Graduate

Student Profiles

Check out our amazing graduate students!

2020 Graduate Student Cohort

 

Headshot of Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

Hello! I am a first-year MFA student with an emphasis in poetry. I received my BA in English as well as an MFA in fiction from Brigham Young University in Utah, where my focus was writing for children and adolescents. After growing up in Utah I've lived in the San Francisco area, Las Vegas, DC, and Seattle, and I'm now thrilled to take the adventure to the southeast. In writing both poetry and children's literature I like exploring the small lights in dark places. My debut novel for children, What Stars Are Made Of, released from FSG/Macmillan in March 2020 and my second book, Breathing Underwater, will come out next spring. In my spare time I like taking photography walks, visiting zoos and bookstores, belting out show tunes too loudly, and watching Colin Firth movies.

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Sariah Amin,

MA English
Literature

Hey everyone, I'm Sariah Amin! I grew up in sunny Southern California where I earned my BA in English from California State University, Fullerton. Now in the sunshine state, I'm in my second year in the masters in English program here at USF. My primary interest is in contemporary young adult fiction and the theory surrounding it. My main goal here at USF is to become a better critical thinker and writer. I look forward to getting to know and working with all of you as we realize our goals.

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Rebecca Arrowsmith,

MFA Creative Writing
Nonfiction

My name is Rebecca Arrowsmith and I am pursing an MFA in Creative Writing, with a concentration in nonfiction. In 2015, I received my BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Along with other great qualities, course titles like Narratives of the Body drew me to the University of South Florida’s English department. I enjoy reading thoughtful narratives about love, violence, sex, art, and the ability to overcome. Nothing strains my vocal cords more than discussing compelling and well-researched nonfiction. There are too many doomed narratives in the world, too much anxiety spreading and sadness. As a writer, I want to use the skills I’ve cultivated for positivity and productivity in storytelling. USF is an environment where I am excited to engage with that purpose.

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Mara Beneway,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

My name is Mara Beneway and I write poems and draw pictures. This is my first year as an MFA student at USF. I’m from Syracuse, NY but have lived in New York City for the past five years where I taught 7th grade English. I graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in English Education. The past few summers I have lived on a mountain in Vermont pursuing a Master’s degree in English Literature at Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English.

I’m inspired the natural world but especially carnivorous plants, reptiles, bugs and scientific phenomena. Other topics I’m interested in discussing and writing about include queerness, intersectional feminism, women, and the wellbeing of people living with mental illness. My hobbies include, but are not limited to, rollerblading, yoga, hiking, and tap dancing. 

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Elizabeth Chapman,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Elizabeth Chapman and I am a first-year English PhD student here at USF with a concentration in literature. I completed both my MA and BA in English at East Tennessee State University, a small public school in the rolling hills of Appalachia. I have taught first year composition as both a graduate student and an adjunct at the community college level as well as my alma mater.

Some of my research interests are late 19th-century and 20th-century American literature, with a particular focus on female poets of the 20th-century. I analyze the ways in which these poets use differing mythologies, ranging from ancient Greek to Christian theology, as a tool to reconstruct identity and dismantle patriarchal structures. My goal is to let my research, creative work, and teaching inform one another, and I am excited to do that here at USF.

Headshot of Samantha Chianese

Samantha Chianese,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

My name is Samantha Chianese, and I am a first-year MFA student with a concentration in poetry. I enjoy writing in a wide variety of genres and styles, in both poetry and prose formats. I received my BA from FSU in 2018, where I double-majored in both creative writing and psychology and was a member of FSU’s inaugural class of Presidential Scholars. Although born in New York, I’ve lived in Florida for almost my entire life; 2020 will mark my first year living in Tampa specifically. A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite poems, and is also one of the many pieces I have memorized over the years for poetry recitation competitions and readings.

Writing is a major part of my identity and self-expression. I have always sought to find ways to integrate creative writing, whether through the active creation of new content or the reading of previously published material, into the betterment of mental health treatments. As an FSU student, I spent a summer studying abroad in London, where my classwork focused on an international perspective of psychological treatments. While studying there, I took the time to watch multiple theatrical performances, including a showing of Macbeth at the Globe Theatre itself, and explored many other literary and cultural points of interest. Upon my return home, I worked in reading disorder research labs and wrote an Honors Thesis discussing p-curve analyses and their benefits to the analysis of statistical results across fields, with reading disorder research as the specific example analyzed. As a student at USF, I hope to focus on confessional poetry and to conduct research on how the reading and writing of this style of poetry can be used as a therapeutic process. I truly believe that creative writing can be of great help and benefit in supplementing the coping mechanisms and treatment options that are explored in traditional therapy modes.

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Shelby Clark,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

My name is Shelby Clark and I am an MFA student with a concentration in poetry. I am originally from Pass Christian, Mississippi, yet I received my bachelor's degree in English from Flagler College, where I also minored in environmental science and creative writing. My work is primarily centered around the Deep South, as I am heavily influenced by both the physical environments and cultures of my home states. I aim to explore Cajun culture in particular through a creative lens.

Alongside writing, I am an avid painter and sculptor. I hope to combine these visual arts within my poetry, although I recognize it may prove difficult to introduce sculpted dragons to swamp stories. Nonetheless, I'm excited for the challenge. 

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Michelle Dam,

MA English
Literature

My name is Michelle Dam, but I go by Chelli (pronounced Shell-ee). I am a first-year MA student on the literature track. I have lived in Florida since birth and I attended the University of South Florida for my bachelor’s degrees in both humanities and English education. I am interested in how culture and literature intersect and how that is reflected in our secondary English language arts and literature classrooms. I am interested in fairytales, mythology, and folklore and how those texts reveal different characteristics and values of their culture. I am excited to studying texts by a variety of authors who represent the full diversity of America so that I can write different curriculums that encompass the many brilliant cultures attending our secondary schools.  

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Taylor DeMichael,

MA English
Literature

Taylor Jenette DeMichael earned her BA in English from Liberty University and is proud to pursue her MA in English, with a concentration in literature, at the University of South Florida. Taylor’s primary interests are Renaissance and Restoration era literature with a secondary interest in medieval studies. Taylor is excited to join leadership in USF’s EGSA and to work as a graduate assistant.

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Teddy Duncan,

MA English
Literature

My name is Teddy Duncan Jr. I graduated with a B.A. in English from UCF in spring of 2020 and I'm now an MA English student. My research interests vary, but currently I'm working on research pertaining to animal ethics and separate research on indigenous people's ontology in 18th-century crime narratives. I recently had an article on patriarchal perception published in UCF's undergraduate research journal. My fiction chapbook, titled An Absolute Study was published in September of 2019 by Death of Workers Whilst Building Skyscrapers press. I'm very happy and excited to be here at USF!

