Category Archives: Grad Students

How to Prepare for Graduate School

 By: Hayley Billet 

As your undergraduate studies are winding down, it’s important that you begin to look to the future and plan your graduate studies. Graduate school can be very daunting and tedious if you do not prepare for it. 

Start by asking yourself these questions:  

Why am I attending graduate school? 

What do I want to get out of graduate school? 

What do I want to accomplish and achieve? 

You should keep these questions in mind as you navigate graduate school. Not only will it keep you and your studies on track, it will also serve to benefit you as you begin to look for jobs or a career path that fits your interests and skills. The most important thing to remember is that the more prepared you are for graduate school, the more you will succeed. 

If you are attending a different school than the one you went to for your undergraduate degree, you should familiarize yourself with the campus resources and get to know your professors. It is crucial that you do this because it will help you when you begin thinking about a committee for your master’s thesis. 

You need to ask yourself why you chose to pursue an advanced degree, because answering this question will help you understand what you want to get out of graduate school and take with you once you finish your studies. The graduate program is more extensive and thorough than undergraduate programs, so it is vital that you go into it understanding your role in the program and where you would like to see yourself once you graduate. 

Knowing what you would like to accomplish by the end of your graduate career is important because it will help you and the professors you are working with refine and retool the program to fit your needs and interests. It will also give you the academic experience you will need for the future jobs and career paths you are interested in. It’s also important that you set realistic goals for yourself and work to achieve them by the end of your studies, because these goals will not only help you build your resume, but they will also help you begin to solidify yourself as an academic scholar. 

Congratulations Spring 2022 Graduates

The English and World Languages department would like to recognize and congratulate the following Graduate and Undergraduate Students on their upcoming graduation. 

 

Graduate Students –  

Master of Arts Degree: 

English: 

Hayley E Billet 

Thesis Title:  

The Portrait of a True Artist: Aesthetics and Social Critiques in the Works of Oscar Wilde 

Thesis Committee members:  

Dr. Emily Baldys – Chair – Assistant Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Kaitlin Mondello – Assistant Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Carla Rineer – Assistant Professor of English, Millersville University 

Lindsay Hartman 

Thesis Title:  

Proposing, Planning, and Designing a High School Writing Center 

Thesis Committee Members:  

Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel – Chair – Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Emily Baldys – Assistant Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Kerrie Farkas – Professor of English, Millersville University 

Madeleine Bair 

Thesis Title:  

Survivor Narratives 

Thesis Committee Members: 

Dr. Justin Mando – Chair – Assistant Department Chair and Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Kaitlin Mondello – Assistant Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel – Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

Jordan E Traut 

Thesis Title:  

Doing the Good Work: First Americans Decolonizing the Mind with Performance Arts 

Thesis Committee Members: 

Dr. Kataryna Jakubiak – Chair – Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Susan Kalter – Professor of American Literature and Native American Studies, Illinois State University 

Dr. Justin Mando – Assistant Department Chair and Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

 

Master of Education Degree: 

English: 

Katherine Elizabeth Ingaglio 

Thesis Title:  

Connecting Games and Literature in the Classroom: The case for Bloodborne and H.P. Lovecraft 

Thesis Committee Members: 

Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel – Chair – Associate Professor of English, Millersville University  

Dr. Caleb Corkery – Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

Dr. Justin Mando – Assistant Department Chair and Associate Professor of English, Millersville University 

 

Undergraduate Students –  

Bachelor of Art Degree:  

English: 

Brook Harris  

Christa E Gumbravich  

Elizabeth Marie Duchesneau 

Heather Lee Verani 

Joshua Robert Mixon 

Morgan Holiday Slough 

Sarah Michelle DiSanto 

Sean Elizabeth McClain 

Sydney Michelle Gant 

Thea Leann Buckwalter 

 

Language and Culture Studies: 

Allegra Dawn Banks  

David Ronald Krak 

Delvys Starlyn Garcia Martinez 

Erin M Cavanagh 

Hermenegildo Blanco 

Jenna Marie Coleman 

Kiera Anne Kirchner 

Morgan Amanda Higgins 

Victoria Grace Jester 

 

Bachelor of Science in Education: 

English: 

Brittney Gail Love 

Christa E Gumbravich    

Emily Rose Bishop  

Fei Yu  

Gillian Rebecca Baoyi Wismer  

Hannah Alan Gehman  

Hannah Elizabeth Jackson  

Hannah Elizabeth Stroble  

Julia E Keiser 

Madelyn-Jo Goslee 

Matthew Robert Pleger 

Natalia Bedoya 

Noelle Marie Piscitello 

Phoebe Elizabeth Tanis 

Rachael Thomasine Newcomer 

Samantha LIly Bechtel 

Sarah Sweda 

 

Foreign Languages: 

Allysa Kelli Snedeker 

 

From the entire English and World Languages Department:  

Congratulations graduates! 

