Where are they now? Spencer Ragen: “Don’t quit until you’re proud.”

Mar 31, 2023 | Posted by Jennifer

From time to time, we enjoy highlighting a current or former IEW student in the blog and reading their thoughts about IEW and the Structure and Style writing approach. Today’s post highlights Spencer Ragen, who is taking a writing course during a gap year before college. As one of my students, he wrote a Unit 7: Inventive Writing essay about a person he knows. It tugged at my heart. In addition to our usual “Where are they now?” questions, I have also included a copy of Spencer’s essay in this post.

Spencer, can you share a bit of your background with our readers?

I grew up in Kirkville, Iowa. I was homeschooled full-time from fifth grade through high school. I have one sibling, an older sister. I work part time, volunteer with Trail Life, and am preparing to begin college in August.

Can you share a little about your writing background?

Writing has always been a struggle for me, so my mom and I tried various writing curricula throughout the years. We were willing to try any type of program that would make the writing process easier for me. I have dysgraphia, which makes the physical act of writing, as well as writing development, difficult. I really like the Structure and Style for Students course that I am enrolled in now. I have also enjoyed being a part of a small group, sharing ideas as well as enjoying the benefit of receiving feedback from an experienced writer.

Do you see any connection from your Structure and Style training to your ability to communicate through your writing? If so, how?

I enjoy descriptive writing from a personal standpoint. I believe my training has helped me be able to express myself a little more effectively. It has also given me a roadmap on how to relay my thoughts.

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

Yes. Communication is paramount in most day-to-day activities. As a professional, a consumer, and as a friend, every situation calls for written or verbal communication.

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

Nothing is impossible to learn. It may take time to be proficient at something, but it is possible. I like the motto “Don’t quit until you're proud.”


Spencer Ragen

January 21, 2023

Blessed with a Sister

     Abby is the Patrick to my SpongeBob. [5] Although she is four years older than me and leads her own life, she always makes time for me. [2] In contrast to her sensible and reliable characteristics, she maintains her kaleidoscopic personality as an overall disposition. She has a love of the arts and an indubitably creative talent. There are several things Abby and I like to do together, which have been the source of many memories that will last a lifetime. [6] I could go on. [3] Ultimately, words are not enough to explain what my sister means to me and how much I idolize her.

     One thing that makes my sister unique is how she finds inspiration in many different places; this inspiration translates to her creativity and love of the arts. My sister developed a passion for theater and musicals while working backstage in high school and college. One aspect of Abby's love for the arts was her relationship with our grandmother, who studied and taught art. This relationship cultivated a desire that embraces painting. [3] Expressively, her imaginativeness does not stop there. She also enjoys expressing her art through baking. [6] Deliciousness abounds. I assuredly appreciate how this allows her to be creative while making something delectable in the process. [5] Although Abby's love of the arts is multifaceted, she is most enthusiastic about music. Her fondness for music spans multiple genres and artists. [2] On account of Abby's love for musicals, theater, and concerts, it seems only natural that she would pursue a degree in sound engineering. Abby's unrivaled creativity and love for the arts are a huge part of her personality, making her sparkle like a bottle of glitter.

     There is very little sibling rivalry between Abby and me. [3] Admittedly, I treasure the time we spend together and the things we do. One way that we like to spend downtime together is by watching paranormal shows, specifically Ghost Adventures.[2] In the summertime, our favorite activity is going to an amusement park called Adventureland, which has been the source of many great memories for us. [6] There is some competitiveness. [5] While there is not much ferocity between Abby and me, generally speaking, we are merciless when it comes to Mario Kart and Wii Sports. We also enjoy baking together. Cookies and cupcakes are two of our most scrumptious treats. I have a deep appreciation for the time Abby and I spend together, regardless if it is work or play; she is my only sibling, and I treasure her.

     How does a younger brother put into words all the ways his sister impacts his world and befittingly detail what she means to his life? [6] This is my endeavor. I could write about all the ways she supports me and how she is there for me when I need to talk through a decision or share my anxiety. [2] Unlike some people in my life, she sees me for who I am as a person and not as someone who is autistic. [5] When I need her, she is always there for me with advice, a laugh, a hug, and open ears, which are traits that have taught me to be a good person. [3] Unsparingly, Abby offers her support and encouragement to the aspirations I have in my life. While she has a life of her own, I know I can depend on her to answer when I call. I revere the profound trust Abby and I have. Writing from the heart is the best way that a younger brother like myself knows how to put the impact of my sister into words.

     The lens through which I view my sister is encircled by the utmost love. I enjoy the creative way she expresses herself when doing arts, crafts, and baking. [5] Because she has a fondness for music, I also have a greater appreciation for music. [3] Naturally, there is a life path that Abby and I must take independently. [6] Our time together is precious. [2] In fact, it is an essential facet regarding my sister. The details of how we spend time together are immaterial; as long as we are side by side, I am thankful. Indeed, I am grateful our worlds are entwined as brother and sister, which has been a blessing of wonderful memories.

Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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