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Peter Fields,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

My name is Peter Fields, pronouns he/him/his, and I'm a first-year English PhD candidate. I earned my BA in creative writing and my MA in composition & rhetoric at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where I was a football student-athlete. Previously, I taught English Composition courses at my alma mater as a graduate assistant and at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay as an adjunct. 

Although I'm fascinated by visual semiotics, my primary research interest is student-athlete literacy development. From my experience, I see a major disconnect between how student-athletes process, retain, and apply information in athletic versus academic environments. That being said, my goal in this program is to develop methods and concepts that effectively teach student-athletes (who are predominately visual and kinesthetic learners) the literacy skills they’ll need in all phases of life. 

Headshot of Jesse Gilleland

Jesse Gilleland,

MA English
Literature

My name is Jesse Gilleland and I’m a first-year English MA student. I received my AA degree from St. Petersburg College in 2017 and transferred to USF Tampa the following spring. I received my BA degree in English with a concentration in creative writing in the spring of 2020. It was during my undergraduate studies in creative writing that I also fell in love with literature while reading authors like Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf. I now have a deep passion for both fields and hope to eventually study both at the graduate level. I’m particularly interested in British 19th and 20th-century literature, as well as queer and feminist literature.

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina but moved to Florida when I was very young and have lived in the Tampa area ever since. I have a passion for travel, cooking, art, history, and horror. I hope to one day earn my PhD and become a professor of both literature and creative writing, raise chickens in my backyard, and travel the world between semesters.

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S. C. Hagerty,

MA English
Literature

I’m pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in literature. I graduated from Eckerd College in 2018 with a BA in literature and a minor in mathematics, and since then I have worked as a writing tutor at Polk State College and as a legal brief writer at a firm specializing in disability representation. My current research interests include trauma studies, environmental theory (with an emphasis on theories of garbage and waste), and the postmodern American novel. I’m also interested in Holocaust studies, particularly the intersections of memory, narrative, and literature; my essay on these topics placed second in the 2018 Elie Wiesel Foundation Essay Contest. In addition to these research interests, I plan to pursue a career teaching literature. I currently live in St. Petersburg with my cat.

Headshot of Shelby Hennessy

Shelby Hennessy,

MA English
Literature

Hi there! My name is Shelby Hennessy and I am pursuing a MA in English with a concentration in Literature. I earned my BA from New College of Florida on May 15, 2020, in Literature. I am a Bradenton, FL local. At New College, I wrote my undergrad thesis, titled The Memory of Single Mothers in Contemporary Literature, on eight separate pieces of contemporary fiction with a focus on the themes of motherhood, memory studies, and trauma. One of my favorite novels I included in this literary thesis is Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, specifically chapter "The Good Tears." As a single mother in college and a literature major, I strongly resonated with the novels I included in my thesis and compared them alongside one another to give a better perspective on what the single mother experience is like. As a student and graduate assistant at USF, I plan to dive deeper into my understanding of literature and education. While I focus primarily on contemporary narratives, I do enjoy a good Emily Dickinson or Margaret Atwood poem every now and then, too. Aside from Literature itself, I am passionate about Linguistics, having studied German for three years at NCF and Spanish during high school. My favorite courses at NCF were that of German Literature and French Literature. Seeing the novels, memoirs, and plays we studied in their original language side-by-side with their English translations was thrilling. After earning my Master's at USF, I plan to teach literature at a two-year college level. As of now, I have some in-class teaching experience as a classroom volunteer, some e-learning experience as an English consultant/teacher through TESOL-based companies like iTutor and VIPKids, and a few years of experience as an unofficial English/literature tutor. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created ample difficulties for the education system, I am excited to begin teaching ENC 1101 online this semester as it will be yet another unique experience to add to my teaching resume! I hope those that are reading this are safe despite the chaos outside and that the academic year of 2020-2021 will be memorable for positive reasons, too.

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Haley Jones,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

I am pursuing a PhD in English, with a focus in digital rhetoric and public memory. I received my BA (2016) and MA (2019) in English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I attribute my academic shift to rhetoric & composition, in large part, due to my career path. While obtaining my MA, I worked as a lead journalist for an online, NC-based newspaper. I also served as the director of marketing for a non-profit / balloon festival. During both of these occupations, I utilized my evolving understanding of digital rhetoric in its application to communication and promotions, specifically on a digital sphere. I am interested in how the creation of digital artifacts can enhance and develop effective communication with the public. I am also intrigued by the influence that digital rhetoric can have on the active canon, and how it can serve as a tool in the evolving interests of the public’s working memory.

Furthermore, my scholarship has revolved around the creation of a digital archive for Fanny Fern, America’s first woman columnist. I am intrigued most by the suppression of Fern’s indelicate and unconventional columns, which once captivated a national audience but have been lost to today’s archival memory.

Other research interests include maker-culture, memetics, and aspects of rhetorical velocity and visual rhetoric. I am also infatuated by rhetorical satire and the carnivalesque. My paper proposal, The Inhospitable Rhetoric of Feminist Satire: Michelle Wolf’s 2018 White House Correspondents’ Speech, which analyzed Wolf’s use of the comic frame and carnivalesque rhetoric, was featured at the Rhetorical Society of America 2020 conference.

I am excited to be a USF bull and I look forward to the influence and guidance I will receive from mentors and peers as I continue to evolve my research. When I’m not glued to a computer or buried in research, you may find me in my garden with my Florida-native husband, lovable lab, and opinionated dachshund.

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Kayla Kavanagh,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

I am a first year MFA student focusing on fiction. I recently graduated from Boston University (I didn’t follow Tom Brady to Tampa, Tom Brady followed ME), where I studied English and advertising. In my writing, I like to explore how femininity influences power dynamics, as well as how power dynamics influence femininity. I look forward to growing my voice as a storyteller and—as an individual who considers 75 degrees to be hot weather—sweating profusely during my time at USF.

Headshot of Tiffanie Kelley

Tiffanie Kelley,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Tiffanie Kelley and I am a first-year PhD student in the English program with a concentration in literature. I graduated from Valdosta State University in 2015 with a BA in English literature and then moved to Tallahassee, FL, where I worked in admissions at Keiser University. I enjoyed helping students navigate the admissions and re-entry process, but I wanted to return to a research-focused career in academia. The University of Central Florida in Orlando was the ideal place to pursue an MA in English with a literary, cultural, and textual (LCT) studies track. Courses such as Caribbean Literature and Life Narrative in North America honed my interest in genre studies. My research at USF will expand on the topics discussed in my master’s thesis: Life Narratives as Technologies of Self: Explorations of Agency in A Son of the Forest and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I am interested in examining the intersection of mainstream discourses and autobiographical narration within life narratives, specifically in early America, and I would like to discuss the effects of said discourses on an author’s self-knowledge, as it is presented in the narrative.

