Nick Gowen ’11 writes his own rules with Red Ink Consulting
November 1, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
that offers essay-writing help to high school seniors. “I help
students tell the best stories they have about themselves in a
way that makes an admissions counselor think, ‘I want to see
this person on campus next year,’” Gowen says.
Although Nick Gowen ’11 has only been a Centre graduate for a little over a year, he can already call himself an entrepreneur, a teacher and the founder of a new business—Red Ink Consulting—that helps young people with their writing.
“My business offers writing help to high school seniors applying to college and writing their application essays,” Gowen says. “Whether it's brainstorming a topic or polishing grammar and sentence structure, I help students tell the best stories they have about themselves—and tell them in a way that makes an admissions counselor think, ‘I really like this person, and I want to see them on campus next year.’
“I also present a 60-minute writing workshop at schools and youth organizations across Kentucky,” Gowen continues. “The workshop covers do’s and don’ts of the college essay, topics to avoid, style and formatting tips and samples of winning essays.”
Gowen makes a point of creating a personal bond with his clients.
“I always call or video chat with students to go over my edits and suggestions. I don’t think it’s worth someone’s money just to have an anonymous person edit your paper,” he says. “I want students to actually understand how they can become stronger, more confident writers the next time they face an essay prompt.”
A particular class at Centre helped set Gowen on the path to his current career.
“I took Lisa Williams’ Intro to Creative Non-Fiction course my junior year. At the end of those four months I thought, ‘Oh, this is how I'm supposed to spend the rest of my life.’ Oprah would have called it my ‘aha’ moment,” he says. “I’ve been studying and writing non-fiction ever since.”
Teaching at the Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) at Centre this past summer gave Gowen the confidence to found Red Ink Consulting after he saw firsthand the difficulties young people have with telling their own stories.
“I had been presenting writing workshops and helping students with their writing in my spare time for about a year, but I decided to start the business after GSP. I taught a class on storytelling and the personal essay, and on the first day I heard 19 students say, ‘Our lives aren't interesting. We’re just teenagers. We don't have any stories.’ That couldn’t be more untrue,” Gowen says. “On the last day of class, all 19 students got up in front of 100 of their friends and told meaningful, important stories about themselves that gave the audience a view into their lives and personalities.”
Helping the Scholars realize the worth of their own stories gave Gowen insight into what exactly young people have difficulty expounding on in their essays—namely, their true character.
“That’s the exact goal of the college essay: to show an audience of readers that you are more than just a piece of paper with extracurriculars typed on it. You are an interesting, thoughtful human being with great character,” Gowen says. “This business is the perfect way for me to spread my love of personal writing, help students get the education they deserve, and teach them that they have stories worth telling.”
Gowen credits Centre—namely, its faculty and staff, and the abounding opportunities to try new things—with giving him the aplomb to reach for his goals.
“Centre is the reason I felt confident enough to start a business from scratch. I had unbelievable support when I designed my own major; when I redesigned the college’s TV news program; and when I created a video web series for the Office of Admission. There were always faculty and staff members eager to help me with a project,” he says. “I’m so grateful. I don’t know of a school that would offer more direct, extended support to one student. I probably owe [Assistant Director of Admission for Communication] Adam Brown and [Associate Professor of German] Ian Wilson a large percentage of my profits for all of their help throughout the years.
“Thanks to Centre, the transition from self-designed education to self-designed career was easy,” he adds.
For more information about Red Ink Consulting—including how to schedule workshops and one-on-one appointments—visit redinkconsulting.com. For video tutorials and easy writing tips, visit the Red Ink Consulting YouTube channel at youtube.com/redinkconsulting.
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Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.