Everyone at the Writing Center will miss Dr. Cheryl Hawkinson-Melkun. We are all in shock at her sudden passing and our thoughts are with her family. Cheryl left an indelible stamp on both UMW Writing Centers, and thousands of students are better off today because of her advice. We join the entire UMW community in mourning the loss of a great friend and colleague.
Others wanted to share their memories of Cheryl’s tenure as the Writing Center Director on the Stafford Campus:
From a personal perspective, when I interviewed for the position of Writing Center and WI Program Director at UMW, Cheryl and the rest of the committee were instrumental in me accepting the position. I had never been on a campus where the faculty and staff were so warm, open, honest, and collegial. I am grateful to Cheryl every day I come to work for making my visit to UMW such an incredible one.
If you ever worked with Cheryl in the Stafford Writing Center, you noticed one thing right away: she was a tough but empathetic teacher, with infinite patience for students who were the most difficult to tutor or those who had the most persistent problems with their writing. Cheryl was always there to help them “get over the hump,” and they invariably became better writers (and the university a better institution) for it.
On a personal note, as one of her tutors, what I enjoyed and appreciated most about Cheryl was her philosophy of management: She was the complete antithesis of a micro-manager. She made this possible by hiring those who were the best qualified but, at the same time, those who were the best organizational fit. By building a team as cohesive as any paragraph she ever crafted, she was able to empower, believe in, and trust in her people to get the job done, with minimal supervision and plenty of advocacy on her part.
Cheryl was the kind of boss for whom I truly enjoyed working.
Cheryl hired me more than two years ago to be the Writing Center Coordinator, and she has been helpful to me ever since. She was patient with me in the beginning when I didn’t know APA. Also, she was always ready to take a shift for me if I had to attend a parent teacher conference or some other emergency came up. She has always exhibited patience with students who came into the writing center, no matter what their English language skill level. Cheryl was also willing to find extra hours for tutors to work during our off season. She always stressed the professionalism that goes with the job, and she took an active role in enabling us to grow professionally.
One of Cheryl’s best traits when working with students in the writing center was her patience. She volunteered to take the most difficult and trying appointments and worked with students who were harder to handle or who had severely misinterpreted their assignments. On one occasion, she had to explain to a student the differences between academic style and magazine writing, all while explaining to the student that he needed to completely rework his paper and how to go about that. That type of conversation is never easy, but she did it with calm and patience.
I met Cheryl in 2007 in one of my first writing intensive classes in the BPS program. Cheryl was a demanding teacher, but she was able to bring out the best in other students and in me. I successfully completed that class and two others taught by her finally receiving my BPS degree in December of 2010. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders! During my time as a student, she recommended that I become one of her tutors.
As a student and a tutor, I noticed that Cheryl wanted everyone to succeed, and she was always willing to provide whatever support was needed. Many students passed through the Stafford Writing Center and through Cheryl’s classes. She never let us down. We will always remember her dedication and her smile!