What I’m Working On by Michelle Day

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 9.50.20 AMHaving finished coursework, exams, and my prospectus, I’ve entered a weird stage of the doctoral program that is both more freedom and more pressure. That is, the work feels harder, more draining, and higher stakes, but it’s also more mine, and I feel much more in control of my time. Here’s how I’ve been using that.


Like, obviously. My dissertation explores principles and practices that can help writing classrooms/instructors be more responsive to student trauma. Studies show that at least 68 percent (and that’s the most conservative measure) of students at public colleges have experienced trauma before arriving at college, and many of them will experience trauma during college. It’s a widely documented fact that trauma impacts (often, impedes) learning and classroom behaviors, as well as general ability to adjust to adulthood.

Since we’re in a unique position as writing teachers—smaller classrooms, more one-on-one and small group interactions with students, etc.—I am developing flexible strategies that college writing instructors can use to respond to the impact of trauma on their work and their students.

Celebration of Student Writing

This is my second year leading this annual event, and this year, with the help of Megen Boyett, we are working on ways to expand its reach. Students seem to enjoy this event, but express a desire to connect with more peers to share their work. So, we’ve added door prizes (including some Beats headphones), guest judges, and cool opportunities for students to make stuff, all in order to incentivize attendance and generate more excitement for the event. (Interested in participating? Email me or sign up here)

Competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I just moved up to the second level (“blue belt”) in the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I’m beginning to train more so that I can compete in some cool tournaments across the country. So far, I’ve medaled in every tournament I’ve competed in, and I am planning to compete in the World IBJJF Championship in May. I will almost certainly lose very quickly at World’s, but having grown up doing sports, it’s a blast to be competing again with teammates that I love in new areas of the country I haven’t been to before. And it’s really nice to have accomplishments outside work/school.


About two years ago, my sister started writing her own music as “Violet Moon,” and now, I get to play keyboard and sing back-up vocals for her. Over the last 8 months, we’ve recorded two songs and started playing live shows. I never thought I would ever have the courage to play and sing in front of an audience, and overcoming that fear was a personal victory for me. Now that I have more time to rehearse, I’m looking forward to playing in more shows and connecting with other musicians around town.

Michelle Day is a 3rd year doctoral student, an Assistant Director of Composition, and a graduate assistant for the Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research.

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