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Elsewhere: Reflections from Johnson B

Samantha Miller
Department of Biology 
Lake Forest College 
Lake Forest, IL 60045

When students first learn the long and arduous task of formal, academic writing, teachers advise the construction of “catchy” introductions that “grab” the reader’s attention. My introduction to Professor Dawn Abt-Perkins during freshman orientation provides a rather convenient allusion to this suggestion. Walking briskly to the front of the lecture hall, she wasted no time patronizing my orientation group with a self-celebratory biography. She was direct, professional. She made eye contact with everyone and had no time wrestling our attention from pocketed iPhones and Androids.

As she urged her audience to take advantage of the Lake Forest Writing Center, I realized her presentation’s impressive quality was not due to her articulate delivery or narrative efficiency alone; underneath the carefully cited statistics and eloquently crafted speech, was a true passion for students. Professor Abt-Perkins has served many roles while at Lake Forest College. She founded the Writing Center, teaches a section of College Writing for freshman, and serves on the Board of Student Success. Like her introductory speech, her participation in all of these roles is motivated by a personal investment in students’ achievement. I have been honored to work for Professor Abt-Perkins throughout my years at Lake Forest College as a writing tutor. In my tutoring capacity, I witnessed staff meetings, late night emails, and private conversations, all of which have all shed light on not only her educational pedagogy, but her personal character. Former students and tutors alike will testify that her tough love is packaged in high expectations and critical feedback on writing assignments. Yet they all know they are better writers because of it.

Professor Abt-Perkins takes pride in her relationship with students. I have quietly observed her uninterrupted stream of focus as she seamlessly switches between a professor, administrator, and mentor on a daily basis. It is no surprise, then, that she has reached out to Eukaryon through her writing workshops. She has watched Eukaryon rise steadily in its quality and notoriety throughout the years, often leading writing workshops tailored to the demands of scientific writing. Credit is due not only because of her workshops, but her open-mindedness towards the student body that lives in the other half of Johnson: the scientists.
In her publication Making Race Visible, Professor Abt-Perkins demonstrates a keen awareness of the unspoken mechanisms behind literacy. Underneath the surface of her research lies a motivation to reach out and understand the others. The scientific community at Lake Forest College has relished from her gift to teach students with diverse interests. Professor Abt-Perkins’ work with students of all disciplines has steadily broken the superficial dichotomy often suggested when comparing the sciences and the humanities. I believe that her efforts, in conjunction with the future student researchers, will continue to enhance the interdisciplinary nature of Eukaryon and therefore advance its true goal of disseminating knowledge.

Note: Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.


Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.

Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.