Where are they now? Lauren Oliver: Master’s Candidate in Communication

Apr 18, 2022 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

We love to hear from former students of Structure and Style. These young adults are forging unique pathways in the world, many of them heavily focused in writing and communication. Lauren Oliver is one example. Presently a second-year master’s student in communication at Baylor University, she first encountered Structure and Style as a homeschooled student in the fourth grade. Eventually she transitioned into tutoring other students in Structure and Style as well. As a matter of fact, Lauren actually applied for and became an accredited IEW instructor at the age of only seventeen! Do you have a high school student who loves writing with Structure and Style? Perhaps he too might consider becoming an accredited instructor.

This summer Lauren is looking forward to graduating with her Master of Arts. Enjoy learning more about Lauren and how her experiences with IEW helped her hone her skills in thinking, speaking, and writing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Lauren.

I grew up in San Jose, California, with my parents and two brothers. My parents made the decision to pull us from public school the year I was in fourth grade, and my mother homeschooled each of us until we graduated high school. My super smart brothers are pursuing (respectively) Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering in college, and I’ve graduated with a B.A. in English and will obtain my M.A. in Communication this August—all by the grace of God!

What do you do now?

My master’s degree is “co-parented” by San Jose State University, where I spent my first year, and Baylor University, where I’ve continued since fall 2021 (Sic ‘em, Bears!). I’m enjoying Waco’s tight-knit community and further exploring human communication through my thesis research, in which I’ve interviewed twenty-nine uncredentialed English teachers about their experiences facilitating class discussions and what resources they’ve used or might benefit from in terms of discussions. Unsurprisingly to me, IEW’s method has come up a lot as an accessible, helpful writing curriculum teachers use!

What was your IEW journey?

From fourth through sixth grades, my mom used Andrew Pudewa’s video-based programs to teach me. Later when I was seventeen, I became an IEW accredited instructor. At the time I was tutoring students in paragraph and essay writing; also, I soon after began teaching a creative writing class. My IEW accreditation gave me credibility as an instructor, and most of my tutoring clients found and reached out to me through IEW’s accredited instructor directory. Thus, it was very worth it for me!

How else did IEW’s method benefit you?

IEW’s system benefited me in many ways. It provided me with a strong foundation on how to read a source text, outline the most important/relevant pieces of information, rewrite it in my own words, and polish my writing through dress-ups and sentence openers. Initially my writing was very formulaic and focused on checking off the boxes for what was required, but as I transitioned into middle and high school, I was able to utilize those tools in more natural, thoughtful ways. I’d love to encourage people who teach using IEW’s method that it’s totally okay if their student’s writing is in a similar place right now!

Do you see any connection between your training in Structure and Style and your ability to communicate beyond writing? If so, how?

This doesn’t exactly answer the question, but I found it very helpful to have the foundation of IEW’s objective grading criteria when I developed rubrics for writing and public speaking courses. Even now as a teaching assistant at Baylor, I notice IEW’s influence in how I encourage students when I explain to them, “I grade based on if you’re doing the things you’re supposed to be doing.” So for instance, I tell students that if they move across the stage once during their speech, they will get full credit in the body movement portion of delivery. I’ve noticed how this checklist-based, objective system eases my students’ minds; plus, they receive meaningful, qualitative feedback along with a gradebook score.

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

I would love to continue teaching in English language arts and communication, both of which will require me to be proficient in writing and communication skills. If I’m strong in these skills, I can help cultivate students’ skills through my instruction and feedback on outlines, essays, speeches, class discussions, etc.

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

I used to think I needed to decide everything about my future right now, and I worried about making the “wrong” step. I’d encourage my younger self that it’s good and responsible to make plans, but God alone establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9). He has each of us exactly where He wants us, and we can glorify Him in whatever situation He’s given us.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Lauren. It is gratifying to hear that she is continuing to implement what she first learned through her experiences with IEW as a student, only now as a teacher to a new generation of students. We wish her well as she completes her master’s program of study and sets out on an all new adventure, hopefully within English language arts or communications.

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