Tag Archives: Brianna Wilkins

Alumni Profile: Brianna Wilkins

Eddy Hall, before (image by Jill Salahub)

Eddy Hall, before (image by Jill Salahub)

Spring semester is done, graduation ceremonies have commenced and gone, and the renovation of Eddy Hall has officially begun.  Where did the time go? Our first set of Communication Interns in the English department have also finished their work with us. We are so sad to see Brianna and Evelyn go. They have done such great work helping us to tell our story, and set the bar high for the interns who will follow them.

As a way of wrapping up their time together, they sat down a few weeks ago to have a conversation. Intern Evelyn Vaughn interviewed now alumna Brianna Wilkins about her time at CSU and her plans for the future.


Brianna had originally planned to go to college out of state, but the lower tuition rates available to her for staying in state (she’s from Denver) convinced her to stay. After a slow start her first semester, Brianna has been committed to getting the most out of her time at CSU, and has been a hardworking student (once, for two semesters back to back, she took 18 credits, and has earned her goal of over a 3.0 GPA each semester after that first one, even though she’s also been working two jobs and doing internships the past two years) – although, she does admit to slacking off her final semester, taking it easy and nursing a pretty serious case of senioritis. While at CSU, she’s especially appreciated the variety of good food available in the dorms (she hadn’t expected that), and the fact that there’s always something going on and something to do on campus.

Brianna introduces herself

What’s your favorite memory of your time at CSU?

My favorite memory has to be probably these past few weeks, getting ready to graduate because I feel like my life’s moving forward. When you are in school you always know you are going to go back to school the following year, so for me it’s great to know that there’s something new coming in my life, even though I don’t know what it is, It’s exciting to take that new leap and be heading into something great…hopefully [laughter].

Brianna answers the question, “What advice would you give to students?”

You are a Journalism & Technical Communications and English Creative Writing major. Is that what you had originally planned to do?

When I first came, I knew I wanted to do Journalism, right off the bat, probably since my Junior year of high school, but that really changed for me. At first I thought I wanted to do Broadcast Journalism but then I realized I’m not really comfortable on camera, and I’d rather be behind the scenes working. So now I’m looking for jobs in Public Relations or Social Media just because I like being behind the scenes getting everything together.

I added English as a second major Spring semester of my freshman year, so I didn’t start taking English classes until my Sophomore year. I figured I’d do Creative Writing because I knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher.

I realize now that I’m ending everything that the English major has probably been the most challenging for me. I was a decent writer always but it was more like writing essays and stuff. Coming up with stories is so hard. People think it’s so easy and it’s really not. It’s such a challenge for me to write stories because it’s not something I’m really good at and it’s kind of uncomfortable for me — which I kind of liked because it’s a challenge. But at the same time, Journalism is so easy for me because it’s so hands on and we get to work in different aspects of things, like website building or doing publications or broadcasts or social media, all this different stuff we can work on. It gives us such a diverse field to study.

But I’d say together they’ve both made me a really good writer.

What did you originally think you were going to do with your degree? What job prospects did you have in mind?

I really want to get into social media and I’ve had about five internships since straight out of high school. I’ve done a lot of marketing internships, communications and writing for publications, so I’ve had a lot of experience in that area, but I really want to get into social media even though it’s something I haven’t done as much as I had originally planned.

Right now I’m interviewing for a few social media positions. I actually want another internship because if I commit to a job I want to make sure it’s where I want to be, I don’t want to just take a job because I need a job and then get stuck there, but I don’t want to job hop either. So if I can find at least one more internship that’s specifically dealing with social media and marketing then I’d like to go into that as a future career.

So your dream hasn’t changed very much?

Not at all. Writing, news writing is something that I dabbled in a bit, writing for different publications, so I wouldn’t mind trying that but that’s a really hard field to get in to just because people really aren’t reading newspapers and magazines as much, and it’s a very competitive business unless you freelance. So maybe that’s something to try…but Journalism has always been my goal so it hasn’t really changed that much.

