Department of English

Graduate Alumni Notes


Tracey Robertson, after taking classes in science and medical writing and doing an internship with New Hanover Regional Medical Center, is now serving as the Research Administrative Coordinator for the department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Health.


CR Devries is employed at nCino as a technical writer. nCino has been "named the No. 1 'Best Place to Work in Financial Technology' by American Banker; one of the Top Company Cultures by Entrepreneur Magazine; and [has] earned positions on prominent industry rankings, such as the IDC FinTech Rankings."

Donnie Secreast
 is pursuing a PhD at Texas A&M She has published the article based on work she did in her MA program “Stones, Turkey Necks, and Gizzards: Grotesque Humor and Metaphors of Masculinity in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar” in Studies in the Novel, vol. 52, no. 1. 2020.

Marissa Buccilli
has served as Academic Advising Fellow at Elon University and is currently an Academic Advisor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. 


Marisa Stickle is pursuing her PhD at the University of Tennessee. She writes, "I often think of my time at UNCW. I truly wouldn’t be where I’m at without the wonderful professors and the guidance I had."

Kayla Schilke (B.A. 2014, M.A. and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies 2017) – After graduating in May 2017, I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I started working in the non-profit sector as a Troop Support Specialist for Girl Scouts of Louisiana. I provided training and support to adult volunteers and their troops in the greater Shreveport/Bossier region. Other job duties included promoting the new and exciting STEM and Outdoor programs; retention, placement and recruitment efforts for the Council; conflict resolution; adult programming, awards, and volunteer appreciation; developing marketing plans and written communication materials for events and trainings; delivering Outdoor Education trainings to volunteers; working with grant-funded troops to make purchases and complete necessary paperwork; using customer relationship management systems; and more!

[In 2017] I will begin a new position at Louisiana State University Shreveport as the Assistant Director of Records Support Services. This position will play a major role in graduation and degree processes. I will also write and edit graduation communications and publications. This role serves as the primary contact for graduation candidates and collaborates with other offices such as Financial Aid, Accounting Services, and Student Affairs. This position requires a lot of attention to detail, one of many qualities an English major possesses.

One lesson I have learned since graduating is this: Your career possibilities are endless! Use your experiences and your major to your advantage, and learn how to market yourself based on job descriptions. Get creative!


Jeff Bruinsma - Jeff is pursuing a PhD at NC State in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media
"The MA in English program at UNCW allowed me to discover how enriching, rewarding, and fascinating academic research can truly be. The freedom to explore my interests, along with supportive guidance from the faculty, allowed me to become a better student, writer, and scholar. My time in the program, especially as a teaching assistant, provided me with the confidence and direction I needed to begin a career in academia. Specifically, the English department’s unique relationship to other programs on campus made it very easy to connect my research to other disciplines,making me a strong advocate for interdisciplinary research. Class and cohort sizes were also a boon to my development because I had more one-on-one time with my professors and a solid foundation of support from my fellow friends and colleagues. I miss my time there and highly recommend the program for anyone interested in graduate research."

LeTriece Calhoun will start a Ph.D. in Critical and Cultural Studies at Pitt in the fall of 2016. She has an article entitled "Ghost in the Chell: Fragmented Femininity versus Toxic Masculinity in Portal 2" forthcoming in the Masculinity Studies volume of a Gender and Games Trilogy.

Erin O'Quinn - After graduating from UNCW’s English masters program in May 2016, I plan to pursue my Ph.D. in Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media from North Carolina State University this fall. I will serve as a research and teaching assistant in the program, and I hope to continue traveling as well. (I have visited eight countries so far and hope to add many more to the list.)

Melissa Stone is currently in the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media PhD program at NC State.


Britney Knotts - Britney started her Ph.D in English at the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 after earning her B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her research focuses on representations of girlhood in popular culture, including television, music, and social media. She is interested in the intersections of girlhood, sexuality, race, and creative agency.

Alexandria Kapczynski - Alexandria is currently a Ph.D. candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s English doctoral program. In addition to her writing studies coursework andteaching, she is pursuing a graduate minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Focusing on the rhetorical implications of institutional response to same-sex sexual assault, Alexandria’s most recent research (and potential dissertation) demonstrates her dedication to critically examining previously silenced narratives. 

