Trista Emmer joined the Graduate School as a Thesis Editor in December of 2016. Here, she shares her thoughts on her new role.
I’m Trista. I graduated from the University of Utah with a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry in 2005. I’ve been a freelance editor for several years, starting in marketing and gradually taking on more and more academic clients. Eventually I added helping students format their manuscripts for the thesis office as one of my job descriptions and found that to be one of my favorite types of work. All that experience helped me get a job at the Graduate School as an Assistant Thesis Editor.
I’m thrilled to be working for the Graduate School. The work that graduate students do is so crucial to expanding the boundaries of research and knowledge and the primary way for this vital work to be communicated is through publication. For many students, their first (and possibly only) experience with publication is when they publish their thesis or dissertation. I’m here to help them craft a manuscript that meets high academic and publishing standards. Helping graduate students present the work they’ve done at the University of Utah to the wider academic community is incredibly fulfilling, and comes with the added benefit of my getting to satiate my own broad intellectual curiosity.
You might think that a creative writer wouldn’t be interested in work as precise and nit-picky as editing and formatting to the particular requirements of the thesis office. But poetry is nothing if not an elevation of exacting precision in language and form that tends to make my heart sing. Editing frequently puts me in a good mood, and my red pen can draw hearts and smiley faces for things done particularly well as easily as it can mark errors. I have a quirky sense of humor that sometimes shows up in ink on the edited page. I also love the sometimes startlingly beautiful word combinations that I encounter in academic texts. Like “intracellular mutualistic endosymbionts.” Go on, say it out loud. The rhythm and feel of it is glorious. This word nerd is delighted with her new job and looking forward to helping as many students as possible.
I’d like to end with some advice for graduate students. As you’re beginning to write your thesis or dissertation, start by reading the thesis handbook and looking at the templates on our website. If you can format your manuscript as you write (spacing, margins, hyphen use, etc.) it will save you so much time and frustration later. Finally, breathe and slow down. Plan on graduating the semester AFTER you’ve defended (or even the semester after that, if you defend late in the semester). It can take as long as an entire semester to get through all the formatting and editing. The more time you give yourself between your first submission and the date you need to graduate, the less frustrated by the process you will be and the easier it all becomes.
I look forward to working with you, and to all the new things you’re going to teach me.