My career goals are to continue teaching at the college level and to be a published author. An essay I wrote at Valdosta State University, The Unity of Competing Protagonists in Manley’s Almyna, was published in volume six of Omnino Undergraduate Research Journal in 2016. I am proud of this accomplishment, but I want to continue publishing my research and I would also like to publish fiction. I am currently writing a middle grade novel that both celebrates and explores the dynamics of blended families. Authors I love, and who have also influenced my fictional writing, are Ashley Herring Blake and Jacqueline Woodson.

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Nicole (Nikki) Lyssy,

MFA Creative Writing
Nonfiction

My name is Nikki Lyssy, and I am pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in nonfiction. I am originally from Austin, Texas, and completed my undergraduate work in English and history at the University of North Texas in Denton. While in the MFA program at USF, I will be working on a memoir about my experiences navigating the world as a person who is blind. I chose this program because I love the work of those who have come before me, such as Jaquira Diaz, and wanted a chance to work with writers like Heather Sellers, Julia Koets, and others. I was also familiar with the area, as my grandparents spent twenty years in Florida before relocating to be closer to my family in Texas. When not writing, reading or teaching, I can probably be found in a coffee shop or near the ocean. I am so excited to be part of this dynamic program.

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Adrianna Melillo,

MA English
Literature

Hello! My name is Adrianna Melillo, and I’m pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in literature. This is my second time attending USF, as I also completed my BS in secondary English education here in May of 2019. I currently teach English (predominantly 11th grade) at Tampa Catholic High School and write book reviews part-time. My subjects of interest include, but are certainly not limited to, postmodern, contemporary, and working-class literature, as well as American romanticism. Outside of school and work, I spend my time horseback riding, rock climbing, reading, and playing Bananagrams.

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Sam Meurer,

MA English
Rhet/comp

My name is Sam Meurer, and I am a first-year MA English student with a concentration in rhetoric and composition. I recently graduated with my BA in English from Arkansas State University. 

I’m particularly interested in how digital writing influences physical identity, how literary and writing scholarship intersects with the digital landscape, and how digital writing scholarship can be used for advocacy and educating the wider public outside of academia. This has led me to develop a deep interest in the digital humanities. 

Outside of academics, I enjoy traveling (mostly to different countries), kayaking, swimming, drinking way too much coffee, and reading a good book when I get the chance. 

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Andrew Petrykowski,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

I'm Andrew Petrykowski, a first-year student in USF's English PhD program, concentration in rhetoric and composition. I completed my MA in rhetoric and composition at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the spring of 2020, and my BA in rhetoric and composition at Oakland University in 2016.

My main research interest is in writing centers, where all my scholarly activity thus far has focused. There's very little research on what tutors think about writing or tutoring, and given that they are the ones doing the tutoring, I think the dearth of research on the topic should be addressed. I'm interested in other facets of writing center work, too - how tutors are trained and how that training might be improved, how and why students use writing centers, and ultimately how tutors student writers might be better served by writing centers. I want to continue to explore these ideas, but I am also looking forward learning about new areas of inquiry during my coursework.

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Richard (Rick) Reisinger,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Richard (Rick) Reisinger. I’m originally from Rochester, New York, but have been living in the Tampa Bay Area for four years. This is my second program at USF; I recently earned my MA in literature in early 2020. While working on my education, I teach high school English classes at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs.

My particular academic focus is American Modernist fiction, and the majority of my work focuses on identity and performativity in those texts. Additionally, I have a particular interest in the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and much of my effort goes into dealing with his lesser-known works (yes, they exist).

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Jameson Reno,

MFA Creative Writing
Mixed genre

Jameson Reno is an MFA student from Dallas, Texas whose work spans multiple genres. In 2018, he graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in creative writing. His work often attempts to blend and obscure the lines between creative mediums or, at the very least, make people laugh. He also enjoys composing music and playing small pranks on his wife.

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Ashley Richmond Kimmelman,

PhD English
Literature

Hello! My name is Ashley Richmond Kimmelman. I am a first-year student pursuing a PhD in English with a concentration in literature. I completed my BA in Anthropology at UCF and my MA in English at SNHU. After obtaining my degrees I worked as a high school English teacher for four years. All of these experiences have shaped my ongoing fascination with the interplay between sociopolitical trends and storytelling. I plan to continue researching the role of fiction in social change with a focus on contemporary portrayals of women and children in literature. I look forward to working with everyone at USF as I continue my educational journey.

Headshot of Lidiana Rios Barreto

Lidiana Rios Barreto,

PhD English
Literature

Lidiana Rios is a first-year PhD student in English with a concentration in literature. She is particularly interested in examining the American expatriate writers of the Lost Generation by focusing on the connection between space and identity. She graduated in 2015 from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Precinct, with a Bachelor of Arts in foreign languages. In 2019 she earned a Master of Arts in French from the University of South Florida where she worked as both a French TA and adjunct. Her ultimate goal is to teach American and French literature at a university level. 

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Jordan Schultz,

MFA Creative Writing
Nonfiction

Hey, My name is Jordan Schultz and I am a first-year MFA creative writing student at USF. I am from just outside of Washington DC in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I graduated with a BA in English language and literature with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg followed by a small career in Higher Education Enrollment Management (Admissions and Registrar). I am excited to move to the academic side of higher ed! I write primarily nonfiction, but appreciate fiction and poetry as a reader. My writing often explores form and how society and culture, tradition, religion, or gender interact. When I’m not writing, I enjoy being near/on/in water, tea, baking, and travel.

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Zabrina Shkurti,

PhD English
Literature

Hi, all! My name is Zabrina Shkurti and I am a first-year PhD student with a concentration in literature. I am native to Florida though originally from the east coast! I graduated from the University of Central Florida with my bachelors in English and I attained my masters in English from the University of New Orleans. The focus of my master’s thesis was using literature in the classroom for social change, specifically on how to talk about race and racism. I find it absolutely fascinating how literature can tie in so well with current events. Through this meshing of ideas, we can open honest and meaningful conversations with one another. For my PhD, I’d like to continue to focus on using literature for social change with a focus on societal perspectives of motherhood and how these perspectives have shifted and changed over time.

For the past five years, I have worked for an educational software company which allowed me to hone both my technical writing and research skills. When I’m not working or studying, you can find me curled up with a good book, outside on a nature hike with my family, or (attempting!) to find some peace through yoga and meditation.

