Madison Gaines, Peer Consultant

Image of Madison GainesMFA Creative Writing and Poetics

As a kid, I loved nothing more than the awe-struck feeling I got when I finished reading a book. I read everything from magical realism to high fantasy, from tea cozy mysteries to high school dramas. But the more I read, the more my pleasurable pastime became tainted with frustration. As readers, our goal is to find comfort in the pages, but part of that comfort comes from seeing ourselves in the characters. Whether it be their silky auburn hair, their charismatic smile, or even their snarky demeanor, readers naturally look for themselves in their favorite characters. Despite reading books that included superpowers, aliens, and the end of the world, it was rare to read a book that featured a Black or biracial woman. I grew up with fantastic and complex narrators, but I was always looking for space where I could belong.

While completing my B.F.A at George Mason University, I was given the space to explore my identity in both creative and academic writing. I researched Black and biracial identities with a grant from George Mason’s Office of Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research, and then presented that research at the Cultural Studies Association’s Annual Conference in May of 2019 at Tulane University. As a result, I was able to bring a newfound confidence to the classroom. I knew that my opinions and experiences were important, and became more comfortable sharing what I had to say with my peers. I began creating the space for my identity in writing, and this impacts the way that I work with others.

My goal as a peer consultant is to create a comfortable space for self-exploration. Whether it is a personal statement, an essay, or a creative piece, our identities are an essential part of our writing. It showcases who we are, and allows others the opportunity to see that they, too, have a place in creative and academic writing. I may not share the same experiences or identities with everyone who comes through the writing center, but I am able to support people as they find where they belong at UW Bothell.