• 2016 Summer Education Abroad Program in Zambia. Information Session TODAY! 12:00 pm, LSC 308. Read more about it here:
  • On Saturday, January 23rd, Doug Cloud gave a talk on the rhetoric of atheism at the annual Fort Collins Skepticamp, a gathering of local atheists, humanists and agnostics.
  • Camille Dungy is featured and quoted in the LA Review of Books essay, “Toward a Wider View of ‘Nature Writing'” January 10, 2016.
  • Abby Kerstetter’s proposal was accepted to present at the 2016 Alaska Native Studies Conference in Anchorage. She will be reading a selection of poems from her thesis project.
  • Ivy Scherbarth, a graduate student in the Creative Nonfiction program, will have her essay “Enchantment” published in the next issue of Taproot Magazine (Issue 17: Myth).
  • Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri’s flash piece, “Mothers and Sons” has been accepted for publication in Cease Cows (101 words). Publication date is forthcoming!
  • The Verging Cities, by Natalie Scenters-Zapico, published in March 2015 as part of the Mountain West Poetry Series by the Center for Literary Publishing, has been awarded the Great Lakes College Association’s New Writers Award. The book has also won the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies award for best poetry collection about a significant topic related to the Mexican-American and/or Chicana/o experience. And it is included in Poets & Writers’ annual Debut Poets feature — a “highlight of ten of the most compelling and inspiring first books of poetry published in 2015” — in the January/February 2016 issue. Karen Montgomery Moore, Katie Naughton, Melissa Hohl, and Cedar Brant were the editorial and production team.

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Whitney Pratz
Operations Manager, The Planetary Society
BA 2007, MFA 2010

Version 2

How did your major prepare you for the job, the life you have now? How did you get from your major to the work, the life you have now?

Majoring in English for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees helped me hone my communication skills and I would say this is how I got to where I am today. My time in the English department helped me develop in all ways.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally)? How did your experience in the English Department help you with these achievements?

My biggest personal accomplishment so far was getting rid of everything I owned and moving to Los Angeles. I didn’t have a particular goal in mind by moving out here — I was looking for a change and oh boy, did I find it.

Professionally, my biggest accomplishment is certainly taking another leap and applying for the job at The Planetary Society. I found the job listing 5 days before application materials were due. They asked for a video intro, a cover letter, writing sample, and resume. I collected my team, got the video recorded and edited revealing my true awkwardness and submitted everything on time even though I thought I had no chance: I don’t have a science background and nothing on my resume spoke about my love of star gazing and dreaming about what’s out there.

My time studying in the English department helped me with my writing ability and, especially grad school, helped me become a master learner, organizer, and communicator.

What did you like about the English program? Why did you choose to study here?

I chose CSU for no remarkable reason: it was close to home and a lot of my friends decided to go there as well. And when I took my first creative writing class in the department, I knew it was my home. My favorite part of the English program were my professors. They were an amazing group of people and I wouldn’t be the same without their support, encouragement and critique.

Was there a specific class, professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you, helped you, or inspired you when you were at CSU in the English Department? Do you still keep in contact with your classmates or professors?

Oh there are so many. I made many great friends during undergrad and grad school, many of whom are still close friends.

So many of my professors made such a difference for me that I’d like to list them all, but I’ll mention a few who always went above and beyond: Steven Schwartz, my thesis adviser; Stephanie G’Schwind, my life and school mentor through grad school; Leslee Becker, a fantastic writer and just all around amazing person.

What would you like to tell prospective CSU English Department students?

Major in English because you love reading and writing and you want to tell the world about something. And minor or double major in a science that you find interesting. The world needs people who can communicate science as much as it needs scientists.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students?

Don’t rush. There’s no time like college and I know everybody says that but we say it because it’s true. Enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about grades as long as you’re learning. Play hooky. Join clubs and communities outside of the English department. Have fun. Get to know your professors. They’re rad people.

Also, take science classes.

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? OR, What are you currently reading, writing? 

I just finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It changed this introvert’s whole way of thinking. I’m currently reading Brain Maker by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg. I’ve been on a nonfiction streak for years now but an amazing piece of fiction I recently read was Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I spend a lot of time outside in sunny Los Angeles with my dogs. I have a big piece of land I’m working to turn into a community garden. I see live music every chance I get. And I spend a lot of time thinking about how my generation will change the world.

Whitney (on the far right) surfing with Bill Nye, Chief Executive Officer of The Planetary Society

Whitney (on the far right) surfing with Bill Nye, Chief Executive Officer of The Planetary Society


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Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project. Zambia, Summer 2015

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project. Zambia, Summer 2015

An important message from Professor Ellen Brinks:

Dear English students,

Are you interested in doing meaningful community education and community health work this summer – in Africa? And earning three academic credits for it?

As faculty-director of the 2016 summer Education abroad program in Zambia (May 22-June 11, 2016), I wanted to touch base with all of you. Last year we had a number of English students (as well as other CSU students) participate in Community Health and Community Education work in Livingstone, Zambia, and I’m hoping for a good representation from English again this year. It’s a wonderful experience that will challenge and empower you, and it’s takes an adventurous and unselfish person to do this kind of work.

