Technical writing is like ‘solving a puzzle’ for App State senior
BOONE, NC — Gabby Brown loves the challenge of turning complex topics into plain language — so everyone can understand them.
As a Professional English Writing Specialist at Appalachian State University, Brown specializes in written materials including technical manuals, corporate communications, website content, and grant proposals.
“Technical writing is like solving a puzzle,” the Raleigh eldest said. “I consider the human aspect – all populations that may use information – and try to communicate complex topics in a way that is accessible and usable by everyone.”
Brown said she explored different disciplines and styles of writing with her Spanish and Communication minors. “I love learning new languages and different ways of conveying information,” she shared.
The late Dr. Rosemary Horowitz, a former English teacher and director of App State’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, was a “great influence” on her writing interests, Brown said. .
“In Dr. Horowitz’s technical writing classes, I first encountered writing manuals and performing usability testing – in which an end user follows written instructions step-by-step to see if it works. J developed a love for this type of writing.
Dr. Sarah-Beth Hopton, associate professor and internship director in the Department of English, also influenced and mentored Brown. “She’s so knowledgeable and supportive, and she’s helped me with my professional portfolio,” Brown said.
Hopton is supervising Brown’s honors thesis: A Study with the Hunger and Health Coalition of Watauga County, evaluating the accessibility and usability of the organization’s mobile platform to its clients and donors.
“Gabby’s work demonstrates her skill in conducting primary and secondary research – and her findings will undoubtedly help the organization better serve its clients and achieve its fundraising and recruitment goals,” Hopton said.
Make your mark outside the classroom
Thanks to several scholarships, Brown said she was able to fund her education — with more freedom to pursue opportunities outside of the classroom. As an incoming freshman, she was awarded the Academic Excellence Scholarship. During her junior and senior years, she received the Jeni Gray Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the Kate Peterson Scholarship.
Brown provides writing instruction and feedback to students through her work at the university’s Writing Center. “I learned a lot about evaluating other people’s work and communicating in a way that is helpful to others,” she said.
Brown is also editor of The Peel Literature and Arts Review, a student-run magazine for literary and creative expression at App State. Through this role, she gained hands-on experience editing the work of other writers, marketing the publication, and managing the overall workflow.
“Gabby is an exceptionally talented student writer,” Hopton said. “She is quick to lead groups and lend a hand to other less experienced students in certain writing projects.
Brown shares her excitement for App State as a member of the CAS Corps — a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences. She represents the college at events for prospective and current students, parents, alumni and donors.
Her involvement in Campus Ministries has provided Brown with a strong community at App State, she said. “The group was very supportive and instrumental in my personal growth and development,” she shared.
Brown completed two internships at App State. Her first was in the spring of 2021 with Dr. Cece Conway, professor of folklore in the Department of English. Brown wrote grant proposals for the Conway Film Preservation Project and for a concert series for folk artists.
In the summer of 2021, Brown interned as a technical writer at LeNgineer, a research and development company in Titusville, Florida. There, she wrote grant proposals and presentations for new technology products.
Her internships whetted her appetite for more education in technical writing, Brown said. After graduating from App State this spring, she plans to pursue a Master of Science in Technical Communication at North Carolina State University.
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About the English Department
The Appalachian State University Department of English is committed to exceptional classroom work, student support and mentorship, and dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory, and literature . The department offers master’s degrees in English and Rhetoric and Composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in Literary Studies, Film Studies, Creative Writing, Professional Writing, and Teaching English. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
Appalachian State University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is home to 17 academic departments, two centers, and a residential college. These units cover the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity based on the strengths, traditions and unique location of our university. The college’s values are not only based on service to the university and the local community, but also on inspiring, training, educating and developing its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 adult students are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing degrees in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead meaningful lives as global citizens who understand and take responsibility for creating a future sustainable for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to gain and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and purpose, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system. Appalachia is home to over 20,000 students, has a low student-faculty ratio, and offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.