With her eyes on the stars and her feet on the ground, MSJ junior Eve’Lynn Jackson worked with the Project Excel program to advance her skills to achieve her dream of becoming a published writer.

Mount St. Joseph University liberal arts student evelynn smiling outside with blue sky and clouds

Eve’Lynn remembers sitting in her sophomore high school classroom during her individualized education program (IEP) with a pencil in hand. The tutor raised her timer…“Ready, set, write!”  

Words suddenly spilled out onto her loose-leaf paper. Her tutor began her lesson testing students’ writing skills by timing them to elaborate from a sentence they provided, to test the accuracy of the students’ grammar and spelling.

Once time was up, Eve’Lynn would still be writing. She thoughtfully looked at her work and saw how much she wrote, igniting the fire within her to begin her fiction-writing journey. She couldn’t wait to get started on creative work of her own.

“I love how writing can take the reader out of this world and bring them into a better one, or at least enough to take them out of the pain of this world.”

Team = Together, Everyone Achieves More

Eve’Lynn is a major in Liberal Arts with two minors in English and creative writing, and she primarily writes fiction stories. Although she took a creative writing class in high school, she learned she still had room to grow and strengthen her phrasing, grammar, and spelling when arriving to the Mount.

“I came to the Mount wanting to be a writer," she says. "I learned that in the real world, it would take me some time to achieve this dream of mine.”

The Project Excel program at Mount St. Joseph University helps students with learning differences transition from high school to college by helping them to discover their academic strengths, address learning challenges, and acquire new skills.

Eve’Lynn worked diligently with the Project Excel team to work on the fundamentals of writing conventions. After time and practice working her writing muscle, the team encouraged her to submit a writing piece to Lions-on-Line, the Mount’s literary issue that can be found in print scattered around campus, and on the MSJ website’s digital publication. When it did not make the issue, Eve’Lynn was discouraged, taking her back to the hard moments she faced in high school.

As a result, the Mount’s Project Excel tutors furthered Eve’Lynn’s capabilities weekly to make her vision possible, sitting down and hands-on workshopping the components of the written word. Eventually, it was time for Eve’Lynn to step out of her comfort zone after her hard work. Eve’Lynn’s tutors knew she was working on creative stories of her own, and one day she wanted another perspective on a few pieces she was working on at the time. Still having doubts from being turned down before, she showed them, and they praised them. A tutor from the team recommended that she try once more to publish her work in Lions-on-Line.

“I felt too shy, but they pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and do it,” she reflects. “At the time I feared rejection, but I looked over my best stories and had my tutors look over my work. They told me everyone gets rejected from time to time, but you have to keep trying. So, I did.”

Success is Better When Shared

Once her story was edited, Eve’Lynn submitted the final copy to Lions-on-Line, and was accepted.

The staff in Project Excel and Liberal Arts faculty congratulated Eve’Lynn on her story. She felt euphoric, fulfilled, and proud of her abilities.

“As a writer, I just felt like I could never achieve this because of how my mind works. I always felt like mine worked slower than others, which led me to need the help of my tutors from Project Excel. With their help, I feel like my dream can become a reality.”

Her short story appeared in Lions-on-Line for the MSJ campus to enjoy. She credits Project Excel staff tutors, Nancy, Paul, Becky, and Loraine who have provided endless encouragement, and Jeff, Buffy, and Liz from the Liberal Arts department.

“This University feels like a second home to me. The professors care about their students. They take the time to personally check on you and they push you to succeed. In all honesty, I wish I could go back in time and choose this University sooner because I have so much love for this place that my heart just beams thinking about how I got here.”

For the future, Eve’Lynn hopes to accomplish finishing a story she has been working on since high school, with a longterm dream of publishing several books. She is seeing how her coursework translates into real-world professional development, and encourages others to see how their coursework fits into the big picture, too.

“It may seem like your dream is unachievable, but you have to find the motivation and drive to show the world that it’s not,” she affirms. “So, it may seem like now we are all just doing school work, but this work is slowly pushing us out into the real world where it will be our time to shine—to show the world who’s boss.”

Visit here to read Eve’Lynn’s story on Lions-on-Line.

Project Excel Program at Mount St. Joseph University

Entering freshmen and transfer students are eligible to join the Project Excel program, where they will work with tutors who stand ready to assist those with learning differences to find their strengths. Visit our Project Excel page to learn more!