After a very successful inaugural year in 2015, Dr. Ellen Brinks will be taking CSU students to Livingstone, Zambia from May 22-June 11, 2016 to contribute to community education and community health initiatives. For three weeks, they will be taking part in experiential learning and internships through our Colorado State University Study Abroad program (and African Impact). The following pre-trip field report is written by Madeline Kasic.


As an English education major I originally thought studying abroad would take me to England to pore over the works of Shakespeare, Marlow, Beckett (who is actually Irish), Dickens, and hopefully J.K. Rowling. Studying English literature in its native country would be an amazing experience, and is something I hope to someday have the opportunity to do; but at this stage of my life I want an experience abroad that would offer me a new perspective and help me gain experience towards my goal of becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, no matter how wonderful literature is, and the inexplicable way reading allows us a window into the experience of others, there is something to be said for gaining experience firsthand.

Enter the opportunity to teach and do community service in Zambia. When I first heard of the program I did not know what to think of it. Zambia offered all the experiences I was seeking, but I did not know what I was seeking when I began looking at study abroad programs.


My realization of how incredible this opportunity might be happened slowly over Thanksgiving break after my adviser recommended the program to me for the second time. I was staying in my uncle’s town house in Frisco, CO where my younger brother was frantically filling out college applications. He inspired me to get my own computer out and start working on finding a study abroad program for the summer. I found myself taking a closer look at the organization African Impact that Dr. Brinks was working with to create her program and something sparked. Here was a program that would help me gain experience in the field of education and take me somewhere I would never have thought to go otherwise. It was the opportunity to help people, become a better teacher, and gain a new outlook on the world.

The next morning, I told my family that I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, and they were stunned. My parents were comfortable with the idea of me fending for myself in Europe because we had taken a few family vacations there and had lived in France for six months when I was little, making Europe an easy place for them to visualize me by myself. I also have relatives in France so there would be someone relatively close by if I needed help, which helped set their minds at ease. But now I was presenting a very different idea of how I wanted to spend my summer.

My uncle started looking up facts about Zambia on his phone while my parents and aunt began asking me questions about the county and the program. We quickly discovered a couple of facts: I would be in Zambia during the dry season, the Zambian government is relatively stable; Zambia is landlocked and bordered by seven countries; that just outside the city of Livingstone (where the program takes place) is Victoria Falls, one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world; and there was the ever so slight chance that I would see my brother’s favorite animal the Pangolin.

A pangolin. Photo Credit: David Brossard

A pangolin. Photo Credit: David Brossard

The more questions were asked the more excited I became. I was planning a journey that was different from what I was expected to do, and that made me feel like I was making the right choice. I don’t identify as a rebel, but I do believe that the best things happen when we reach for the unexpected. As a teacher, I want to empower my students to think outside the box, and go take the chances they feel need to be taken, making this trip to Zambia a chance to practice what I plan to preach.

My hope is that by teaching and serving in Zambia I will gain a better understanding of what our world needs to successfully continue into the future. I believe that education is one of the best ways to help enable young people to inherit the world and to make better choices than their predecessors. 

After deciding to go to Zambia came the many stages of getting to Zambia. It started with applying to Dr. Brinks’ program. I enjoyed the shock and awe that accompanied my friends’ reactions to my summer plans, and as I looked further into the program I decided to extend the original three week trip by eight more weeks, enabling me to stay with the Zambian class I will be working with for almost their full term.

Then after I was accepted into the program came the academic and physical preparations for the trip. To prepare academically the other students going to Zambia and I read A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin, Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind by Curtis A. Keim, The Ponds of Kalambayi by Mike Tidwell and a number of short essays depicting the experiences of aid volunteers in third world countries. And to prepare physically we each subjected ourselves to multiple vaccinations to protect ourselves against typhoid, malaria, and yellow fever.

My hope is that by teaching and serving in Zambia I will gain a better understanding of what our world needs to successfully continue into the future. I believe that education is one of the best ways to help enable young people to inherit the world and make better choices than their predecessors. This applies to me as well as my future students. Through this trip I hope to not only educate myself, but help the youth of Zambia receive an education as well as emerge with a story and example for my future American students of how they can impact the world.

Tags: , ,

Jessi Hanson

University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs PhD Candidate and Teaching & Research Assistant

Playing to Live International Co-Founder/Technical Program Director

BA in English Education at CSU, 2003


You have been doing such amazing, diverse work in the world. Can you tell us more about that?

