professional writing classes in connecticut

New ENG 420 Class Encourages Students to Publish on Professional Levels

by Randy Laist, Stephanie Lumbra, Nathan Milarch, Tabitha Opie, Angel Serrano, and Zach Zannoni

“Even a guinea pig has a story to tell,” explains Zach Zannoni. Over the summer, Zach, a Goodwin College student pursuing a degree in Professional Studies, participated as a self-described “guinea pig” in a pilot version of a new class at the College that challenges students to prepare writing for professional and academic audiences.

The new class, English 420 — Presentation and Publication — will be available to Goodwin students beginning in fall 2019, but one group of students is getting a “sneak preview” of the curriculum. Students in the pilot class have already begun preparing editorial articles, conference presentations, research posters, and journal publications for submission to professional outlets.

The purpose of the class is to encourage students to use their writing to communicate their original ideas and perspectives in conference presentations and published works. As Goodwin continues to grow and add to its catalogue of degree programs, it is increasingly important for students to develop a wide range of professional writing skills. English 420 asks students to compile a portfolio of professional-grade multimedia documents to share with local communities, potential employers, and professional audiences.

Nathan Milarch, who is studying Dental Hygiene, says that, as a result of the work he’s done in the pilot class, “I’ve begun to cross challenging boundaries by submitting to journals, online publications, and conferences.” Tabitha Opie, who is studying to be a nurse practitioner, reports that, “I would have never published my ideas without the encouragement and motivation of my classmates.”

The demanding expectations of English 420 motivate students to express complicated, original ideas in professional language. Angel Serrano, an Environmental Studies major, states, “It makes me think extra hard about what I am writing because other people will read it. It adds meaning to my work since it makes me put extra effort into what I am writing.”

English 420 uses the principles of Universal Design for Learning to foster a student-centered environment in which the professor acts as a facilitator to students who pursue their own professional writing goals. Stephanie Lumbra, a student in the pilot class who is pursuing a degree in Organizational Studies and Management, reports that she “enjoys the open meeting style of the class.” She reports that the challenge of writing for professional audiences “also gave me an idea for a future business.”

For Zach, the experience of being a “guinea pig” in the pilot session of English 420 has inspired him to express himself in new and challenging ways. “Up to this point in my collegiate career, expectations have been centered around the professor’s vision.” In this class, he says, “I have to reflect on what I believe in, what my ideologies are, and what I can do to make the world a little bit of a better place through writing.”

The students have already started to publish some of their writing. This article itself is the product of a collaborative effort by these ambitious “guinea pigs.” You can also read editorials they’ve written about local issues at the following links:

“Connecticut’s uphill battle for affordable dental care”

“Our parks are full of trash — and it costs us”

“Medical assistants can help relieve the burden on nurses”

Keep an eye out for more of their writing, coming soon to your favorite professional conferences and scholarly journals.

For more information on the English 420 — Presentation and Publication — please contact Phillip Fox, Director of English and Assistant Professor, at 860-913-2129 or

Dr. Randy Laist is a lifelong resident of Connecticut. He loves talking with students about their ideas and their writing, and he relishes the opportunity that teaching offers him to learn new things about writing, about other people, and about the world around us. He is the author of a book about the American novelist Don DeLillo (Technology and Postmodern Subjectivity in Don DeLillo’s Novels), another about movies from the 1990s (Cinema of Simulation: Hyperreal Hollywood in the Long 1990s), and a forthcoming book about the World Trade Center (The Twin Towers in Film: A Cinematic History of the World Trade Center). He has edited a multi-contributor collection of critical essays on the television show Lost (Looking for Lost: Critical Essays), another on literary representations of vegetation (Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies), and another on cinematic representations of College (Cinema U: Representations of Higher Education in Popular Film). He has also written journal articles and book chapters on Herman Melville, Norman Mailer, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as on zombies, YouTube, and movies.  Education: B.A., English and Psychology, University of Connecticut M.A., English Education, University of Connecticut; M.A., English, University of Connecticut; Ph.D., English, University of Connecticut