We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.  

 

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson 

English Graduate Students Attend Fulton Theater to see Sweat by Lynn Nottage

By: Hayley Billet 

Dr. Corkery and graduate students from his Spring 2021 Drama class attended a showing of Lynn Nottage’s play Sweat at the Fulton Theater on April 8th. Most of the characters in Sweat are working class people from Reading, Pennsylvania. The plot focuses on the troubles they face when they are laid off from the job they have all worked at for many years.  

By attending the showing of the play that they have read for their class, the students were able to enrich their understanding of the play itself, further enhance their learning from the classroom setting, and experience the play rooted in community. 

This shows the value of experiential learning, a high-impact practice that all students, graduate or undergraduate, should take part in (https://www.aacu.org/trending-topics/high-impact). The graduate students were able to make real-world connections by viewing a play read in class, on a much larger scale (the Fulton). The graduate students engaged as audience members, at a theater filled with spectators who have personal and impersonal connections to Reading, PA. This community-based experiential learning helped us showcase and apply our interpretations, connections to the community, and our extension of class learning in a very real, community focused way. Students, myself included, also gained experience by organizing this event in coordination with Dr. Corkery.   

After reflecting on the experience, I noticed differences between experiential learning for graduate students and undergraduate students. I experienced the play as a graduate student and community member; I wasn’t just a student identifying the characters and themes of this work, I was sitting in a theater rooted in community values, experiencing the plot and characters alongside Lancaster County community members sharing an interest in telling the stories of our experiences in Pennsylvania communities. I have discovered immense value in experiential learning and invite others to work with our graduate faculty planning future community-based experiential learning events. 

English Graduate Students Attend Lynn Nottage Author Talk Event at the Fulton Theater

By: Jordan Traut

English graduate students Madeleine Bair and Jordan Traut from Millersville University were invited to attend a special author talk with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer Lynn Nottage at the Fulton Theater in Lancaster City, PA on Sunday April 3rd, 2022. A part of their “IDEA Speaker Series,” Nottage was interviewed before the community by Kevin Ressler, CEO of United Way, about her award-winning play Sweat. Graduate students from ENGL 642 Drama will be attending the show on Friday, April 8th, 2022.  

Pulitzer Prizes are awarded to writers and artists who best tell the stories of Americans. Nottage spoke about her first encounters with storytelling in her Brooklyn home as a child. She would listen to her mother and her mother’s teacher friends laugh and tell stories while she sat at the kitchen table doing her homework in the afternoons. Nottage is always trying to replicate that experience in her work as an adult.  

“There’s something about being in a dialogue [with] people in a room that I have always enjoyed,” she shared with audience members, speaking on her personal experience with the craft of transforming oral storytelling into screenplays for the theater. “The way a story shifts and moves” based on how people respond to it in real-time is the magic of the performing arts and what sets drama apart from other literary pursuits.  

A commission of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Sweat is one of Nottage’s most celebrated plays. It came to life through oral interviews with blue-collar workers in the post-industrial small town of Reading, Pennsylvania, for which the drama is set. Its characters reveal how entire segments of the American population can feel invisible, especially in the working class. The author points out during her interview how the crew can be virtually unseen during a production yet remain the backbone of the theater. She says, “Here we live, going about our lives, not really thinking about our neighbors. Our neighbors who are really struggling and who feel invisible.”  

For Nottage, her work is about intentionally seeing the people that American society does not want to see – the communities we build our highways around and the people we do not give names to. Crediting her “nomadic imagination,” the author explains how she finds the unseen people to tell stories about without exploiting them. “My brain is always looking for a beach that no one has been to before,” like a backpacker is always searching for that remote spot few have ever been to before. Nottage “illuminate[s] those spots that don’t get seen that often.”  

As a Black female writer, there were few mentors who looked like her in the industry. Nottage explains that successful people often are the support systems they wish had supported them in their journey. “I have been the person I wanted to be mentored by,” she says. She expresses her desire to make the theater equally comfortable for everyone in the United States, encouraging non-traditional venues to disrupt the norms of accessibility. Along similar lines, it is critical for the younger generations of all communities to see themselves reflected in the characters in books and on the stage.  