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Jessica Young,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Jessica Young, and I'm a first-year literature PhD student. My main interest areas are postcolonial studies and gender/sexuality studies. I am interested in the relationship between European colonization and conceptions of gender and sexuality in indigenous populations. Before coming to USF, I earned my master's in rhetoric and composition from Illinois State University in 2017 and my BA in English from the University of Missouri, St. Louis in 2010. 

 

2019 Graduate Student Cohort

 

Headshot of Brittani Allen

Brittani Allen,

PhD English
Literature

Hi! My name is Brittani Allen, and I am pursuing a PhD in English with a concentration in literature. I am new to Florida but not new to the south. As a military child, I am used to moving around. I was born in England before moving to North Carolina a few years later. I enjoy the architecture, history, and literary elements that I encounter every time I return to England when visiting family. I originally fell in love with literature while in the palace library at Blenheim as I stared at the floor to ceiling shelves as a curious child. I expanded my love for literature as I wandered around the Bodleian and visited literary landmarks around the villages and cities of England. These rich experiences coupled with the support and encouragement I continuously receive from my family resulted in me pursuing English literature as a career. I earned my undergraduate degree in English education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). I loved sharing my passion for literature with my high school students, but I wanted more. I love to learn, so I returned to UNCP to gain more knowledge. I earned my first master’s degree in 2018 from UNCP, where I combined my two fields, Victorian and children’s literature, and wrote my thesis on Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I also served as the assistant director for UNCP’s Writing Center. Interacting with diverse students from all majors and content areas was exciting, as every day I was afforded the opportunity to assist someone with something new. After graduating with my first master’s, I moved to North Dakota to pursue a second graduate degree. I admired the picturesque snow daily while working towards another degree and teaching freshman writing courses. I earned a second master’s in 2019 in English literature from the University of North Dakota. From there, I made the 1,900 mile journey to South Florida, where I will work towards a PhD in English literature, focusing on Victorian and children’s literature. I look forward to everything USF has to offer while I pursue this new adventure!

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Audrey Blanco,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

Hello, my name is Audrey Blanco, and I am pursuing a master of fine arts in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. I earned my bachelor of arts in mathematics at USF, and prior to that I earned an associate in arts degree at Hillsborough Community College. The shift from studying mathematics to poetry came quite suddenly; however, I have been writing in my personal time for several years.

Learning to write poetry in an academic setting is very new to me, and I am excited to develop my identity as a writer in USF’s MFA program. I have a particular fondness for nature themes, and I adore imagery about light. Thus far, my favorite book of poetry is Louise Gluck’s The Wild Iris, and one of my favorite individual poems is Margaret Atwood’s Variations on the Word Sleep.

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Justiss Burry,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

My name is Justiss and I’m a first-year graduate assistant in the English PhD program, concentration in rhetoric and composition, here at USF. I completed my MA in rhetoric and composition at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and my BA in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on English literature, philosophy, and cultural humanities at UCF. After completing my graduate degree in 2017, I taught first year writing courses at UCF up until this point. 

Inasmuch as my research interests are concerned, I’m interested in myriad ideas that revolve around the rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) such as exploring rhetorical ideas of fitness, conceptions of navigating patient agency in the ecology of electronic medical records (EMRs), and undergraduate medical schools’ pedagogical approaches to rhetorical principles. I’m also becoming increasingly interested in how perceptions of fitness are often embodied and how these perceptions of corporeality are negotiated for those who are HIV positive and those who are HIV negative. Another point of interest is a space where my RHM research interests align with writing program administrators (WPA) work in both first year composition (FYC) and professional and technical communication (PTC). My goal throughout this program is to learn more about these research interests in order to identify and engage in scholarly conversations that help articulate my identity as a teacher-scholar. 

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J. Katharine (Kathy) Burton,

PhD English
Literature

I am a first-year PhD student in English, concentration in literature, with primary interest areas in children’s literature, fairy tales/fantasy, with a special emphasis in adaptations of the classics in English literature in new literary forms for younger audiences.  In exploring literary aspects of these adaptations, I want to focus on how the interaction of text and visual materials impacts meaning.

My educational journey began with a bachelor’s in English literature from the University of Oklahoma and includes three masters degrees: a master of arts in administrative science focusing on management information systems at George Washington University; a master of science in national security strategies from the National Defense University with a certificate in information strategies; and just this past year, a master of arts in English literature from USF.

My spouse (a Florida native and USF graduate) and I moved to Tampa from Virginia just under four years ago.  I spent 28 years in the US Navy working in communications and computers and still work part-time as an information technology policy researcher for a Department of Defense contractor.

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Julianna Cherinka,

MA English
Literature

My name is Julianna Cherinka, and I am a first-year MA English (literature concentration) student at the University of South Florida. In May of 2019, I received my BA in English literature from the University of Central Florida. I am interested in American modernist literature, with a specific focus on 20th century women's fiction and poetry.

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Alison Denny,

MA English
Literature

My name is Alison Denny and I am in the English MA program with a concentration in literature. I was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, but have lived the past four years of my life in Tampa. I received my bachelor’s in English from Florida College in Temple Terrace, and I am very excited to be working on my master’s at USF. My subjects of interest are British romantic and Victorian literature, American romanticism and modernism, and, of course, Shakespeare. I am a major coffee snob and enjoy the local coffee shop scene immensely. My dream is to become a college professor specializing in teaching British literature, and maybe one day travel to England to visit the home of many of my favorite authors and poets.

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Allison Duque,

MA English
Literature

I am a first-year MA English student with a concentration in literature. I graduated with my BA in literary studies from USF in the spring of 2019 and am excited to begin my graduate studies here as well. I spent over ten years in the corporate world before I decided that I really wanted to pursue a college degree. After my first semester back at school after so long, I realized that I wanted to be in this environment forever. My main area of interest lies in postcolonial literature and other more contemporary marginalized literatures. When I am not reading, I can usually be found working on my house which is a perpetual work in progress.    

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Madison Frazier,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

I am a first-year MFA student with a focus on poetry. I received my BA from the University of South Florida. I am excited to continue my education as a Bull. While here at USF, I am primarily interested in writing poetry that not only explores the body, but the relationship the between the body and illness. While poetry will be my main area of study, I also plan to explore the world of creative nonfiction. In addition to reading and writing, I enjoy cooking, boating, and spending time with my dog, Dolores.

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Jessica Griffith,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

Jess earned her BA in English and intercultural studies from Southeastern University in 2016 and her MA in English with a focus on rhetoric and composition from USF in the summer of 2019. She is currently a PhD English student in the Rhetoric and Composition Program, and also teaches first-year composition and professional writing. Her research interests include technical communication, pedagogy, and how writing programs can better support their students and instructors.

