Crowbird Spotlight: Ashley Velázquez

Purdue Crowbird Ashley Velázquez is a fifth-year PhD candidate researching L1 and L2 engineering students’ writing practices. She is currently finishing her dissertation, “What’s the “Problem’ Statement? An Investigation of Problem-based Writing in First-Year Engineering (FYE),” on fellowship from the American Association of University Women. The project analyzes how linguistically diverse students in Purdue’s FYE program complete written tasks, particularly problem statements. Her research has involved building a corpus of student texts, analyzing pedagogical materials, and conducting interviews with FYE faculty.

Ashley’s involvement with Crow started as a complete (but happy) accident. Her mentor, Shelley Staples—one of the founding members of the Crow team—invited her to a Crow meeting, as the topic was relevant to a reporting verb project they were collaborating on. Three years later and Ashley still hasn’t left the “meeting,” having assumed multiple leadership roles in our Crow team.  As a Crow Graduate Lab Practicum RA, she helped with corpus building, participant recruitment, mentoring, and more. This past year kept her especially busy: Ashley was writing grants, scheduling our 2018 Writing Research Without Walls symposium, and co-authoring a study on reporting verbs for L2 Journal.

In October 2017, Ashley was one of several Purdue Crowbirds able to travel to Tucson, Arizona for a project summit funded by our Humanities Without Walls grant. On the way to the airport, Bradley Dilger was emailed a grant opportunity. “We can do that,” Ashley said. And before the plane left, the team had an outline, a draft abstract, and a Basecamp buildout underway. “It’s amazing how much Ashley has grown as a grant writer,” said Dilger. “Her work on the narrative of our recent ACLS application was stellar, and we’re glad we can count on her for help with our next grants.”

Crow isn’t the only commitment on Ashley’s plate. Throughout her time at Purdue, she has taught first-year writing courses, developed her dissertation and other publications, worked for the OEPP and OWL, and served as a Mechanical Engineering Writing Enhancement Coordinator. For the latter, she developed rubrics, hosted writing workshops for students, adapted pedagogical materials, and assessed student writing skills. She also helped international teaching assistants effectively evaluate their students’ writing.

Following the completion of her dissertation, Ashley hopes to obtain a tenure track position in either applied linguistics or rhetoric and composition. After five years in the arctic tundra that is Indiana, she’s ready to move somewhere warm with her two Hobbit cats, Merry and Pippin. Her job search extends “coast to coast and off the coast,” ranging from the East Coast to Hawaii.

Now that her reporting verbs article is published, Ashley is brainstorming her next Crow project: an empirical research study on the use of collocations (which are groups of words commonly grouped, such as “potential solutions”) by L1 and L2 students. She is also busy working on a translingual writing piece and an engineering research project with the University of Arizona. Luckily for us, she plans to continue working with Crow at her next institution. We can’t wait to see where that will be!

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