The last piece of wisdom Nottage gave to audience members at the Fulton is to not write to the expectations of anyone else. As a more experienced artist, she says, “I am only in service to myself.”  

Class Discussions and the Scholarly Community

By: Hayley Billet

Classroom settings and course work serve a much greater purpose than to simply provide students with assignments and a final grade. The ideas that are discussed in the classroom help students make connections that will serve them in the future. It helps them form the foundation for the arguments used in their theses as well as synthesizing many important ideas that will guide them in scholarly communities. Classroom learning is about both knowing the content and knowing how to work with (think with and through) the content. 

Classes are meant to guide students through their areas of academic interest and beyond. It is also meant to help students learn about their fields of interest. In both these ways, students are exposed to the breadth and depth of content and theories within the discipline, understanding which theories are used by whom to build arguments. Through the work produced for classes, students can revise their research into something to present at a conference that specializes in their area of interest or something to submit to a journal that is based in their field of interest. Again, the breadth and depth help students understand where their research aligns with contemporary conversations, so they are prepared to present at conferences.  

Graduate courses are meant to mentor graduate students and prepare them for future success, graduate courses invite students to join the scholarly community. This starts in the classroom and through the professors that initiate and provoke these crucial conversations. After all, professors serve as another foundational element that will help students and push them to be better scholars. Whether or not that happens will be up to the individual student. 

It is up to the students to learn from this information and push themselves, using what they have learned in the classroom, to help them succeed in their future careers and interact with others in the scholarly community. It is expected that graduate students develop and refine their writing and critical thinking skills, often on their own in addition to coursework. Their writing is meant to propel them into their future career pursuits and academic choices. The skills graduate and undergraduate students use in scholarly communities are learned and refined in the classroom. Undergraduate students are expected to discuss and build upon their existing prior knowledge of academic topics. Undergraduate students activate prior knowledge (APK) in the classroom, and in doing so discover and develop their academic and scholarly skills.  

English and World Languages graduate students are expected to use their writing as a tool for success. Graduate school is an opportunity for students to strengthen their professional and creative writing skills. This will help English and World Languages graduate students become better writers and learn to establish themselves in professional settings. They are able to draw from their academic work and classroom conversations and use that to help them interact in scholarly communities and solidify themselves as successful academic scholars. Getting along with other colleagues in the scholarly community and maintaining academic conversations in these fields starts in the classroom.  

The value of building many ideas, having academic conversations (the back and forth of a discussion), and synthesizing these ideas and experiences together is crucial in helping graduate students reach their full academic potential and apply these learned experiences in the classroom to the real-world of academia. It is important that graduate students understand the connections between what they learn and discuss in the classroom and the scholarly community. Not only are they both important to ensure student success, but they also help to strengthen graduate student’s critical, professional, and creative skills. This synthesis of ideas can also be applied to the success of undergraduate students as well. Undergraduate school is concerned with teaching students professionalism and helping them learn how to apply their pre-existing knowledge and sets of skills. This will help them become better academic scholars and get them thinking about their role in the scholarly community. 

By taking what they have learned in the classroom and applying it to the scholarly community, graduate and undergraduate students can begin to establish themselves scholars. Graduate school is meant to introduce students to their field of interest and allow them to begin engaging in professional organizations, conferences, and publications. Undergraduate school is concerned with teaching students professionalism. They each serve an important purpose. The conversations they will have with others in the scholarly community will call back to the conversations they have started in the classroom.  

Classroom conversations serve as the foundation that helps graduate and undergraduate students prepare for conversations with others at conferences, in professional settings, professional organizations, etc. Not only does it serve to build their confidence, but it also serves as a gateway to more important conversations in the scholarly community. 

Graduate Awards, Recognitions, and Presentations

By: Hayley Billet

Graduate school is the pivotal transitory stage in which students begin to solidify themselves as scholars. It is crucial that graduate students establish their presence at conferences, become representatives of their areas of academic interest, and receive notable recognition for their effort and hard work. Not only will it build their resumes and confidence, but it will help launch their future careers and academic endeavors.  

That being said, it is important that we acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduate students in the English and World Languages Department. During this time of uncertainty, they have exhibited great determination and perseverance. Graduate work is not easy, and we would like to recognize these students for forging through the graduate program and going above and beyond in their studies.  

