Meet the author: Samantha J. Rae

2021-02-23

During an interview with Samantha Rae, published author of Young Scholars in Writing, we gained a behind-the-scenes look into the research and writing process for her article, “Tales in Language, Confidence, and Learning Environments: Exploring Students’ Mental Health Through Literacy Narratives.” Rae recently graduated with a BA in Rhetoric and Composition from Georgia State University. She is currently a first-year MA student in Rhetoric and Composition at Georgia State University, with a goal of teaching at the university level.

Rae’s initial interest in the topic of student mental health came from a personal perspective. “I heard my own opinions of the inefficiency of campus mental health resources echoed in several of my classmates,” she explained. From that point on, Rae considered her own previous work with the Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives (DALN) and the ways that narrative may or may not serve to help students create a more personal discourse through which mental health issues can be discussed. 

Her article began as the final project for a rhetoric and composition course she took, which focused primarily on writing for community engagement. With the encouragement she got from her professor, Rae saw the submission as an opportunity to share her work with a broader audience and hopefully spark a conversation that continues to spread student mental health rhetoric and increase literacy. Throughout the editorial process, Rae’s faculty advisory editor was Dr. Sarah Singer, an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida. “We had the best communication and she helped me flesh out all of the ideas that I had for the revision of this article with such care and concern,” Samantha said. 

The greatest joy that Rae had while conducting this research was learning to be open to findings that challenged her own assumptions. She learned to sit with the archives and allow the narratives to speak for themselves, instead of focusing primarily on her own preliminary goals for her project. The biggest challenge that Rae faced while working on her project was using search terms that were too narrow. “I initially considered only literacy narratives that explicitly or exclusively talked about depression,” she explained. But then, she “started to think of other factors that might affect issues with mental health [such as] fear, anxiety, anger, [and] addiction.” 

The process of conducting research has helped Rae better define her scholarly areas of interest for her future career in the field of rhetoric and composition. The experience that she gained throughout the revision process of her paper was also a great way for her to prepare for writing and research as a graduate student. When asked if she had any advice for students who may be hesitant to submit their own work to Young Scholars in Writing, Rae said to just do it. “I remember feeling apprehensive (more so self-conscious) when my professor first introduced the idea to me,” Rae explained. “So my advice for other undergraduates is to be open to the experience of working with great mentors to revise their papers and prepare them for more work with their research interests.” 

Rae believes that it is important to support research conducted by undergraduate students. After all, the next generation of research in the field of rhetoric and composition all comes from the concerns and interests of up-and-coming students. 

Edited 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.