Jo Milner Ell

Jo Milner Ell

Undergraduate Support Coordinator

  • BA in Art History & Archaeology, Washington University in St. Louis
  • MSW (American Indian & Alaska Native Concentration), Washington University in St. Louis

Jo has been involved in The Writing Center as a peer tutor, a graduate tutor, a senior tutor, and now as the Center’s Undergraduate Support Coordinator.  She holds a BA in Art History & Archaeology from Washington University, where she received the Yale Book Prize for Distinction in Art History and minored in Communication Design and Writing.  In 2019, Jo earned her MSW from the Brown School, pursuing practicum work in reproductive and sexual health care and Indigenous food sovereignty. Jo has served in a variety of teaching and tutoring roles at Washington University and STLCC Florissant Valley.  In her previous position as The Writing Center’s Brown School-dedicated Specialist, Jo supported MSW, MPH, MSP, and PhD students in one-on-one tutoring and larger group workshops.  Professionally, she has experience in nonprofit institutional advancement, investor relations, grant writing, and research.

What brought you to The Writing Center? 
I first joined The Writing Center as an undergraduate peer tutor, and I’m thrilled to be here now as the Undergraduate Support Coordinator!  As someone who was kicked out of preschool for talking too much and who later went on to pursue social work, it’s safe to say I’ve always been a communicator.  The Writing Center is all about working alongside writers to find a way to best communicate their ideas, thoughts, and perspectives—it’s also a necessary and valuable third space in a university context, allowing for important conversations outside of the higher-pressure classroom environment.

What do you like most about working with writers at The Writing Center? 
The discussions with students sparked during the tutoring process are incredibly insightful, thought-provoking, and rewarding.  It’s a privilege to get to know so many writers and to have a brief glimpse into the way others think, create, and see the world.  

What do you find most challenging about writing? 
Sometimes writing for a specific prompt or assignment, especially for academic purposes, can make it seem like you don’t have much freedom or choice in the matter.  Find a topic, angle, or argument that you’re passionate about—it makes the writing process feel less like work.  That can mean getting creative in your interpretations and the way you converse with the assignment, but it often makes the finished product far more engaging and exciting.

What advice do you have for writers? 
Nobody else has your same perspective—that’s what makes your writing so interesting to read.  Don’t get too caught up in what you think your paper is “supposed” to look like, and trust that you have important things to say.