in Ireland and Greece. Currently, I am also a graduate student in Eastern Michigan University's Written Communication program, where I teach first-year writing and tutor in the Writing Center. I hope to someday work as a writing center administrator. In my free time I enjoy reading, listening to music (especially from my record player), making jewelry, traveling, and practicing yoga and Pilates.

Alison Barger

Saginaw Community Writing Center Coordinator/Tutor

I'm a senior at SVSU, majoring in Literature and double minoring in Creative Writing and Criminal Justice; I am also pursuing a TESOL Certificate (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).  I am an Information Management Co-op at The Dow Chemical Company, a Botz fellow, and a member of the 17th Class of Roberts Fellows.

If I could, I would probably live in a library; I will read almost anything I can get my hands on, but my favorite genres are dystopian literature and classics. My favorite books are The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I love watching the sunrises and walking in the woods, swimming in the ocean and exploring new art museums. My favorite color is yellow, and I love it because it reminds me of the sun. Someday I want to live in a place where the sun shines everyday! I love Michigan, but I am not fond of Michigan winters.

For me, writing is a beautiful way to communicate with others, and I love to help people cross communication barriers. Whether it is in a different country and I am trying to cross a language barrier, or I am working with someone who is trying to express their thoughts in writing, I love how language brings people together. I love working in the Writing Center, where I get to help other students expand and improve their use of language in writing; I truly feel that by doing so we as tutors are opening up possibilities for students and putting more of the world in their hands.

Josh Atkins

Josh Atkins 2

I'm a junior at SVSU pursuing a degree in English with a minor in Creative Writing. I was born and raised in a small town called Richville (about a half hour from SVSU), so mid-Michigan has always been home for me.

Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and related works will always top the list of my favorite books. I remember staying up late into the night rereading them throughout grade school—while the movies will never do the books justice, I’m also a big fan of those as well. I'm a huge Star Wars nerd and could probably fill an afternoon reciting what I know about that fictional universe. My dream home would be located near a warm coast—California and Florida both sound like they’d make great places to settle down.

I enjoy using my writing skills to help others who may be struggling with any part of the writing process. I learn a lot as a tutor and I know I will carry the skill-set I develop at the Writing Center with me throughout both my academic and professional careers.

Nik Berkobien

Nik Berkobien 2

I am currently in my third year at SVSU, and I am double majoring in Biology and Psychology. I plan to continue my schooling at the graduate level and eventually pursue a career in neuroscience research. This field fascinates me, and I look forward to one day obtaining a more thorough understanding of how we function.

Even though neuroscience might seem a bit disconnected from the kind of work done in the Writing Center, writing is integral to the sciences, and I love being a tutor! I enjoy helping others articulate their thoughts and achieve both academic and personal success. Seeing a writer develop, achieve goals, and gain confidence is incredibly gratifying. I also love being a tutor in the Writing Center because I learn, gain, and develop just as much as the students who come in seeking feedback. As tutors, we get to discuss all sorts of interesting topics, ideas, and perspectives with students who are from diverse backgrounds, which is always refreshing. I look forward to learning something from every session!

Claire Chantiny

I am a fourth year student majoring in Nursing. I have a passion for helping people, which is part of the reason why I chose Nursing as my field. I am a member of the Student Nurses’ Association on campus as well as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Once I graduate with my BSN, I would like to continue with my schooling and become a Nurse Practitioner.

I am from Lambertville, a small town in southern Michigan, about five minutes from Toledo, Ohio. It’s neat being able to have the perks of living in a small town, but still be able to visit the “big city” and have fun. One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day is curl up on the couch with a blanket and watch movies. My weakness is ice cream and my favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip.

I love my job as a Writing Center tutor! I love helping people with their school work and writing is one of my favorite topics. Being able to help a student understand what they are writing about is a great feeling.

Kyle Currie

Kyle Currie 2

Fall 2015 will mark my fifth year at SVSU and my third semester as a writing tutor. I am currently working on obtaining my degree in Secondary Education with a major in English and a P.E. minor.

