Creative Writing MFA

Student Profiles

Learn more about MFA students and alumni!

Current Students


Headshot of Rebecca Arrowsmith

Rebecca Arrowsmith

Rebecca Arrowsmith is an MFA student in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Spartanburg, SC, where she worked as the Events and Marketing Manager for the Hub City Writers Project. In 2015, Rebecca received her bachelors in fine arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Read her work at

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Lauren Cross

Lauren Cross is an MFA student focusing on creative nonfiction. Her work often centers on the body, sexuality, the Midwest, and trauma. She is the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection, and her essays and book reviews have appeared in Catapult and Sweet: A Literary Confection

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Gabrielle Grilli

Gabrielle Grilli is an MFA Creative Writing student focusing on poetry and GTA from Southwest Florida. She received her Bachelor of English with minors in French and Florida Teaching from UF. She studies how poetic forms have evolved and often writes about day-to-day experiences in her poetry.

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Kat Lewis

I am a fiction writer and an MFA student at the University of South Florida. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in writing seminars. During my time at Hopkins, I spent a semester abroad at Oxford University where I studied monster literature. As a 2018-2019 Fulbright Creative Arts grantee in South Korea, I conducted research for my novel about ghosts in Korean folklore. In general, I write about monsters. In my research, I’ve found that there are two types of monsters: psychological monsters like addiction and ambition and physical monsters like zombies and werewolves. My writing explores the ways in which psychological monsters overlap with the physical monsters from Western and Korean folklore.

Headshot of Nikki Lyssy

Nikki Lyssy

Nikki Lyssy grew up in Austin, Texas, before pursuing her undergraduate degree in Denton at the University of North Texas, where she studied English and history. She is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus in nonfiction at the University of South Florida and has works published in Hobart and Essay Daily and forthcoming in Sweet. When she isn’t writing or teaching, you can find her enjoying a cup of coffee, a good book, or time with family and friends. She can be found on Twitter @blindnikkii.

Headshot of Kelcee Sykes

Kelcee Sykes

Kelcee Sykes is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Lansing, Michigan currently hurtling toward the end of the USF MFA program, where she is working on a fiction thesis project. Most of her work draws on characters and themes inspired by her Midwestern roots and questions what it means to feel at home in our environments, in our families, and in our selves. Her writing can be found in Lammergeier and Barren Magazine. When not working, she can usually be found wandering in the woods, listening to true-crime podcasts, and taking pictures of the sky.




Image shows Melissa Carroll with a book on her head, looking up and to the right


Melissa Carroll

Melissa Carroll is a writer, yoga instructor, and editor of the essay collection Going OM: Real-Life Stories on and off the Yoga Mat (Viva Editions, 2014), which was nominated for an IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Melissa is the author of two poetry chapbooks: The Pretty Machine (ELJ Editions, 2016) and The Karma Machine (YellowJacket Press, 2011), which received the Peter Meinke Award. Melissa's work has appeared in Brevity, New South Review, Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, Creative Loafing, on, and elsewhere. She  leads yoga and creative workshops and retreats in Tampa Bay and beyond.

 Image shows Jaquira Díaz smiling at the camera


Jaquira Díaz

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz is a 2016-18 Kenyon Review Fellow and recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, two fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, and an NEA Fellowship to the Hambidge Center for the Arts. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Best American Essays, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The FADER, the Kenyon Review, Brevity, Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Tin House, among other publications. A finalist for The Essay Prize, she's been awarded fellowships or scholarships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Summer Literary Seminars, the Tin House Summer Writers' Workshop, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. In 2017, she was listed among Remezcla's 15 Latinx Music Journalists You Should be Reading, included in NPR's Alt.Latino's Favorites: The Songs of 2017, as one of "the cream of the crop of Latinx music writers," and named by the Los Angeles Times' critic Walton Muyumba as "part of a necessary cipher of extremely gifted freestylers" that includes writers Ta-Nehisi Coates, Claudia Rankine, and Junot Díaz, among others. This year, she'll be a Writer in Residence at the Summer Literary Seminars in Georgia and Kenya.

 Image shows Chelsea Dingman smiling at the camera


Chelsea Dingman

Chelsea Dingman is a Canadian citizen and visiting instructor at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved, is forthcoming from Madhouse Press (2018). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review's Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review's Wabash Prize, and Water-stone Review's Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website:

 Image shows Christine M. Lasek smiling at the camera in front of wooden bookcases filled with books


Christine M. Lasek

Christine M. Lasek holds an MFA in fiction from the University of South Florida, where she served as the managing editor of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. She currently teaches creative writing and serves as the academic professional for the Creative Writing Program at the University of Georgia. The first 30 years of Christine's life were spent in southeast Michigan. She grew up in Troy and graduated from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor in 2003. Prior to pursuing a degree in creative writing, she worked as a web editor and public relations official for companies in and around Detroit, including WXYZ-TV Channel 7 and Crain's Detroit Business. Christine's fiction and nonfiction have been published in literary magazines, including Eleven Eleven, The Sierra Nevada Review, and VIA: Voices in Italian Americana, among others. Her collection of short stories, Love Letters to Michigan, was published by ELJ Editions in 2016.

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Gloria Muñoz

Gloria Muñoz's writing is forthcoming in LUMINA and has appeared in Yes, Poetry, The Rumpus, Best New Poets, Acentos Review, Forage Poetry, The Brooklyn Review, and Entropy, among others. Her writing has also been honored by the New York Summer Writer's Institute Fellowship, USF Humanities Institute, the Think Small to Think Big Artist Fellowship, and a Creative Pinellas Artist Grant. Gloria holds degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and the University of South Florida and she teaches creative writing at Eckerd College. Gloria is a also a proud co-founder of Pitch Her Productions, an organization dedicated to women in film.

 Image shows John A. Nieves smiling at the camera in front of a tree


John A. Nieves

John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: American Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, and Puerto del Sol. He won the Indiana Review Poetry Contest and his first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge's Prize. He is an assistant professor of English at Salisbury University. He received his MA from University of South Florida and his PhD from the University of Missouri.