A Pearce Center first with Maira Patino

Maira Patino is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management and a graduate practicum mentor and long-time partner with the Pearce Center. After seeing a colleague’s social media post about her positive experiences with the Pearce Center’s Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing in the Disciplines programs, she decided to apply.

“I actually heard about it through a colleague of mine. I reached out to her; she told me a little bit about her experience. I went on to the website and realized I was in the window to be able to apply for the first semester. After applying, I received the notification for an interview, and thankfully, I was selected to be a WAC Fellow.”

After completing the Grad WAC Fellows program, Patino expanded on everything she learned in that program in the third semester practicum. In this program, participants create a public, professional presentation that participants can present to peers, community members or an extended audience. This new program came with the element of mentorship, and Patino saw this opportunity as an extension of her previous learning experience and a chance to grow professionally. 

“[The Practicum] contributes to your professional development, but also the mission for the Pearce Center. Just continuing to create that culture of writing on campus and for Clemson University students.”

During her third semester practicum, Patino learned a lot from her mentor, Katalin Beck, a senior lecturer in English. When Patino expressed anxieties concerning the continuation of her writing journey and her presentation contribution, Beck advised Patino to create something that could serve her and a larger community. The result? A six-step writing guide to help others with similar military backgrounds ease back into writing. 

“[Working from the idea of a writing toolkit] was just a great experience for me as someone who really wasn’t involved in the academic world for 11 years, but I can use it after I depart Clemson, and I know others who might find themselves in the same situation can also use it.”

Patino has been an active duty U.S. Army Officer for the last 14 years and has become comfortable with leadership in a military setting. However, when it came to leadership in the classroom, Patino saw a new challenge she was excited to take on. 

“The leadership aspect wasn’t new to me, but in the academic realm, being a leader in that sense . . . that was a little bit intimidating. So gaining some of those skills with the practicum complemented what I already knew.”

Patino could see the reach of her creation in the practicum after presenting it to her military colleagues and posting about the experience on social media. She promptly received messages from people wondering if they could get their hands on the writing guide, allowing Patino to see her contribution’s impact on the community. Now in her fourth semester, Patino works alongside Beck in a unique mentorship position. As the Pearce Center’s first graduate practicum mentor,  Patino co-mentors Ph.D. student in Architecture, Mina Ardekani, through her third semester practicum project, which has been an overwhelmingly rewarding experience.

“It is an incredible experience and opportunity to grow as a scholar and give back to the Pearce Center.”


By: Serena Johnson