The Writing University has launched a new series of interviews to highlight the various programs across campus at the University of Iowa. We ask about the program's history, admission process, etc. Today's interview is with Camille Socarras (she/her), the Associate Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project.
Camille Socarras is a word nerd who earned her BA and MA from the University of Iowa, focusing her studies on French and Francophone language, literature, and culture. She has taught a wide range of ages and levels - young elementary school through early graduate-level and beyond, and worked as a legal translator, research assistant, editorial assistant, and scholarship specialist. While her personal and academic interests are quite varied, Camille feels strongly about working toward social advancement in educational settings, holding the ultimate goal of making the classroom experience challenging, fun, engaged, and empowering. She loves the letter c because some of her most favorite things all start with c: cats, crows, cookies, coffee, and cake!
1. Hello! Great to have you! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to the University of Iowa?
Hello! Thank you for having me! I am an Iowa City native, so that’s what brought me to the University of Iowa. I earned my BA and MA from here, focusing on French and Francophone language, literature, and culture, and have worked in different capacities around campus for the last few years including in the French Department, at the Law School, in the Honors Program, and now IYWP.
2. Can you tell us about the history of IYWP?
The Iowa Youth Writing Project is an arts outreach organization based at the University of Iowa that empowers, inspires, and engages K-12 youth throughout the state using language arts and creative thinking through one-of-a-kind writing, publishing, and creative learning opportunities.
To ensure that all young people can participate, the IYWP provides programs at little or no cost, thanks to the time, energy, and creativity of IYWP volunteers, partnerships with local organizations and institutions, and the generosity of community members. In July 2012, the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences was granted a Better Futures for Iowans award, launching a pilot partnership with the IYWP to build and deepen undergraduate student success in writing-related internships and to develop youth outreach efforts.
Since then, the IYWP has found a permanent home in the Magid Center, nestled among other high-quality interdisciplinary writing opportunities for UI undergraduates. Every year, we visit 20+ schools and community centers to run weekly writing workshops, hold 20-30 special events with visiting writers, and offer a host of creative (and free!) literary summer camps.
3. How can people participate in the program?
IYWP is so much fun! It is a volunteer-powered community outreach organization, so we are always looking for and welcoming volunteers and partners to work with us in different ways, (participating in weekly site visits, helping with special events, fundraising and development, thinking about more cool ways to serve our community, etc). If you are a K-12 individual – or know one – you can participate by seeing how we’re partnering with your school and join!
4. Where can people find the IYWP?
Our campus home is 303 Phillips Hall, (we have candy and plants and great people so come say hi!). We can be reached any time via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Tell us about your own creative work -- are you working on anything specific right now?
Ha, do baking recipes count? The current seasonal transition has me thinking about all the delicious cooler weather food and I always have a bread project and fresh cookies.