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Gabrielle Grilli,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

Gabrielle Grilli is a first-year graduate student in the MFA program at USF. She received her undergraduate degree at UF with a major in English and minors in French and FL teaching. She is most interested in researching poetry techniques and how poetry has evolved over time and composing her own poetry and creative writing pieces. She hopes to become a professor in the future.

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Sarah Harder,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

Hello! I am a first-year MFA candidate specializing in poetry, having graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in English, creative writing, in May 2018. I have spent the past year working at a local startup app in Winnipeg, Canada. At USF, I am interested in exploring landscapes, the body, and the relationships we form between them, through my writing. When my head isn't stuck in a book, I enjoy hiking, playing piano, and spoiling other people's pets.

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Jerico Lenk,

MFA Creative Writing

On loan from Seattle, I started undergrad at Western Washington University but came to USF for a transfer student tryst, graduating spring 2019 with a double major in history/creative writing and minors in classics and Russian studies. So—although I miss crafting theses about Achilles playing the role of wife during Patroklos’s funeral or how everything in ancient Rome was about the d---, I’m excited to focus fully on creative writing again. (And relieved.)

As a full-time first year MFA student, occasional fire spinner, and all the time writer, I’m still out for great sex hair and challenging concepts of normativity via poem, prose, and screen. I write poetry, literary/lyric/genre fiction, sometimes creative nonfiction, sometimes hybrid/experimental. Really, I’m just stubborn: I write about what obsesses me and what eludes me; I write for young blood representation and normalization of marginalized identities; I write to tell stories, not just storytell.

Some of my work has featured in issues of Brink Lit’s F(r)iction, USF’s thread Literary Review, iOLit online, Obsidian, and CatheXis Northwest Press; others have received a Pushcart Prize nomination and awards such as the Bettye Newman Poetry Award, Estelle J. Zbar Poetry Award, and Anspaugh Fiction Award. The Missing, my Ghost Hunters meets Sherlock Holmes debut with Month 9 Books, was nominated for the Walter Dean Myers Award in recognition of its gender-queer/nonbinary lead.

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Lauren Leonard,

MA English
Literature

My name is Lauren Leonard, and I am a first-year MA student in the English program with a concentration in literature at USF! I earned my BA in English and history this past spring from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I am so excited to start the next part of my learning experience here at USF. As a student, my major research interests are American and European twentieth-century literature, especially the works of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Agatha Christie, and while I am earning the MA, I am so excited to learn more about other genres and fields within the program.

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Katherine (Kat) Lewis,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

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.

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Karla Maddox,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

I am a PhD student focusing in rhetoric and composition. I currently teach analytical and persuasive writing at Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, and I have been teaching since 2007. Courses I’ve previously taught include Writing Processes, A Survey of British Literature, Cambridge A Level Language and Cambridge AS-Level Literature, Communication for Health Sciences, Communication for Engineers, and Composition I & II.

I am a USF Bull through and through! I completed a certificate in technical and professional writing in 2014 while also working on my master’s in English literature. For my undergraduate degree, I majored in literature and minored in philosophy. I feel fortunate to have been in the Honors College and the English Honors Program, as well as worked for the Writing Studio, and studied abroad at Cambridge University. My Honors College thesis was about the social implications of health and science related to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

My academic interests include American literature, pedagogy, linguistics, philosophy, marxism, feminism, digital media, disability studies, and naturalism. In my personal time, I maintain the oldest house in the historic fishing village of Cortez, and I’m interested in preserving some semblance of its originality.

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Mariel Marconi,

MA English
Literature

I am an English MA student with a concentration in literature, undergrad at USF's Sarasota-Manatee campus. My favorite area of study is mid to late 18th century English fiction, and the way authors portrayed the rapidly changing social landscape of the country during the Industrial Revolution. In 2017 I went to London with USF abroad, and I highly recommend that any student interested in adding some color and excitement to their academic career consider one of the trips the university makes each year. I'm excited to meet and work with you all during the next few years.

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Marshall Martin,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

Greetings! I am a rhetoric and composition PhD student and a graduate teaching assistant in the First-Year Composition Program here at USF. I received both my BA in philosophy and MA in English from Slippery Rock University in my home state of Pennsylvania. The academic disciplines I was a part of during my undergraduate and early graduate studies led me directly to the sub-discipline of rhetoric and composition. During my MA program, I served as a graduate assistant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, where I obtained invaluable administrative knowledge and experience. My research interests include writing program and institutional administration, labor conditions within English studies, attention and screen time management, and composition theory. I enjoy trying new cuisines, being with my family and friends, and traveling whenever I get the chance.

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Danielle Mercier,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Danielle Mercier. I was born and raised in Florida and have lived all over the state. I taught third grade at a private school for the last two years but felt as though I wanted to get back into the college atmosphere. That is why I decided to pursue my PhD in English with a concentration in literature.

When I began my undergraduate studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, I decided to major in history and minor in English. Those undergraduate courses in literature opened up a new passion in me—one that revolves around literature and academia. I then pursued my master’s in literature at Florida State University. I primarily focused on the 19th/20th centuries’ slave and segregation narratives. I find this subject to be a rich field of research due to the historical, socio-economic, and political ties the subject still has today. I love reading for learning and engagement and then teaching with the same goals. 

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Nicole Musselman,

MA English
Literature

My name is Nicole Musselman and I’m a first-year MA English student with a concentration in literature at the University of South Florida. I received my BA in English at the University of Tampa in 2009. In the ten years since graduating from University of Tampa, I have worked for many large medical practices in Tampa as an office manager. In 2018 I decided to leave the medical field to pursue my dream of teaching English literature. During my first two semesters as a non-degree seeking student at USF, I became interested in American literature. I am currently expanding my research on masculine motherhood in American literature, particularly in late 19th century women writers.

Outside of academia, I love to spend time with my husband and our two mini dachshunds. We love to visit cooler climates whenever we get the chance to snowboard and enjoy winter activities.

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Yulia Nekrashevich,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

Hello there. I am a PhD student studying rhetoric and composition. I graduated from Barry University with a bachelor’s in professional writing and received my master’s in rhetoric here at USF.

I am mainly interested in Mikhail Bakhtin’s writings on dialogue and the Carnivalesque. Previously, I did research on the Carnival and how it changes cultural hegemony. I am now studying the rhetoric of queer theory and applying my knowledge and skills into this area of focus, with the goal of learning and using methods that challenge social norms.

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Richard Parker,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Richard Rhett Parker, and I am a first-year PhD student in English with a concentration in literature. I was born and raised in Valdosta, Georgia, and I ended up staying in the area to complete both my BA and MA in English at Valdosta State University.