I will read almost anything that is recommended to me, and my favorite book is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My favorite colors are maize and blue, and my favorite kind of ice cream is Moose Tracks.When I have nothing better to do, I prefer to binge on whatever series has my interest on Netflix. Whenever I get bored with the series I am watching, I usually take a break from it by watching as many episodes of The Office as I have time for. If I could choose one place to live, it would be Southern California, close to a beach.

I love motivating students and helping them build confidence in their writing. Not only am I looking forward to doing that as a teacher in the future, but I am lucky enough to give students the tools that they need to become better writers every day at the Writing Center!

Kaylee Davis

Kaylee Davis 2

I am a third year student here at SVSU, double majoring in Psychology and Creative Writing. I am part of Active Minds, an organization on campus that encourages students to speak openly and learn more about a variety of mental health issues. I am always searching for new opportunities to grow, and at SVSU, there are some around every corner.

It’s hard to pick my favorite book, but the Harry Potter series is always on my bookshelf no matter where I go. My favorite color is green, and the best ice cream flavor is, of course, Mackinac Island Fudge (but I won't say no to any flavor.) On rainy days, I like to read, write poetry, and watch Netflix. When it's not raining, I like canoeing, walking in the woods, and biking. I love living in Charlevoix (my hometown); however, I want to travel and experience new places.

I love working at the Writing Center! I enjoy helping students communicate their ideas better and learn to love writing. This journey has helped me to become more outgoing and connect to more people around campus, as well.

Cassidy Florey


I'm a fourth year student majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. After graduating from SVSU, I plan on attending Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine to obtain my Doctor of Veterinary and PhD degrees. When I'm not in class or at the Writing Center, I work as a veterinary assistant at a private practice in Midland, where I get to cuddle with pooches and learn some science and medicine! I have a passion for all critters (even the creepy-crawlies), and I enjoy spending time with my guinea pigs, Nicky and Boomer.

I am currently beginning work on my thesis, which focuses on crayfish behavior. I am also a member of SVSU's Honors Program, and I have been fortunate enough to study abroad in Taiwan. In my free time, I like getting lost in Wikipedia, binge-watching shows on Netflix, and reading.

This is my third year as a Writing Center tutor, and my favorite part about tutoring is helping students grow more confident in their abilities. I love working with students on brainstorming and analyses, because helping students think critically allows them to see that they have great ideas!

Sara Houser

Sara Houser 2

I am senior at SVSU, but I still have a long way to go as I am double majoring in Elementary Education and English Language Arts. I will be applying to the College of Education in the Fall of 2015 and will hopefully (I have my fingers crossed) be graduating in the Fall of 2017.

I love to read, although I could never single out a book as my favorite. My most recent favorites include Mark Zusak’s The Book Thief and Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke. I am working on finishing The Maze Runner, so that I can watch the movie after I read the book! I love writing, and I was even lucky enough to spend a week helping out at the Cardinal Creative Writing Camp this past summer. I also spend time tutoring local children in reading and writing.

In my free time—if such a thing really exists—I enjoy going on camping trips, kayaking, hosting bonfires, and taking road trips all over the state. I have lived in Saginaw my whole life, but someday I would love to travel outside of the United States and explore cultures that are vastly different from my own.

I am always so excited to tell people about my work at the Writing Center because I believe we really do make a difference in the lives of the students with whom we work. I have spent the past year helping students with their writing, while also improving my own writing and honing my teaching skills, and I look forward to the years to come. It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from the students with whom I work and how many opportunities to learn and grow exist on our campus. I like to think that I am lucky to have the chance to work with so many wonderful people and to help the students on our campus to be the best writers they can be.

Chad Koch

I am a fourth-year student at SVSU, majoring in Secondary Education with content areas in English and History. I am from Sebewaing, MI; for those of you who don't know (probably everyone), it is on the east side of the Thumb. As a tutor at the Writing Center, I enjoy helping students get their thoughts down on paper. I have found that simply talking through an idea with a student can help them to focus their thoughts.

I enjoy reading both YA fiction as well as classic novels. My favorite books are The Count of Monte Cristo and the Harry Potter series. My ideal rainy day would involve some leisurely reading, playing a board game or two, and watching a couple of TV episodes on Netflix (currently The Office or Psych). My dream retirement home would be a cottage within driving distance of Lake Michigan.