Jenna McCarthy - Since graduating, Jenna has taught at UNCW and Auburn University, Montgomery. In 2016, she joined the faculty of University of California, San Diego, as a Lecturer and Academic Coordinator in the Basic Writing Program. She also works as a freelance editor. 


Kathryn Bateman - I graduated from UNCW with a Masters in English in the spring of 2014. This fall, I'm beginning my PhD studies in English Literature at the University of Cincinnati. I'm also teaching English 1001: English Composition. Some of my research interests include film studies, women's, gender, and sexuality studies, francophone studies and feminist/feminist film theory.

Elena Fleggas - I've become an English instructor and Professional Writing Tutor at Durham Technical Community College and a Writing and Study Skills Tutor at Wake Technical Community College. I hope to teach abroad (hopefully at the American University in Greece and other countries). I have considered applying to Ph.D. programs in childhood studies.

Andrea Ingle - Andrea works as the coordinator for the Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE) at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She directly advises the Ann Flack Boseman Gallery and Homecoming and serves as the general advisor and coordinator for ACE as a whole. This includes concerts and special events contracting and overseeing the final execution of the events, budgeting, assisting with artist residencies, marketing for shows, and mentoring students to increase their professional and communication skills. She realized her passion for advising through her graduate assistantship for ACE, completed during her second year in the English M.A. program. "I never thought that this kind of position was an option when I originally chose English, but I did know that English is one of those rare majors where you learn skills that can apply to a very wide variety of jobs."

Jessica Jacob: After graduating in May of 2014, I taught English and UNI courses at UNCW before leaving the institution in January 2016 to travel for a few months. I’m now working as a project manager at Moxie—a small, but powerful, graphic design and web development studio based in Wilmington, NC. Project management isn’t a position I had my eye on through school, but it’s a role that allows me to balance creativity with structure (an intersection at which, I think, many English students thrive). Additionally, and in the marketing/advertising industry especially, the communication and analysis skills I developed as an English student have been invaluable.

John Wesley (Wes) Temple - Currently, I am teaching two sections of ENG 200 at UNCW, which is our sophomore composition class with a more global emphasis. I am also teaching DRE 098 at Cape Fear Community College, which is a developmental course (what we used to call remedial). I think my favorite part about teaching that class is how eager and earnest those students are. No matter what level they are at in their writing, my 098 students are hard workers, and they seem to have a real desire and drive to better themselves. And, of course, it's always a joy to teach students who genuinely want to learn. In my spare time (what is that?), I am finishing up my doctoral program applications, which are due at the end of the year. I hope to get my Ph.D. in sociolinguistics, one of the many, many subfields under the ever-widening umbrella of English studies. It's such a fascinating field, and English studies is such an eclectic collection of interests. I think it's great that UNCW MA students get to have contact with so many of the different aspects of our field!


Zachary Tooman - Zach Tooman is currently pursuing a law degree at UNC Chapel Hill.

Laura M. Kuhl - Austin, Texas. Choosing to pursue an advanced degree in English opened a lot of doors for me that I never even thought to knock on, like traveling abroad. I traveled internationally through the Wentworth Fellowship in March of 2012 and have continued to do so every year since in order to expand my sense of self and place in the world. These experiences have greatly influenced my writing, which focuses on the social structure and stereotypes in American Media. In Austin, I am involved with Horn Films, a local and independent film production company. I am a screenwriter-for-hire working on a film script that, although it's a dark comedy horror movie, stars two deaf protagonists and is deeply rooted in emphasizing the way the deaf community is treated in mainstream media. In fact, I'm the only person working with the company that is NOT deaf, so trying to learn ASL is another adventure I never thought an MA in English wouldtake me on.