As a scholar, my primary area of interest resides in Postmodern and Contemporary American literature. Specifically, my master’s thesis discussed the ways in which American authors since the ‘60s have recorded and/or highlighted how distinct, regional cultures within America have been “flattened out” in favor of a mainstream culture built on mass consumption (e.g. replacing farmlands with shopping malls). That being said, I am also highly interested in science fiction, war fiction, and liminal spaces. As an instructor, my primary research interests reside in understanding the pedagogical value of multimodal texts (especially comic books and graphic novels) and digital texts as well as how to apply said texts to rhet/comp and literature courses.

Outside of academia, I enjoy reading comic books (big surprise, right?), playing video games, watching films, and listening to and playing music.

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Kaelah Scheff,

MA English
Rhet/comp

My name is Kaelah Scheff and I’m gratified to join the USF’s English department as a graduate assistant in the rhetoric and composition concentration. I am originally from Jacksonville, FL but moved to Boca Raton to major in linguistics at FAU. A year and a half later, I transferred to UF where I received my BA in both English and linguistics by 2017.

At USF, my plan of study will revolve around identity theory and composition studies. Specifically, my work focuses on discoursal writing within FYC programs. I plan to use my experiences here to prepare for doctoral study and a future career in academia. Amidst all the reading, you can find me noshing at local food joints, perusing antique shops, and watching horror and mind-bending thrillers.

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Shauna Slezak,

MA English
Literature

Hello! My name is Shauna Slezak and I am a first-year MA English student at the University of South Florida. I grew up in Cleveland, OH, graduating with a BA in English language and literature from Ohio University in 2019. I am very excited to begin this new adventure here at USF as a masters student! I am on the literature track within the English master's program with an area of study focused on 19th century British literature.

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Austin Smith,

MA English
Literature

I am pursuing my MA in English with a concentration in literature and hoping to eventually get my PhD to teach at the university level. I completed my BA in philosophy with a minor in creative writing from USF, and was involved with the Philosophy Organization here and published essays through our zine. I am most interested in the late-19th and early-20th century Modernist novel, as well as comics as literature. I also enjoy existentialism, post-modernism and some contemporary fiction as well. When I'm not in school, I enjoy going to art museums, watching spaghetti westerns and spending time with my girlfriend Lauren, who is going for her master's degree as well at USF in education.

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Rodger Tornai,

MA English
Literature

I am a first-year graduate English student. I received from University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration on American and English literature. My intended focus for graduate study is the social effects and cultural implications of presenting violations of various taboos in Medieval and English Renaissance drama and fiction; these include those still applicable to modern Western culture such as cannibalism, incest, and necrophilia, as well as those more contextually applicable to English culture between 1066 and the Restoration. Time not spent studiously is generally divided between painting and spending time with my wife. My favorite books are Stephen King’s The Stand and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables; my favorite author is Clive Barker. Good horror, heavy metal and bitter coffee does a most content Rodger make.

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Callie Treadway,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

My name’s Callie Treadway and I’m a graduate assistant pursing an MFA in creative writing at the University of South Florida. My degree focus is in fiction, though I also write poetry, creative nonfiction, and experimental genre-hybrid works. Most of my fiction work is Southern Gothic and is inspired by my experience growing up on a farm in rural Arkansas. My writing explores topics of gender, the body and its connection to nature, trauma, social psychology, and mental illness. I received a BA from USF in 2019, before which I worked as a hairstylist and independent salon owner, where I conducted extensive field research on the ancient and venerable craft of gossip. During this time, I developed a fascination with the fluid and shifting nature of human experience and am interested in how literature can be used to capture subjective definitions of truth. When I am supposed to be writing, I can probably be found drawing, thrift store shopping, playing piano, reading horoscopes, or staring off into the void.

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Calyn Waddington,

PhD English
Literature

I am a PhD English student with a BA in English literature from UCF and a MA in English literature from USF. I am interested in Gothic/Victorian literatures and the application of gender binary deconstruction in Gothic theory and application across various literatures that include Gothic moments and themes. I believe this allows various insight into the Gothic anxieties surrounding gender, sexuality, and relationships. As far as research and writing, the process of analyzing literature is far more interesting to me than academic writing; however, I also have a few creative writing pieces published in poetry and nonfiction. I’m happiest when talking about the Brontë sisters, Mary Shelley, or any of our Gothic treasures.

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Tyra White,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

My name is Tyra White, and I’ll be working to get my masters in fine arts with a fiction focus. I recently graduated in May from Hope College with a BA in English, emphasis in creative writing. I’m most looking forward to writing and exploring identities within black women and culture. I’m from Chicago, and new to Tampa, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the next three years of my life will be paved out in the sunshine state!

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John Williams,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

John is new to the PhD English program but is no stranger to USF. He completed his undergraduate degree in English here at USF, then stayed to earn an MFA in creative writing. His MFA thesis work was a hybrid early reader children’s book with text, handwritten letters and comics. The focus of John’s PhD studies revolves around gentrification and urban renewal, as well as first year composition and program development. In addition to school, John and his partner have owned a real estate appraisal company for over 15 years, which helps inform his rhetorical studies.

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McKenzie Zalopany,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

I am a first-year creative writing student, with a focus in fiction. I was an undergraduate at the University of South Florida and loved it so much I came back. My work often aims to discuss sexuality, mental health, and gender. During upcoming years at USF, I look forward to crossing over mediums, genres, and continuing to improve my work, not only in technique, but in inclusivity and accessibility. Other than reading (because we all like to read here), I enjoy watching my three-year-old pretending to be a robot in the most inconvenient of places, cross-wording, and leaving get togethers early.

 

2018 Graduate Student Cohort

 

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Nicholas Brown,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

My name is Nicholas Brown and I'm a first-year MFA candidate specializing in fiction with interest in cross-genre work. I graduated in 2012 with a BA in English from Auburn University. Since then, I've worked as a door-to-door salesman in my hometown of Morton, Illinois before moving down to Georgia where I've worked at a title I school as a 6th grade special education teacher, a soccer coach, and a 7th grade English teacher where I was a part of my middle school's first 7th grade STEM team. I enjoy coffee, cheese, and assorted deli meats. While at USF, I'm most excited about writing and studying the craft of story-telling and analyzing how various masters throughout history and around the world have wrestled with the varies tensions of storytelling so that, through the supportive community here at USF, I can work towards contributing my most genuine voice. I also enjoy building furniture with the help of drills and large saws, which I've found makes the process infinitely easier.

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Lauren Cross,

MFA Creative Writing
Creative nonfiction

I am a first-year creative writing MFA student, focusing on non-fiction, and I received my BA from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. In my writing, I like to explore topics central to the body, womanhood, and mental health. My work has been featured in thread: an intersectional feminist arts collective and The Broken Plate. When I am not writing or teaching, I am probably applying sunscreen, painting, creating collages, reading, or listening to podcasts.

