College of Arts and Humanities

Pearce Center interns help local elementary students become authors


Clemson University students at the Pearce Center for Professional Communication helped local second graders at the Central Academy of the Arts (CAA) achieve the dream of becoming authors this spring.

Working together, the students created a 140-page book, entitled “Our Favorite Animals,” which each child received a copy of at the end the school year.

“I think sometimes our students think that it’s almost impossible to become a writer someday, and they don’t realize that they are writers now,” said Fonda DuPre, reading coach at CAA. CAA is a K-5th grade magnet school in Central, SC, which serves students using The Kennedy Center’s arts integration focus. The Pearce Center exists to promote effective communication as an integral part of the learning process at Clemson. It offers undergraduate client-based internships, professional development for graduate teaching assistants and faculty writing workshops.

The project began with lunchtime meetings between Clemson students interning at the Pearce Center and their second-grade counterparts. Teachers at CAA provided the parameters of the assignment—each child would write one paragraph about themselves and one about their favorite animals, and they would each draw a picture.

The interns met individually with children to help them put their thoughts on the page.

“One of the questions that we ask them in their bio was ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’” said Olivia Almeida, a junior English major. “They would say, ‘I want to be a dancer! I want to be an astronaut! I want to be in the NFL!’ And I was hoping that with the creation of these books they will see that they can do anything that they put their minds to do.”

For the Pearce Center students, the project was an opportunity to enhance their communication skills by working with children, and for Almeida, it was a chance to develop design skills as well. It was her job to compile the stack of submissions from each student into the final published book.

“I learned all about graphic design, and I learned all about Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign for this project, and it’s honestly something I have learned to love,” she said.

The partnership culminated in a pizza party at which each second grader received a copy of the book that they helped to author, complete with their pictures above their entries. They also enjoyed a visit from the Clemson Tiger Cub, which was an special treat for the four students who chose a tiger as their favorite animal.

“The kids absolutely love it,” Dupre said. “You could see them today when they got to open those books to see their own published writing and to see their illustrations, they absolutely were glowing.”

The book also included an “autographs” page for students to make memories with each other and get signatures from the interns with whom they worked to create their masterpiece.

“They really can be anything that they dream of,” Almeida said.

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