Humans of Hume

Sofia Patino-Duque

Sofia Patino-Duque, Humans of Hume

Year?  Senior

Major? History & German Studies


Q: Why did you initially come to the Hume Center?

I was actually part of a writing program in high school in my senior year. It was a writing fellows program, and that was the first time I was introduced to this idea of a writing center existing on college campuses because the new teacher at my high school brought this concept because he had one in his undergrad experience. So I knew it existed on some college campuses, and when I came to Stanford my first quarter I actually underutilized Hume, and I didn't realize how important it was and how it would play a role in my overall undergraduate education. So when I started struggling towards the end of my freshman fall, I just remembered that there should be a writing center on campus, and that's how I was brought into Hume. I had an appointment for one of my last PWR papers and remember kicking myself like, “why didn’t I come sooner, this is so helpful!” All the time I've been stressing in my room by myself I could have been talking and having engaging conversations with a tutor or with a graduate student or a teacher or a lecturer or even a drop-in tutor, which would have helped the process go more smoothly.

Q: How would you describe your Hume Center experience(s)?

Each time I come, I have a different experience and I feel like I become stronger as a writer through it, and it makes me think more critically about my pieces, which ends up helping me write or analyze my papers better because of that process. Being able to engage with someone also, I think, helps me finetune what exactly I want to say by being able to bounce back ideas from someone else and hearing what they think I'm trying to say and then being able to tweak what I have. That’s what’s brought me back to Hume, just realizing the importance of having an outsider come into your paper and still be able to understand what you're trying to say and what your main point is.

Q: What makes the Hume Center helpful?

For me, what I find really helpful is coming in and realizing the things that I would like help on. Normally, when I sit down with a tutor I say, “Hello, this is my prompt. This is what I currently have. These are the things I would like to work on.” So that just helps to be able to analyze [the paper] better. That's just some of the processes I've learned throughout the three years, but, especially if you're coming in as a new person, I would say the best way [to approach Hume] is to have one idea and be able to vocalize that, meaning that if you want something tweaked like stronger topic sentences or a thesis revision, coming there and then seeing how that will be fleshed out by the tutor and you will really help your overall experience.

Q: What’s your favorite Hume Center memory?

One of my funny Hume memories is, because I am here at Hume a lot and I write a lot in the Hume lounge, someone thought that I was a drop-in tutor. They said, “Oh I see you here a lot, are you the drop-in tutor?” And I was like, “No sorry.” So that was one of my funniest memories. I wish though! I wish I could be at the level where I could give writing advice like [the Hume tutors]!

Q: Have you ever participated in a Hume event outside of tutoring? If so, what was it?

You know, I have not, but I would like to, especially during my senior year. I know there’s a lot of storytelling [workshops] and a lot of free food, which I realize is crucial. There’s a lot of storytelling things that I would be interested in fleshing out. I listen to this podcast called “Mall,” which is all about storytelling. I actually wrote about it in my Stanford application when I was applying, because I would listen to this podcast every day going to and from school. So, storytelling is something that’s always been super intriguing and that I’d like to become better at. I’m hoping this year to set aside some time to come to one of those workshops and be able to see how I can construct a story through the Hume approach and all the different experts they bring and the teachers who have specialized in it.

Q: How did your experiences at the Hume Center change your approach to writing?

Definitely for the positive. My topic sentences have definitely become stronger because of Hume. Most people in high school probably went through a writing process, but it wasn’t really drilled in. Things like the importance of having topic sentences or having a thesis that is very argumentative [weren’t emphasized]. Coming to Hume has shown me the importance of having those two things in my overall paper. And it can sound very trivial, but it really helps take an “okay” paper to a really excellent argumentative, interesting, engaging paper by just tweaking those topic sentences or strengthening your thesis.

Hume just does a good job of reminding students of the fundamentals and coming back to them, because without a strong foundation, you can’t move forward.

Q: How do you see writing playing a role in the rest of your life?

I think one of the greatest skills you can have in life is being an articulate writer and being a strong, effective writer. I think that is something I constantly strive for, just being able to be a better writer in general, and that’s I think Hume has played such a crucial role in me becoming stronger and more confident in my own abilities [as a writer]. I really do hope that whatever career I have, whether it’s more on the political side or whether I go to law school, [gives] me the chance to always be surrounded by writing.

[Writing’s] one of the arts that never really changes. Coding, there’s always a new language and you have to update yourself. However, great writing is a timeless skill that you can only get better at, but it’s never going to be outdated.