2014-2015 Awards & Announcements

 Award Winning Students

Each spring, the English & Journalism Department awards $20,000 in scholarships and fellowships for our graduate and undergraduate students.  We are pleased to announce the following students were awarded English & Journalism scholarships this spring for the 2015-2016 academic year.


Kimberly Ackers – Barbara & John Blackburn and Lila Linder scholarships. Jessica Burke – Olive Fite American Literature scholarship. Dakota Carlson – Lila Linder scholarship. Chris Ginn – Wanninger Foundation scholarship. Rebecca Gonner – Irving Garwood Shakespeare scholarship. Marybeth Hornbaker – Beth Stiffler scholarship in Education, Paul Blackford and John Merrett scholarships in British Literature, and Scholar of the Year. Sarah Lambach – Nai-Tung Ting scholarship. Aleatha Quarles – Alfred Lindsey Memorial scholarship. Savannah Whitley – Bill Bradshaw Memorial scholarship in Journalism. Anitria Wilson – Dameris Bagwell Memorial scholarship in Journalism


Chelsea Brotherton – John Mahoney Research Fellowship. Cody Cunningham – Syndy M. Conger Essay Award. Julianne Kaiser – John Mahoney Research Fellowship and Ron & Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowship. Lucas Marshall – Ron & Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowship

Departmental and College Scholar Awards

The Departmental Scholar awards are sponsored by the Illinois Centennial Honors College.  Each semester, departments select the top student in each of their majors graduating that semester.  Students are selected based on g.p.a. as well as honors and activities.  Those selected receive a medallion to be worn at graduation.  Our winners for this year were: Fall 2014, Rebakah Byrnes for English and Ashley Luke for Journalism. Spring 2015, Annabelle Borota for English and Carlos Williamson for Journalism. Ashley Luke was further honored last fall by her selection as the Cecile A. Christison Sterrett College Scholar in the College of Arts & Sciences.



Students launched Veterans Voices: Stories of Combat and Peace. Faculty Advisor, Barbara Harroun. Student Editors: Ryan Bronaugh, Graduate Student, English (fiction), Dan Holst. Graduate Student, English, QC (poetry), Jared Worley, Undergraduate Student, English (non-fiction). Our magazine includes 14 contributors who represent all the main branches of the service and have served in Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and more.

Students presented their work at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association on the panel “Creative Fiction: Reading Work, Discussing Craft.”  “You don’t have to like a character to love a character” by Kimberly Ackers; “Moving from Fact to Fiction” by Sarah Lambach;  “Personal Narrative as a Hero’s Journey” by Ian Lambach; and  “Writing A Novel My Senior Year Because I’d Rather Map Out Somebody Else’s Life” by Annabelle Borota.

English Education students presented with Dr. Bonnie Sonnek at the 22nd Annual Dealing with Differences Institute 2015:  Speak Out, Step Up, Stand Together. April 23-25, 2015. The two panels were on language diversity:   Panel 1: “Teaching and Assessing Linguistically Diverse Students” included Dakota CarlsonAshley GradyAshley Hill and Katie Olsen. Panel 2: “Language Myths” included Kimberly AckersPresley DiNardi, and MaryBeth Hornbaker.

Student writers read their creative work in the Boiler Room Reading Series, including Marybeth HornbakerJared R. WorleyRyan Bronaugh (graduate student), Sandra Sepaniak, Bree BraceyEvan X Edwards, Alyson Eagan, Brandon Nizzio, Luke Taylor, Tuesdai Perry, Alex Ayers, and Jason Herbst

Kimberly Ackers successfully completed her Honors Thesis, a short story collection, interspersed with her award winning poetry.

Shani Belshaw  interned as a Communications Blogger for the WIU Alumni Association, Macomb, Illinois. She was also a  public relations intern for Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago, Illinois.

Annabelle Borota successfully completed her Honors Thesis, a novel that was three semesters in the making.

Jacqueline Covey is a news intern at the McDonough County Voice, Macomb, Illinois.

Rebecca Gonner will intern at McGraw Hill Education in Dubuque, Iowa. This year, she was was a freelance copyeditor for Steve Tomasula: The Art and Science of New Media Fiction published by Bloomsbury.

Karissa Kouchis was a public relations intern for Athlete Network.

Caitlen O’Day  was development intern at Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa.

Tucker Scharfenberg interned as an associate editor for Grain Journal, Decatur, Illinois.

Jessica Sheley (Baumann) is a public relations director intern at Spring Lake Park, Macomb, Illinois.

Ashley Stefani, will  intern as a Pilot Project Coordinator in the field office in Peoria of Social Security.

     Graduate Students

Matthew Harrington accepted a position teaching American culture for the WESL (Western’s English as a Second Language) program at Western for the summer of 2015.



Tim Miller (B. A. 2004) is a technical writer at Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois.

Chris Brown (B. A. 2005)  is working as the Major Gifts Assistant at Saint Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa.