I joined the Peace Corps after graduating CSU. While serving, I saw how much children face when afflicted by poverty and marginalized and at risk. I decided to pursue my masters in International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2006, so that I could work in international development helping improve education and child protection in developing countries. I lived and worked abroad for 9 years, particularly in the Dominican Republic and Liberia (post war and during the Ebola crisis). I have now worked nearly 14 years in this field, and have traveled to about 20 countries doing educational programming, like teacher training and literacy programs.


Jessi with Ebola Survivors in Liberia

How did your major prepare you for the job, the life you have now?

At CSU, I look many courses focused on literacy and reading acquisition in the Department of Education, alongside linguistic courses in the Department of English. I learned so much about how people (children and adults) learn, particularly a new language and the science behind reading. The joint program study helped me apply my knowledge to developing and supporting programs for adults and children who had little schooling and poor literacy acquisition. It was wonderful prep.

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?

One of my greatest accomplishments was helping design and implement advanced literacy training curriculum for Liberian youth who, due to the long civil war, never got to attend school and couldn’t read. The English Department’s courses on linguistics, poetry and adolescent literature helped me and my team develop a robust and engaging curriculum, where the Liberian students were not reading boring ‘A for Apple…B for Ball’, but instead singing their alphabet, reading simple but beautiful poetry and literature/stories that were relevant to their age development. We included classical poetry that is celebrated around the world, and even had them write their own stories. We taught them about proper grammar and writing, including how there is both formal and informal English, and they are all forms of self expression.


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

I am a native Coloradoan, so I wanted to study at CSU since I was a kid. I love literature and knew I would want to study English. I was blessed that the department at the time had incredible professors who inspired me, like Dr. Sebek, Dr. Garvey, and Dr. Robinson. They were so moved by literature and language, and that inspired me to continue free writing even on top of my job. I published my first novel a few years ago, In the Silence of the Sun. I am working on two more currently, including one about the lives of Ebola survivors. If it was not for professors like them, my motivation to write would not have been so great. Also, because of them, I am going after my second dream which is to be a professor. I am studying at the University of Pittsburgh, and can’t wait to teach students as they taught me.

In the Silence of the Sun Cover

Jessi’s novel In the Silence of the Sun

Do you have a favorite or funny story from your time with the English Department? Or something you particularly miss?

I miss getting to do literature as ‘life.’ Not all careers allow a ton of time for reading the classics and new exciting literature. Getting to read as a student, and read all the time, was actually one of my favorite memories at CSU.

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?

I have kept in contact with several professors since university. When I am in Colorado, I try to visit campus and grab a coffee with them. It is wonderful to keep long connections with such incredible mentors.

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

Take a variety of classes, and go beyond what is required to graduate. By taking a range of classes, you discover new literature that you never thought you would like. I learned that I loved Shakespeare, magical realism, and Hemingway.

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

I am working currently on a novel based the true stories of female Ebola survivors and their lives after discharge from Ebola Treatment Units. I spent the last year there working on the emergency, and had the humbling fortune to meet these incredible heroes. I am always reading, and carry a book in my bag or purse (never got into electronic reading…too old). Currently I am re-reading A Movable Feast.

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

In my free time I run and write. In a PhD, there is little free time, so when I can do both in a day, it is a really good day.


Where will we find you in five years?

Hopefully I will be a professor in a lecture room. Also, hopefully my organization, Playing to Live, will also be expanded to numerous countries which means reaching more children in need through play art therapy, which includes story time.

Tags: ,

Chris Hardy
Owner/Partner/Employing Broker
Elevations Real Estate, LLC
BA – English w/Education Certification 1987

Chris 1987

How did your major prepare you for the job, the life you have now?
Where to begin? At first, my plan was to teach and coach at the middle/high school grades, making a difference in the world one student at a time. This plan was modeled after several of my own high school teachers and coaches who critically influenced my personal development. It was a good plan. In retrospect, I think it was less a plan and more of a “plan-B”… you know, “Oh, you can always teach…”

What I discovered, is that with a bit of curiosity and a willingness to pursue emergent opportunities that piqued my interest, jobs and careers I never dreamed of being possible (let alone desirable) presented themselves. Communication skills (written and verbal), critical thinking skills, lesson planning, exposure to literature from the past and present, from women and minorities, to adolescents and eccentrics – my English degree curriculum and teacher certification program prepared me for a life in our tech-driven, multi-cultural, business-as-a-lifestyle global village.

