It wasn’t so much culture shock as it was Shakespeare shock.
When Gabriela Acevedo moved from her native Puerto Rico to Dayton in her junior year of high school, she experienced a whole new approach to English.
In San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, English classes were about learning English. At Oakwood High School in suburban Dayton, English classes were about studying the classic writers — from Shakespeare to Tolstoy.
“I felt like I didn’t understand anything that was going on,” Acevedo said. “Even though I understood the language really well, the classes were harder. English was focused more on old literature. And when they said, ‘Hey, you have to write an essay,’ I had no idea how to write an essay.”
However, her instructors at Oakwood High were good, and Acevedo ended up learning a lot. But when she arrived at Wright State University, she struggled at writing college papers.
So Acevedo sought help in the Writing Center at Wright State’s Student Success Center.
“I felt like it was so helpful that I started coming a lot,” she said. “I had a lot of papers for all of my classes.”
Today, the sophomore education major is a writing coach at the center, working 15 hours a week to help fellow students develop their writing skills.
“Once you see someone get something, it feels so good,” she said.
David Bringhurst, director of the Writing Center, said it has been gratifying to see how Acevedo’s confidence has grown as a writing coach.
“Her enthusiasm and commitment is clear in how she talks about her work and in her plans for her future,” he said.
Acevedo especially likes it when she can help international students master the writing of college papers and get into — or advance in — graduate school.
“They often have these back stories that are amazing,” she said. “I feel like I’m helping them get somewhere in life.”
So what classic writer is Acevedo reading these days?
J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books.