Dan Connelly (B. A. 2006) was nominated for the California League of School’s Educator of the Year Award in the fall of 2014. Connelly taught high school English for five years on the south side of Chicago before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at Capuchino High School in 2011. There, he says he “continues to facilitate and foster individual inquiry and curiosity with humans between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.”

Jacob Davis (B. A. 2008) Social Media Manger at South Port Grocery and Cafe, Chicago, Illinois.

Kristi Relaz (B.A. 2008) is working as a Career and College Readiness Coordinator at Howard Area Community Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Annette Glotfelty (B. A. 2008) was accepted to the Speech Language Pathology Program at University of Texas.

Laura Pfeiffer (B. A. 2008) is working at The Navigators Group in Schamburg, Illinois.

Neil Lesinski (B. A. 2009)  completed a Masters in Educational Leadership in 2013. He is now the department chair of Career Tech Ed. programs and also teaches English to freshmen and juniors at Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa, Illinois.

Christina Holt (B. A. 2010) is an Editor at McGraw-Hill  in Chicago, Illinois.

Paige (Brinkman) Timmerman (B. A. 2012) is a high school Spanish/English teacher at Carlyle High School in Carlyle, Illinois. She is also attending the M.A. program in English literature at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illinois.

James Black (B. A. 2013) is an English Teacher at West Central High School, Biggsville, Illinois.

Thomas Boyd  (B. A. 2013) Proofreader at Cadence Health, Chicago, Illinois.

Caitlin Christmas (B. A. 2013) is currently a  long-term substitute English teacher at Staunton High School, Staunton, Illinois.

Neil Friberg (B. A. 2013) is a  middle school English/Language Arts teacher at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy, East Moline, Illinois.

Kasey Gallagher (B. A. 2013): high school British literature and publications teacher at Marian Central Catholic High School.

Annie Supalla (2013): 6th grade language arts teacher and J.V. soccer coach at Nathan Hale Middle School in Crestwood, Illinois.

Elizabeth Geib (B. A. 2014) was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Purdue.

Allison Janacek (B. A. 2013): Middle School Language Arts Teacher at West Central Middle School in Stronghurst, Illinois.

Ethan Knight (B. A. 2013) is finishing his M.A. at Texas A&M this spring, and will join University of South Carolina Ph.D. program in the Fall.

Kelsey McGuire (B. A. 2013) is a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Mills College in the M.A. in English Literature program.

Jenni (Mitchell) Waller (B. A. 2013): High School English Teacher Abingdon – Avon High School Abingdon, Illinois.

Danielle Reagle (B. A. 2013) is an alternative education teacher—English, East Campus Muscatine High School, Muscatine, Iowa.

Reilly Maloney (B. A. 2014) is a high school English teacher and assistant cheerleading coach at East Buchanan High School, Gower, Missouri.

Kylee Palmer (B. A. 2014) is a high school English teacher at VIT High School in Table Grove, Illinois.

Suzanne Teague (B. A. 2014) is an alternative high school English teacher and Ombudsman at the Educational Alternative School, Chicago, Illinois.

Kasi Defrieze (B. A. 2015) is Fund Development Manager at Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa, Moline, Illinois.

     Graduate Students

Erin Moore (M. A. 2006) in a Medical Librarian of Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa.

Zac Dilbeck (M. A. 2008) completed his Ph.D. in English at Idaho State University, and is currently teaching in a tenure track position at Columbus State Community College.

Flannery Scott (M. A. 2008) is a Marketing Communications Specialist at The Brenn-White Group, Colorado Spring, Colorado. 

Annie Schnarr (M. A. 2009) completed her Ph.D. in English from the University of California Riverside and is now  a tenure-track professor at Skagit Valley College in Seattle, Washington.

Travis Moran (M. A. 2011) is an English Instructor at English First English Centers in Haidian District, Beijing, China.

Anna Westermeyer (B.A. 2009 / M. A. 20013) is now in her fifth year of teaching secondary English Language Arts at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Illinois.

Kristyne Bradford (M. A. 2013 ) Executive Director of the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, Illinois.

Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt  (M. A. 2014) was accepted to attend a weekly seminar sponsored by the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.  She also presented her paper, “‘O Save us all, Moor of Moor-Hall’:  Social and Textual Identity in Dragon-Slaying Ballads” at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, in Kalamazoo, Missouri from May 14-17, 2015.

Gina Wilkerson (M. A. 2014) is currently an adjunct at St. Ambrose University teaching Composition I. She is also an adjunct at Black Hawk College teaching Writing Fundamentals II, Composition I and Composition II, Davenport, Iowa.

Claudia Alonzo (M. A. 2014) Writing Instructor at Black Hawk Community College and Saint Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa.

Ruby Kirk Nancy (M. A. 2015) organized an academic conference, Horizons of Challenge and Change, at Muscatine Community College in April, where she teaches. She has accepted an offer to attend East Carolina University’s Ph.D. program in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication beginning in the fall of 2015.


Barbara Ashwood published her essay “Naked” in Adanna Literary Journal, gave an invited reading for the journal at an event sponsored by Blue State Productions in Clifton, New Jersey, and co-created a new creative nonfiction reading series, Stranger Than Fiction, with Bill Thompson.