I’ve been a general manager, a property manager, a general contractor, a builder, a real estate broker, a sales manager, a corporate trainer, a business coach, and entrepreneur. Seriously? Business Management? Sales…I mean, Business Development ? Corporate Trainer? Real Estate Broker? The 25 year-old-me would have said “Eww, no way” to each of those job titles. Nonetheless, each job allowed me to explore the world in ways I couldn’t have considered as an idealistic undergrad.

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 greatest accomplishment overall? Easy! The relationship with and marriage to my wife, Pat (CSU, BS –Psychology, 1986). We met while attending CSU and working at the Aggie Theatre (when it was a movie theater). We would also see each other outside a common classroom in the Clark building. A true campus romance that 30 years later is still going strong!

From a professional standpoint, my greatest accomplishment is the role I play in our local and regional Realtor Association. A couple of years ago, at the urging of several colleagues, we started the Fort Collins Board of REALTORS Emerging Professional Series: The FCBR Academy. It is a 12-hour continuing education class designed to help new real estate licensees navigate their first years as a real estate broker. Nearly 200 have taken the course and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I also facilitate a number of other classes for REALTORS along the Front Range intended to improve professionalism in the industry. In the long run, “plan B” was inescapable. I love to teach and I feel like I am making a difference in the world one student at a time! Without my time in the English and Education departments – I may never have discovered my passion for teaching, presenting, and coaching.

 chris sweater (2)

What did you like about the English program?
I loved the diversity of the curriculum: Dr. Mark’s Shakespeare; Pattie Cowell’s Women’s Literature; Dr. Zoellner’s Major Authors Course on Hemingway: Carol Mitchell’s Mythology Course; Dr. McBride’s Adolescent Literature; Steve Reid’s Teaching Writing; Neil Petrie’s 19th Century British Fiction; and even David Lindstrom’s Literary Criticism course continue to stand out in my memory as being elemental in the broadening of my life perspective and the critical role that words and language play in our day-to-day lives.

Why did you choose to study here?
CSU was a natural choice for me as I grew up nearby in Berthoud. Plus, family members attended in the past: father – James Hardy, aunt – Elizabeth Wolverton, and uncle – Van Wolverton).

Do you have a favorite or funny story from your time with the English Department? Or something you particularly miss?
I miss the immersive nature of studying literature. My post-academic life is so fractionalized. The opportunity to focus on a single work or the characteristics of a group of writers (like the modernists) seems like such a luxury now. I am a bit nostalgic for class time and the open discussions of the books we were reading and the themes the authors were exploring.

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?

Dr. William (Bill) McBride! Not only was he one of my most influential professors (adolescent literature, teaching writing) – he was my academic advisor, too. His personal interest in my success and development went well beyond the basic professional obligations of an instructor or assigned advisor. He made me feel worthy of pursuing a teaching credential and that I had real gifts to share with the world. His encouragement made all the difference for me in attaining a degree! I hold him as the model by which great teachers are measured! Dr. McBride (Bill) and I have gotten together for lunch on occasion and as our schedules allow. I try to tell him each time I see him what an impact his teaching and mentorship has had on my life.

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

Words matter. Language matters. Spelling matters. Writing matters!! Those who understand how language works can learn just about anything – can adapt to just about anything. Those who understand how language works can inspire, persuade, critique, applaud, compliment and complement! With an English degree, you are given access to history, philosophy, psychology, thoughtful analysis, creative and critical thinking. It gives you the foundation to truly do anything to which you set your mind.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students?
Do whatever it takes to finish your degree program. Don’t worry about the path after school – many times, the path that has the most to offer isn’t visible until you’ve pursued a couple of dead ends. Consider broadly what your skills and talents as an English Major can offer – it isn’t just teaching. It isn’t just writing. It’s management, communication, marketing, sales, leadership, entrepreneurship. Read Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind and you’ll see what I’m talking about!

