All posts by hlverani

Attending A Book-Talk Event

On Wednesday, October 12th two professors within the English department here at Millersville hosted a book-talk event centered around the graphic novel Everything is an Emergency by Jason Adam Katzenstein. These book-talk events are a series that occur each semester and are based upon the concepts of bibliotherapy, which is an expressive arts modality. Although it is not therapy, it is also not a typical book club, as it draws from the book and incorporates messages and themes in discussions centered around personal, professional, and developmental growth.

Although I’m a graduate student at Millersville, this was my first time going to a book-talk event, and I deeply regret not going to more in my undergrad years. At this particular book-talk, the author of the graphic novel was in attendance, and was so inviting of any and all questions we had about his novel. Katzenstein’s book Everything is an Emergency is centered around his journey with OCD, as he recounts different events and moments in his life that have both positively and negatively impacted his mental health. Both the book’s content and the presence of the author allowed for some interesting questions and discussions, such as “what was it like to write about your mental health” and “how much control did you have over the editing a publishing process.” The most unique and unexpected aspect of the book-talk was the sense of community and understanding that was built within the two-hour zoom call. Everyone who was in attendance, including professors, graduate students, and undergrad students all seemed to connect through the discussions which made for a lively event.

There is one more opportunity to participate in the book-talk event for Everything is an Emergency on November 2nd, from 5-7pm on zoom. For more information, follow the link below to register for the event:

Fall Break Reflection

Fall break has finally arrived here at Millersville,  giving students and faculty some well-deserved time off. Before these few days of relaxation begin, I encourage you to reflect on your semester so far. This break provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the halfway point in the term. Looking back on the last seven weeks can help enhance the rest of your semester, as understanding what is creating a positive or negative impact can help alter the remainder of year for the better.

Within your reflection, there are no certain aspects that you must consider, as this should be tailored personally for you. It can be overwhelming thinking of everything at once, so some areas I would recommend include academics, social life, and your emotions. College can be filled with stress, drama, and anxiety that can become incredibly overwhelming when not addressed. Reflecting on these different aspects of collegiate life provides a safe space to understand how each of these areas positively or negatively effects your life. There are many different mediums to complete your reflection, such as using a journal, using the notes app in your phone, or creating a digital diary in google docs or word. If you have not done a reflection before, one of the most challenging aspects is thinking of different questions to ask yourself. To help start your potential reflection, I have created some questions in each of the areas previously mentioned that you could potentially consider.


  1. Do you like your grade in each of your classes? If not, how could you improve it?
  2. Are you enjoying the classes specifically for your major?
  3. What is your favorite class this semester?

Social Life

  1. Do you enjoy living with your roommates?
  2. How do you feel about your relationships with the people closest to you?
  3. Are there any clubs you would like join next semester?


  1. What about college stresses you out the most?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel on average each day?
  3. What are some healthy ways to process and cope with your feelings?

How to Study for Your English Classes

It’s hard to believe that it is already week 6 in the semester, and with midterms just around the corner, its good to have a refresher on how to study for certain classes. English courses can be difficult to study for, as they are structured around discussion and text rather than PowerPoints and lectures. However, one you identify the type of assignment and its requirements, it is easy to create study guides, reading guides, and drafts that can make midterms week less stressful.


If your class includes a novel or some type of literature, such as poems and short stories, it is beneficial to create a reading guide that you can reference. In this reading guide, I would recommend including a list of the characters names, major plot points, different themes, symbols, and other notable aspects. One such notable aspect includes different quotations from the text, as these can be used as evidence to support your claims in an essay or a paper. In addition to these aspects featured exclusively in the text, you should add your class notes that discuss more topics in-depth, as these can strengthen your writing and display your knowledge on the topic.

If your course is centered around a specific type of literature, such as American or World, a study guide may be more helpful than a reading guide. These courses usually feature short stories and poems that can encompass a range of writers and themes that are easy to mix up. I recommend organizing the study guide in chronological order of when you learned this information in class. Include the writers name at the top in bold and write a small blurb about their biography under their name, as it will help you remember who they are by their distinct achievements. Then, write out all the titles by this author that you have covered in class in bold. Underneath each, include your class notes that cover different notable aspects of the text, including themes, symbols, and important quotes. Differentiating each author will create less confusion while studying and allow for you to review the information in a more organized manner.


