Where are they now? Katherine Wilkins: Future Physical Therapist

Nov 02, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Are you just beginning to use IEW with your high school students? Let Katherine Wilkins’ story encourage you! She began IEW in 9th grade and found it to be an excellent curriculum to help shape her writing in all its forms. As a graduate student studying physical therapy today, she has found her IEW training to repeatedly help her craft well-considered and engaging research reports and essays.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Wyoming as the second of four children. All of us were homeschooled by our engineer-turned-homeschool teacher mother with occasional field trips to job sites with our engineer dad, who taught us about dams, suspension bridges, and drill rigs. My older brother is married and a practicing attorney, my younger sister is a junior in college dual-majoring in microbiology and physiology with plans to attend physician assistant school, and my younger brother is a sophomore in high school, who has determined that doing school at home by himself is decidedly less fun than having the rest of us around to participate in shenanigans.

What do you do now?

Currently, I live in Missoula, Montana where I am in my first semester of the three-year doctor of physical therapy program at the University of Montana.

What grades were you in when you used IEW? What IEW courses did you take?

After struggling through years of mediocre writing curriculums, my mom discovered IEW when my brother and I were in 10th and 9th grade, respectively. We completed the original Teaching Writing: Structure and Style seminar workbook and DVD set, and my mom also used this curriculum with my two younger siblings. All four of us have gone through (or are currently using) The Elegant Essay and the Advanced Communication Series in high school. Sadly, I was in college when my younger siblings giggled their way through Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization in elementary and junior high school and into high school. The dramatic presentations of both serious and humorous poems entertained the whole family and were a fun party trick. Our whole family still quotes lines from those poems all the time.

What was your favorite part of IEW? How did it benefit you?

The Structure and Style program was popular with all four of us. In case it isn’t yet evident from my above narrative, I am what Mr. Pudewa calls a “ten-page girl!” I tend to be quite wordy! Learning how to write a succinct outline provided me with a basis for learning how to write concisely― an essential skill in my college education, career, and life in general.

Did you notice that IEW helped you in college, and how?

Gaining exposure to diverse forms of writing and struggling through the styles I didn’t enjoy as much prepared me for the variety of writing I would encounter in college. From freshman English and classical literature review to technical writing and scientific research reports, I had a solid foundational knowledge of writing on which to build my writing skills in college. Although I completed some of IEW’s more advanced writing curriculums, the most beneficial things I learned were the basics of producing a piece of writing that people actually enjoy reading. Throughout college, I have implemented simple techniques like varied sentence openers, strong verbs, quality adjectives, and VSS’s in all of my writing, from English literature essays to biomechanics lab reports. Nearly all my professors in five years of college have complimented my writing skills. And although the majority of my writing these days is scientific, I still find myself using the basics of IEW to make my writing easy to read.

What type of writing do you most enjoy?

Research reports were my favorite in school! For an undergraduate independent study, I spent several months researching and writing about evidence-based practices in maintaining health and wellness in older adults. It may sound dull, but I thrive on consolidating mountains of research into compelling, well-written reports that are accessible to the target audience. IEW provided me with the tools to make even the most tedious of scientific papers at least moderately pleasant to read.

Do you see any connection from your IEW training to your ability to communicate beyond writing? If so, how?

Being to the point is not one of my strong suits! But I have had opportunities to practice brevity and organizational techniques I learned from IEW in professional school interviews and a variety of speeches and presentations.

Do you have any plans for the future where writing and communicating will be needed?

As a future physical therapist, effective verbal and written communication are essential to my career. More immediately, though, writing papers and clinical documents that communicate to professors my understanding of complex topics is necessary.

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t let people’s compliments get to your head, and don’t let their criticisms get to your heart.

Whether Katherine has had to consolidate months of research into an engaging report or prepare notes for a speech or presentation, her experience as a high school student using IEW has helped her. These same skills will also propel her forward when she completes her doctorate and enters her professional field as a physical therapist in the next few years.

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