Department of English

Vanessa Allison contemplates a pool at Rincon de la Vieja, one of the active volcanoes near her home in Costa Rica.

Alumni Update

Where are they now?

Ever wonder what happened to that kid who sat beside you in Shakespeare class who knew all the words to the speech at Agincourt ... and just kept reciting them? Or, how about the girl with the blue hair who sat in front of you in rhetoric and raised her hand for everything? Or the guy with the thick glasses who swore he'd get a Nobel Prize for literature before he was 60?

Well, we wondered too. The last time we saw all of you, you were wearing the torn T-shirts you picked off the floor from the night before, were carrying so many books you walked with a stoop, and were living on coffee, cigarettes and cookies. But all of you had a dream, and we'd like to know how you're doing.

So many people answered the last time we sent out e-mail that we decided to make this a regularly updated feature of the English Department Web site.

Take a few minutes, tell us how life's treating you, and, yes, send photos. All the teachers you remember really would love to see you in your adult no-holes-in-the-T-shirt guise.

Send an e-mail to Shirley Mathews (, and we'll add you to our list.

  • 2014
    Sarah White

    Immediately started working at the early college, Columbus Career and College Academy, in Columbus County and quickly fell in love with the students and staff there. She married husband, Brandon, in October of 2014.
    The commute from Southport to Whiteville each day became a strain, and, when she was offered a position at South Brunswick High School in Boiling Spring Lakes in October 2015, she took it and made the transition right before Thanksgiving.
    "The transition from an early college to a traditional high school was interesting, but I received a lot of support from the SBHS staff."
    "In May 2016, my husband and I were suprised to find out that we were pregnant!" she said. "I am over half way through my pregnancy, and we are beyond excited about welcoming Colton James into our lives this coming January!"

  • 2013
    April Mittelstaedt

    Moved to Denver after graduation for less than a year before moving to China to teach English for a year (May 2014 - May 2015).
    "[It] gave me the chance to travel around China and learn about three words of Chinese "Wo shi Meiguoren" : I am American. While there, I was accepted to a master's program in Dublin, Ireland, near where I studied abroad as part of my time at UNCW."
    As of 2016, she is living with a friend she met in 2012 while studying abroad in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. She started her masters in Library and Information Systems at University College Dublin in September 2015 and just submitted her thesis in August 2016.
    "During my masters and since my thesis submission, I've traveled to London a few times (AND got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as part of its previews), visited Milan, and went on a trip to Barcelona and Paris just after my thesis submission. Now, I'm traveling in Ireland and visiting Scotland with my high school best friend before returning to the Greensboro, N.C., area to job hunt. Hopefully, I can find a job working as a cataloger or a registrar in a museum."
    I have a blog and a portfolio on my website at
    And I've created a catalogue of my vintage cameras at

  • 2012
    Morgan Cartier

    Works as a content producer at a software company in Research Triangle Park. She is primarily a copy editor and reviews everything from user guides to marketing emails, but she is also involved in managing web content, doing some blogging, and assisting with social media.
    Morgan is also learning photo, video and sound editing and how to work with lighting and cameras for the promotional videos the company shoots.
    "I do truly miss reading, discussing and analyzing literature, but its impact on my education is still a constant presence in my life. Though my work can be challenging at times, it can also be very rewarding, and I'm glad I've been able to apply my time at UNCW in so many different ways."

    Morgan Cartier - Click for larger photo

    Caleb Musser

    Caleb Musser directs business development and managing accounts for Arthur Elliott Marketing Group, a firm in Charlotte, N.C.. "It's just what I was hoping to do (not quite "Mad Men" but close! :)." He credits his writing ability with opening up the opportunity to meet with several high-level executives who were impressed by his email.

    Caleb Musser - Click for larger photo

    Courtney (Richardson) Ratliff

    Courtney (Richardson) Ratliff got married in December 2012, and she is now living in Tampa, Florida, and finishing up her English degree at the University of South Florida. She started a non-profit organization online and has been putting her writing skills to use when it comes to creating formal bylaws and corporate documents.

