Standing at six feet tall and supporting a pixie cut and round glasses, Tatiana Federoff is a reliable companion for a sibling or friend in a time of need. Whether someone needs help with catcallers or with writing, Federoff does her best to assist them. Her desire to help others and her love of writing led her to work in the Writing Center at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
As she inspires others to improve their own writing, Federoff hopes to continue her journey from college into the Catholic world of authors.
Growing up studying the classical works of Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas while also being surrounded by the vast landscape of Arizona gave Federoff an immense sense of enrichment. She remembers that her favorite book as a child was “The Blue Sword” by Robin McKinley.
She later grew up to enjoy the writings of other accomplished authors such as Charlotte Brontë as well as engender an appreciation for the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the essays of G.K. Chesterton.
Building on her love for literature as a child, Federoff truly fell in love with writing as she got older. Her passion only grew as she matured: “You can make simple facts and figures into something just beautiful to read and beautiful to look at.”
Federoff said, “Writing, especially argumentative and convincing essays, can do so much to change people’s minds and present so much beautiful information when done correctly.”
Though she is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English, this career path was rather unintentional. For a majority of her life, Federoff wanted to join the army and work in the medical field. However, her life was greatly impacted when she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome at the age of 16.
This syndrome means that she experiences frequent joint pain, fragile ligaments, heart problems and autoimmune issues that affect both her skin and digestive system. She recalled how she “very much felt lost” in this time of her life upon hearing the diagnosis.
However, Federoff chose to improve her life by pursuing her strength in her spirituality and intellect rather than limiting herself to her physical abilities. “While I’ve never overcome the illness itself, I can work on my own attitude towards it,” she said.
She said that while her physical strength may decline over the years, her intellect and wisdom will remain with her forever. If she could not help others through the army, she would help others with their writing.
Federoff was hired as a peer tutor for the writing center by English professor Frank Hermann, who holds a doctorate in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Located in Egan, the writing center is a place for students to visit when they require help with their writing skills and papers. As her professor and adviser, Hermann hired Federoff because he saw her talent for writing and likable personality. He said, “(She) puts a smile on everybody’s face. That’s especially good for a tutor.”
Many of the students who come to the writing center are frustrated and in search of direction. Federoff has worked in the writing center for over a year, and she continues to tutor students on their writing with a bright smile on her face. She has faced many challenges during her time working at the center but always does her best to help the students that need guidance.
She remembers a time when an older student entered the writing center looking for help on his writing after he received a low score on his first essay.
Federoff worked with him throughout the semester to help him understand sentence structure and the various techniques he can use to write with his own personal voice, despite English being his second language.
By the end of the semester, the same student appeared at the writing center, this time with a beaming face and holding his paper marked with an A. “He had learned so much about organization and style, fixing his typos, how to quote properly,” Federoff said, “his personal voice was there.”
Federoff helps the students by giving honest feedback, both positive and negative. While she does not always enjoy giving harsh criticism, she deems it necessary in the pursuit of the truth. Her work is especially rewarding when she gets to see the improvement in students’ writing over time.
Helping fellow Franciscan students in the writing center is not the only way Federoff plans to influence the Catholic world. Her dream job is to become an editor for a Catholic publishing house.
However, Federoff realizes that life is rather unpredictable and stated that her life plans “used to have a clearer view” but have recently become less predictable. This is due to Federoff’s recent engagement to her now-fiancé John Durbin, whom she met freshman year and plans to marry after graduation.
Through the frustrations and triumphs, Federoff’s compelling character has shown through. Although life remains unpredictable, Federoff remains optimistic as she continues to work hard towards graduation in the upcoming spring semester and the many years beyond that.