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Teaching Assistant at University of Illinois at Chicago

Cecilia Villarruel is a PhD student in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is focusing on creative nonfiction.  She received her MFA from Roosevelt University, where she earned the Best Creative Thesis Award for her fiction.  She has worked with Kindergartners and 1st graders through a literacy nonprofit in Chicago, grade school and high school students while serving in the Peace Corps in Namibia, and college students at UIC and with the City Colleges of Chicago.  She loves working with students of all ages, but her heart is in teaching at the college level.  

Review Beyond the Food

This assignment goes beyond your standard food review as it asks students to research and evaluate all aspects of the restaurant including its history, location, and design. It includes a focus on using sensory descriptions and depictions to entice the reader.

Public Art Profile

This assignment asks students to familiarize themselves with public art and their city by finding one piece to describe, research and analyze. It encourages students to reveal the connections between artists, locations, and communities.

Grammar Lesson Presentation

A grammar presentation assignment for small groups on an assigned topic. Each group is required to provide an explanation, examples, and a way for the class to practice the lesson. This assignment also includes a reflective component.

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advice column assignment

The Advice Column Two Ways–Part One: Creative Nonfiction

Writing advice columns with the skills of the essayist allows CNF writers to focus on the shared, often abstract, subjects of disparate experiences.
Feedback Creative Writing

Creative Writing Feedback: On Finding Praise

There’s a lot of talk in teaching circles about feedback—how to give an appropriate amount that doesn’t overwhelm the student (or the teacher’s workload) and balances praise and constructive criticism. Finding praise is, of course, characterized by its very verb as the part where you have to strain yourself, what you include to soften the blow your critique.
place essay creative nonfiction

Place Essays — Examples Using Research

Incorporating research into creative nonfiction essays helps bring the narrative to life but can be difficult to do. Below you'll find a collection of...