By: Nicole Garcia
Staff Writer and Photographer, Memo to Members
(Editor’s Note: MtM staff writer and photographer Nicole Garcia interviewed Professor J.D. Applen about the Gloria Jaffe Award as the Most Excellent Technical Communicator in Central Florida, which he received at the Mining for Knowledge mini-conference at UCF February 4.)
Q: What does the Jaffe Award represent to you?
A: I was surprised that I won. I sat in the back of the room wondering who was going to win, and I was thrilled. It means that I was recognized for helping young people trying to get jobs in a very relevant field. FTC is not like the Ski Club; it’s all about getting young and talented writers jobs.
Q: What is the value of the mentorship program between FTC and STC?
A: It’s tremendous. There are few organizations in the country that have programs like it. This program is a smooth transition between a technical communication degree and a job. A lot of colleges will just congratulate students on their degree and wish them luck. This program allows students to actually network and get a job. And so many of our students got jobs in Orlando as technical writers.
Q: What do you see in the future for the mentorship program and your teaching?
A: I want to emphasize the importance of software skills to prepare students for 21st century writing.
Q: What is the guiding principle in your teaching?
A: I want to replicate, as best as I can, what goes on in the industry. And I want my students to have a theoretical background in rhetoric. A lot of people can write elegant sentences, but few people can find ways to communicate complex ideas in simple terms.
Q: What is the one thing you want your students to take from your lessons?
A: That writing is really important, that writing is hard to learn, and that most people can become good writers if they keep working at it. It all starts with writing clearly for an audience.