Pete Puckett - I taught at both UNCW and Cape Fear Community College in the fall of 2013, as well as the subsequent spring semester. Shortly after graduating, I also began working part-time as an EFL instructor at Winglish, a distance-learning language institute located in Wilmington. I worked there for one year. And in the spring of 2014, I also worked briefly as an academic advisor at UNCW's Learning Center. During this time, I became TEFL certified, with the plan to eventually teach abroad. I was very busy after graduating and juggled several different jobs at once, but this did enable me to save up a little money and move to Santiago, Chile, teaching EFL at Universidad de Santo Tomás. After taking a hiatus from academic pursuits and traveling some through South America, Pete was accepted to a Ph.D. program at Temple, and he will begin in the fall of 2016.

Noelle Smith - Noelle is a full-time lecturer in the English Department, where she teaches composition and introduction to literature courses. She writes, "After attending UNCW as a student (both undergrad and grad) and now teaching here, I can't imagine a better institution to work at, and I hope to continue growing as an instructor here."


Jeff Boykin is an Instructional Designer for General Assembly, a venture-backed education startup offering classes in marketing, data, coding, and design. A member of the campus product team, he creates curriculum and training materials for instructors and students in multiple campuses worldwide.

"I got used to pulling all nighters in grad school, so now I also do some freelance work on the side in technical writing, educational game development, and teacher training."

"My experience as a graduate student in UNCW's English department played a pivotal role in honing my critical thinking and communication skills. Working as a TA and instructor inspired my initial interest in educational innovation, and after Morton I pursued an advanced degree in instructional technology (also from UNCW) while interning and working in technical writing positions."

"Career/life advice is hard to generalize, but I would wholeheartedly recommend our English program to anyone! It helps to pair liberal arts training with some sort of technical skill, but either way - [you gain the] ability to write and debate articulately."

"Plus, my time bonding over books, ideas, and rhetoric with my classmates and professors are some of my fondest memories, and I continue to (over)apply theory to my everyday life. From affordances to Foucault, children's lit to the rhetoric of social movements, I would take even more classes if I could!""

Sofia Molestina -After graduating in the spring of 2012, I worked part-time as an English instructor at UNCW, as a bilingual agent at a healthcare call center, and as a care-taker for a wonderful little boy. Two years of hard work and saving allowed me to pack up and take a trip to South America. I traveled through Ecuador, Peru and lived in Santiago, Chile for a year. I am now a 6th and 7th grade Spanish teacher at Independence Charter School in Philadelphia. 

Marcella (Trumbower) Twamley - Marcella 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.

Christa Weaver graduated from UNCW in May 2012. She is a full-time instructor at Cape Fear Community College where she teaches developmental and freshman composition courses.


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.

Rebecca Warfield - After graduating with a B.A. and M.A. in English from UNCW, Rebecca is now a lecturer in UNCW's English department. Additionally, she has expanded her skills into the non-profit sector as the Vice President of a 501c3 dance studio, The Dance Cooperative. Rebecca is grateful that her professional life allows her to contribute to the same academic community that provided her with so much.


Ashley Petersen Ess graduated in May 2010. She joined the English faculty at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, N.C., the following fall, where she teaches African-American literature and composition courses. She was awarded Educator of the Year honors for CCCC in 2014. Ashley lives in Hampstead with her husband, Peter, and her two daughters, Charlotte (b. 5/25/11) and Juliet (b. 6/23/14).


Vanessa Allison - Vanessa graduated with an MA in 2009, 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.

Karlie Herndon - I started out in Korea teaching middle school students in a program called EPIK. After a year, I began working at a women's university, where I taught for several years; I then accepted new English-teaching post at a university in Turkey. As of 2017, I am in a PhD program at the University of Southern Mississippi. I’m so grateful for my MA in English, and even more grateful for the Wentworth Scholars program for sparking my love of travel.


Nicholas Crawford (B.A. 2005, M.A. 2008) received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Georgia. He works as the Academic Achievement Coordinator at UNCW’s Learning Center.

Aimee Armande Wilson's latest book.Aimee Armande Wilson (M.A. 2008) received her doctorate from Florida State University in 2014 and, as of 2016, is an Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Kansas. She is the author of Conceived in Modernism: The Aesthetics and Politics of Birth Control, which examines the relationship between modernist literature and the Anglo-American birth control movement. She has also published in Modern Fiction Studies, Genre, and symploke, and is currently working on a book-length study of reproduction and masculinity.