What experience has CSU given you that you find the most valuable?

That’s a tough one. I would have to say I took this class, it was my senior capstone in Journalism, and basically they had us build a profile. So all semester we were working on these profiles. We had to take work samples, or school samples if we didn’t have any professional work experience, put them all together. It took us the whole year and then we had to create these huge projects, and then at the end of the semester we have an online portfolio which is basically like a resume online plus all your work, in a website form and a hardcopy portfolio. We did mock interviews with business people from different journalism fields, like public relations and news people. I felt like that helped me so much. It helped me realize, “wow, this is a competitive world out here and I need to get myself together.”

So bringing in professionals, not just with the Journalism department but English as well, going to the readings and stuff. Just having professionals who are good at what they do come on campus and speak to people or do their readings, it really helped me realize “dreams do come true.” Sometimes it feels like it’s so far off and that you can never achieve what you want to do but having professors as well that are not only professors but they’ve been published or they were recent newscasters or they work for these big corporations, having all these people available, at your disposal, to gain knowledge from, that’s probably been the best aspect of CSU for me. And they’re so willing to help you out if you need it. Having those conversations with them and interacting with them as not only professors but as just regular people and gaining knowledge — that’s been really awesome.

Brianna answers the question, “How does it feel to be graduating?”

Besides doing one more internship and traveling to visit family and friends before finding a job (hopefully something in public relations or social media), Brianna dreams of starting a book group with other young women like her, having a career (not “just a job” but work she loves), and doing more traveling.


We wish Brianna and Evelyn, and all of our students, whether they are graduating or returning next year, the safest and best of summers, the best of luck wherever they land. We also hope they will keep in touch, let us know how and what they are doing and where.

Faculty Profile: Sue Doe

Associate Professor Sue Doe teaches courses in Composition, Autoethnographic Theory and Method, Research Methods, and Graduate Student Preparation for Writing in the Disciplines. She does research in three distinct areas—academic labor, writing across the curriculum, and student-veteran writing in the post-9/11 era. Coauthor of the faculty development book Concepts and Choices: Meeting the Challenges in Higher Education, she has published articles in College English, College Composition and Communication, and Writing Program Administration as well as several book-length collections.  Her forthcoming collection on student-veterans in the Composition classroom, Generation Vet:  Composition, Veterans, and the Post-911 University, co-authored with Professor Lisa Langstraat, is under contract with the Utah State Press.

suedoe


Faculty Profile: Sue Doe
~by Brianna Wilkins

How would you describe your work at CSU?

I work in the Rhetoric and Composition area of the English Department. I’m both the graduate advisor, and the undergraduate writing major director; we rotate positions, and right now I’m doing those two roles. Prior to that when I first came on in my current position in 2007, I was brought in to do gtPathways, which is a writing integration that’s gone on within the entire core curriculum.

What bought you to CSU?

I actually started teaching here several years ago in 1997. I moved here with my family and my husband had a position here with the university, and I started a PhD program at that point. While I was working on my PhD I began teaching a course or two here in the English department. A while after I got my PhD, the department did a national search for a new person in rhetoric and comp, I applied for it, and that’s how I came to be in my current position.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Right up through my freshman year of college I wanted to be something in the sciences; I loved science; I liked to write, and I imagined that I’d write about science. At that time science writing was just a vague idea; it wasn’t really a path that you could follow in graduate school. I think it was after my first course in chemistry when I thought that maybe I wouldn’t do anything with science (laughs). I was also a musician; I played the piano and I sang, so for a while I thought I was going to be a musician. Early on, both of those things I thought of more so than doing something with English.

What special projects are you working on right now?

My colleague Dr. Lisa Langstraat and I have been working on a longitudinal study of student veterans at CSU, and we’ve been looking at the influx of veterans from our recent wars into universities. There are now 1 million student veterans across the country. We now have an ever increasing number of student veterans on this campus, and we’re also considered a veteran friendly campus. One of the things she and I are doing is to examine the experience of the student veteran from the start of their time at CSU to the end of it, and to examine how their literacy practices change over the course of their transition period, as they move from being in the military to civilian life.

