Renea Frey is a 2011 graduate of the Master of Arts in English (MAE) program at NKU. When she first entered the program, she was not familiar with the field of Composition and Rhetoric. Recently she stated, “it was NKU's graduate program that first introduced me to the discipline that became the foundation for my career.” Although she initially had no intention of pursuing a PhD after completing her MA, she enjoyed her studies so much at NKU that she wanted to continue on. “The love of learning I experienced at NKU was the true motivation for me to apply to the PhD program at Miami University,” she said.
Renea completed her PhD at Miami University in 2015. Dr. Frey is currently the Writing Program Director and an assistant professor of English at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. Her scholarly work examines the rhetorical strategies of silenced populations who choose to speak out despite risks, women's nineteenth-century rhetorical practices, composing and teaching in digital spaces, and using empathy as inventional practice. Her advice to graduate students is to “explore what you love, no matter how ‘impractical’ or specialized it seems. Graduate-level study takes a lot of effort, and if you don’t genuinely love your work, it can be drudgery; however, if you are passionate about your learning, the effort feels more like a challenging sort of fun.” Dr. Frey can be reached through her departmental website: https://www.xavier.edu/english-department/directory/renea-frey.
Rich Shivener received his MA in English from Northern Kentucky University in 2010. He is indebted to Professors John Alberti, Andrew Miller, and Kelly Moffett for taking him under their wings. “They supported my interests in visual composing and nonfiction writing, and they helped me think about publications and teaching possibilities in first-year writing and creative writing,” Shivener said in a recent interview. He is also thankful that Professor Jen Cellio helped him discover his “professional and academic experiences [in] the field of rhetoric and composition.”
Rich completed his PhD in Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Cincinnati in 2019. He is now an assistant professor in the Writing Department at York University in Toronto, Canada. His latest research investigates the relationship between digital media practices and emotions, most recently turning to authors of webtexts and digital comics. His advice to current MA students is “to maintain a close, working relationship with your professors. They will mentor you and help you see intellectual paths you never knew existed.” Dr. Shivener can be reached through his university and professional websites: http://profiles.laps.yorku.ca/profiles/richshiv/ and http://richshivener.com.
Another 2011 graduate of Northern Kentucky University’s MAE program is John Silvestro. John came to NKU after receiving his BA in Journalism, unsure what his focus would be other than to learn more about writing. After taking the Composition Pedagogy Practicum and History of Rhetoric with Dr. Jen Cellio, everything clicked into place for him. “Writing wasn't the mythical activity that only a few, blessed individuals could do,” he states, “but was a complex, emergent process governed by the local contexts into which it emerged. This meant writing could be improved (although never truly mastered) and it could be taught.” John attended Dr. Cellio’s alma mater, Miami University, where he completed his PhD in Composition and Rhetoric.
Of his time at NKU, Dr. Silvestro says, “With the frameworks I learned from Dr. Cellio, and the other faculty at NKU, I started to closely study the more mundane, everyday writing around me - fliers, reports, e-mails, street signs, etc - thinking about how it worked and what it could do.” He is currently an assistant professor in the English Department at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. His research interests include Public Writing, Circulation, Non-Profit Public Advocacy, and Professional Writing Pedagogy. Dr. Silvestro can be contacted through his university’s English department: https://www.sru.edu/academics/colleges-and-departments/cla/departments/english/faculty-and-staff/faculty-p-z.
Jenny Henry received her MA in English and a Graduate Certificate in Rhetoric and Composition from Northern Kentucky University 2018. She chose to return to NKU to pursue her graduate studies because the late afternoon and evening classes that NKU offers enabled Jenny to continue working as a teacher during the day. By earning her MA, Jenny was able to achieve Rank I status, the highest certification status for Kentucky teachers, and is now qualified to teach dual credit courses at Dixie High School in Ft. Mitchell.
Her advice for potentialor current graduate students is to not to become “content with the status quo. Sometimes we need inspiration to help revise our methods and our thinking. A graduate degree can be a new beginning or a fresh perspective.” Of her experience in the MAE program, Jenny states, “The professors at NKU care about their students and treat them as individuals on their own learning quest. It's a phenomenal group of specialists in their fields. I felt they sowed into me and made me a specialist in my own right.”
Stephanie Knipper received her MA in English from Northern Kentucky University in 2011. She began work on her first novel, The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin (Algonquin 2017), prior to working on her MA and came to the program at NKU with the intent to push herself as a writer, workshopping parts of the book in Steve Leigh’s Fiction Workshop. She credits NKU’s English faculty, which she describes as “something special,” in helping with her success as a novelist. “From the beginning, everyone in the program was extremely supportive. The professors treated the students like ‘real’ writers from the moment we entered the program,” she states. “In addition, the MAE program helped me carve out space in my life for writing. It helped me make writing a priority.”
