Jenna Vinson

Associate Professor of English, UMass Lowell


I recognize that institutions of higher education have not always been accessible for or welcoming to people across lines of difference—people with differing lived knowledges, educational experiences, and life responsibilities. bell hooks writes that academic freedom “is most fully and truly realized when there is diversity of intellectual representation and perspective” and this takes work. I am committed to making the university a place where differences are represented, discussed, valued, and supported. Often, I further this goal through my capacities as an administrator.

Internship Coordinator

From 2020-2021, I served as the interim coordinator of the UMass Lowell English Department Internship Program, acting as a point-of-contact for any community partner or English major concerns regarding internships while my colleague was on sabbatical. During my time as coordinator, I created a video and email messages to promote the program to students and English faculty members. I then interviewed all interested English/BLA majors and reviewed all applicants’ resumes. I introduced students who were ready for the program to community partners working in the fields the students were interested. Using a new online process, I ensured each student and workplace supervisor completed a contract to encourage transparency about the work involved and reciprocity between students and the community nonprofits, educational institutions, and government agencies where the students were placed. 

Service Learning Coordinator

For two years, I coordinated the University of Arizona’s service-learning initiative called Wildcat Writers. This program brings together university composition classes and  local underserved high school English classes for semester-long writing exchange.  Wildcat Writers give potential first-generation college students an inside look at university life and writing. It provides university students with the opportunity to get involved in their community. As the service-learning coordinator, I helped to develop Wildcat writers as a sustainable, year-long program. This included the following tasks:

  • annually recruiting and preparing college and high school teachers to participate,
  • creating materials for students and teachers,
  • collaborating with the Writing Program Director and teachers to name and improve the program,
  • planning informational meetings throughout the academic year,
  • and organizing a celebratory end-of-year event for over 130 students and teachers.

I continue to support faculty service-learning initiatives as a member of the UMass Lowell English Department Experiential Learning Committee. I have developed an informational website for faculty members who are new to service learning and I co-facilitate workshops on service-learning pedagogies.

Writing Program Placement and Advising

At UMass Lowell and, previously, at the University of Arizona, I administered and evaluated writing placement exams. This included leading first-year composition information sessions during freshman orientation, answering students questions about writing courses at the university, advising students on the best first-year composition course options for them, and assessing student writing to determine their first-year writing course placement.  

Writing Center Graduate Coordinator

As a graduate coordinator at the University of Arizona’s Writing Center I trained undergraduate students to work in the writing center as paid tutors, selected veteran tutors to participate in an outreach project via online tutoring, managed incoming high school student essays from that project, and monitored the payroll of participating tutors.

Writing Program Intern

During my time as the Writing Program Intern I worked closely with Writing Program Director on outreach projects including expanding the program’s first-year composition service-learning program, organizing “town hall” professional development events for local high school teachers and counselors, and collaborating with the Office of Admission’s Minority Student Recruitment Office on a community outreach grant aimed to improve high school students’ college application essays.