The process of finding oneself as a writer is not an easy one. It is often a twisting road, with offshoots at every turn to change your mind as to what you are here for. Learning a bit about the life of Cathy Bradford, the coordinator for the SI program at KSU, and her circuitous route to finding careers in writing, organizing, and higher education, new writers can glean some advice for themselves through her experiences. I had the opportunity to sit down with her over a call and ask questions with just that in mind.
Education and Work
As the call began, I saw through her zoom window into a small section outside her home- it was a warm day, the weather just right for a nice chat with someone who would have some excellent advice. Cathy started by telling me about her journey in academia. Having started as a chemistry major at UGA, she took a journalism elective and fell in love. Soon after, she transferred to GA state, where she said the smaller class sizes helped her to improve and find ways of innovating her writing. The location also allowed her to find her first writing job at the AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution) in Atlanta, where she would later become a staff writer before completing her bachelors. She put this down to her work ethic- she was always out finding someone to interview or a story to submit in her free time, and soon she left GA state, without having completed her degree, for Macon where she accepted a position at the Macon Telegraph. She later returned to KSU as both a faculty member and a student, where she finished her bachelors degree and received a masters in Education as well.
After a few years spent moving and doing volunteer organizing at organizations such as Democracy now and The Angel Tree, she returned to Kennesaw for a job at KSU, where she founded several programs at the school through her work organizing and writing. Part of her success in these positions were related to the fact that “[Cathy] was good at finding people to do certain jobs, and then supporting them in that,” and she continued to put that skill to work in her current position as the coordinator for the SI program at KSU. The SI program is one of a string of positions Cathy has held through her time at Kennesaw State.
Time at Kennesaw State University
As the coordinator for Supplemental instruction at Kennesaw state university, Cathy spends much of her time helping to organize student led tutoring sections to help students in classes all throughout both campuses. Writing has been an essential skill for her here, especially in the last year due to COVID, because much of her work became remote. This writing includes a lot of work outside the traditional writing field, as much of her experience with that field was before her time in higher education, however it is still utilized in both communications, as well as helping to prepare training for new students beginning in the SI program as teachers. Her experiences in the writing field not only helped teach her how to work in a fast environment, but also to help refine those skills in others by finding their strengths and helping to support those strengths.
“If we operate from a place of our strengths, then were not only gonna be happier but we’re gonna do better.”
Writing is difficult to learn and harder to teach, and I think her approach is an excellent one- working with students to find what support they need and what they bring to the table can be difficult, but if that is the skillset she brings to the table, there is no denouncing its value. She emphasized the importance of the Clifton Strength Finder- a philosophy which touts that if people operate from their strengths, they will lead better lives. She prefers this method, as it exemplifies teambuilding in helping others through their own weaknesses with the strength of others. This is a method she loves to use not just in work, but also in day to day life for herself.
If there is a line to be drawn between the many different careers of Cathy, it is to be found in writing and education. This is someone who time and time again has found herself in positions where her goal is to use her writing skills for the sake of bettering others, be it through planning a lesson, researching a social cause, or figuring out logistics for a new project, all of it requires writing. There is no one way to write and there is no one subject to write about- I think Cathy exemplifies many parts of the writing industry that are not as often seen and there is something to be admired in that.