Faculty on Writing: Sonya Chrisman

Professor: Sonya Chrisman
Department of: Broadcasting
Interviewed By: Monica Zavala
Date: September 29th, 2005

Professor Sonya Chrisman is going on her eighth year here at Northern Michigan University. To my surprise, this is her first year teaching a class. She belongs to the Communication and Performance Studies Department. Besides teaching, Professor Chrisman is a producer/director/host with Public TV 13 here at Northern. She is in charge of a weekly, half-hour public affairs program called “Media Meet,” a community calendar program called “What’s UP?” and a program for and about Northern Michigan University called “Northern Notebook.” Professor Chrisman received her Master of Arts Degree with an emphasis on Public Administration at Northern in 2001. Currently, she is continuing to take classes to further her writing and creative abilities. I value her views on writing because not only is she a teacher here, but she is also a student with a mind that is constantly learning.

Professor Chrisman teaches BC 265 Writing and Announcing. Due to the fact that Prof. Chrisman teaches writing, she has her students practice writing assignments weekly. She feels strongly about writing and according to her, “The more you do it, the better you get.” She is a strong advocate for reading others’ work and learning from them as well. As a student in her class, I can vouch that she uses many outside examples in order to lead our thoughts in the right direction.

Professor Chrisman explains that “script writing is a very different type of genre all together.” For me, the class is a different twist on my own writing. I am an English major, but have done little practice in ad and script writing. Being allowed to end a sentence with a preposition has an unusual feel for me; however, Professor Chrisman always offers suggestions on how to improve. A well-written script, she explains, involves many different ear-catching words. Generally, the pieces we have to write are ads ranging from thirty to sixty seconds. Coming from ten to fifteen page narratives, this transition was a bit hard to get adjusted to. When I asked her how she views her students’ writing abilities, she had two words to say, “I’m impressed!”

Professor Chrisman believes that you are never too old to try something new with writing. As a writer herself, she generally writes scripts, documentaries, and different broadcast shows. Recently, she put a twist on her usual writing and decided to try fiction writing. As everything, she believes her writing is evolving.

“If you try different areas of writing, it makes you a better writer in general,” she explains. Chrisman believes that it’s important for everyone to know the basics in English writing.

Professor Chrisman knows the Writing Center well, for she has used it herself. She always encourages her students to have an extra pair of eyes and ears reading and listening to our ads. Quite frequently in class, Professor Chrisman makes the comment of reading our ad’s to our roommates. She believes that others’ ears can hear what we don’t.

Professor Chrisman offered some tips on how to improve the Writing Center. One comment she made was that the Writing Center needs more advertising.

“I believe many students have heard about the Writing Center, but don’t know where it’s located,” Chrisman states. She offered many suggestions on how to improve the Writing Center and to have the Writing Center as one of her topics on “What’s Up?” Professor Chrisman had a good point of advice for students about the Writing Center.

“You are never too old to try something new with writing,” She said.