Feature Stories 2023: Ghenwa Elkhoury '21, '23: Plain language

MPWC student Ghenwa Elkhoury
Feature Stories 2023: Ghenwa Elkhoury '21, '23: Plain language
Ghenwa Elkhoury '21, '23: Plain language

Lebanese transfer student overcomes adversity and completes two degrees in four years

Halfway through her undergrad at Lebanese University in Beirut, Lebanon, Ghenwa Elkhoury moved to the United States, where her father was on a waitlist for a new heart. After reaching out to a couple universities in the area, she credits UMass Dartmouth as being the most informative about the transfer process and enrolled at UMassD in the spring of 2020.

After navigating the COVID-19 pandemic during her two years as an undergrad, Elkhoury, who goes by "G," chose to further advance her education with a master's in professional writing & communication (MPWC).

Why UMassD?

Describe UMassD in one word


Why did you stay here for your master’s degree?

"The professors."

Why study professional writing?

"I was a literature major back in Lebanon and had never heard about rhetoric and communication. Once I took a few classes, a professor helped me declare my major. After graduating, I heard about the MPWC program and wanted to join because I wanted to do more with writing and communication! I love that writing allows me to make a small difference in the world.

"I hope my writing will one day help minorities and immigrants fill out important paperwork they may find complex. I know from my own parents’ experience that health insurance and immigration paperwork can be so stressful and difficult to understand what’s needed from you. I plan to use plain language and great communication to tackle these issues."

Real-world experience

People say you’ve mastered a subject when you can teach it. On campus, G has tutored in the Writing and Multiliteracy Center and currently works as a teaching fellow for English 265: Business Communications. The five-time Chancellor’s List student (minimum 3.8 GPA) also worked as a social media and communications intern at Lapointe Insurance in Fall River last summer.

How did your internship help you to navigate your career plans?

"Working at Lapointe was so much fun, especially since I was working with an alumnus. I learned a lot on Canva and in social media content creation. I loved working at my own pace, most of the time remotely."

Why should other students look for internships in their field?

"Internships are a great way to begin your career one step at a time. Juggling school and work is also a great skill to have, it teaches amazing time management."

Does working as a writing tutor and teaching fellow help you master your craft?

"Definitely, working with students has helped me identify faults in my own writing and creative process."

What have you learned about yourself in these roles?

"You should ALWAYS read something out loud to find your mistakes. I also learned that I’m a ‘plain language advocate.’ Before joining this program, I had never even heard of plain language, but there’s an actual website dedicated to it (plainlanguage.gov)!

"Plain language concepts start in the ENL 265 classroom and can expand to really any field, including medicine and immigration. People only read for a few important reasons, and if they can’t read what’s in front of them, they will simply choose not to—plain language plays a crucial role in that process."

Looking back

Between moving countries, transferring schools, and dealing with COVID-19, G overcame a lot of extracurricular challenges on her journey to two degrees.

How have these last few years helped develop your adaptability?

"My last few undergrad semesters were completely online. I was taking six courses while working full time in an auto repair shop. Things were hectic; I would tune into class while at work and complete my assignments at night. That experience helped me realize that I can do anything from my laptop and that I can handle pressure and tight deadlines."

Have you had a favorite class or professor?

"It’s so tough to choose just one, but Associate Professors Elisabeth Buck, Lucas Mann, and Katie DeLuca have greatly affected my life while at UMassD. I’d say my favorite class was Nonfiction Writing with Professor Mann. That was life changing. Nonfiction writing helped me write about things that I did not know deeply affected me.

"One week I found myself writing about the memory of my parents becoming citizens after fleeing our country in my youth, and the next week my fingers typed out the story of how much my father has changed after getting his new heart. I never really knew what to expect when we were handed an assignment, but every story I wrote in that class came from the deepest parts of me."

Do you have a favorite memory here?

"My favorite memory is when I found the graduate study room in the library with my friend, Cameron. We bought Hibachi and studied for three hours straight in that room, we felt so cool."

How do you know UMassD was the right choice for you?

"I can’t even imagine myself on another campus."

Is there one thing you’ll miss most about your time here at UMassD?

"My professors."

Looking ahead

What's next for you?

"I want to help minorities deal with and understand complicated paperwork that doesn’t use plain language, such as health insurance, USCIS, and mortgage paperwork!"