Some of you have expressed an interest in going, some of you have already applied, and some may be hearing about the program for the first time. This message is for all of you!

Now is the ideal time to discuss the program with your family, to ponder how serious your inclinations are for boots on the ground experiential learning in Africa (this is not a vacation but meaningful, fun, and gratifying work), to decide whether you’re going to be one of our group, and to get the application process underway for the program and for scholarship money!


Do you want to know more about this program, or are you still unsure whether to commit to it? If so, here are some reasons to go:

  • You’ll be able to work on meaningful community education and health projects and make a difference in the lives of children and adults
  • ​It’s the only CSU program – period – that allows students to get a first-hand experience of life in Africa through community work in education and healthcare (this is NOT a pre-packaged tourist view of Africa)
  • ​Service-learning experience ranks very high in skills sought after in the business, medical, governmental, non-profit, and academic sectors
  • ​You will not be able to find a vacation or volunteer program in Africa as inexpensive as this one
  • ​Zambia has been called “Africa for Beginners” because of its safe, warm, friendly culture and its stable democracy
  • ​Livingstone is a bustling town with a burgeoning middle-class; while you’ll see poverty and hardship, this is not a “depressing” place to be!
  • ​Livingstone has some wonderful amenities (wifi; shops, cafes and restaurants; arts and crafts markets), and the area and our program will offer an unparalleled experience of natural wonders (Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park) and cultural experiences
  • ​We stay at a comfortable and inviting backpacker’s lodge with 24-hour security
  • ​The climate is comfortable; we travel there during their winter with daytime highs in the 80s and nighttime lows in the upper 40s


Testimonials from 2015 CSU volunteers about the summer Zambia program:

  • ​“I felt honored to be able to use my privilege to help in Livingstone. They gave me more than I could ever provide them with” (Jo Buckley)
  • ​“I can say quite honestly that it was the best thing I have done in my life to date” (Nick Breland)
  • ​“Zambia forever changed my life, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip with better people. I hope to apply my experiences in Zambia to my future endeavors and daily life” (Amira Noshi)
  • ​“How was it? It was the un-debased definition of awesome. It was everything that I wanted it to be, and it was more than that too” (Jackson White)
  • ​“Though I will never be able to return to the moments I cherish from Zambia, they are now a part of my being and my future” (Adelle McDaniel)
  • ​“I learned invaluable lessons about myself, teamwork, and the world. I have become more aware of how others live and think. I know I have to go back” (Kathleen Wendt)
  •  “I met so many amazing people on my trip to Zambia. I fell in love with the culture and the people I met. Every person in Zambia had something to teach me about life. If I take anything away from my trip to Zambia, it is that I didn’t change Livingstone in three weeks, but Livingstone changed me” (Katie Wybenga)


You may also be wondering: will this be for academic credit?

  • ​All participating students will take E382, “Reading and Writing the Zambia Experience,” which will count towards your program credits
  • ​You’ll earn three academic credits doing daily community work, along with some pre-trip reading and post-trip reflective writing
  • ​The course will make your time abroad more rewarding through: 1) reading (fiction and non-fiction) and discussion about being a Western volunteer or aid-worker in Africa; and 2) self-reflective writing during and after your time in Zambia. We self-publish the essays in a volume you’ll have to keep and share. The course adds meaningful creative, intellectual, and personal components to the hands-on experience in Zambia.


The application deadline is February 15, 2016.  If you want to go, now is the time to apply! We are capping the number of students at 16.

You can access the application and find materials at the link:


Still need more information?

I’ll be hosting an informational meeting on Monday, January 25 at noon in LSC 308. This will feature many photos and practical information about the program and life/culture in Livingstone, Zambia. It will also give us a chance to discuss more personally any questions or concerns you might have. I will try to get some of last year’s students to come and speak about their experiences, or I can put you in touch with them via email.

You can always – I mean always! – contact me for more information:

In the meantime, I hope you had a lovely break with family and friends.


Ellen Brinks
Faculty Leader, Community Education and Health in Livingstone, Zambia
Professor and Graduate Programs Coordinator
Department of English
Honors Faculty

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CSU lagoon, image by Colorado State University

CSU lagoon, image by Colorado State University

Unless otherwise noted, the internships listed below are open to qualifying undergraduate and graduate students.


  • Publishing/Editorial Internships:
    • Editorial Interns, Bloomsbury Review (Denver, CO)
    • Writing/Editorial Internships (several positions), The Borgen Project (remote)


  • Educational Internships:
    • Adult ESL Teacher, Global Refugee Center (Greeley, CO)
    • Grading Assistant, NCTE@CSU with Poudre High School (Ft. Collins)
    • Writing Coach and Grader, NCTE@CSU, Fort Collins High School (Ft. Collins)


  • Non-Profit/Communications Internships:
    • Communications Intern (paid), CSU English Department
    • Learning and Organizational Development Intern, City of Fort Collins
    • Social Media and Communications Intern, Poudre River Library District (Ft. Collins)


Please contact Mary Hickey, English Department Internship Coordinator, at  for more information on these internships and how to apply.

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