Technical writing is like ‘working out a puzzle’ for App State senior

BOONE, NC — Gabby Brown loves the challenge of transforming complex subjects into simple language — so that anyone can understand them.

“Technical writing is like working out a puzzle. I consider the human aspect — all of the populations that might use the information — and try to communicate discussed topics in a way that is accessible and usable to everyone.”

Gabby Brown, a senior English–professional writing major

As an English–professional writing major at Appalachian State University, Brown specializes in written materials that include technical manuals, corporate communications, website content and grant proposals.

“Technical writing is like working out a puzzle,” said the senior from Raleigh. “I consider the human aspect — all of the populations that might use the information — and try to spoken topics in a way that is accessible and usable to everyone.”

Brown said she has explored different writing disciplines and styles with her minors in Spanish and communication. “I enjoy learning new languages ​​and different ways to convey information,” she shared.

The late Dr. Rosemary Horowitz, a former English professor and director of App State’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, was a “big influence” on her writing interests, Brown said.

In Dr. Horowitz’s technical writing courses, I first encountered writing manuals and performing usability testing — in which an end user follows the written instructions step by step to see if it works. I developed a love for this type of writing.”

Dr. Sarah-Beth Hopton, associate and internship director in the Department of English, also professor influenced and mentored Brown. “She is so knowledgeable and supportive, and she helped me with my professional portfolio,” Brown said.

Hopton is overseeing Brown’s departmental honors thesis: a study with Watauga County’s Hunger and Health Coalition, evaluating the accessibility and usability of the organization’s mobile platform among its clients and donors.

“Gabby’s work demonstrates her skillfulness both primary and secondary research — and her findings will undoubtedly help the organization their clients and meet their fund raising and recruitment goals,” Hopton said.

Making her mark outside the classroom

“Gabby is an unusually talented student writer. She is quick to lead groups and to lend a hand to other students who have less experience with certain writing projects.”

Dr. Sarah-Beth Hopton, associate professor and internship director in App State’s Department of English

Thanks to several scholarships, Brown said she has been able to fund her education — with more freedom to pursue opportunities outside the classroom. As an incoming first-year student, she received the Academic Excellence Scholarship. During her junior and senior years, she was awarded the Jeni Gray Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the Kate Peterson Scholarship.

“Gabby is an unusually talented student writer. She is quick to lead groups and to lend a hand to other students who have less experience with certain writing projects.”

Dr. Sarah-Beth Hopton, associate professor and internship director in App State’s Department of English

Brown provides writing instruction and feedback to students through her job at the university’s Writing Center. “I’ve learned a lot about evaluating the work of others and communicating in a way that is helpful to others,” she said.

Brown is also editor-in-chief of The Peel Literature and Arts Review, a student-run literary and creative expression magazine at App State. Through this role, she has gained practical experience editing the work of other writers, marketing the publication and managing the overall workflow.

“Gabby is an unusually talented student writer,” Hopton said. “She is quick to lead groups and to lend a hand to other students who have less experience with certain writing projects.”

Brown shares her enthusiasm for App State as a CAS Corps member — a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences. She represents the college at events for prospective and current students, parents, alumni and donors.

Her involvement in Campus Ministries has provided Brown with a strong community at App State, she said. “The group has been super supportive and instrumental to my personal growth and development,” she shared.

Brown has two internships while completed at App State. Her first was in spring 2021 with Dr. Cece Conway, a folklore professor in the Department of English. Brown wrote grant proposals for Conway’s film preservation project and for a concert series for folk artists.

In summer 2021, Brown interned as a technical writer with LeNgineer, a research and development company in Titusville, Florida. There, she penned grant proposals and pitches for new technology products.

Her internships whetted her appetite for more education in technical writing, Brown said. After graduating from App State this spring, she plans to pursue a Master of Science in technical communication at North Carolina State University.

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The English (BA) – Professional Writing degree program at Appalachian State University is one of the few of its kind in North Carolina, preparing students with communication fundamentals as well as experience with different types of print media, technical and science writing, and writing for the Internet.

CAS Corps Feature

The CAS Corps are chosen to serve as representatives to all constituents of the College of Arts and Sciences and to create, promote and execute opportunities for academic and professional growth. These students represent a variety of departments from across the College of Arts and Sciences and will represent the College at events through interaction among current students, future students, parents, donors and alumni. Meet Gabby and learn about her experiences.

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center is a free resource available to all Appalachian State University students and faculty as well as members of the Boone community. Our consultants are experienced writers and attentive readers who will work with you one-on-one to assist with any aspect of the writing process.

The Peel Literature and Arts Review

The Peel Literature and Arts Review is the on-campus student-run literary magazine! It is committed to nurturing and celebrating our university’s vibrant, active and creative community. We strongly believe that Appalachian students deserve an outlet to showcase their creative expression.

About the Department of English

The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university’s strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values ​​lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.

About Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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