Candace Chambers is a scholar of English. She serves as CEO of Educational Writing Services LLC, and the author of Write Your Way to a Successful Scholarship Essay. Candace is currently working as a Public Affairs writer/editor with the United States Department of Agriculture. She has also served as an Assistant Director of the writing center at the University of Alabama. In addition, Candace served as a writing consultant at Jackson State University, the University of Alabama, and Shelton State Community College, where she was nominated as a finalist for Outstanding Tutor. Along with tutoring, Candace has served as instructor of record of freshman college composition courses, and was awarded the Scholar for the Dream Award from the National Council of Teachers of English’s Conference on College, Composition, and Communication, President’s Future Leader Award from the International Writing Centers Association, Outstanding Graduate Student from the University of Alabama’s Graduate Student Association, HBCU All Star recognition from the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the Caring for the Future Award from the national Computers and Writing Conference. In 2017, Candace earned her Masters of Arts degree in English from UA, and in 2015, she earned her BA degree in English from Jackson State University. Candace was recently interviewed by faculty member, Van Newell, about her recent achievements.
Why did you consider graduate school at UA?
I considered graduate school at UA because upon graduation from Jackson State University, I wanted to continue my studies in an area I enjoyed most: writing studies. I applied to the Composition, Rhetoric, and English studies program at UA because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to serve as a writing tutor and an instructor in the department. Former CRES chair, Dr. Michelle Robinson was also instrumental in my decision to pursue studies at UA, as she informed me about her involvement in Hobson City, Alabama, the oldest Black town in the state. I had enjoyed community engagement, as an undergraduate student, and was elated to have the chance to continue this work in the graduate program.
What was most surprising to you about teaching students at a university?
The most surprising element of teaching students at a university was their eagerness to learn and absorb information. My students came from places all over the US, from different cultural backgrounds, and also stemmed from various academic levels. Having this hodgepodge of students in my courses allowed me to interact with a diverse group of opinions, goals, and career trajectories. I was surprised to see how all of these differences worked together as we explored the world of writing and composition studies.
Have you incorporated elements from classes that you enjoyed as a student into classes that you are now teaching?
As a student, I enjoyed teachers who incorporated real-life occurrences in their lesson plans. I also enjoyed teachers who established a personal connection with the students. In my courses, I strived to make a connection with each of my students by learning about their interests, their family members, their aspirations, along with their strengths and weaknesses in writing. I would incorporate these elements of individuality in my lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations to inform my students that I cared about their academic and emotional needs.
What advice do you have for those considering graduate school?
I would advise them to think about ways graduate school can help them grow. They should talk with current graduate students and faculty members to determine if graduate school will help them to reach their goals. As an incoming graduate student, I worried that I would not be able to pinpoint a defined research interest. However, as I became involved in the writing center, teaching, tutoring, and community engagement, I began to see that it was acceptable to foster multiple interests as I matriculated through graduate school.
How has your degree helped you move beyond academia?
After I graduated from UA in May of 2017, I began working with the United States Department of Agriculture/ Natural Resources Conservation Services in Mississippi in their Public Affairs Department. I also launched my company, Educational Writing Services LLC, which assists students and professionals with their writing needs. In addition, my degree helped me to publish my first book, Write Your Way to a Successful Scholarship Essay. These various ventures outside of academic have enabled me to use the art of writing to impact the lives of others.