    Courtney (Richardson) Ratliff - Click for larger photo Courtney (Richardson) Ratliff - Click for larger photo

    Michelle Salyga

    Michelle Salyga is Acquisitions Editor at Peter Lang Publishing, located in the downtown Manhattan office in New York City. Specifically, she acquires monographs in the humanities and social sciences including languages and literatures; religion and theology; history; sociology; cultural studies; women's studies; postcolonial studies; multicultural studies; linguistics; theater arts; political science; philosophy, and more.
    Her previous positions in educational publishing at Harvard Business Publishing and W. W. Norton & Company helped motivate her to continue along the publishing path, ultimately landing her dream job!
    Michelle has also been happily married for the past five years and is a proud owner of a black kitten.
    She can be reached at

    Michelle Salyga - Click for larger photo

    Gabriel Sutton

    Gabriel Sutton has been travelling and writing full time for the last two years.
    " I lived in Sydney, Australia for seven months, and then Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru."
    "I manage a team of writers and editors that create business blogs for Expedia, Disney, Open English and a handful of other companies, and because I work online, I can keep travelling."

    Gabriel Sutton - Click for larger photo Gabriel Sutton Gabriel Sutton - Click for larger photo

    Marcella (Trumbower) Twamley

    Marcella (Trumbower) Twamley lives in Chapel Hill, and works for UNC health Care as an administrative associate for renal transplant. She is also teaching a basic composition course each semester at Durham Technical Community College.
    "My students and the patients I interact with are a constant reminder of the enduring nature of the human spirit, and I learn from them every day."
    Marcelle got married in the summer of 2013 to Steven Twamley, a Chapel Hill native, who will graduate from UNC's Masters of Accounting Program this Spring and work for EY in the Fall.
    "We enjoyed honeymooning in Barbados."

    Marcella (Trumbower) Twamley - Click for larger photo Marcella (Trumbower) Twamley - Click for larger photo

  • 2011
    Maria DiBenigno

    Maria DiBenigno graduated from UNCW's English masters program in May 2011. After teaching part-time at UNCW, Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia, and Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, she pursued doctoral studies. In August 2013, Maria moved to Williamsburg, Va., and entered the American Studies Ph.D. program at the College of William and Mary.
    "I'm also interning at the Mariners' Museum Library in Newport News, Virginia. It has been a rewarding (albeit challenging!) experience. I hope all of my professors and classmates are well!"

    Natalie Price

    Natalie Price is an Assistant Show Manager for Southern Shows, Inc. out of Charlotte, N.C. They produce & manage consumer shows like the Southern Ideal Home Show, the Southern Women's Show and the Southern Christmas Show. Natalie is currently being certified in an online course to teach English as a foreign language, and she plans to move to Central America in July 2014.
    "I was a Spanish minor at UNCW and have been dying to get back to Latin America ever since I studied abroad in 2009. Can't wait to update you from the sandy beaches of Costa Rica or maybe the snow capped mountains of the Andes by next year."

    Natalie Price - Click for larger photo

    Jamie Revill

    Jamie Revill graduated a little earlier than anticipated in December of 2011 from UNCW and began graduate school at North Carolina State University in January, and that took up all of 2012.
    In 2013, Jamie was fortunate enough to do part of her student teaching experience in Pskov, Russia, before graduating with her master's in teaching that concentrated in Secondary English.
    "I'm now living in my own apartment with my precious addition of a retired show cat, Molly Pockets, and working as a 7th grade Language Arts teacher at a Title I school in Durham, N.C."
    "I still look back fondly on my time in Sigma Tau Delta, studying abroad in England my Junior year, and all the professors who supported me at UNCW. Thank you for everything, Seahawks!"

    Jamie Revill - Click for larger photo

  • 2010
    Ashley N. Barker

    Ashley N. Barker graduated with a bachelor's in English (professional writing option) and minors in journalism and creative writing.
    During college, Ashley designed pages and wrote sports stories part-time for the Star-News. Right out of college, she started full-time work as the community web producer at WECT-TV in Wilmington and did that for a year and a half before moving to Charleston, S.C., in August 2012.
    Now, Ashley works as a public information specialist in the public relations office at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) where she writes, copy edits and designs pages for The Catalyst, MUSC's internal newspaper. "I never expected to work in public relations or in a medical environment, but it's fascinating. I'm surrounded by geniuses every day."
    "On a personal note ... I've been dating fellow UNCW English department alum Tyler Heffernan, class of spring 2012, since 2009, and he is reporting for the Moultrie News, a weekly newspaper in Charleston. We have a mini dachshund, Charlie, together. He's named for our new city :)

