Algonquin Writing Center holds panel on intercareer writing


Amelia Sinclair

Algonquin Writing Center Co-presidents seniors Mia Lochhead and Noah LaBelle led a panel focused on how writing can be used in different careers on April 4.

Amelia Sinclair and Hanne Brabander

The Algonquin Writing Center (AWC) held a panel focused on how writing is used in different careers on April 4 in the Black Box Theater.  

Co-presidents of the AWC seniors Mia Lochhead and Noah LaBelle led the event, asking pre-planned questions to the panelists. Lochhead coordinated the event, which featured five professionals in various fields on the panel. Amy Frederick, senior scientist in the Sanofi Genomic Medicine Unit, and Carolyn Guarino, a registered nurse, medical narrative writer and a clinical safety expert were two of the panelists. Authors Mike Jandreau and Meredith O’Brien were also in attendance; they were joined by journalist Kevin Koczwara, whose work has been published in the New York Times, Boston Magazine and Esquire.

“I am going to be a nursing major and Noah is going into public policy,” Lochhead said. “It really opened up this idea about how different career paths use writing. I was really intrigued to hear from a broad spectrum of people, especially in our panel. We were fortunate enough to have a scientist talk, and a nurse, someone who works in tech, and a journalist and to hear how they use writing in different ways.” 

Frederick and Guarino offered perspectives on how writing is utilized in science-based professions.

“We collect pages upon pages, sometimes even hundreds of medical records,” Guarino said during the panel. “I go through them like a detective. I summarize them and extract important information into a one to two page medical narrative [in order to] provide a timeline of the events that occurred while the patient was in the study. We have physicians in certain oversight committees who determine if they are related to the device or medication.”

Panelists spoke candidly about their experiences in the writing world, including the struggles and obstacles they’ve endured. Lochhead believes this authenticity was of great value to attendees.

“It is hard as a high school student sometimes to see how adults deal with challenges and rejection,” Lochhead said. “It was nice to hear their perspective and to hear how they have dealt with rejections or failures, but have also succeeded in so many ways–the peaks and the pits.”  

Attendee freshman Aanya Bandukwala feels she greatly benefited from the transparency of the speakers.

“I learned about the many different steps that someone needs to take in order to get their work published and how difficult, but also inspiring, of a process that can be,” Bandukwala said. “You can receive a lot of feedback from different people and learning to get a rounded perspective can really help shape and define your writing.”

Koczwara stressed the importance of storytelling as a form of journalistic writing, especially for aspiring journalists. He believes one of the best ways to develop this skill is to read as it introduces outside perspectives and writing techniques.

“A lot of people won’t read classics because they believe it’s problematic material, but you should probably read the problematic material because you can take something from it,” Koczwara said.

Koczwara emphasized the impact that sharing others’ stories has on others throughout the panel.

“I just wish people had the opportunity to tell their stories more and try to make [future] generations understand,” Koczwara said. “Not every generation hates the next generation. You’re going to hate the people behind you for something, but when it’s your time to tell your story, tell it.”

Bandukwala shared that she now feels a calling to further explore how writing can create change.

“[The panel] did show me how difficult the process can be, but also how rewarding it can be,” Bandukwala said. “So I now have more motivation to continue with my writing, because to see how the authors’ books impacted the lives of their readers really inspired me to [see] how writing can change my community.”

Lochhead hopes attendees gained a better understanding of how writing can be incorporated into a range of professions.  

“[The AWC] wanted the audience to see the different career paths that are potential possibilities beyond just being a writer,” Lochhead said.