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? OR, What are you currently reading, writing?
Oddly, I’ve become an avid reader of non-fiction. I mentioned Daniel Pink – he’s terrific! I’m currently reading Charles Duhigg’s latest book on productivity, Smarter, Better, Faster. As a journalist for the New York Times, I find his writing concise and compelling. His previous book, The Power of Habit is also a favorite. I’m a sucker for a good Michael Connelly novel and since my birthday is 11-22-63, Stephen King’s book of the same title is mind-bendingly entertaining!

I write every day! Perhaps it isn’t the great American novel – but I love writing! Whether it is an email to a client explaining the process of buying a house – or a snarky Facebook post that generates laughs and comments, I love that command of the language gives me confidence and that a well-developed vocabulary is powerful in both written and oral formats. Even when I’m developing a power point presentation that is driven by images – the text that remains on the slide is the way-point that provides the listener navigation in the skills they are building.

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
I love to flyfish, travel, read, work with wood, do home improvement projects, and Pat and I still love the movies after all these years and go as often as we can.

Chris fishing hat

Where will we find you in five years?
I love this quote from Norman Maclean: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”  You will find me on the river – likely, on the Poudre, near my home just 7 miles up from Ted’s Place.

Tags: ,

Michelle Wilk

Michelle Wilk

Michelle Wilk
Working on her MA in Rhetoric/Composition
Associate Director of the Writing Center

[The following was transcribed from a video interview with intern Ashley Alfirevic]

What do you like most about your work at the Writing Center?

I like the fact that I get to work with all the consultants because they are very, very intelligent people and they all have different ways of approaching and talking to people about writing. It’s really interesting to see all the different ways they go about doing that.

I just like working in writing centers in general because you get to talk to a bunch of people about their writing. You hear and you get to read about a lot of different things, and it’s really fun – it’s really fun to read a piece of a PhD dissertation in Biology and you have no idea what’s going on but they’re really, really into it and they’re excited to talk to you about it about, and you are like “yeah, this is really neat,” but you have half an idea what they are talking about.

Do you have a favorite Writing Center experience?

I’m the one who checks the Writing Center email a lot, and I remember very specifically there was one email that we got from a student who was incredibly thankful for our services. She was talking about how she submitted a paper for an undergraduate conference and she got accepted. So it was really, really neat to hear that from her.

What brought you to CSU?

It was actually on recommendation from an instructor an my undergraduate university because I wanted to get a Masters in Rhetoric and Composition and the first thing he said was “Colorado State.” So I applied, and here I am.

Describe Eddy Hall in one word.

Can it be two words? Elementary school-esque – because of the colors, the color scheme.

Who is your favorite author?

My favorite author is probably Margaret Atwood. She’s fantastic. I read one of her books in high school and I immediately went out and got all of her other books, and they’re all excellent.

If you were to give advice to someone coming to the Writing Center, what would it be?

Writing is hard. Writing is absolutely very difficult, incredibly hard, for anybody and everybody, and anybody who tells you that writing is easy is lying to you.

What’s your biggest goal or priority right now?

My goal, my main priority is to successfully defend my thesis so I can go to East Carolina [University] in the fall for my PhD program.

Why is it important to study the Humanities?

Just off the top of my head, I know that a lot of major corporations when asked what they are looking for in job applicants say “written communication skills,” and I think it’s just incredibly important in general to study communication — how people communicate with each other, as well as what some of the ethical ramifications are for specific kinds of communication.

Tags: , ,


The Colorado State University Writing Center is a free service open to Colorado State University students, staff, faculty, and alumni as well as the local Fort Collins community. Their goal is to engage their community in conversations about writing; to that end, they provide face-to-face and online consultations for writers in all disciplines working on all types of writing from traditional research papers to electronic texts such as websites and blogs.


Beginning with writers’ needs and concerns, they use their knowledge and expertise to enhance writers’ understanding of a variety of rhetorical issues, such as purpose, audience, style and conventions. Writing Center consultants can assist writers at all stages of the writing process, including brainstorming, drafting, researching, revising, and polishing. They strive to help writers develop the confidence to make effective writing choices in any writing situation. In these ways, they support the shared goal of writing centers everywhere to help create better writers, not just better writing.


During the final weeks of Spring semester, Intern Ashley Alfirevic, (who was also in the final weeks of her time at CSU, about to graduate), spent some time in the Writing Center with various staff members, talking with them about what the center has to offer, taking pictures and making some videos. (P.S. We apologize for the background noise in the videos made that day — the Writing Center was hopping!).

