The Technology, Research and Communication Writing Fellows Program Director Yvonne Lee poses for a portrait in her office on Oct. 5 in the Center for Innovation, Technology and Learning. Lee took over the position this year after the retirement of Gregory Skutches. (Zoe Aaron / B&W Staff)

TRAC welcomes a new yet familiar face


As a first-generation college student and single mother, a bachelor’s degree was a fresh start for Yvonne Lee. 

Lee made the decision to start over again when she left a several year-long abusive relationship. After being hospitalized, Lee said she decided to enroll at Ohio’s Kent State University for the benefit of herself and her children. 

“The best way I knew how to get us out of that was to earn my degree, to do something bigger and different than anybody in my family had done before,” Lee said.

In July, Lee joined the Library and Technology Services as the new Director of Writing Across the Curriculum in the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. She has oversight of the Technology, Research and Communication Writing Fellows Program and succeeds Gregory Skutches, who retired in August. 

Lee said it’s important for her to share her story, because not everyone’s track in life is easy. 

As Lee began working toward her degree, she started working as a peer tutor for Kent State University’s Writing Center. During her time in the center, Lee discovered her passion for working closely with students. 

She said she realized she loved working one-on-one with students through this program.

“I didn’t know what I could do with that, where I could go with that, but I loved it,” Lee said. 

Soon after joining the center, Lee began teaching as an adjunct professor and quickly realized she wanted to pursue a career in higher education. 

Lee said she completed a two-year master’s program at the University of Akron while simultaneously working in its Writing Center as a graduate tutor. After completing her master’s program, Lee taught at a small health sciences college for two years, but she said she knew she wanted to make a bigger impact at a bigger institution. 

“I loved being in the classroom, and I wanted to have a shot at actually being able to do that at a larger university,” Lee said. “So I needed a Ph.D. to do that.”

After completing her doctorate in the spring of 2019, Lee joined Lehigh faculty — hired to build a writing support program for graduate students from scratch. She officially developed the Graduate Writers Studio in 2020, which served as a resource for graduate students “that promotes writing as a learning tool, a communications tool and a means to encourage critical thinking,” according to the LTS website

The Graduate Writers Studio offers consultations, research competitions, writing events and a variety of workshops. 

Deborah Cruz, a current doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership Program, considers Lee to be a mentor. She said a friend of hers recommended she join the Graduate Writers Studio because she had received valuable feedback for her work. 

“From there, I attended some of the weekend writing events that (Lee) hosted,” Cruz said. “It was a really great opportunity because it connected me more to other graduate students in different fields.”

Cruz said Lee has been a valuable coach and resource during her time as a graduate student. She said Lee is selfless, generous, optimistic and a wonderful listener. 

“She truly cares about graduate students and cares about what we do,” Cruz said. “She’s incredibly knowledgeable and an expert in her field — and she is just personable all around.” 

Lee said that when the director of Writing Across Curriculum role opened up, she was immediately drawn to the position because of her previous work at Lehigh.

Because she only employed two graduate students previously, she said she was excited about the prospect of working with more people and overseeing the TRAC program. 

“(The TRAC Program) is really reminiscent of a lot of the work I had done in writing centers,” Lee said. “It’s a large group of really dedicated undergraduate students who are hardworking, and they care. This is life changing, this is an amazing program.” 

Lee said she also has a vision to expand the purview of Writing Across the Curriculum, including activities that also involve graduate students, faculty and staff. 

“I have these big visions,” Lee said. “I just haven’t had enough time to enact most of them.” 

Alli Courtenay (left), ’26, Olivia Lundquist (middle), ’26, and Casey Braff (right), ’26, prepare for a class discussion on Oct. 4, in the Center for Innovation, Technology and Learning. TRAC students in their first year of the program are known as Associate Fellows. (Zoe Aaron / B&W Staff)

Laura Early, ‘24G, worked closely with Lee in the Graduate Writers Studio. 

Early said Lee, who is typically introverted, was always chipper and excited when she would host events, bringing out her extroverted side. She said Lee has a way of engaging with and encouraging people naturally and looks forward to staying in contact with Lee after graduation. 

“After I’m done, I know she would still care,” Early said. “It’s a great feeling: like she’s not just supporting me now, but here forever after.”

As she transitions into her new role, Lee said that it’s been a “big jump” working with a larger program — where there are currently 78 total TRAC Writing Fellows.

Maddie Schott ‘24, a member of the TRAC Leadership Team and a student teacher for the TRAC100 seminar, has worked closely with Lee through her transition. Schott said Lee has entered the role with a lot of grace. 

“She’s really eager to learn from us,” Schott said. “She’s definitely very passionate about keeping this program alive and improving it more.” 

Schott said Lee really cares about the students in the TRAC Program and tries to get to know them on a personal level. 

“When you talk to Yvonne, she really focuses in on you,” Schott said. “You really feel like what you’re saying matters to her, and she helps each student feel individually seen.”  

Lee has come into this program with energy, passion and a fresh outlook, Schott said.

For the future, Schott said one of Lee’s main goals for the program is to build its notoriety around Lehigh. 

“Sometimes people hear of the TRAC program and they think that we’re on the cross country team,” Schott said. “So one of the shared goals that Lee has with the new cohort is to really let people know what we’re about.”

Lee said the most rewarding part of her position so far is getting to work with the students. 

“They’re amazing,” Lee said. “They care so much…they dedicate so much time and energy to helping other students and to growing themselves and learning new things.” 

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