    Ashley N. Barker - Click for larger photo

    Gideon A. Brookins

    Gideon A. Brookins graduated with a bachelors degree in Professional Writing, then attended NC State University from 2010-2012, graduating with a Master of Science in Technical Communication. After co-oping with IBM during grad school, he recently started his first full-time technical writing position in early July 2012. He will be writing documentation for server software and hardware for Tekelec, a telecommunications company headquartered in Morrisville, N.C.
    "Living in Raleigh and the Triangle in general has allowed me to stay connected with friends and other alumni from UNCW."
    "I anticipate that my formal academic career is over, but the learning is only just beginning. Not a day goes by that I don't use something I learned from my undergraduate English courses.
    The best perk a full-time job offers? Paid time off!"
    " Thank you and all of my esteemed professors. A special thanks to my former advisor, Dr. [Diana] Ashe."

    Gideon A. Brookins - Click for larger photo Gideon A. Brookins - Click for larger photo

    Anna Brown

    Anna Brown received her BA in English, Professional Writing, and after a short summer stint doing odd jobs around the Star News, she moved to Greensboro and worked at Proximity Hotel, being promoted to Manager on Duty within a year. She moved to Winston-Salem for love and became engaged to Samuel Henley, a maintenance supervisor and local guitar player, in February 2012.
    She recently accepted a position as an Administrative Assistant in Wake Forest University's Departments of History and Religion, which allows her to be closer to home so she can spend more time with her fiance and his 4-year-old son, Aiden. She and Sam will tie the knot on March 23, 2013.

    Anna Brown - Click for larger photo

    Olivia Cunningham

    Olivia Cunningham moved to Hangzhou, China, in the fall of 2011 where she taught English courses at Hangzhou Normal University for two years. Olivia not only taught English speaking and writing courses, but also got to give numerous lectures on American culture, lifestyle and even dance!
    "After living my dream for two years, I decided it was time to pack up and return stateside, where I got a job at none other than UNCW."
    She now works at UNCW's Office of International Programs as their Outreach Coordinator.
    "It's been a great opportunity to share my love of travel and education abroad with the rest of the UNCW community."

    Olivia Cunningham - Click for larger photo Olivia Cunningham - Click for larger photo

    Meghan (Palko) Bliss

    Meghan (Palko) Bliss got married in April 2013. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing, and in 2012, she graduated with a master's in English from ECU and is now living in New Bern, N.C., with her husband, Patrick, and working part-time as a Client Associate at Wells Fargo Advisors.
    "I'm also working part-time as a freelance writer, which is the business I'm hoping to build and eventually run full-time. So far, it's going very well."
    The picture at left is from her honeymoon in Italy. "We visited the Amalfi Coast, including Positano, Capri and Sorrento. It was absolutely beautiful!"

    Meghan (Palko) Bliss - Click for larger photo

    Christine (Wood) Pope

    Christine (Wood) Pope did a short stint after graduation in Charleston, W.Va. (husband's hometown), and worked in public and government relations for the regional office of a cable company.
    "Before I knew it, I was married and had a baby on the way! We decided to move back to my hometown, Boone, and be close to family, a.k.a., free babysitters. I am now the deputy town clerk for the Town of Boone. In my position, I write town press releases and the mayor's correspondence, and I maintain all town records. I hope to retire in Boone, but I'm already rooting for my 17-month-old baby boy to attend UNCW one day, so I will have an excuse to visit more often!"