Writing Center Director Lisa Langstraat tells how the Writing Center got started.


The Writing Center believes that writing is not a solitary act and that writing becomes more effective when discussion/conversation surrounds it. The Colorado State University Writing Center is dedicated to providing advice and help in every stage of the writing process. Their goal is to engage the community in discussion about writing by providing face-to-face and online consultations, classroom presentations, and outreach to faculty, staff, and students.


Writing Center Director Lisa Langstraat talked specifically about the myth that the Writing Center is only for people who aren’t good writers.

One of the myths that often disturbs me about writing centers is that they’re a place where people who are not good writers come. And I think that is really problematic because we see writers who are certainly developmental writers – people who’ve been out of the university for a long time, maybe they’re rusty, or people who are just learning US academic discourse – but we also see people who are working on dissertations and masters theses.

The Writing Center is based upon the philosophy that to become a better writer you need to talk about your writing with writers. And of course, this is what all writers do, right? In my field, when I’m publishing an article in a journal , I get feedback from editors, and that’s the same thing that happens in the Writing Center – we get feedback. So I guess something I would really like to dispel is this myth – that only people who are not strong writers come to the Writing Center. It’s a place for everybody.

Writing Center Associate Director Bruce Shields agrees.

Absolutely. I think that’s what the Writing Center offers – that chance, that opportunity for conversation, to talk about your writing in new ways and explore new ideas, to bounce ideas off of another person, and to challenge yourself as a writer, try to find new processes, new ways of looking at whatever it is you are working on. So that’s applicable to all writers at all stages of the writing process as well. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are new, whether or not you’re comfortable with writing, whether or not you feel as if you are a relatively good writer, you just want somebody to have a conversation with [about your writing], to look at it [your writing] from a new point of view.


Lisa asked Writing Center consultant Alyson Welker, “do you think this is the same kind of dynamic that happens in synchronous online consultations?”

I do. I think some students who are hesitant to come in to the center actually find that [a synchronous online consultation] is a way to get involved and practice, to get a feel for what happens during a consultation. Sometimes people feel more comfortable with that space in between, practicing, and then they kind of get hooked, “I want to come do this again,” and if they’re close, coming in is available.

Alyson talks more about the synchronous online writing consultations.

While face-to-face consultations can provide more opportunity for conversation with consultants and immediate feedback, the Writing Center understands that not all students can visit the physical center locations during their hours of operation. For that reason, they offer the online draft review queue. Writers submit a draft to the queue, and a consultant will respond in the order in which they receive drafts. Assistant Director Michelle Wilk talks about online consultations.

Writing Center Associate Director Bruce Shields talks about Writing Center consultants.

Wonder what a face-to-face consultation is like? Consultations last for 30 minutes, and in that time we typically discuss the equivalent of 4-5 pages (double spaced) of writing. Using the hierarchy of rhetorical concerns, consultants and writers address issues of audience, purpose, context, focus, development, organization, style and conventions. CSU students can request that an email notification be sent to their instructor outlining the work that was done during a consultation. Face-to-face consultations are open to CSU students, staff, faculty, and the general public.


Some Writing Center statistics from the 2014/2015 academic year:

  • In 2014-2015, 1609 students used the Writing Center services.
  • In 2014-2015, there were 4730 total consultations.
  • In addition to offering face-to-face consultations, the Writing Center also provides feedback online. In 2014-2015, 1712 of their consultations were conducted online.
  • The Writing Center is a great resource for ELL students. In 2014-2015, 49% of their consultations were with students whose first language was not English.
  • In 2014-2015, 14% of their consultations were with graduate students.
  • In 2014-2015, 10.4% of their consultations were for courses that have a special collaboration with the Writing Center (e.g. BUS300, Psych100).
  • Students visit the Writing Center for help with hundreds of different courses. In 2103-2014, students received help with more than 350 courses.
  • The Writing Center assists writers from many different fields of study. According to their registration data, in 2013-2014, students came from 191 different academic programs across campus.
  • In 2013, international students from 41 different countries using the Writing Center services.
  • 19.3% of registered clients were students from under-represented populations at CSU.


