Scaffold: A Showcase of Vanderbilt First-Year Writing is a digital collection of first-year writing curated by the Vanderbilt Writing Studio. Conceived as an extension of the annual Undergraduate Writing SymposiumScaffold creates a space to honor and celebrate undergraduates' accomplishments as writers, scholars, and artists in their formative first year of college. By pairing each piece in the collection with a recorded reflection from the author, Scaffold aims to highlight the developing writing processes and learning experiences so central to the growth of undergraduate writers. We hope it acts as a source of inspiration and of scaffolded learning support for students and instructors alike going forward.

Like the construction metaphor embedded in its name, Scaffold is also still a work in progress as we roll out our first volume in Spring 2019. 

How did this Showcase of First-Year Writing come together?

In our call for submissions to the 11th annual Undergraduate Writing Symposium, we announced that all submissions by current first-year students would be considered for inclusion in a new digital showcase of first-year writing.

The essays you will find in Scaffold are the first-year submissions that emerged from our blind review process with unanimously high rankings across three separate outside reviewers, a group (see below) composed of volunteer Vanderbilt faculty and library staff. All creative submissions went through a similar process involving reviewers that included Creative Writing MFA students.

Readers will encounter authentic examples of writing composed during students’ first year—and almost certainly first semester—in college. Our intent was for each piece included in Scaffold to remain recognizable as the author’s own voice and work as a first-year Vanderbilt student. No editorial interventions were made beyond a round of minimal copyediting. In order to have their work included in the collection, authors were also required to submit a video or voice memo contextualizing and reflecting on the piece, which we have made available alongside the writing itself.

Why Scaffold?: Reflection from Ji Yoon Hong, Undergraduate Assistant Editor

A scaffold represents this journal in three ways, or dimensions. Like construction scaffolds, the exemplary first-year pieces in this journal are foundations for the authors’ future growth. Moreover, this journal can contribute to the learning strategy called ‘scaffolding,’ by providing its readers exemplars as well as video reflections. Third, this journal is celebratory; it is a scaffold or platform for excellent writing—the technological legacy of the Undergraduate Writing Symposium.

But writing is an ongoing, infinite process. As authors, we continuously improve in unexpected, multidimensional ways. Thus, all of us scaffold. So, we invite you to join in on the simultaneous unfolding and construction of potential, which this journal presents. As implied by perfect cover image we stumbled upon—a rocket held up by scaffolding as it prepares to launch--the sky’s the limit!


Thank you to all who helped make this collection a reality!

Managing Editor
John Bradley

Undergraduate Assistant Editors
Ji Yoon Hong & Mia Dillon 

Editorial Team
Miriam Erickson, Megan Minarich, Beth Estes, and Simone McCarter, 

Reviewers for Essay Submissions
Adam Meyer, Alex Sargent Capps, Anna Silverstein, Aurora Romero, Bryan Lowe, Carrie Russell, Elisabeth Sandberg, Elizabeth Covington, David Golann, Gretchen Selcke, Jochen Wierich, Kasia Gonnerman, Mark Schoenfield, Melissa Mallon, Paula Covington, Rebecca VanDiver, Sara Manus, Scott Juengel, Sophie Bjork-James, Stacy Simplican, Stephanie Higgs, and Wietske Smeele

Reviewers for Creative Writing Submissions
Carlina Duan, John Shakespear, Maria Carlos, Sophia Stid, and Stephanie Davis