What is your most memorable moment in the classroom?

One of the moments which stands out the most is something I think about a lot. I’m a mother of three, and my first child was born a week before finals. I took him into the final exam, and I will never forget that moment of being in the classroom. My students were at the end of the semester and finishing up the course; at the same time I was starting on something new which was being a mom, and the generosity of those students was amazing. It could have been extremely awkward, but there was no way that I was going to leave behind my one week old baby. I didn’t know what to expect, and maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind. It was the most wonderful final exam that anyone could imagine.

What do you do during your free time?

I love to run. I’ve been a runner for about 40 years; there’s nothing like putting on my running sneakers and just going. It’s the best sport in the world because it doesn’t involve any equipment except those shoes so you can do it almost anywhere. And getting out into the elements, regardless of the weather, is not only freeing but empowering. I also love to hang out with my family. I have a grandson who is almost two and lives here in Fort Collins, He is just too funny and reminds me of the wonders of life because he sees everything, from a particle of dust to a dandelion. with fresh eyes. In a few weeks he will have a new baby sister and one of my two other children is also expecting a child. By the end of June, I’ll be a grandmother to three little children and while I initially felt I was too young for this grandma gig, I’ve come to enjoy it, just as everyone said I would!

What is something that your colleagues may not know about you?

I once wrote a speech for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Faculty Profile: Judy Doenges

judydoenges2

Associate Professor Judy Doenges teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction writing workshops and literature courses. She has published a novel, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. Her short fiction collection, What She Left Me, won a Ferro-Grumley Award, a Washington State Governor’s Writers Award, the Bakeless Prize, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, Nimrod, Green Mountains Review, and in several anthologies. Her reviews have appeared in the Washington Post and the Seattle Times. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, the Ohio Arts Council, and Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. She recently won a PEN/O. Henry Award.


Faculty Profile: Judy Doenges
~by Brianna Wilkins

What does your work consist of at CSU?

I teach creative writing at the undergraduate and graduate level, and I also teach literature at the undergraduate and graduate level. I like to think that my work also involves inspiring students in some way; making them want to be better writers, and better readers of literature.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I can honestly say that the thing I enjoy most is working with students, because I get to meet different students every semester. Sometimes it’s hard because you might not ever see them again, but I get to work with so many different students who have so many different levels of expertise and creativity; it’s really fun to see people change and grow over the course of the semester.

Why are the humanities important?

They make people better, because they are aware of other cultures, other people, and other voices. Humanities allow people to become aware of a world that goes beyond their own immediate experience, and their own upbringing.

Who had an influence on you when you were younger?

I had a teacher in grammar school that encouraged the students to do creative writing, and I really enjoyed it. I remember having to stand up in front of the class and read something that I had written, and everyone clapped for me; the applause made me want to become a writer. I thought that since there was something that I could do that other people would like, then I should become a writer.

What special projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on a novel and I have about eight chapters done; I’m going to finish the rest of it while I’m on sabbatical. I’m also working on some short stories too; everything that I’m working on is fiction.

What advice would you give to CSU English majors?

Approach it with enthusiasm and have an open mind. Think about the wonders that you’ll learn, and the different cultures and people that you’ll read about. You’ll be able to express yourself in ways that other parts of your life may not allow you to.

Who inspires you?

Great writes of the past, and contemporary writers. Just reading work from anyone who is doing something new and different, and making me see something in a different way than before.

Faculty Profile: Cindy O’Donnell-Allen

Associate Professor Cindy O’Donnell-Allen teaches courses in literacy, composition, pedagogy, and adolescents’ literature. Her research explores the ways in which discursive practices serve as tools for collaborative knowledge construction in learning communities. She has published articles and chapters on adolescents’ literary meaning construction in multimedia interpretive texts; the influence of nested contexts on students’ engagement with literature; the relationships among gender, language, and power in school; and the role of relational frameworks in collaborative learning.

