Spotlight Tutor | Meet CWC Tutor Isabella Japal

Who are the Knight Institute Writing Centers tutors? Stop by any of our five campus locations and you'll meet friendly undergraduate and graduate students from across the disciplines who love writing and talking about writing! We will also periodically highlight WC tutors through tutor profiles, where you can get to know a tutor, their own understanding of the work of tutoring, and how they feel about writing. 


Meet Isabella Japal!

What is your name, major and year? And, how long have you been tutoring at the Cornell Writing Centers?

Hi, my name is Isabella, and I’m a junior in the ILR school. This is my first full semester tutoring at the Cornell Writing Centers! This past summer, I also tutored through the Writing Centers for the Prefreshman Summer Program (PSP).

What motivated you to begin tutoring?

I actually started tutoring at my previous college, Mount Holyoke. During my freshman year I was very lucky to work with a writing tutor that supported me not only with my writing, but with the difficult transitional period that comes with anyone’s first year of college. I was inspired to apply to the tutoring program because it would allow me to do two things I love (writing and connecting with others) all while getting paid for it. I enjoyed my time tutoring so much at Mount Holyoke I knew I wanted to apply to the Cornell Writing Centers as soon as I found out I was accepted to the school.

What is your favorite writing strategy? (method to get started writing, or a strategy to use to finish, keep going, revise, etc.)

My favorite writing strategy is the “word vomit” technique. I’m sure there is an actual term for it but this is what I called it in my head. Whether I’m stuck on a particular section or just simply don’t know how to start, I just type whatever I’m thinking until I’m hit with an aha! moment and continue with it from there. I think it’s easy to get stuck in the writing process because of the pressure we put on ourselves to sound perfect from the get go. The most effective paragraphs I’ve written  have usually been the ones where I stumbled upon the ideas randomly rather than from the pressure I’ve put on myself to write a great essay.  

How would you describe your unique tutoring style or approach to tutoring?

I like to approach a tutoring session like a discussion. I like to ask a lot of questions and figure out what the student is trying to say in plain-words, after taking away the academic fluff. From there I think you can really decide how a paragraph should be structured or what should be deleted or added to enhance its effectiveness. Making the session more personable, rather than a strict “let’s get down to business” approach has given me the chance to have really enjoyable conversations, and gives a chance to share perspectives that perhaps neither I nor the student have considered before.

Anything else you’d like to share? (about what you do as a tutor, advice for writers or those coming to the WC, your future plans, etc.)

I think if anyone is second guessing whether or not they should check out the writing centers, go for it! The tutors aren’t going to judge you, and it never hurts to get a second set of eyes to look over your work. You could leave with a completely new writing technique or simply receive some reassurance about your assignment.



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Writing Centers Tutor Isabella Japal