Students taking Writing and Rhetoric II may think they are just fulfilling a requirement as they researched and wrote topical editorials this spring, but the exercise, and their instructors, are pushing them to do something more—find their voice and advocate for change.

While the editorial assignment is a standard in Writing and Rhetoric II courses, instructors Dr. Janina Levin, Tim Zatzariny Jr, and Whitney Impellizeri require that each student in the class write the piece as if they would submit it for their local newspaper or news organization, which many students ultimately do.

Dr. Levin has been encouraging students in her class to submit their editorials for publication for several years, but this year was the first time that more than one or two students were published in one semester. In total, six of her students were published this spring.  

Dr. Levin advises students that the issues should be topical or newsworthy and that they should present the reasons for their opinions on each topic.

“They have to do the right research to learn what other people are saying about the topic and then use that research in the editorial,” said Dr. Levin. “If they want to influence things in their career, they have to learn how to do this.”

Carly Levin DPT’22, who wrote about a road in her hometown where several people have died in car accidents, said the project helped her learn how to write for a specific audience and create an effective argument for that audience.

“The topic I chose was so heavy and consisted of a lot of information so it was hard to pick and choose what I wanted to remain in the paper due to space restrictions,” said Levin. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to write in this way because it made writing about something so emotional that much better.

The editorials ranged in topics including President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric around moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; the problem of concussions from the point of view of a high school football player; the influx of charter schools and their impact on public school funding; and debunking the idea that vaccines have a link to autism.

“I enjoyed being able to pick my own topic and develop my own stance,” said Mariam Dar BMS’20, who wrote about the impact of charter schools on public school funding. “I had never written an editorial before, so the most difficult part was the 250 words count. It was the first time I had to limit myself and really get to the point in a small amount of words.”

While the students don’t foresee themselves becoming prolific contributors to the editorial section any time soon, they do see how this project helped them hone their writing skills for their future careers.  Above all, they learned that for writing to make an impact, it has to make a point, be succinct, topical, and attentive to the audience, Dr. Levin said.

The following student editorials written during this semester’s Writing and Rhetoric II were published:

  • Andrew Visconti Bio’20 had his editorial published in the Press Republican. The editorial is about Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric about moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • Megan O’Briant DPT’22 had her editorial published in Inside Northern Virginia. O’Briant, who was on her high school’s football team, wrote about the impact of concussions on the brain and the importance of learning how to play sports like football safely.
  • Mariam Dar BMS’20 had her editorial published in GM News. The editorial focused on the influx of charter schools and their impact on public school funding.
  • Carly Levin DPT’22 had her editorial published in the Bucks County Courier Times. The editorial focuses on a stretch of highway which has been the site of several deadly car accidents which took the lives of several local teens.
  • Amrik Gill had BI’20 had his editorial published in The Enterprise of Southern Maryland. Gill wrote about how troubled he is that President Donald Trump has helped to perpetuate falsehoods that there is any connection between vaccines and autism.
  • Arden Gewirtz PharmD’22 had her editorial published in The State Press. Gewirtz wrote as a society we should encourage those who have differing opinions about important topics like evolution, to share their points of view and expand dialogue.
  • Haley Potter PAS’20 had her editorial published in the Delaware County Times. Potter wrote about substance use disorders and how they should be considered as a disease rather than a choice.
  • Lauren Carter BMS’20 had her editorial published in Mountain Peaks Newspaper. The editorial is about drug use and overdose in teens in the Luzerne County area and the suggestion that teenagers undergo an annual drug test.