As a busy mother of six, Stephanie shares her advice for graduate students who are interested in creative writing. “Make time for your writing. It’s easy to let other things get in the way and let your writing slip to the wayside but try to write a little every day.” She also suggests approaching each assignment “with an eye toward publication” to create a “portfolio of pieces you’re ready to send out to publishers upon graduation.” Stephanie is currently working on a second novel.
Regina is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English at NKU. Her creative interests include writing children’s books and adult fiction novels. She chose NKU because of the school’s reputation as a phenomenal educational environment. Regina’s future plans include teaching at the collegiate level.
Ben’s research interests include the growth of artificial intelligence, the interface of humans with technology (specifically how technology enables, or disables, communication and growth), and all things literature. His creative interests include making musical parodies, writing bad poetry, and various video projects (you can check out his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/sirbendarby). Ben chose NKU for its convenience (he teaches English at Bishop Brossart High School) and because “the professors are top notch.” His advice to potential grad students is “If you’re looking for a supportive and rigorous academic environment, you’ll find it at NKU!” Following graduation, Ben plans to continue to teach English at the secondary level and to write, “some bright day, something of publishable merit.”
Jen’s focus is in creative writing (poetry/playwriting),particularly poetry and dramatic story-telling. She desires to examine the intersection and overlap between artistic media in her future research. As a playwright, Jen had two short plays produced in 2019, one of which won both “Best on the Page” and “Best on the Stage” at The Drama Workshop’s Home Brew Theatre play festival. As a poet, she was a 2018 “Best of the Net” nominee for a poem published in Eclectica, and her poem “Friday Night Jesus” was long-listed for the New Writer of the Year contest out of Galway, Ireland. Jen chose NKU because “the professors are world-class. There is no department on campus warmer or more supportive, and that goes for the faculty, staff, and students.” Her advice to potential grad students: “Never allow yourself to be the smartest or most talented person in the room. You’ll learn nothing. Also never operate under the illusion that you are the smartest or most talented person in the room.” After graduation, she plans to journey back to Ireland and Scotland in 2021 with the friends she made in the MAE program. Professionally, she’s still considering her options, which include pursuing an MFA.
Liz has been studying a blend of everything and loves writing romance novels. Her recent novels Sort of Normal and Heart’s a Mess will be released in January and October 2020 respectively under her pen name Liz Ashlee. She chose NKU because it is a place where one feels at home, can grow and help others grow, and can explore new, challenging ways of thinking. Her advice to potential grad students is “to say ‘yes’ to possibilities. There are so many ways to further your education beyond just attending class and you have to be open to them.” Her plans after graduation are to keep writing.
While Tim has sampled all tracts of English studies at NKU, he has maintained a research focus that is comic book and graphic novel related. “My JSTOR searches now begin with the keywords, ‘Scott McCloud’.” He was the co-host of the “Literally Anything” podcast (available on Apple Podcasts and Google Play) and has been featured in Cincy Magazine as a recognition of his obsession with teaching. He also maintains a blog at literallyanythingmovies.com. He chose NKU because, in his words, “I like NKU. Is that okay?” His advice to potential grad students is this: “A lot of folks are nervous about presentation. Here's the trick that I'm going to share with everyone because it has served me so well. When signing up for slots, grab the first slot if you can. I know. It means that you are stressed out early, but it also means that expectations are extremely low.” Following graduation, Tim plans to continue teaching. He would also love to get the podcast rolling again. Although considering getting a doctorate, Tim is “also really itching to catch up on sleep sometime.”
While Sara’s current studies have been a blend of everything, she is considering a future in composition and rhetoric because she would still like to be able to teach college composition. She is interested in researching the changes that were made to the different feminist activism areas around the late 60s and early 70s when certain issues in literature and cinema began to arise. Sara chose NKU because the staff was very communicative about the application and admission process and welcoming to start right away. Her advice to potential grad students is to “be prepared for the additional time that it takes to read books, complete assignments and more, especially if you already have a full-time job.” After graduating from NKU, Sara is considering going on to study for a PhD in Composition and Rhetoric, though she is currently teaching ENG 101 at Cincinnati State as well as operating her own freelance writing business.
Dave is currently pursuing a Creative Writing Certificate at NKU. Under his pen name, d.o. Allen, he has published two collections of short stories—The Die and Pardon Me—which were recently released as audiobooks (available through Amazon, Audible and iTunes). He has also been a contributor to several fiction anthologies as well as the AMA book, Parenting with A Story by Paul Smith. Dave chose NKU for its location and the reputation for supporting military veterans like him (Go Army!). His advice to potential grad students is to “write from your research and/or imagination early, then let your incredible life experience supplement your talent in the future.” Following his certificate studies, he plans to continue to write suspense stories, focusing primarily on audio and eBook format.