Madison Martin

Hello, all, I am Madison Martin, a third-year student at SVSU. I am hoping to complete a dual major in Theatre and English, and a minor in Creative Writing. What I'm going to do with these studies, I couldn't tell you. In addition to tutoring, I also work in the Office of Student Life where I coordinate events and book rooms for organizations on campus.

My favorite flavor of ice cream, if I had to choose, would be strawberry, or vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. I love theatre; it is a huge passion of mine, and I’ve been involved in plays since I was in fifth grade. As such, I would really like to live somewhere like New York, Chicago, or London, where there's a vibrant theater community—and night life. I’m also a very crafty person. Whether it’s making my own (awesome) cards, making jewelry, or creating characters out of clay, I love it all. On rainy days, I like to sit down with a book, or watch Netflix (currently binge-watching Supernatural). I am a night owl, do most of my best work at night, and definitely don't like getting up in the mornings.

At the Writing Center I enjoy helping students understand writing and come to love it as much as I do. It's a great way to express yourself, as it's literally your thoughts in words. I like that tutoring allows me to help students develop their written voices, and think of writing less as an obligation, and more as a fun exercise in expression.

Riley Millard

I am a fourth year student at SVSU. I began my college journey as a History major, but soon after my first semester I discovered a love for Political Science, since I find the structure of society and all the connections we encounter very interesting. Someday soon I hope to enter into the National Park Service as an Interpretive Ranger, thus being able to still use my interest in history. To me, writing is something more than just putting pen to paper. I see it as a way to express things that sometimes can’t be expressed while speaking. I use my time at the Writing Center to help others discover this truth. I believe that no one should be afraid of writing.

I grew up an Air Force brat, but have since lived in Tawas City for the majority of my life. It was there that I found my love for sailing and the outdoors. I am the Assistant Harbor Master at a marina in town and dread the day I have to leave. Apart of being outside all day, I love working with the people; I have always tried to be approachable and congenial towards others. I look forward to working with everyone who comes into the Writing Center!

Victoria Phelps

I'm a sophomore majoring in English and minoring in History and Creative Writing.

I love to travel and have already visited Haiti and France. I hope to check more countries of my to-visit list soon! If I could live anywhere, I would like to live in the south of France, in Aix-en-Provence. I'm obsessed with European history—particularly the French Revolution—so living in a place that can trace its roots to the Roman empire and beyond would be a dream come true. Better yet, I'd like to live in Hogwarts or Narnia or at Pemberley Estate. Realistically, though, I hope to live in the Seattle or east coast area. Somewhere rainy, cold, and near the ocean would be nice.

I swear I'm mostly sane. I love rainy, cold weather because it gives me an excuse to stay inside, curl up under a blanket, and read a good book or binge-watch TV. I'm a big fan of Pride and Prejudice (and the 2005 movie adaptation), but I also have a soft spot for anything by Poe or Hawthorne. I also enjoy reading fairy tales and their adaptations.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite movies, but I also like Guardians of the Galaxy, Beauty and the Beast, and Les Misérables. I watch way too many TV shows to list. My favorites are Daredevil, Sherlock, Agent Carter, Agents of Shield, Doctor Who, Gilmore Girls, and Psych. My favorite color is dark blue. I like tropical frozen yogurt or chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

I look forward to meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds through this position. I'm also excited to help students improve their writing skills and I hope that, through their improvement, they'll come to enjoy writing as much as I do—or more!

Brianna Rivet

Hello everyone! I am a junior majoring in Creative Writing with Psychology and Literature minors.

My favorite book would probably have to be The Princess Bride. (Not to be confused with The Princess Diaries, even though Anne Hathaway's performance as a nerd-turned-princess was pretty remarkable.) My favorite color is blue—not to be confused with indigo, which is my least favorite color, though I couldn't tell you why. My favorite ice cream flavor really depends on the day, but I'm a sucker for any fruit/chocolate combo ice cream, so black raspberry fudge and chocolate strawberry have always been staples.

I love rainy days, especially when there's not much to do. I tend to have TV show marathons—really, the only proper way to watch a TV show is to binge-watch the episodes all in a row. Doctor Who is a particular favorite, though I've run through a lot of sitcoms as well.