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Cory Engle,

MA English
Literature

My name is Cory Engle and I'm a first-year MA English (concentration in literature) student at the University of South Florida. I've spent my life in the Tampa Bay area, graduating from USF in 2013 with my BA in literary studies. Since graduating, I've spent several years teaching high school English and media studies in Pasco County, and have also spent time teaching English and traveling in China. As a graduate student at USF I would like to focus on modernist literature, with particular attention towards studying the modern novel from psychological perspectives.

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Anca Garcia,

PhD English
Literature

I grew up in a small Transylvanian city in Romania, and I still love long snowy winters and tall mountains. In early 2000s, I graduated from Transilvania University in Brasov, Romania, with a dual degree in Romanian and English. Three years later, I received a master's degree in Romanian from the same university. I published a series of articles in various Romanian literary journals and short story book in Romanian. For a few years, I worked as a Romanian literature lecturer at Sapientia University in Miercurea Ciuc, Romania.

After I moved to the United States, I became an English as a second language instructor at Valdosta State University, in Georgia. I loved working with international students, but as my interests still revolved around literature, I decided to go back to school and eventually I received a master's degree in English. Valdosta was good to me and it helped me transition towards an English composition instructor, so now I am looking forward to working on my teaching skills at USF while I will also be working on a PhD in English literature.

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Kristen Grafton,

MA English
Rhet/comp

I am born and raised in Florida and have lived most of my life in the Tampa area. I graduated from the University of South Florida in 2016 with three bachelor's degrees in political science, history, and English (with a concentration in creative writing). I will be pursuing a master's in English in the rhetoric and composition track. I am very interested in exploring the rhetoric pertaining to history and politics and potentially merging my three areas of study into one.

I am a high school teacher in the Tampa Bay area. I primarily teach English, though I have also taught United States history and American Sign Language. I will be continuing with my teaching career while pursuing this degree part-time. My personal hobbies include creative writing (mostly novels), reading, playing the guitar, and watching NHL hockey.

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Briget Horne,

PhD English
Literature

Literacy is what I do: how I speak, how I perform, how I think. Perhaps my undergraduate career at FAMU as an English & French double major best convinced me of this truth when my professors exposed me to the Black Francophone world of writers and artists. These pivotal moments taught me that I, too, could find myself within a book, appreciate the diverse experiences of others, and express myself via writing. My experiences also revealed a necessity for more exploration of and exposure to Africana & Black studies within scholastic institutions. Hence, my interest in English literature with a focus on Africana studies allows me to continue exploring the jewels of Black literacy in an effort to excavate these narratives from the shadows. I am a first year, PhD student from Tallahassee, FL, and I am looking forward to this new adventure at USF.

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Meghan Hutton,

MA English
Literature

Hello! My name is Meghan Hutton and I am very excited to be starting the English master's program at USF. I graduated in May of 2018 with a bachelor's degree in English from Christian Brothers University located in my hometown of Memphis, TN. I will be on the literature degree track and the area of study that I am particularly interested in is nineteenth-century American literature.

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Benjamin Kinney,

MFA Creative Writing
Creative nonfiction

I will be studying creative nonfiction at USF, and my work tends to consist mostly of personal essays, though I am looking forward to exploring new genres and formats here. I grew up in Michigan, where I attended Central Michigan University for a BS in secondary education and Northern Michigan University for an MA in English. I have also taught a total of 4.5 years in middle schools in Florida between degrees. I have published nonfiction in the Walloon Writer's Review and f(r)iction, fiction in the Blue Earth Review, and reviews in Heavy Feather Review and Ploughshares. My other interests are distance running, films (especially the work of David Lynch), and reality television (especially Survivor).

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Kara Larson,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

Kara is a third-year PhD student in English with a concentration in rhetoric & composition. Her dissertation research uses Asao Inoue’s labor-based grading contracts in a translingual context. A former K-12 classroom teacher, her research interests include pedagogy, cultural and intersectional rhetorics, and second language writing.

  Image shows profile of Migien Mocke on a wooden pier at dawn or dusk with the horizon of blue water and a gray sky in the background

Migien Mocke,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

Hi everyone! I'm Migien. Pleased to meet ya! I was born in Vereeniging, Gauteng (the smallest South African province) and spent the first few years of my life there before immigrating to Jacksonville, Florida with my family. The first thing I learned in Jacksonville was how to speak English. (Kindergarten was definitely rough, but that was the beginning of everything!!) Thankfully, I learned many other cool things in Jacksonville also! My hobbies include alternating between blindly excavating the valleys of the mind (that's the codename for keeping an appropriately low profile) and positively glistening with aspirations and hopes and dreams (which may or may not be the occasional essential oil blend... Probably the only millennial stereotype I can 110% get behind!).

Though this may come as a surprise to y'all, given the department (*wink*), I was an English major! I completed my bachelor's in English literature at Sewanee, (though stiff upper lips/the FAFSA would call it the "University of the South") up in rural Tennessee. A liberal speck of an arts school, my alma mater lodged it neo-Gothic architecture soundly between trees and mountain-song, scrabbling pens and the squelch of muddy Bean boots... (A surprising staple of the often-business-casual "class dress"!) Ah, memories.

All places have a way of growing on a person, and showing that person how to grow up, in turn. There in that one-horse town on the Cumberland Plateau, I learned much about the magnificence of those who precede us, and how they have shaped/should and will continue to shape literature as we know it.  I hope, at USF, to use poetry to also focus on what comes between our past and our future. The here and now. I received a largely traditional undergraduate education (All English majors were required to take Shakespeare I and Shakespeare II, which didn't count towards the "literature prior to 1850" courses requirement), and I want to fill in some of my contemporary gaps.

Poetry, to me, is how I might piece together those impressions and inclinations I've gathered that I don't know, otherwise, how to communicate. I want to apply poetry in the contemporary sense, and learn from how others have also done so. Creative writing generally, the whats and whys and hows of our choices, indicate what type of culture we currently reflect, where our investments lie.  Specifically, how we write – how we think – is who we are. *This*, here, is my world, and with poetry as a lens, I aspire towards continued growth, with eyes wide open.

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Andrew Miller,

MA English
Rhet/comp

Hi everyone! My name is Andrew Miller, I am a graduate assistant in the rhetoric and composition program as well as a first-year composition instructor here at the University of South Florida. I am also a USF alumnus having graduated last year with a BA in professional writing, rhetoric and technology.

I was born in Miami but grew up overseas in South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where I studied digital filmmaking and later worked as a documentary filmmaker and camera operator on dramatic productions for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. At this point in time, my interests are primarily centered around the study of academic pedagogy as well as the changing nature of contemporary rhetoric in our current social climate. I look forward to interacting with you all as the academic year proceeds!