English MA student Maddie Bair will be presenting at the Rhetoric Society of America’s Charge for Change 2022 conference in Baltimore on May 27th. She will be presenting her thesis work.  

English MA student Hayley Billet will be presenting at the Northeast Modern Language Association 2022 conference in Baltimore on March 12th. She will be presenting her thesis work in a roundtable discussion. 

English MA student Jordan Traut has been awarded the Graduate Studies Fellowship and received funding from the Wickersham-Burrowes Fund for Excellence in the Arts. This will be used to fund her study abroad trip to Morocco, Portugal, and Spain, as well as her trip to a Native American musical in Oklahoma City. 

Jadon Barnett, an English MA student, was awarded funding from the Wickersham-Burrowes Fund for Excellence in the Arts. He will use the funding for his independent study in board game development with Dr. Pfannenstiel. 

Sean Guckert, an English MA student, presented a paid guest lecture on disability studies and institutionalized care. A reflection from Sean on his experience as a guest lecturer and his presentation is coming soon. 

We appreciate the efforts of our graduate students and commend them for their hard work and dedication. 

Ruya Niu

Ruya Niu is graduating from Millersville University with an MA Degree in English.

Always a coordinated fashionista, Ruya brought an ebullient and sweet spirit to all of her classes. Classmates enjoyed the insights that she had when applying her Chinese experiences to the learning material.

Ruya will be returning back to her home, China, very soon, and will miss Millerville very much. She will miss the friendships she made, especially her Korean-American friend. They delighted in sharing homemade Korean food together. She will also miss her routine drink: a strawberry smoothie from Starbucks.

While at Millersville, Ruya was active in the IPS (International Program Service) TeaTime. She is particularly grateful for all the off-campus exposure that the English Dept had given her, including an organized trip to the movie theatre.

Ruya Niu

Ruya’s most memorable course was Creative Writing with Dr. Judy Halden-Sullivan. In this class, Ruya practiced styles in innovative creative writing. She describes Judy as a “cool cat” who demonstrates the unique spirit and identity of American Modern Culture. She was also blown away by the personalities of some outlandish postmodern poets that cut against the grain of tradition and society. Ruya also took an active interest in the art surrounding the postmodern movement. Ruya’s undergraduate thesis was on the Creative Writing pedagogies in Chinese High School English Classes

After graduation, Ruya would like to either teach English in a Chinese school, or work for the Chinese Embassy.

Congratulations, Ruya! We look forward to hearing about all you will do. Come back to visit!

 

Joseph Lacombe

Joe is a teacher at Warwick Middle School graduating with his Masters degree.

Joe Lacombe

Congratulations Joe on completing your Masters!  To complete his degree, Joe decided to write a creative thesis, entitled ‘Bird’s Eye: The Journal of Leah Manifold.’ It is a modern-day, absurdist retelling of the Biblical story of Job told from the wife’s perspective. It is epistolary in structure, as it is told through a series of journal entries and editorial comments.

While completing his Masters, Joe also had work published by The George Street Press and MUsings. Although he was not involved in the organization of these publications, he appreciates all those involved in keeping these publications alive.

Joe Lacombe

One of his favorite experiences has been learning from top-notch professors who showed great understanding and displayed a great sense of humor that made him feel at home. He originally attended MU for his Post-Baccalaureate Secondary Certification, but continued on for his MA. He says, “I know I could have gone on to take graduate classes at other institutions; however, Millersville was the only university for me.”

Joe Lacombe

Joe has had great experiences with many classes. One was Creative Writing with Dr. Halden-Sullivan, which was incredibly fun and challenging, because he was introduced to some very interesting styles of poetry that he then had to emulate. Studying Paradise Lost with Dr. Miller was another great experience. Reading and discussing “Critical Theory” (the name of another class) with fellow students and Dr. D’Stair was the highlight of his week last semester. Studying Young Adult Literature with Dr. McCollum-Clark was another personal favorite for similar reasons.

Joe plans to continue teaching and to get some creative work published.

Joe, we look forward to reading your publications!

Being a Graduate Student on the Autism Spectrum

Clark Fennimore, one of the graduate assistants in the English department, discusses being a graduate student on the autism spectrum. Read more about his experiences below! 

For someone on the Autism Spectrum, working through graduate school can include extra challenges. It can take more time and effort than usual to complete assignments. Doing class presentations can be intimidating. However, another interesting aspect of such a condition is an unusual way of thinking about things. On the high-functioning end of the spectrum, this can lead to unique avenues of research and writing. In short, the challenges faced by someone of the Spectrum can be accompanied by a distinct ability to contribute to the world intellectually.