If you are taking a writing course this semester, you most likely won’t be taking a test, but rather writing a paper instead for your midterm grade. Below I have included some tips on how to organize and pace your writing as to avoid stress while crafting your paper.

  1. Brainstorm different topics or ideas that can be further expanded upon in the body of your paper. This can be done by creating a web, with your main topic in the center and smaller branches with sub-topics coming off of it.
  2. Once you have decided what you want to write about, start researching for the information you will need. Most classes require academic sources, so I would suggest going to the library’s English resources page to find some sources and information.
  3. Once you have gathered and read through all the information, it is time to draft. Your first draft does not need to perfect at all, so write anything you want just to get it on the page.
  4. After you draft, let it sit for a few days and then look at it again with fresh eyes. Start to revise anything you feel is necessary, and make sure to keep an eye on grammatical, spelling, and structural errors. Also focus on the flow of the paper, as smooth transitions throughout will greatly enhance the readers experience.
  5. Once you have your final draft, ask a peer or classmate to look over it for you. Their eyes may pick up something that you did not notice.
  6. When you feel you paper is the best it can be, submit it and treat yourself to something for all of your hard work!


Calling All Poets!

Does a beautiful day move you to write about the nature that surrounds you? Do you find that writing about your emotions helps to relieve them? Have you ever felt the urge rhyme within a verse or a line? If you said yes to any of these scenarios, you may just be a poet!

The American Academy of Poets is hosting their annual student poetry contest, and both undergraduate and graduate students at Millersville are encouraged to apply. This is a great opportunity to showcase your poetic talents, along with the opportunity to strengthen your work and potentially become published. To enter, you must submit up to three of your own poems to Dr. Farkas. The way to submit your entry is by emailing her at with the subject line Poetry Contest. Remember to include your name, MU number, and email address with the email; however, do not include your name or identifying information in the poems. The deadline for the event is Friday, March 3rd, 2023. The prizes for winning the contest include $100, a year membership in the academy of poets, your poem published on, and listed in the Academy’s annual report. If you have any questions, contact Kerrie Farkas at or 717-871-7399. Best of luck to all those entering!

The Fiction Section in McNairy that you Need to Check Out

Autumn has finally arrived here at Millersville, and along with the crisp air and longer nights comes the opportunity to participate in more fall activities. This includes the likes of visiting a pumpkin patch, watching scary movies, and enjoying a delicious cup of apple cider. One of my favorite fall activities is cozying up with a good book and losing myself within its pages. Luckily, one librarian here at Millersville has created a fiction section with McNairy library that is perfect for these autumnal days.

This week I had a chance to speak with Kimberly Auger, the librarian who put this collection together. Her inspiration for creating the fiction display came from her previous employment at West Chester University. “While I was working at West Chester, I saw how much interest the popular fiction section generated, as both students and faculty would browse the selection” she describes. Auger explains that at most university’s libraries there is no allowance for browsing, as in academic research students already have an idea of what they are looking for. By creating this fiction display, Auger hoped to showcase a different perspective of reading, one that encourages students to read for their own pleasure. “I wanted students to enjoy the relaxation of reading, something that comes by briefly disengaging with reality” she explains. The fiction display allows students to take their time and browse, taking in each book cover and description to find the perfect book for them. Each of the books that were carefully curated for this fiction section feature popular authors and works from the last ten years. This display will be available until the end May, so make sure to visit and enjoy while you can!

Must-Reads for Undergraduates

Preparations for family weekend are in full swing here at Millersville, as it is an exciting time for parents and students to reunite on campus. While spending time with parents on campus, it is easy to reflect on what their college days might have been like. What songs were popular at the time, how often did they oversleep for their 8am, and what did they do for fun are all questions that may come to mind. Although much has changed between their college years and now, there are a few things that never go out of trend. One classic that will always remain is the need for a good book recommendation. This month, I asked two professors in the English department which books they would recommend undergraduate students should read in their college years. Their responses reflect different ways to be successful in college in ways that students might not expect.

