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PDW Student and Alumni Spotlights

Through our programs, majors in Professional and Digital Writing and minors in Writing have built professional relationships, developed their knowledge of writing and communication, and established fulfilling careers. Read a few of our student and alumni stories below.

Congratulations to Mena Hannakachl,
winner of the 2023 OU Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award! 

The Keeper of the Dream award recognizes students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities through their involvement on campus by breaking down racial and cultural stereotypes and promoting racial understanding. Through WRT classes, working with WRT professors, and an on-campus job as an Embedded Writing Specialist (EWS) in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, Mena has worked to improve and encourage racial and linguistic diversity on campus by using her intersecting identities as an immigrant, Arab, Chaldean, American, and a multilingual communicator. For more information about the Keeper of the Dream scholarship award, please visit the Center for Multicultural Initiatives.

Testimonials from PDW majors

Meagan Greenleaf (current student)
“My journey within the PDW major has given me the tools not only to be a successful writer but to be a successful person. My eyes opened to an entirely new world of communication and its abilities.”

Mena Hannakachl (current student)
“My first-year writing courses helped me realize that I was passionate about the field of rhetoric. I enjoyed the process of research, analysis and composition.

When I told Professor Cathy Rorai that I really enjoyed “this rhetoric thing and want to do more of it,” she suggested that I look into the PDW major. I was glad to find my voice and home in the department. The courses offered in the major are a great fit for me because they encompass all the skills, knowledge, and tools I need to become a politician. Classes in persuasion, issues in rhetoric, global rhetorics, etc. will tremendously help me with the route I am taking. I plan to go into law, activism, or politics to advocate for change and possibly run for office.”

Lauren Karmo (‘22)
“As a PDW major I was able to learn more about writing and editing than I even knew there was to learn. I specialized in writing for digital media, which includes everything from video editing, audio composition, social media content creation, website building and designing and more. When I graduate this spring, I hope to find work for a non profit or similar organization that will allow me to hone my writing, communication and marketing skills while benefiting my community. I’m most grateful for the faculty in the writing department who have helped me along the way — they have supported my education, helped me land internships and work experiences and have given me advice I’ll take with me into the future.”

Michael Zittritsch (current student)
“The PDW major has truly reinstated my love for learning. I am beyond thankful for the privilege of being in a department that is so passionate and supportive of its students.”

Emily Lawrence (‘20)
Emily graduated from Oakland University Magna Cum Laude with Departmental Honors in December 2020. She was a double major in Writing & Rhetoric and Philosophy, with a minor in Creative Writing. She transferred to OU from Oakland County Community College. Lawrence is now in the Writing Studies graduate program at Eastern Michigan University, with an emphasis in the teaching of writing.

Emily stated, “The opportunities I received to submit an IRB application, do my own primary research, and publish an article in an undergraduate research journal gave me invaluable experience!”

Read more about Emily’s research publication.

For more insight from other Writing and Rhetoric alumni, please watch the following video. 


Professional & Digital Writing (PDW)
Oakland University™

Alt text: RJ Mey is sitting in front of a bookshelf as he speaks to the camera.

"When I first started here, I thought I was going to major in English because I thought that's just what people who like to write did. Then I took Writing 160 with Dr. Allan and started to learn more about Writing & Rhetoric as a department and as a field of study in itself and so I switched over to Writing & Rhetoric from there and it's been a great experience ever since."

- RJ Mey, WRT '14

Alt text: A selfie of Mandy Olejnik is pictured.

"I eventually realized, ‘Oh, I like teaching writing [and] academic writing. I wonder if I can learn more about them.’ And so, I had a quicker way into [graduate school] because I already experienced [extensive forms of academic writing]...It really gave me a solid foundation."

- Mandy Olejnik, WRT '16

Alt text: Laurien Atkin is sitting in front of a bookshelf as she speaks to the camera.

"I didn't want to major in Creative Writing because I wanted something that was a little bit more professional. I do do my own personal writing, but I can do that anytime. So, I ended up just doing research and I found the Writing & Rhetoric major. I really liked all the different tracks and I thought that the Writing for Professionals track sounded exactly what I was looking for, so it just kind of fell into place that way."

- Laurien Atkin, WRT '14

Alt text: A side-profile of Paige Brockway is pictured.

"In an academic sense, the Writing & Rhetoric major helped me have a well-rounded approach to any course that I was taking. It really helped my work at the Writing Center as well."

- Paige Brockway, WRT '17

Alt text: Jessica Tess is seated in an office space as she speaks to the camera.

"I chose the Writing & Rhetoric major at OU because I was always really interested in writing, but I wasn't necessarily interested in literature. And so, I felt like the English degree or even like a Journalism degree really didn't fit necessarily what I was interested in learning about writing. And so, when I learned about the Writing & Rhetoric major here at OU, it really seemed like the perfect fit for my broad interest in writing...Seriously consider going into the Writing & Rhetoric program because I think it applies to so many different areas of the workforce that people are interested in going into, and I think it will give them a very solid and broad background in writing as well as very specific experience in the things they're interested in doing once they graduate."

- Jessica Tess, WRT '12

Alt text: Jenna Beltramo is pictured seated at a desk.

"I often say that I feel like my Psychology major trained me to think like a scientist and trained me in statistics, but I feel like I really got my education through my Writing & Rhetoric major."

- Jenna Beltramo, WRT '18

Professional & Digital Writing
Formerly Writing & Rhetoric

For more information, check out the following URLs:

Hannah Tucker (current student)
“I love studying writing for my minor because I am gaining skills I can use in my business major and any future career I pursue. I get to work with some amazing students and faculty, and I’ve learned so much about written and verbal communication!”

Department of Writing and Rhetoric

O'Dowd Hall, Room 378
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2746
fax: (248) 370-2748