Each year, over 200 students will work together during the school semester to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects that will strengthen the Tucson community
Every Spring semester, local high school students connect with university undergraduates through a program called Wildcat Writers. This program, a partnership between the University of Arizona’s Writing Program and high schools across the Tucson area, continues to bring together a collaborative network of educators focused on the shared goal of enhancing the student learning experience.
Founded in 2003, Wildcat Writers has grown over 20 years of service to reach thousands of students across the Tucson area. In 2017, Wildcat Writer’s received the Peter Likin’s Inclusive Excellence Award for its work with Sunnyside High School, where a majority of the students belong to underrepresented minority groups. The program has also obtained numerous grants from SBS, Student Affairs, and the University of Arizona Foundation’s Community Connections.
Now, led by Kristin Little, Faculty Director of Wildcat Writers and a Principal Lecturer in the Writing Program, with assistance from an advisory committee, this program will enter into another year of partnerships between the University of Arizona Writing Program and local Tucson high schools. Under their stewardship, the number of students who will experience this unique opportunity only continues to grow.
Crevar, a doctoral candidate in English Literature, joined Wildcat Writers back in 2018. She was able to partner with an experienced high school that shared the same goals and values as her own — ones grounded in social justice education.
“At its heart, Wildcat Writers is a college-pathway program that works with local Title-I high school students,” said Nicole. “We hope to show these high school students, through reciprocal learning writing activities with college students, that they DO have what it takes to succeed at the college level.”
McMartin, a PhD student in the RCTE program, has built lifelong friendships through his partnerships in Wildcat Writers. As a former high school educator, he recognized the potential impact of Wildcat Writers on participating members at all levels.
“Wildcat Writers has been shaped by Tucson's community as much as it has helped increase access to higher education for local high school students,” McMartin said.
Wildcat Writers began as a partnership between Anna Varley and Liz Denbo in 2003. These two English teachers shared the common goal of creating a sense of community and continuity between secondary and post-secondary education. With the support of Anne-Marie Hall, the dissertation chair of Varley’s committee, and Tom Miller, a professor in RCTE, Wildcat Writers grew to become a staple in the Writing Program that linked educators at the University of Arizona to the high schools and community of Tucson.
As Writing Program instructors wrap up their Fall semester classes, Tucson high schools prepare their students for the partnerships that will take place in the Spring. Jacqueline M. Ibarra, M.Ed., a Tucson high school educator at Desert View High School and the Community Coordinator for Wildcat Writers, continues to believe in the bidirectional impacts of Wildcat Writers.
“By providing opportunities for students to collaborate on writing projects, [the program] aims to foster reciprocal relationships that serve a dual purpose,” Jacqueline remarked. “While the goal of retention of first-year UA students who don't often experience the broader Tucson community is supported, our high school students often set foot on the University of Arizona campus for the first time and more seriously consider pursuing a post-secondary education program.”
On October 6th, Wildcat Writers held their annual Meet and Greet for the college and high school instructors. These educators met with each other to talk about potential collaborations between their writing classes – collaborations that provide college undergraduates and high school students the opportunity to exchange ideas and magnify their learning experiences. Their goal is to create reciprocal relationships and teaching practices that promote public engagement and personal growth for themselves and for hundreds of their students all across Tucson.