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Freshman Renae Tingling to Appear in The Norton Field Guide to Writing

By Gina Myers

Photograph of Drexel student Renea Tingling


March 25, 2021

It’s not every day that a college freshman has an essay accepted for publication. And it’s even rarer to have an essay accepted for publication into The Norton Field Guide to Writing, a well-known and highly regarded writing instructional used in college writing courses across the nation. However, for Drexel University freshman Renae Tingling, that is exactly what happened.

“This is an incredible accomplishment, not only for an undergraduate student, but even for a graduate student or young writer,” explains Associate Teaching Professor of English Henry Israeli. “W.W. Norton is one of the most highly established and prestigious publishers. They have been a staple of the educational books industry since 1922.”

The essay, “Sleepless Nights of a University Student,” which investigates the effects sleep deprivation can have on college students, was written for ENGL 101: Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research, taught by Israeli. Written in the first person, the essay blends personal experience with research, including original research conducted through a survey of classmates as well as a three-day experiment where Tingling intentionally deprived herself of sleep to document its effects.

Tingling notes the inspiration for her essay came easily: “As my freshman year progressed, I noticed the increasing numbers of nights where a few friends and I would find ourselves camping out in Hagerty Library. Open textbooks, half-empty coffee cups and overworked laptops littered the tables as we engrossed ourselves in preparing for an early-morning exam or completing a project. It made me curious as to how many students routinely lose vital sleep time and how much of an effect losing sleep really had on their academic performance.”

In the essay, Tingling’s research leads her to conclude that though students regularly forego a good night’s rest, sleep deficiency can have severe and lasting impact on academic performance.

Israeli, who nominated the essay for Drexel’s First Year Writing Contest, found the way Tingling seamlessly integrated primary and secondary research to be very impressive. He says, “The work is both highly personal and well researched. Although she uses nine sources as support, the essay does not feel like an academic paper.”

While writing has been something Tingling has dabbled in, it’s not something the chemical engineering major has much time for. “Writing has always been something that I enjoyed, usually when my work didn't have an attached due date. As I moved further along my academic journey, opportunities for writing were scarce as paragraphs were often replaced with equations,” she explains.

While she has felt comfortable writing academic essays in the past, this assignment pushed Tingling in new directions. “When I was tasked with writing this essay, I had already written several short essays for previous course assignments, but those did little to prepare me for what it took to write this essay. There is a heavily science-based section of the essay that reviews information sourced from a plethora of medical journal articles and websites. The required style of writing for this differs completely from the preceding section and was unfamiliar to me at the time,” she says. “To familiarize myself, I would read the source material and try to emulate their style of communicating information. It was a step out of my norm, and it paid off as I’ve noticed an improvement in my writing ability since.”

Learning that her essay would be published in The Norton Field Guide to Writing was a great surprise and an accomplishment to be proud of. “Though challenging, this assignment allowed me to revisit the enjoyment I felt for writing,” Tingling says. “This accomplishment revealed to me my potential for writing.”

Tingling’s essay will appear in the sixth edition of The Norton Field Guide to Writing, written by Richard Bullock (Wright State University), Maureen Goggin (Arizona State University) and Deborah Bertsch (Columbus State Community College), and available in Fall 2022.