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Introducing Ally Roeker, Author of “To Be An Essential Worker: An Exploration of Rhetoric During COVID-19”


Photograph of Allie Roeker.


Ally Roeker (She/Her) is a 21-year-old student at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She will graduate in the spring of 2022 and is triple majoring in English, Communication Studies, and Writing. During her college experience, Ally was tasked to write an article that would later become her published piece in Young Scholars in Writing titled “To Be An Essential Worker: An Exploration of Rhetoric During COVID-19.”

Ally started her article for an independent study class and was given free rein to research any topic she wanted for the assignment. She decided to focus on essential workers’ experiences during the pandemic; her interest in this choice stemming from her previous experience working in retail gave her some understanding of the struggles essential workers were facing. She also notes that having the freedom of topic selection ultimately helped her to feel proud of her writing and follow her preferred methods of working.  

At the beginning of this class, Ally was asked if she would want to publish, beginning her publishing journey when she answered that she would. Her professor, who also worked at Young Scholars in Writing as an editor, helped her through submitting her piece. Ally’s professor encouraged her and thought the topic was a good fit for the journal, greatly influencing her to go through with her decision to submit. Reflecting on this time, she says that if it wasn’t for her professor, she might not have made the deadline. 

Ally enjoys academia and explains that personal motivation was part of the challenge. However, encouragement from her professor continued to help her through the process. Roeker says it was an overall “intensive process” but that she didn’t experience any submission issues with Young Scholars in Writing, adding that the process for submitting her piece was actually quite easy. She had to turn in forms along with her article, and then she waited for an answer from YSW

Reflecting on her experience, Roeker explains that most of the difficulty in the process stemmed from researching her topic, as retail work is often overlooked as “bad” or “inconsequential.” She also had to edit her article repeatedly and put a lot more effort, thought, and time into updating the piece during her revisions. Roeker ends the discussion of her experience by saying that Young Scholars in Writing enriched her life, and she has had a good experience working with the undergraduate journal. 

Ally finishes with a piece of advice to students who want to contribute to the journal, urging undergraduate researchers to pick a good topic, go for it, and lay it all out there because it is free to submit, so you have nothing to lose. 


Written by: Evie Giffin, Professional Writing and Literary and Textual Studies major at York College of Pennsylvania

Edited by: Lexi Stewart, Professional Writing major at York College of Pennsylvania