Writing Center Associate Director Bruce Shields had this to say about visiting the Writing Center,

Something I’m always surprised by is how many people return to the Writing Center to use our services, and I think that sometimes there can be that initial discomfort of walking through the door, coming to a new place, new space, but I think that the Writing Center’s always been a warm, welcoming environment, and once people sit down and have that conversation, that it’s not evaluative, there’s no judgment involved at all.

Writing Center Director Lisa Langstraat added, “No judgment at all. There’s just help.”


Director Lisa Langstraat had this to say about what is so special about the Writing Center.



Writing Center Associate Director Bruce Shields had this to say about the Course Collaborations service.

I think it’s really cool because it allows for us to take advantage of different genres of writing other than what you would expect to see from the English department, from other disciplines other than the English department. One of the cool things about the Writing Center is that it is a multidisciplinary resource, meaning that we see writers not only from English but from Business classes, from Science classes, from Psychology classes, from Biology classes, from all kinds of different disciplines and backgrounds. We’re always trying to keep an eye open to see what backgrounds and experiences that they’re [students] bringing in to the Writing Center.

So the Course Collaboration Program is an opportunity for faculty to reach out and say “hey, a lot of my students could really take advantage of this resource – what kind of opportunities do you offer for us?” And what we have is a way for us to develop and cultivate a much more direct relationship with faculty from other disciplines. Faculty who are interested typically submit some of their materials, so a lot of their assignments, syllabi, whatever resources might be useful during a consultation. Sometimes faculty give us textbooks that our consultants will refer to, just to get a deeper understanding of some of the conventions of those genres that they’re writing in, as well as a deeper understanding of some of the concepts that they’re going to be working with. That allows us to be better informed when students from those classes come into the Writing Center. We’re approaching their writing from a much more informed position. Right now we have course collaborations from Psychology classes, from Human Development and Family Sciences, from Business writing classes, from Biology courses – a variety of different disciplines.

New Writing Center initiatives:

  • Synchronous online consultations: Piloting in summer 2016; in effect Fall 2016
  • Greater options for graduate student writers: writer workshops and weekend-long “boot camps.”



Writing Center Director Lisa Langstraat’s advice for students coming to the Writing Center.

Tags: , , , , ,

Image by Colorado State University and Chelsea Conrad

Image by Colorado State University and Chelsea Conrad

  • Camille Dungy has just signed a contract for her next book of poetry, Trophic Cascade, which will be published by Wesleyan University Press in the Spring of 2017.
  • Roze Hentschell has published an essay, “The Cultural Geography of St Paul’s Precinct” in The Oxford Handbook of the Age of Shakespeare (Oxford University Press).
  • Barbara Sebek will be kicking off a sabbatical year by presenting a seminar paper, “Temporal and Geographical Mash-ups in Jonson and Shakespeare,” at the World Shakespeare Congress in London, England in August.
  • Cedar Brant has a poem up at West Branch Wired:
  • Teal Vickrey, received a Fulbright to the Czech Republic,
  • Jonathan Starke (MFA, 2011) has a short story (“Broken Leather”) coming out in the 100th issue of Greensboro Review, a short story (“Why I Say This Now”) in the current issue of Green Mountains Review, and an essay (“The Museum of Broken Relationships”) in River Teeth‘s “Beautiful Things.”
  • Stephanie Train (MFA Fiction, 2011) has been invited to speak on three panels at Denver Comic Con this summer. She is currently a Ph.D. student at CSU in the Journalism and Technical Communications department, studying transmedia narratives and toxic speech in online spaces. Her conference panels are as follows:-Transmedia in the CW television show, “Supernatural”
    -The Death Of the Hero’s Journey and the Rise of the Anti-Hero
    -Launching Your Superhero On the Screen (Film)

Eddy Computer Lab Summer Hours

Beginning Monday, May 16th, the Eddy 300 Lab summer hours will be:

10:00am – 3:00pm

Writing Center Summer Hours

Beginning, Tuesday, May 31st, the Writing Center summer hours will be:

10:00am – 1:00pm

To make an appointment or schedule an online consultation, please visit:

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Intern Ashley Alfirevic sat down with Associate Director of the Writing Center Bruce Shields (who is also teaching faculty AND a department alumnus) to talk with him about the Writing Center, what brought him to CSU, the community of Eddy, the importance of the Humanities, his favorite books, and his current goals, (spoiler alert: they include finishing the semester strong and getting ready for a new baby).