    Christine (Wood) Pope - Click for larger photo Christine (Wood) Pope - Click for larger photo Christine (Wood) Pope - Click for larger photo

  • 2009
    Vanessa Allison

    Vanessa Allison graduated with an MA, and from 2006 to 2011 played competitive roller derby, traveling the country with the Cape Fear Roller girls as her alter ego "Dee Spies."
    Vanessa taught English as an adjunct at Cape Fear Community College from 2008 to 2010.
    She was on the Lumina Academy Administration Team from 2010 to 2011. Lumina Academy is a non-profit distance learning school designed to educate underprivileged children in Malaysia.
    In 2011, she and her husband and dogs moved to Costa Rica in search of "pura vida." She works remotely, writing for Fortune 500 companies and a handful of other clients in the technology industry.
    "When not being rattled by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, we spend the day surfing, paddle boarding, diving, spearfishing, hiking, saving sea turtles and exploring the jungles."
    She plays derby now with the Ligar Costa Rica under the same name.
    Vanessa also has a travel blog documenting all the adventures and culture shock:

    Vanessa Allison - Click for larger photo  

    Amanda Brown

    Amanda Brown graduated with a bachelor's degree in English with a Major in Professional Writing and earned her degree in Clinical Research. She was the Vice President for her undergraduate class of 2011. She went on to earn a MS in Clinical Research and Product Development with a focus on Clinical Management in 2014 at UNCW. She works as a Remote Site Monitor at Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) in Wilmington. Amanda is married and has four children (ages 11, 8, 3 and 1 in 2015).

    Amanda Brown - Click for larger photo  

    Brittany Glover

    Brittany Glover lives in Raleigh, N.C., where she is a Cloud Systems Developer at IBM. After graduating from UNC Wilmington, she pursued a master's in Interactive Media, focusing on Web Development and User Experience Design.
    Outside of her career, Glover focuses her time and energy on her small business, LBG Media Consulting, LLC as well as volunteering, family, traveling and marking to do's off of her bucket list.
    She can be reached at and

    Brittany Glover - Click for larger photo  

  • 2008
    John D'Angelo

    John D'Angelo was accepted into the Master's of Teaching program at Towson University near Baltimore, which he will start in January 2013. "Hoping to follow in the path of all the great professors I had at UNCW, I've decided to become an English teacher."  

    Molly DeWitt

    Molly DeWitt parleyed a UNCW internship at the Jacksonville Daily News into a full-time job after she graduated. She is the city/county government reporter and is putting all the skills she learned in her UNCW English classes to work. "I've even been fortunate enough to dabble in the area of column writing, which, it turns out, is my favorite part of the job, and I hope to do more of it in the future."  

    Jeff Golden

    Jeff Golden accepted an education reporting job with the Farmington (N.M.) Daily Times after graduating in 2008. He immediately fell in love with the American West, spending most of his free hours in nearby Colorado hiking, climbing and drinking the country's best beer.
    He stayed put for nearly two years before pursuing freelance opportunities in Boston. The West didn't take long to lure him back, and only a few months later, he was once again Colorado-bound.
    He's lived in Denver since June 2010, currently splitting time as a Communications Associate for Jefferson County Open Space & Parks and a Digital Marketing Associate for the Colorado Mountain Club.
    Jeff has successfully summited Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, El Pico de Orizaba and all 58 of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains."

    Jeff Golden - Click for larger photo  

    Anna (Gray) McKinley

    Anna (Gray) McKinley worked for two years for Enterprise Rent-a-car in New Bern, N.C., as a Management Assistant. While there, she married her husband, Jason, and had her daughter, Riley, who is, as of 2013, 5 years old. Jason is a Marine and was given orders to be a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., in 2010.
    While stationed there, Anna found her calling in law enforcement as a sworn officer. Jason recently received orders to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where they are currently.
    "I plan to continue in law enforcement and recently became a certified instructor in firearms."

    Anna (Gray) McKinley - Click for larger photo Anna (Gray) McKinley - Click for larger photo Anna (Gray) McKinley - Click for larger photo  

    Tracy Lee LaFon

    Tracy Lee LaFon is a writing specialist instructor with the English department at Cape Fear Community College, working in the learning lab and mostly tutoring in English. She has started teaching workshops on creating professional documents such as resumes, proposals, letters of application and interest, and grant writing. She also works with Portals, the students' literary and artistic publication, as well as doing some editing, writing and production work for other publications. "I am enjoying some traveling that was otherwise cost preventative while I was in school with trips this year to Florida (DisneyWorld-accompanying the seniors of Pender High School on their annual trip), New England, Ohio (Lake Erie and Cedar Point-the rollercoaster capital of the world), Oregon, California and Mexico, as well as the mountains of North Carolina. It has been a very good year!"

    Tracy Lee LaFon - Click for larger photo