About the Journal

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 an ongoing source of inspiration and of scaffolded learning support for students and instructors alike.

Scaffold's Reviewers and Review Process

Thank you to all whose generosity with their time and effort helped make this collection a reality!


Faculty and graduate instructor reviewers for Volume 5: Didi Jackson (English), Jeong-Oh Kim (English), Lucy Kim (English), Will Krause (History), Heather Luea (Economics), and Kelsey Rall (English) 

Library reviewers for Volume 5: Melanie Adams, Yvonne Boyer, Emily Bush, Jacqueline Deveraux, David Golann, Melissa Mallon, Paul Rosenstein, Chris Ryland, Andy Wesolek, and Miriam Wnuk

MFA reviewers for Volume 5: Tan Fireall, Alissa Morgan Barr, John Mulcare, Em Palughi, Anika Potluri, Jess Silfa, and Caroline Stevens

Graduate Assistant Editor for Volume 5: Will Krause


Faculty reviewers for Volume 4: Pavneet Aulakh (English), Gabriel Briggs (English), Kent Dolezal (Economics), Alex Dubilet (English), Paul Durst (Biological Sciences), Teresa Goddu (English), Didi Jackson (English), Sheba Karim (English), Benjamin Legg (Spanish and Portuguese), Adam Meyer (Jewish Studies), and Benigno Trigo (Spanish and Portuguese)

Library reviewers for Volume 4: Yvonne Boyer, Leslie Foutch, David Golann, Sydney Leibfritz, Frank Lester, Melissa Mallon, Jordan Nielsen, Andy Wesolek, and Miriam Wnuk

MFA reviewers for Volume 4: Lara Casey, Hayes Cooper, Tandria Fireall, Emilee Hackney, Sarah Hagaman, Kanak Kapur, Jessica Lee, Samantha Marshall, Emma Palughi, Daniel Perez, Alexandria Peterson, Kiyoko Reidy, Caroline Stevens, and Jessica Sumalpong


Faculty reviewers for Volume 3: Gabriel Briggs (English), Elizabeth Covington (English, Gender and Sexuality Studies), Kent Dolezal (Economics), Alex Dubilet (English), Julie Fesmire (English), Jana Harper (Art), Benjamin Legg (Spanish and Portuguese), Lyn Radke (Philosophy), Simone Stirner (Germanic and Slavic), and Paul Stob (Communication Studies)

Library reviewers for Volume 3: Yvonne Boyer, Mary Anne Caton, Leslie Foutch, Nancy Godleski, David Golann, Frank Lester, Melissa Mallon, Sara Manus, Clanitra Stewart Nejdl, Keegan Osinski, Bobby Smiley, and Andrew Wesolek

MFA Reviewers for Volume 3: Maria Isabelle Carlos, Lara Casey, Hayes Cooper, Chris Ketchum, Danny Lang-Perez, John Mulcare, Kiyoko Reidy, Jess Silfa, and Caroline Stevens.


Faculty reviewers for Volume 2: Pavneet Aulakh, Sophie Bjork-James, Gabriel Briggs, Elizabeth Covington, Alex Dubilet, Julia Fesmire, Jessie Hock, Scott Juengel, Evelyn Patterson, Lyn Radke, Carrie Russell, Mark Schoenfield, Gretchen Selcke, Stacy Simplican, Paige Skiba, and Isaac West

Library reviewers for Volume 2: Alex Carroll, Mary Anne Caton, Mariah Ford, Nancy Godleski, David Golann, Kasia Gonnerman, Frank Lester, Melissa Mallon, Sara Manus, Clanitra Nejdl, Keegan Osinski, and Andy Wesolek 

MFA reviewers for Volume 2: Elena Britos, Courtney Brown, Lara Casey, Hayes Cooper, Joanna Currey, Chris Ketchum, Madeline Parsley, Kiyoko Reidy, John Shakespear, Jessica Lee

Undergraduate Editorial Assistance provided by Ji Yoon Hong (Class of 2020) & Angela Karas (Class of 2020)


Reviewers of Essay Submissions for Volume 1
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 of Creative Writing Submissions for Volume 1
Carlina Duan, John Shakespear, Maria Carlos, Sophia Stid, and Stephanie Davis

Undergraduate Assistant Editors for Volume 1
Ji Yoon Hong (Class of 2020) & Mia Dillon (Class of 2021)

A Brief Overview of Scaffold's Review Process: How this Collection Comes Together

Scaffold began in the spring semester of 2019. 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 that appear in Scaffold, Volume 1 and all subsequent volumes, are the first-year submissions that emerge from our blind review process with unanimously high rankings across three separate outside reviewers. Our reviewers are a group (see below) composed of volunteer Vanderbilt faculty and library staff. All creative submissions go through a similar process involving Creative Writing MFA students as our reviewers.

Within Scaffold readers should expect to 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 efforts as a first-year Vanderbilt student. No editorial interventions were made beyond 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.

"What's in a Name: Why Scaffold?": A Reflection from Ji Yoon Hong, Undergraduate Assistant Editor for Volume 1

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 the perfect cover image we stumbled upon—a rocket held up by scaffolding as it prepares to launch—the sky’s the limit!


Managing Editors
John Bradley and Beth Estes

Writing Studio Editorial Team
Miriam Erickson, Megan Minarich, Simone McCarter, and Drew Shipley