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Haley Morton,

MFA Creative Writing
Poetry

I am a current student in the MFA Creative Writing Program with a focus on poetry. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in behavioral healthcare, and a minor in creative writing. Although the two seem unrelated, both are intricately involved with listening and storytelling. I am interested in writing as a form of emotional regrowth and counseling, and behavioral healthcare as a way to learn and connect with the people around you. My concentration in undergrad was adult community services and I believe that writing is a form of community. It engages us with ourselves and others. I look forward to exploring this more in my time here at USF and exploring some other obsessions I have like birds, women, religion, and human coping mechanisms and how they change us. I am originally from Wisconsin, but grew up in Herzogenaurach, Baveria, Germany, and Oviedo, Florida.

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Richard (Rick) Reisinger,

MA English
Literature

My name is Richard (Rick) Reisinger, and I'm originally from Rochester, New York. I attended Monroe Community College for 2 years, then transferred into SUNY Brockport to complete my degree in English literature and education. Immediately upon graduating, my wife and I decided to move to the Tampa Bay area, where I took up a high school teaching position at Chamberlain High School that I still hold.

I am currently on track to earn a masters degree in English with a concentration in literature, and it is my intention to carry my studies forward into a doctorate in the same major. With that degree, I intend to take up a position teaching college and contribute to ongoing literary research. I have a deep-seated love and respect for all forms of literature, but I am particularly interested in the writing of the 1920s; to be more specific, I find that my studies often revolve around the American expatriate authors who lived and worked in Paris during that time period. Amongst my favorite authors are Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Emory Russo,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

My name is Emory Russo. I'm a Marylander and a graduate of UMBC with BAs in history and English. I'll be pursuing the fiction track in USF's MFA program, though I'd also like to take at least one course in creative nonfiction. I'm a bi trans man, a cat person, and a big fan of the mystery, crime, and horror genres.

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Scott Simeral,

MA English
Literature

I am a candidate for the MA in English with a concentration in literature. I earned my MA in defense and strategic studies (emphasis in the greater Middle East) from the US Naval War College, and my BS from the US Naval Academy where I majored in international relations and minored in Arabic language. I played division I water polo at the Naval Academy, and made three NCAA Final Four appearances with my team.

I grew up in San Diego, CA and served in the Navy for 12 years prior to coming to USF. Most of my time in the Navy was spent with the SEALs and NCIS. I am married to the lovely Mikayla Simeral of Saint Petersburg, FL, who is a USF alumni!

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Michelle Sonnenberg,

PhD English
Rhet/comp

I am a first-year PhD student in English with a concentration in rhet/comp studying the Anthropocene, a term first used by Paul Crutzen to describe a new geologic epoch - one in which humans have permanently altered the planet. There is great debate about when to date the Anthropocene. This stems from the reality that global climatic changes have widespread causes and far reaching impacts that extend beyond the scope of the physical sciences. I began my studies here in Tampa, and completed a BA in geography and GIS, and an MLA - both at USFSP. During the course of my MLA, I was part of a student and community-centered writing project that focused on finding N/nature in place. I have a mixed academic background that echoes a long held desire to be an English teacher. I seek to use my experiences to find ways to actively engage others in the problem of the Anthropocene, affecting positive change in our world.

I'm a mother of two, and the first in my family to earn a post-secondary degree. I'm a Florida native, though I call Maryland home because I grew up there. I want to write, teach, read, and learn, in no particular order, every day. I hope to one day find myself in a small cabin somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains surrounded by books, running water, and people I love.

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Michael (Mike) Stowe,

PhD English
Literature

In 2013, I moved from Indiana to Florida to pursue an MA in English at USF. I've been with the English department in some fashion ever since – as a graduate student, an adjunct, and most recently, an academic advisor. While I worked as an advisor over the last two years, I earned a second master's degree, this time in English education. In that program, I had the opportunity to build on my theoretical knowledge from the English degree and explore how the literature I studied could be used to affect change in the world. Now that I'm entering the PhD program in English with a concentration in literature, I'm hoping to build on both degrees.

I focus on the intersections of 20th century and contemporary literature, ecocriticism, and critical pedagogy. I intend to work with Indigenous literatures of the Americas as the foundation for a dissertation that will connect traditional literary analysis to classroom teaching and environmentally based service learning with the hope of promoting critical consciousness in undergraduates. My previous research has looked at ways Florida place-based literature can both model a solution to the social stratification resulting from urban development and preserve the rich contributions of immigrants to both this state and the city of Tampa. My current research agenda is both the product and extension of this work.

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Kelcee Sykes,

MFA Creative Writing
Fiction

My name is Kelcee Sykes. I am joining the MFA program on the fiction track. I enjoy writing stories about complicated family situations against a Midwestern backdrop, but I look forward to exploring other genres, particularly creative non-fiction, during my time at the University of South Florida. I have a BA in English and psychology from Hope College in Holland, Michigan and my most recent hometown is Lansing, Michigan. When I'm not writing, I can usually be found wandering in the woods, listening to true-crime podcasts, or doing my best to learn how to cook like a grown up.

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Chondell Villines,

PhD English
Literature

My name is Chondell Villines. I'm a first-year PhD student in English with a concentration in literature. I'm from no place in particular, having traveled the Southern US extensively as a child, but if you ask me where I'm from, I'll usually say St. Louis. I've recently found a place in the area that has St. Louis style pizza (thin crust with provel cheese) and it's made me more nostalgic for the place I lived before moving to St. Pete 6 years ago. I received my BA in literature at the University of Missouri Rolla (Now Missouri University of Science and Technology), my MA in literature from Southern Illinois University, and I recently graduated (June 2018) from the University of Tampa with my MFA in creative writing.

While working on a research project for my MFA I became interested in how writers use food in their stories. Particularly how it's used as a way to exact revenge on or to punish someone. This has led me to want to study American literature, particularly early 20th century American lit. and how alcohol was or wasn't used in stories by American writers. I want to investigate how the depression, and most especially prohibition, caused writers to shift how they used food and alcohol in their writing.

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Jessica Watson,

MFA Creative Writing
Creative nonfiction

My name is Jessica Watson.  I am a first-year MFA on the nonfiction track, and my primary interest is the natural world.  I was born and raised in Norwich, Connecticut and was inspired to get a B. in ecology & evolutionary biology from the University of Connecticut after reading Annie Dillard's book "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek." I have worked in research labs that study everything from insects to plankton to fish, and completed a few years of graduate study in marine science, before I realized that I love fieldwork and writing, but not the research part. I look forward to exploring other genres during my time at USF, especially poetry. My hobbies include spoiling my dogs, fingerstyle guitar, being outside, and butterfly watching.