Derrick Ogola

  • Peer Tutor

Derrick is a senior from Dallas pursuing a double major in philosophy-neuroscience-psychology and biology. He is passionate about researching mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disease, planning to pursue MD/PhD training. On campus, Derrick is co-founder and president of PIH Engage, secretary of the Collegiate 100, an English-Swahili tutor for East African refugees, and an avid bassoonist. While not studying or in lab, you will probably witness Derrick failing to get through his mounting list (most recently, the list of books to read), getting far too excited about classical music, going on a philosophical rant, or cracking a cheesy, mildly funny joke.

What brought you to The Writing Center?

In my first year while taking Writing I, I had a lot of fun in that course. In truth, it was a much more fulfilling experience than I had anticipated. However, although I did have great joy in the writing process, I was still staunchly resigned to stick to science in my undergraduate years. However, I learned about The Writing Center all too late, and I was enchanted that my first year RA, a neuroscience major, was also a writing tutor. As I talked to her, that experience resonated with me, and I realized that my passions for science and writing were not mutually exclusive, and that perhaps there was something I could offer. After thinking about it a little bit more, I built up the courage to apply for a position. Thankfully, it worked out.

What do you like most about working with the writers at The Writing Center?

It has been really fascinating working with other individuals who have such varied interests, each one seeking to improve their work. I gain much from that process, in the way of learning about new topics and learning how others think. The session often flies by, but in that time, I thoroughly enjoy the conversation we delve into and the way we are able to progress from beginning to end.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

I have a tough time getting started. I will go to great lengths to avoid starting a writing assignment, all the while agonizing over the fact that I am procrastinating. I tend to spend this time brainstorming and making a detailed plan of action for the assignment, but putting words to paper is a strong counteracting force which I must continually overcome. However, while it is most challenging, I will say that it is the most fun aspect of my relationship to the writing process.

What advice do you have for writers?

If you are having trouble getting started, don’t fret. Many great writers have been in your shoes. Take some time – maybe take a shower or go for a walk – and just think a little bit (not too hard). Then, come back and write just one sentence. Read that sentence. Lastly, think a little more (a little harder). From there, I hope the flow will come a little easier, and simply start writing.