Her current research projects include a three-year longitudinal study on the development of a teacher research group into a discourse community and a study of the ways preservice English teachers voluntarily access and construct narratives in the process of learning to teach.

cindy


Faculty Profile: Cindy O’Donnell-Allen
~by Brianna Wilkins

What brought you to CSU?

I had just finished up my PH.D at the University of Oklahoma, and so I applied to several places and had several interviews. When I came here it was actually the most comfortable that I felt in an interview; it was weird because I didn’t get nervous. The people here made me feel so welcomed and I felt like the philosophies I had for teaching really paralleled well with LouAnn Reid’s. She was the only other person in English Education at the time that I came here in 1999, and we just clicked right away. I was pleased to think of the prospect that I might be able to get to work with her on an everyday places. Also this program has a good reputation, and I got to meet students, and all those things made me feel like this was a place that I could be happy.

What advice would you give to a CSU English major?

I would encourage them to take advantage of the incredible expertise that we have in our department. I think it’s easy when you’re a student to just think of the professor as the person who’s making your assignments, requiring you to read things, and grading your papers. But I never cease to be amazed by the national reputation that our professors have in their respective fields. So by figuring out some way to learn who they (professors) are outside of the classroom and professionally, and to engage in conversations with them would be a tremendous asset to student’s experiences while here.

What’s a special project that you’re working on right now?

I am working on a book with Professor Garcia, and it’s developing a theory that we’re working on for teachers; teachers and teacher educators will be the primary audience. We have this theory that you never quite arrive as a teacher, and that you should always be challenging yourself to try something new. We want to write a book that articulates that idea in a way that is also meaningful to students who are studying to be teachers, and for people who are early in their careers. This book has a mixture of critical theory and practical pedagogies, and we decided to write it about a year ago when we figured out that we could not find a book to assign our students that we believed was doing both of those things. So when you can’t find a book that you want students to read, then it means that you should write one for them.

What do you like to do on your free time?

I like to watch basketball, play the piano and cook; I really love to cook. I like to hang out with my family and dog too.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I actually said, “I do not know what I will be in my life, but I will not be a teacher;” I made that proclamation. My parents were teachers, and I just was confident that I wasn’t going to teach, but when I look back I just knew that I loved to create. Whether it was creating music at the piano or writing, I knew it would have to be related to creating something, so that’s why I believe I ended up teaching.

What is your favorite genre of writing?

This really isn’t a genre, but I really love poetry. The first thing that I can remember writing is a poem. I was in the second grade, and there was a boy who had a physical disability. People wouldn’t play with him very often, so I wrote a poem for him and gave it to him on the playground. At a young age I realized that poetry was a way to connect to something deeper, and I’ve always related to it.

English Major Profile: Cori McCallister

by Brianna Wilkins

There was a quote I once read in a book, and it went a little something like this, “Each meeting occurs at the precise moment for which it was meant. Usually, when it will have the greatest impact on our lives,” (Fathoms of Forgiveness, Nadia Scrieva). This is exactly what happened when English Department Chair Louann Reid met Cori McCallister, a third year English Education student. Louann was so impressed by Cori’s enthusiasm and future plans, that she suggested we interview her. As you will see from the following video clips, Louann was absolutely right.

Cori grew up in a military family and has lived in Fort Carson in Colorado Springs; Fort Hood, Texas; Kentucky and California. She’s also had the opportunity to travel to almost all of the 50 states. She’s worked at Poudre Valley High School with AVID students, and has even traveled to St. Lucia, South Africa to volunteer. She’ll soon be leaving to travel to Cambodia and work with an Australian nonprofit program called Reach Out Volunteers. We wanted to catch up with her before she left, and get the scoop on her life experiences.

Video clip: Cori introduces herself.

What has been your favorite moment at CSU?