As someone on the Spectrum, I can relate to others who want to be respected for an ability to contribute. We want this to be viewed as more important than our limitations. In my youth, I would not have expected to be in graduate school as I am now. In my studies, I seek to develop a unique voice for myself, particularly with distinct areas of research. Part of how I can do so is through distinct ways of thinking as part of ASD.

To those with challenges in the area of academics, I would say that you can find a unique voice. You have things to say that are beneficial to the world. To others who may not face such challenges, I would say those of us who do face them also have something to contribute. We can all respect each other as a result. We must see each other as having value.

There are different kinds of challenges that people face. No one is exempt from challenges, which are part of human nature. I believe that we can view each other with understanding as a result, even if some people seem to be more challenged than others. People with different abilities have things to contribute to society. One important thing is how we face our challenges so that we can make those contributions. Disorders of the Autism Spectrum are among those challenges, and they can be faced so that those on the Spectrum can contribute.

Clark Fennimore 

Experience MAPACA

Skyler Gibbon and a group of fellow graduate students attended the Mid Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association conference last November. Read about Skyler’s experiences below! 

Skyler Gibbon at a panel discussion.

As graduate students, we get fun opportunities outside the boundaries of this university… or county… or state. These opportunities often come in the form of conferences — a gathering of students and professors coming to share their work. This often means creating connections and building relationships with people of similar area interests. 

This past November, several English graduate students left for Pittsburgh for a three day trip to the Mid Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association (MAPACA) conference. This took place at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, which is at the heart of the Cultural District (and also has the best taco restaurant around). We all went bearing different ideas to share, from play pedagogy to hip hop poetics. I presented ideas from my thesis: The Rhetorical Influence and Hermeneutics of Hip Hop Culture. I talked about how “Holy Profanity” and hip hop artist use the sacred to express authentic experiences. I have presented on this topic before, but this was on a larger scale. It was not only helpful to hear audience members provide insights for my work, but to also hear notions of using my work in their curriculum.

There was an array of presentations up for viewing, all organized by specific areas of study – lgbtq studies, film studies, religious studies, game studies, etc… Unfortunately, the presentations overlap with each other, so it was impossible to go to as many presentations as I wanted to. However, I was intrigued by all that I did see. I watched presentations from the beginning to end of day, each day. 

Because a number of the people I traveled with are invested in game studies, I found myself watching presentations in this, which I don’t do traditionally. I am usually to be found in studies involving a typical social justice connection. I am not so familiar with game studies and play pedagogy, so this was a good opportunity to get more informed. I watched professors dress up in superhero costumes in a skit to demonstrate the value of comic book pedagogy. This fed my curiosity while also being quite entertaining. I went in with the hopes of catching my professor looking like Spiderwoman. I was disappointed that this didn’t happen, but she promises that there will be a costume for both of us next year. 

Jason Hertz presenting at the conference.

There was quite a bit of play, actually. As a person who is really interested in looking for ways to build bridges through vulnerability, I was really intrigued by one of the gaming presentations we saw together. The presenter showed us three different games that use love and sex themes to build intimacy and vulnerability between players. Afterwards, Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel co-led a “parlor games” session, where we played a card game that she and another graduate student co-created. This game was a really fun way of practicing rhetorical skills. The simplest way I can describe it is as a creative Apples to Apples with rhetoric. 

There were a few chances to socialize, as well. There was a graduate student social, where participants played “MAPACA Jeopardy.” Winners received Starbucks gift cards (because what would a graduate student want more?).  There was also a reception and a formal dinner, where leaders were recognized for the labor they put into creating and organizing this conference. As a little outing in the city, I went to see a play production of The Scarlet Letter, which was really impressively done.

Overall and looking back, this was a really great time. It exceeded my expectations. Getting to travel in a car with others to a different place brought adventure to our academia (and laughter). I got to explore a bit of the historically and culturally rich, old city of Pittsburgh. Also, every conference I go to is a reminder of how my work connects with the work of others. I look forward to applying to MAPACA next year (which is in Princeton, NJ), as well as any other conferences that come my way!

If you are interested in participating in MAPACA, do get in touch with either Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel or Dr. Caleb Corkery. They  will help guide you through the submission, travel, and presentation aspects if this is your first conference.

Skyler Gibbon