Tags: , , , ,

A first edition copy of Kseniya Walcott favorite book of classical Russian literature

A first edition copy of Kseniya Walcott’s favorite book from classical Russian literature

Kseniya Walcott
English Major: Languages Concentration
Minors: Russian Studies Interdisciplinary in Foreign Languages and Literature, and Linguistics & Culture Interdisciplinary in English

What brought you to CSU?

I came to CSU by chance. I admit it wasn’t my first choice, but I resolved that I wanted to go to school in a place bigger than my hometown Durango, CO. I had never been to CSU before, so I went on the faith that the campus would be lovely (which it is) and that I would have interesting experiences here in Fort Collins.

What has been the focus of your study while you’ve been at CSU? Has it changed over time at all, or is it the same as when you started.

The focus of my studies has drastically changed since I was a Freshman. When I first came to CSU, I started off as a Biomedical Sciences major and had my heart set on a career in forensic pathology. When I came here to actually study the sciences, I quickly realized my heart just wasn’t in it, so I decided to pursue things I was more passionate about: literature and language, particularly Russian and English linguistics.

Was there a specific class, professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you, helped you, or inspired you while at CSU?

In my Freshman year here, I was studying British Literature with Professor Rebecca Kennedy and I enjoyed everything about the class. I loved how she thoroughly organized every aspect of the course, the reading selections, and how I could really throw my entire  heart into what I was learning. It was in that class that I realized it felt right to study literature, and that I much preferred it over the science and math classes I was taking at the time. She prompted me to think about a major in English, telling me I was good at it, and that I should at least consider it. That really stuck with me, and factored into my decision to drastically change my major from science to the humanities. One of the best choices I’ve ever made.

You will be graduating in spring of next year. What are your plans?

I have plans to apply to the TEFL/TESL program here at CSU, and I would like to go to Europe in Summer 2017.

Why is it important to study the Humanities?

Through the humanities we are free to discover the emotional intelligence inside of ourselves. No matter what humanity we decide is right for us, be it literature, philosophy, or dancing, this part of the educational system continues to endure because it allows us to engage with ourselves and society so that we may be compassionate, critical thinkers who can responsibly lead our generation and those after.

What advice do you have for CSU English Department students?

Study what you love, not what other people say you should love. You’re all the better for it because whatever kind of success you want always follows in how well you do what you love.

When you aren’t in school or working, what do you do? What do you love? What are you obsessed with?

I have a passion for creative writing and am currently in the process of composing a novel. The sad news is it will take me at least five years to write it, so I can get it the way I want, but the good news is I’m writing again after years and years of writer’s block. I also love to read classical Russian literature, my personal favorite being Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I am also into modern writers such as Milan Kundera.

Where can we expect to find you in five years? 

You can expect me living somewhere in either Europe or Asia, teaching English, and hopefully by then, I will have completed my novel and submitted it for publishing.

Tags: ,

As the semester, and this academic year, comes to a close, I’ve been working my way through my inbox looking for loose ends. What a surprise to find this great piece from our outgoing, graduating intern Ashley Alfirevic on internships and finding work after graduation. Our original plan was to do a whole series about this topic, which is why we held this post back when it was originally written.

~from English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic

As English majors, many of us are subject to the faux impression that there’s a crisis among our graduates, that after leaving the wonderful world of CSU there will not be enough job opportunities for those of us who chose a major built on our beloved books. The reality is that many companies are searching for applicants with the writing ability, the critical thinking, the creativity, and the interpersonal skills we’ve developed through our courses in creative writing, literature, languages, and education.

CSU has the advisors, career experts, and student experience to prove it. This article may be comprehensive, but it is just a brief sampling of the resources available to help attain internships now and jobs after graduation.

First, let’s take a look at the job statistics for past graduates. CSU Institutional Research and the Career Center put together a PowerPoint recording the “First Destination, Satisfaction, and Success” from a sampling of 2013-2014 undergraduates.


Over 60% of undergraduates found jobs after graduation. Among that percentage, 85% secured an offer or plans before graduation. Only 20% were still seeking employment and the other 20% had gone on to continue their education.



Plus, the average starting salary from those first time jobs isn’t too shabby either.


Now, what can you do to make sure you’re among that 60% of the employed Liberal Arts majors? What should you do to make sure you’re in the 85% that has plans set before you put on your cap and gown? Taking the right pre-emptive steps with the available CSU resources can increase your ability to find employment after graduation. Four important factors are maintaining a GPA of greater than 3.0, completing internships, having on campus employment, and making use of Career Services.


