Jo Milner Ell

Jo Milner Ell

Senior Tutor, Brown School Focus

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

Since first joining the Washington University community in 2009, Jo Milner Ell has been involved in The Writing Center as a peer tutor, graduate tutor, and now as a senior tutor.  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 (American Indian & Alaska Native concentration), pursuing practicum work in reproductive and sexual health care and Indigenous food sovereignty. Jo has served as a recitation leader for Olin Business School’s Passport Program, a writing instructor for the College Prep Program, a teaching assistant at the Brown School, and writing tutor at STLCC Florissant Valley.  Professionally, she has experience in nonprofit institutional advancement, investor relations in both the public and private sectors, grant writing, and research.

Jo is The Writing Center’s Brown School specialist, offering writing and public-speaking support to all Brown School students via a dedicated schedule in our scheduling system.  Jo also has extensive experience working across the disciplines, so other students may find that she’s also available on our main schedule from time to time.

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 a senior tutor!  As someone who was kicked out of her 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 one of my favorite places at Washington University.

What do you like most about working with writers at The Writing Center? 
The conversations with students sparked during the tutoring process are incredibly insightful, thought-provoking, and rewarding.  It is 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.  Additionally, working with St. Louis-area high school students through the Writing Center’s participation in the College Prep Program is a highlight of my year.

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.