Dr. Pfannenstiel recommends Everything is an Emergency by Jason Adam Katzenstein. “This is a graphic novel that works through coming to terms with mental health” she explains. This novel “supports readers coming to terms with mental health, and shedding light on a variety of OCD tendencies.” College is a fantastic time to find yourself; however, you may discover parts of yourself that can be overwhelming to cope with. Katzenstein’s novel reminds us of the message that you are not alone, and it is always more than okay to ask for help. This novel is featured in this semester’s “Book Talk” series presented by Dr. Pfannenstiel, Dr. Baldys, and Michele Santamaria. The discussion of the novel will take place on Wednesday, September 21st, October 12th, and November 2nd. If you are interested in this novel and would like to participate in the Book Talk series, follow this link for more information.

Dr. Mando recommends that undergrads read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. He provides a brief summary of the nonfiction novel, stating that the “subject matter is immense.” “On one page she dives deeply into the soil to explore the fecundity of macroinvertebrates” Dr. Mando explains, “on the next she’s in the stars floating through realms of philosophy and spirituality searching for the present moment.” This vivid depiction of this nonfiction narrative showcases how it covers many different areas, but you may be wondering why this was recommended for under grad students. “Dillard is a close observer, a researcher, a teacher, and an explorer; these are all important traits of students.” Pilgrim at Tinker Creek encourages students to explore the traits Dillard presents throughout her novel, and inspires us to take a closer look into the smaller details of life.


Events to Look Forward to This Semester

Welcome back students! I hope the first few weeks of the semester  have treated you well. Before I get into the content of this blog post, I would like to quickly introduce myself. My name is Heather, and this is my first semester in graduate school here at Millersville. I recently graduated last spring from MU, and am excited to be back this semester as a GA for Dr. Pfannenstiel. One thing I always looked forward to in my undergrad years was all the different events Millersville hosted throughout the semester. Many of these events are connected to various groups on campus, such as Ville UAB, Her Campus, The Snapper, and Expressions. By highlighting each of these groups, I hope you not only find some events to look forward to, but also discover some clubs you could join next semester!

The University’s Activities Board is the club on campus that is responsible for most of the fun events frequently offered for students at Millersville. By the time of the blog publication, Ville UAB will be taking students for a day of thrills and excitement at Hershey Park. Starting college can simultaneously be one of the most exciting and lonely experiences. Ville UAB provides a safe space for students to meet new friends and an opportunity to get off campus. Some of the many events they offer throughout the semester include movie nights on the quad, DIY creative events, bingo nights, and field trips to local fun spots. The full calendar of events for the fall semester can be found on Ville UAB’s Instagram @villeUAB.

As someone who is getting their master’s in English, I would argue that reading is something to get excited about. Millersville has two extremely talented student-run organizations that create and publish their own work for all to enjoy for free. The Snapper is Millersville’s student run newspaper that has been around since 1925. It’s long-standing presence at Millersville gives a platform for students to write about the issues and events on campus, along with other topics such as world events, pop culture, sports, and astrology. I had the chance to speak with the Snapper’s editor-in-chief Shaun Lucas to discuss the newspaper and what to expect this semester. “I am so excited to once again lead the Snapper during my senior year” he states. “Our team did a lot of fantastic work the past two semesters, and I know everyone is going to keep excelling as we work together.” With such a positive message from the head of the Snapper, I’m sure there are great things to expect from the publication this semester. To read the Snapper’s first issue of the semester, check out their website or look for physical copies published weekly around campus.

The Her Campus chapter at Millersville is an online publication that aims to “focus on women empowerment and supporting the women on campus and in the surrounding community.” As seen through scrolling through their bright and informative blog posts, Her Campus is an organization that lifts up female college students and gives them a platform to discuss relatable issues and events. The articles written by the various staff members of the publication cover topics such as culture, style, wellness, career, and various life events. This semester, Her Campus is hoping to partner with some non-profits and charities in the community along with potentially hosting a fundraiser at a local restaurant. For updates on these events and more information on Her Campus, make sure to follow their Instagram @hercampusmillersville and check out their website to read their amazing articles.

Finally, I would like to highlight an amazing organization that is close to my heart. The Expressions dance group at Millersville provides students the chance to dance in weekly classes in styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip hop in a non-competitive environment. At the end of each semester, Expressions hosts a recital to showcase all of their hard work that all are welcome to attend. Outside of the dance studio,  this organization hosts many fundraisers at local restaurants that all students are invited to join. If dance is something you are interested in or have experience with, I highly recommend auditioning next semester. To learn more about Expressions, make sure to follow them on Instagram @expressions_mu.