This is really nerdy, especially since I want to be an English teacher, but my favorite moment has been an entire class that I’ve taken; it’s my capstone this semester, and it’s focusing on an individual author which is Mark Twain. We’re reading a whole bunch of his different works, and learning about the life of Samuel Clemens [which is Twain’s real name] as well. I’ve read some of his stuff prior to this class, and I knew that Samuel Clemens invented Mark Twain, but I didn’t really know much more about the man behind the mask. I’ve loved every single lecture in the class, and I talk about it endlessly; my friends are probably like “Okay we get it, Mark Twain wrote books and you love it” [laughs]. So that has probably been my favorite moment at CSU, being able to take that class.

Video clip: Cori gives advice to English majors and incoming CSU freshman.

What’s your favorite book?

My favorite book is this book that I read in third grade; it’s called, There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom. It’s set in the third grade, and ever since I’ve read it then I’ve always read it every single year. I’m 20-years-old, and I still read it. The main character is just having a hard time, but he finds friendship with his stuffed animals, and stuff like that. It really touched me when I was a kid because I grew up in the military, so I moved around quite a bit, and it’s hard being the new person, but you always have your stuffed animals and personal things to come home to. I have always found home in that book, so every time I have the chance, I give someone that book. It’s one of those that you grow up with, so that’s by far the one that I always go back to.

What’s one word you’d use to describe Eddy?

If I had to describe Eddy in one word I would say “Everest” as in Mt. Everest, because those stairs are terrible to climb (laughs). I have to go through the thought process of “breathe in” and “exhale” when I get to a landing. I’ll come up for office hours, and I’m like “Hold on a second, oh my gosh; anyone have an inhaler?” I don’t know why, I just feel like Eddy is so steep. I don’t know if anyone else has that issue, but it’s hard to climb.

Video clip: Cori talks about her future plans.

Cori says, “I think we have one of the best departments here, everyone is just so passionate about it, and they want you to be passionate about it. I feel like that’s what makes a great teacher, is to get your students as inspired, passionate and energized about what you’re teaching, and what you’re doing. I can’t wait to get into my own classroom, and hopefully I’ll have at least one student who says the same thing about me.”

Cori leaves for Cambodia this week, and will be abroad for three months. She will return and then go recruit for Reach Out Volunteers at different universities across the country. Cori will come back to CSU in the spring of 2015 to continue her studies as an English Education Major, and will graduate in the fall of 2015, with the hopes of becoming a high school teacher. We wish Cori the best, and can’t wait to hear about her travels. Good luck!

Speaker Series (Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life): Linda Christensen

Linda Christensen was the sixth and final presenter in the department’s speaker series, “Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life.” Christensen is an Instructor and Director of the Oregon Writing Project at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education, and a Counseling & Rethinking Schools Editorial Board member. Her presentation as part of the series was titled, “The Tulsa Race Riot: Raising Voices Silenced by History” and described this way,

The past is not dead, and it needs to be remembered for students to understand contemporary patterns of wealth and poverty, privilege and marginalization. Our curriculum should equip students to “talk back” to the world. Students must learn to pose essential critical questions: Who makes decisions and who is left out? Who benefits and who suffers? What are the origins of today’s problems? What alternatives can we imagine? What is required to create change? In this presentation, Christensen will engage participants in an examination of a historical event from eyewitness accounts to revisit the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. Through this workshop, she will demonstrate how she uses “silences” in history to construct solid literacy practices including persuasive essays and historical fiction, building a framework for critical literacy that helps students navigate an increasingly unequal world.

Here’s a video of Linda Christensen’s presentation.

Linda Christensen and Antero Garcia

Linda Christensen and Antero Garcia

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

After a few weeks’ hiatus, April 22 was the finale of the spring 2014 Speaker Series. Since it’s nearing the end of the semester, crowds usually tend to thin and would rather spend a nice evening outdoors, so it was a lovely surprise to see that so many people came out to support what was the last of a phenomenal series of presentations. Everyone in attendance was graced by the presence of Linda Christensen, the Director of the Oregon Writing Project, located in the Graduate School of Education at Lewis & Clark College.

