As the director of ACU’s Online Writing Center, Julie Archer is known for more than just her impressive writing skills. She is also a legacy ACU Wildcat, a great leader, an advocate for adult learners, and a role model for women seeking to reach their career goals without compromising their passions. With a soft demeanor and warm smile, Julie leads her team of grammar gurus and editing experts with a clear vision: to help adult students become better writers. Hoping to expand the Online Writing Center beyond its current stage, Julie works diligently to build partnerships across departments, promote the center’s services, and increase student engagement through the power of the written word – all with the goal of encouraging students to write with purpose and their own distinct voice.
Growing Up Purple and White
Raised in Arlington, Texas, Julie grew up hearing about ACU. Both of her parents met and graduated from ACU and Julie remembers traveling to Abilene for various Wildcat traditions including Sing Song, summer camps, and other big events. And while she didn’t feel pressured to go to ACU, Julie finally understood what her parents were always raving about when she toured the campus during her senior year. From the people she met to the programs offered, to the sense of community she felt, Julie knew she, too, wanted to call ACU home. To her, ACU was the place she was meant to be. Majoring in English, Julie immediately became involved with various clubs and organizations associated with the Honors College and English department, including the residential Writing Center.
“I just remember thinking that I didn’t want to be like those kids who just went to the college their parents went to, just because,” Julie said. “But, once I visited ACU as a potential student, I realized how much ACU had to offer me, including the chance to work in the Writing Center as an upperclassman. Needless to say, I was sold.”
As a writing tutor, Julie fell in love with the idea of working for ACU and maybe even pursuing a career in academia. Graduating with her bachelor’s in English, Julie jumped right into a master’s degree program while simultaneously working as an instructor of English for the university as well as local Abilene groups focused on increasing literacy and reading comprehension levels.
This role exposed Julie—who’d primarily worked with college-aged students up until this point—to other ages, socioeconomic statuses, and levels of education. During these sessions, Julie recognized how much she enjoyed working with adult learners, an experience which would shape her next career steps. Leading into 2019, Julie was close to completing her graduate degree in English. And like most graduates, she was curious about the type of job she would be able to obtain. Was there a space for her to continue to serve the adult-learning community? Would she be able to continue working with ACU? Using her connections in and around ACU, it didn’t take long before a new and exciting opportunity surfaced. It was the chance to become the assistant director of the Online Writing Center for ACU Online. Feeling thrilled and overwhelmed, Julie nevertheless did not hesitate to take the job.
“I was just in shock and so happy,” Julie remarked. “It was the perfect and most ideal job for me. I had heard they wanted to expand and offer writing services to our online students, and so it was just so exciting to know that our adult learners, people who have jobs and families, would be able to have the same resources as our on-campus students.”
Leading the Write Way
Showing off her amazing skills and personable approach, Julie quickly became the director of the Online Writing Center in 2021 and was asked to lead the existing team through the pandemic shift. Looking back, Julie doesn’t really remember how hard it was. Instead, she remembers how motivated and eager her team was to help students during their time of need.
“The pandemic was hard on everybody but especially students,” Julie explained. “I was kind of worried about how the team would handle everything but honestly it all went without a hitch. All of our advisors were so on board to help our students. We were all on the same team, and I think that’s what made the biggest difference.”
The best thing about Julie’s job: she gets to read and learn so much from her clients. Working with students across all disciplines and degree levels, Julie and her team review papers ranging from nursing practices to case studies on effective leadership and everything in between. It’s a whole lot of reading, but, as Julie would say, “a whole lot of fun.” On an average week, her team assists dozens of students on a number of tasks including, but never limited to, drafting outlines, writing essays, formatting papers, editing, and even taking step-by-step approaches on how to become a better writer by the end of their degree. Pretty soon, students are more encouraged and motivated to write what they think, how they process, and what they feel – all after a few sessions.
Leading a team consisting of seven dedicated writers in residence, doctoral students, and specialists, Julie has learned more about what it means to be an effective writer and leader through this position. No longer was her world about grammatical errors and spelling. It now involved helping returning students through their issues, situations, and even trauma through the written word. The job became bigger than expected. It encompassed more than just writing.
“Honestly, the best thing about ACU Online is the students,” Julie remarked. “We have students that have undergone some serious life experiences and we have the privilege of reading those experiences via their essays. It’s something so special and actually fuels us to keep showing up for our students.”
Today, Julie is not the same person that once entered the ACU community as an undergraduate English student. Her world has been changed, altered, and enhanced by the people that she has encountered. Even the aspect of writing has taken on a new meaning for her. It’s no longer the words on the page that make the story, but the person behind the pen or keyboard. And that’s the real reason why she continues to push and lead her writing team. With the hopes of adding to the university’s thriving legacy, Julie is beyond excited to be a part of ACU’s lasting mission for global impact.
If you are interested in learning more about our Online Writing Center, visit our website or call 855-219-7300 to learn what types of resources you can have as a student at ACU Online.