“If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life” is a common saying proved true by Dr. Julia Combs. An Assistant English Professor and the Director of the SUU Writing Center, Combs loves her job and appreciates the opportunity to spend so much time with inspiring young people in her work.
Combs knew she wanted to teach at a university, though it took her a long time to decide what subject to teach. While in college she became fascinated by other languages and ended up earning an undergraduate degree in language with a German emphasis from SUU. Then she headed to the University of Nevada Las Vegas where she earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in English. She returned to SUU in 2009 to teach.
Combs teaches the following classes:
- ENGL 1010 Intro to Academic Writing
- ENGL 2010 Writing for APA Style
- ENGL 3120 Writing in the Sciences
- ENGL 3890 Writing Tutor Practicum
During her time at SUU, Combs earned the 2016 Community Engaged Scholar and 2013 Outstanding Lecturer awards. Combs proposed and developed the Technical Writing Certificate and developed the Writing Fellows at SUU, which is in its fifth year. She also teaches a class, Writing in the Sciences, which helps students write grants for nonprofit organizations.
“Writing is a social activity. It often challenges and changes the way we think and understand our world,” said Combs. “I get to know the students quite well when we work through the writing process together.”
As a professor she hopes students leave her classes with a greater knowledge of how to express themselves through writing in any situation. Combs wants students to understand the power of rhetoric and strives to provide them with real audience and writing situations. She teaches by the firm belief that a writer’s task is to make the readers’ job as easy as possible.
In her position as Writing Center Director Combs works closely with talented and dedicated students. Hailing from a variety of disciplines on campus, she trains student leaders to run the center under her guidance, travel to yearly conferences and present their research.
“The Writing Center isn’t just for those who struggle with writing; it’s for everyone who writes," said Combs. "It provides a friend who can tell you what the little black marks on your paper mean and help you develop your ideas.”
A most memorable experience for Combs was traveling to Wuhan, China in 2016 with SUU students to open a writing center in China. She taught critical thinking skills to four English 1010 classes while her tutors set up and ran a writing center. The program was so successful they’ve been invited to return.
Combs enjoys traveling and has lived in Germany on two separate occasions. Her knowledge of German continues to aid her understanding of English and has helped in her research and academic life.