She spoke about the Tulsa Race Riot of May 31 and June 1, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Due to the fact the majority of the audience had never heard of this riot before, the conversation and group activity that took place was one of curiosity and emotion. Christensen’s presentation brought everyone in the room closer together, as we worked together to figure out what really happened during those two days of the riot.

Everyone in the room was given a sheet of paper with a short story about a witness’s involvement in the riot. We were then asked to get up and mingle with people in the room, to work together to find out the cause and effect of the riot. After we received various stories and clues from the people involved we came back together as a group to discuss what all happened during those unfortunate couple of days in Tulsa. Thousands of blacks were left homeless, and justice was never served to those who were affected by the horrors of the riot.

The clue I was given read was about a character named Maria Morales Gutierrez, a Mexican woman who heard the ruckus on the street. After going outside she noticed two black children running loose in the streets without their parents. She rescued them, but a group of white people demanded she hand them over. She refused to do so, but was terrified for her life because so many blacks were being ruthlessly murdered. We discussed that things like this in America’s history are often overlooked and ignored. It’s sad that many of us had no clue that this ever happened, but it was a pleasure for the group as a whole to be engaged and sharing their thoughts about this horrific event.

Christensen explained that she does this activity with many students, and that it engages them to speak and what to learn more about what happened during this piece of forgotten history. This was an eye opening presentation, and it shed light on a part of American history that was denied for 75 years.

I am grateful for being given the opportunity to attend all of the speaker series that were offered. Although the majority of the topics were geared towards English Education majors, it was informative for everyone who attended. Professor Antero Garcia was always full of excitement, and there were always cupcakes and fruit available for us to snack on if we were lacking in energy from a long day. If you missed out on any of these series there are videos that you can view, available in each blog post about the series. If you do decide to tune in, I hope you enjoy them as much we did!

For more information about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, please visit tulsareparations.org/TRR.htm

~Brianna Wilkins

Humans of Eddy: Davia Carr

davia
Does Davia look familiar to you? You might recognize her because she’s a work study in the English Department’s main office.


What is your major, and when will you graduate?

I major in Human Development and Family Studies (HDSF), and I’ll graduate in December of 2014.

What is required of your position as a work study?

There’s always so much to do; I help everyone in here. I especially work a lot with Sheila. Right now we’re working on certificates; I’m working on the finished product which is printing them, framing them, and then organizing them. I also do a lot of copying and filing documents, but I like organizing. I pretty much help everyone out so that their jobs aren’t as hectic, because they do a lot of stuff. This semester I usually work 14 hours a week, but last semester I worked 17; I can just work my hours around my school schedule.

What has been your favorite moment at CSU?

The CU vs CSU football game my freshman year was one of my most memorable. I didn’t really know anyone there, but I went with two of my really good friends; we had so much fun. Also Ram Welcome was pretty fun. I met my roommates friend that she met during orientation, and we’ve all been best friends ever since. That was a good experience because it brought us closer, and we met a lot of people. That’s why I’m applying to be a Ram Welcome leader, because it made me like CSU more, and I would like to help at least one new person feel welcome here as well.

Describe Eddy in one word.

Antique/Nostalgic

Do you have a favorite song?

My favorite song right now would have to be “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen; I hear it all of the time. I think that it’s one of my favorite because she’s finally breaking out of her shell, and no longer hiding. I feel like a lot of people sometimes hide who they are, and when they finally figure out who they are and become comfortable with themselves, they are happier.

Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen?

Meet new people and try new things. Don’t be one of those people who chooses to stay in their dorms; get out there and have fun!

Are you working towards any goals?

Ever since I was young I wanted to work with kids, and now I’m doing everything that I can to lead me in that direction. I have this internship working with kids, and all of my classes are helping me too. Working with children and helping them in any way possible is my ultimate goal.