But out of all of those four factors, internships are immensely valuable. They allow you to gain experience, beef up your resume, and figure out what you want to do in the working world. Campus-wide, internships gave students a huge boost in finding employment, especially employment relevant to their majors.



The CSU English Department conducted an Internship panel earlier this academic year featuring four current students (including yours truly) who obtained internships in their field of study. With internships paid or unpaid, spanning from CSU to NYC, whether facilitating workshops or editing commercials, we had a wide range of experience to offer. If you didn’t have a chance to make the panel, here’s the best advice we had to offer.


Taylor Heussner – Greyrock Review, NBC Universal, 303 Magazine, F and W Media
Breanne Work – Writing Center, Greyrock Review
Sarah Rossi – Community Literacy Center (CLC)
Ashley Alfirevic – Prime Publishing, Greyrock Review, Dublin Globe, English Department Communications Intern

The panel

The panel


What was your internship search and application process like? That is, how did you find the internship and what was the application process like? 

Taylor highly recommended LinkedIn as a great networking tool. Though she knew of the internship through a family friend, networking was key. She went through two very intensive Skype interviews to get the job, but being informed about the network helped her through quizzes and tests included in her application process.

Breanne heard about her internships through Mary Hickey’s office and the English Department Newsletter. She stressed that being aware and glancing through those emails is important. She could have missed the opportunity by deleting it on accident.

Sarah heard about the internship from fellow classmates and her professor. Cultivating connections with the professionals around you is crucial to finding out about good opportunities.

I used online tools and the Education Abroad office for my internships outside of Fort Collins, but my two other internships came through Mary’s offices as well. Scheduling a brief appointment can help with give the resources and information you’re looking for.


What were/are some of the most important takeaways from your internship and skills you gained?        

Taylor gained a lot of computer skills working with Photoshop and video editing. Media skills make you marketable in today’s high tech world.

Breanne talked about her enjoyment working with different patrons of the Writing Center. Interpersonal skills are always something to put on your resume.

Sarah works with at-risk youth for the SpeakOut! program, and emphasized that empathy, compassion, and understanding are hugely important when working in groups.

I found that learning a new skill – like search engine optimization – makes you especially appealing to employers, especially when you’re creating web content.


What did you find to be challenging, unexpected, and/or surprising? 

Taylor initially felt daunted by all of the other interns, who had tons of experience. Since then, she’s worked even harder on her credentials to be competitive on the East Coast.

Breanne said it can be disheartening to have a bad editing session with a patron, as people won’t always listen. You have to be prepared for the good days and the bad days. 

Sarah talked about always being flexible in the workplace, and to always be prepared for changes.

I found that a lot of content jobs are now tied in with social media. No matter what you specialize in, you’ll probably have to work on connecting with your social media audience.


How did your degree work prepare you for the internship? 

Taylor discovered that her poetry work really helped her to be creative and bring different perspectives to the table while making commercials.

Breanne found that her editing skills were a great asset in both her internships.

Sarah’s work with lesson plans and teaching skills prepared her to facilitate workshops with youth.

I love writing for a specific audience whenever I’m creating content. Every paper I write helps me figure out how to do just that.


What advice can you offer to current English students who are considering an internship/have not yet completed one? 

Taylor said there’s no downside to doing an internship. You get great experience and great skills that will make you more marketable when looking for future jobs.

Breanne said to look around the department and see what the opportunities there are. There are usually quite a lot of them!

Sarah talked about going above and beyond the job expectations. Impress your supervisors and good things will come out of it!

I talked about how there are so many new jobs emerging in our field, especially since we are moving towards an emotional age that values our skills.


For more information about internships, Mary Hickey serves as our English Department Internship Advisor. She has a wealth of resources and internship opportunities to help you figure out the best moves for your future. If you’re looking for something out of state or want to get into a specific industry, set up an appointment with the Career Center (Katie Russo specializes in Liberal Arts). You can start using the Handshake tool, which pulls internships from tons of different websites to help find the best options for you.

The English Department website has a new and improved feature to help you navigate your internship search and experience. Apply for internship credit and check out quotes from previous interns.

Start looking at your options, and get your future started!


Tags: ,