Meet the Faculty Advisory Editor: Rebekah Sims

2021-04-01

Rebekah Sims (she/her) is a current PhD candidate at Purdue University. This summer, she will join the School of Education faculty at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. For Volume 18, Sims worked as a Faculty Advisory Editor (FAE)  and mentor to Gabriela Uribe, who wrote the article “¿Por Qué no Sabes Español?”: Pressured Monolingualism and Its Impacts on Mexican Americans. The two worked together via a combination of asynchronous emails, comments on drafts, and online exchanging of articles and resources.

Sims was already familiar with Gaby’s area of study when they started working together, as she specializes in empirical research methods and multilingual and intercultural pedagogy. Gaby’s article employed empirical research to the topics of multilingual development and public policy, so the two were able to work well together.

Sims had her article, “Discursive Agency and Collective Action among Lubavitch Hasidic Women,” published in YSW Volume 10. After publishing her own work, editor Jane Greer asked her to be a peer reviewer. Rebekah served in the role for two years, while teaching public high school.. Several years later, while at Purdue, Sims contacted the new editor of YSW and asked to be involved with the journal again. She noted, “I enjoy working with the journal because I think the mission of supporting excellent undergrad research in writing and rhetoric is so important. I became an FAE because I wanted to further this mission and mentor young researchers. I’ve also loved getting to experience YSW from every point of view: as an undergraduate who was mentored and published, a peer reviewer, and now a faculty advisor. I want to pass on to others what I experienced through the journal as an undergrad researcher myself.” 

There are always some challenges when mentoring students. Sims noted, “One of the most challenging -- and enjoyable -- parts of mentoring students is creating highly individualized feedback that meets writers where they are in the research project. Sometimes, this has meant intensively assisting with research methods and data analysis. At other times, it has meant helping the student review relevant literature to more carefully anchor the research in writing and rhetoric, or helping students become clearer writers.” Sims is always eager to overcome the obstacles that arise during mentoring students, and help them gain more confidence in their work.

Sims finds being an FAE very rewarding. She explained, “I find seeing students grow as researchers in the field of rhetoric and build confidence in their research and writing skills the most rewarding part. I also find it rewarding to see how strong their contributions to our field are.” She truly believes that we should support young researchers in order to better the fields of writing and rhetoric.

When asked if she had any advice for faculty interested in mentoring undergraduate researchers, Sims encouraged them to support students in effective professionalization that prepares them for their desired career pathways. She insisted, “When we mentor students, we need to make sure that we don’t impose one narrow pathway (such as immediate entry to graduate school) on undergrad researchers. Instead, we should listen to students’ interests, and target our mentoring toward their goals, whether that is working in an industry, a public sector position such as public education, or eventual entry into a graduate program. Undergraduate research experiences build valuable skills for a wide variety of career pathways.” By focusing on each student’s individual goals, mentors can enrich their academic experience as well as equip young writers to contribute essential scholarship to the field of writing and rhetoric.

 Finally, Sims would like to say that becoming an FAE is one of the most rewarding aspects of her professional life. She highly recommends the experience, particularly for experienced scholars who are vocationally committed to mentoring new scholars.

If you are interested in becoming an FAE for Young Scholars in Writing, please reach out to us at youngscholars.editor@gmail.com for more information.

Blog post by: Beck Liberatore, YSW Intern and senior at York College of PA, expected to graduate in May 2021. Liberatore has a major in Professional Writing and a minor in Women's and Gender Studies.