If I could live anywhere, it would be somewhere warm. I do love the fall, but I could skip the winter season without shedding too many tears. I've always dreamed of traveling Europe. I'm too much of a homebody to want to move there permanently, but there is so much art and culture I want to experience first-hand. Perhaps I'll get there some day!

I'm excited to work in the Writing Center with people who love writing as much as I do. I'm looking forward to improving my own skills as I work to improve the skills of others, and through my work in the Writing Center, I hope to make writing less of a challenge for students!

Caroline Sawatzki

Hello, everyone! I am pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but language, writing, and communication are still very important to me. I transferred to SVSU in Fall of 2015 after receiving my Associate’s in Science from Delta.

With Delta, I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, where I practiced my Spanish and took a course on Latin American literature. In August of 2015, I spent a month in Greece, thanks to the generosity of my boyfriend's family. I was completely immersed in the culture of a small mountain village (Domvraina) and had the opportunity to stay on some islands as well, all while working on learning the Greek language.

As nerdy as it sounds, I love school. My academics are really important to me and I value the variety of experiences I have gained through my education. In addition to school (and being a proud member of your Cardinal Marching Band), I enjoy ballroom dancing, singing, and playing video games—which are my guilty pleasure. My favorite ice cream flavor is moose tracks—but only the kind from a parlor with the really large fudge swirls. My favorite novel is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. If I could pick anywhere to live, I would go back to Evia, Greece and stay on the island there with my boyfriend's grandparents.

As I begin working at the Writing Center, I am looking forward to sharing my love of writing with other students and connecting with them on a personal level. I know what a fearful experience writing can be and I hope to help alleviate that fear and inspire a love for writing in my peers. Writing is an essential skill in any field, and I hope to foster deeper appreciation and understanding of the craft in others.

Zachary Vega

I'm a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish. I plan on pursuing a master’s in rhetoric at a Peace Corps affiliated program after graduation.

Language and travel are both very important to me. I'd like to learn as many languages as possible throughout my life because I love the idea of being able to communicate with people from different cultures. I studied abroad for a semester in Bilbao, Spain my freshmen year and now I can't wait for my next adventure.

My favorite book is The Stranger by Albert Camus. I like to go camping (we live in the perfect state for it) and pretty much any activity that involves being outdoors. I've been to over 20 states and I can say without a doubt that Michigan is my favorite.
I love writing and I think the ability to communicate effectively is of the utmost importance. I think that writing helps me to better understand my ideas as well as who I am as a person. I hope that, in working at the Writing Center, I can help others to develop their writing skills and realize how enjoyable the writing process can be.

Kylie Wojciechowski

Hi, Cardinals! My name is Kylie Wojciechowski and I'm beginning my senior year at Saginaw Valley. I'm studying technical writing, philosophy, and computer information systems. I serve as editor-in-chief of The Valley Vanguard and am involved with Active Minds, TEDxSVSU, and Campus Cursive. I'm a member of the Leopold J. Kantzler Fellowship and the 16th class of the Donna J. Roberts Fellowship. I don't really know what else to say about myself. Come to the Writing Center and let's work on your writing.

Catherine Yankley

I am a fourth-year student pursuing a major in International Business with a minor in Creative Writing. I hope to connect my passion for writing with my love for traveling. I grew up in Fenton, Michigan, so seeing more of the world has always been of interest to me.

During the summer of 2014, I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, and also had the opportunity to visit four other European nations. I learned a lot about myself while traveling, and I have gained so much confidence since this adventure. This experience has made my “travel bug” expand, resulting in another study abroad trip to Vaxjo, Sweden, during the winter of 2016.

Traveling has made me appreciate writing even more because we tend to take both for granted. I love helping all students during the writing process, but my perspective for tutoring ESL has changed. Culture and writing are very connected, and I feel that my appreciation for both of these things have made me a better tutor.

Centered: Writing Center Tutors Reflect

Centered: Writing Center Tutors Reflect

Centered: Writing Center Tutors Reflect (24,495kB), a collection of stories from SVSU Writing Center tutors about their work.