Seventh and eighth grade students at Santiago Charter Middle School (part of the Orange Unified School District) participated in a 10-week writing workshop alongside student mentors from Chapman University. In addition to cultivating their writing development through brainstorming, drafting and revising their written works, the Santiago students were encouraged to develop a genuine passion for writing.

Throughout the 10 weeks, the mentors and mentees formed personal relationships that enhanced the students’ writing development and showcased positive collegiate role modeling. Several Santiago students commented on the benefits of working with their Chapman mentors.

From selecting their own topics to developing their creative writing, Santiago students experienced the freedom and joys of writing. Santiago participant Ava Castaneda affirmed the freedom she felt to pursue the topic of her choosing, saying, “There were no constraints about what you could write about.”

Tomi Malomo stated, “My favorite part about the Chapman Writing Project was getting to work with older, more experienced writers.”

Another middle school participant, Lauren Thai, expressed her gratitude that her mentors showed her “how to write a letter to the editor for the first time.”

The writing program provided a space for Santiago participants to develop their writing skills in an after-school setting while the Chapman students learned how to facilitate the writing process. Led by Dr. Amy Ardell, assistant professor in Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies, the after-school programs offered hands-on practice of instruction for future teachers.

Santiago parent Christina Rodriguez commented on her son’s newly developed love for writing. “This program ignited his passion for the creative writing process and provided a space that is not always available during the school day,” she said. “It was the first time that my son was writing for fun at home. That was a huge takeaway for me for the program.”