Neil Baird (with Bradley Dilger) presented “Networks for Research: Building Infrastructures to Support Empirical Research in Writing Studies” at the 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, Florida.

David Banash published an edited collection entitled Steve Tomasula: The Art and Science of New Media Fiction (Bloomsbury 2015). His essay “Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the Cinematic Novels of Don DeLillo and Manuel Muñoz” appeared in Literature/Film Quarterly, 43.1 (2015).

Carol Bollin chaired the panel You Can’t Do That With Writing! at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Tampa, Florida.

Rebekah Buchanan published  creative work including “There’s a Monster in My Closet,” [short fiction]  Noctua Literary Magazine; “What’s In a Name,” [short fiction] Straylight Lit Mag; “Dragons,” [poem], Aberration Labyrinth. She won for poetry in the Iron Pen Contest for “The Moon Over Money.” She was awarded an NEH Summer Institute Stipend: Finding Mississippi in the Civil Rights Narrative, and she presented “The Feminist Punk” at PCA/ACA.

Merrill Cole published “Don’t Self-Flaggelate about White Privilege. Do Something!” The Huffington Post (January 20, 2015);  “Eighty Euros.” [Non-Fiction.] The Round Up Writers Zine 2:2 (January, 2015): 9-10;  “Modernist Poetry.” Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature. Ed. Ellen McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen. New York: Cambridge UP, 2015: 378-401; “Objective Correlative.” [Poem.] The Good Men Project (October 2014); “Pride and Prejudice and Publication.” [Blog.] H_angm_n Books (September 19, 2014);“Proof of Love.” Gay Flash Fiction (December 2014); “Uncapture This Image.” South Central Review 32:1 (Spring 2015: Special Issue: Dada, Surrealism, and Colonialism, ed. Martine Antle and Katharine Conley): 23-42; “Waterfall.” [Fiction.] Open Minds Quarterly 16:4 (Winter 2015): 18-20. He presented his poetry at Festival of Language Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2015; Poetry Reading. A Reading Experiment. AWP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2015; “‘Their Buttons Be Disclosed’: Illegibility in Wallace Thurman’s Infants of the Spring.” Marginal Masculinities panel Modernist Studies Association Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, November 2014.

Roberta Di Carmine, delivered a paper entitled “Conflicting Values: Personal Lives and Societal Expectations in the Representations of Aging and Mental Disorders in Italian Cinema” at the Third Asian Conference on Film and Documentary, Osaka, Japan November 13-16, 2014.  She coordinated and organized “An evening with Italian-Ghanaian filmmaker Fred Kudjo Kuwornu. Screening and discussion of documentary film ‘Inside Buffalo.’” Sandburg Theater, Western Illinois University November 5, 2014.

Barbara Harroun published work in Prairie Gold: Anthology of the American HeartlandRequited JournalFestival WriterRed Wolf JournalCatch & ReleaseThe Lake bioStories MagazineThe Riveter ReviewHermeneutic Chaos Literary Journali70 ReviewMud Season ReviewPea River JournalSediments Literary-Arts JournalEmerge Literary Journal, San Gabriel Valley Poetry QuarterlyThe Rusty ToqueLunch Ticket,  Black Sun LitSugared WaterKudzu House Quarterlyfreeze frame fictionNew Madrid: Journal of Contemporary LiteratureCircus Book, Fiction SoutheastThe Sonder ReviewEastern Iowa ReviewEmpty Sink,Spelk, and The Watershed Review. She also presented “Rectify: The ‘Resurrection’ of Southern Gothic as Episodic Television” at PCA/ACA in April.

Tim Helwig published an invited reflective article in the 25th anniversary issue of American Periodicals Journal. He also presented a paper at the African American Expression in Print and Digital Culture Conference in September, and presented a paper at the American Literature Association Conference in May. He also served as the Chair of the Research Society for American Periodicals’ Biennial Book Prize Committee (2013-2014).

Rich Moreno contributed an essay to Nevadans: The Spirit of the Silver State, a commemorative volume celebrating the Nevada Sesquicentennial published November 2014. He was also a contributor to Nevada: 150 Years in the Silver State, the official commemorative volume of the Nevada Sesquicentennial celebration. As a writer/photographer, his work “Lonesome Highway: There’s Plenty of Open Road Between Stops Along US 50 in Nevada,” appeared in Westways magazine, June 2014.

 Shazia Rahman presented “Border-crossing in Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani” at the Canadian Comparative Literature Association at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada in May 2014. Her panel was entitled Minor Cinemas and was part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Earlier in the same year, she presented “Atonement and Reparations: Pakistan’s 1971 War in Sorayya Khan’s Noor” at a panel entitled Debt and Indebtedness at the MLA Convention in Chicago, Illinois in January 2014.

Bonnie Sonnek presented at the 22nd Annual Dealing with Differences Institute 2015:  Speak Out, Step Up, Stand Together. April 23-25, 2015 on two panels on language diversity: “Teaching and Assessing Linguistically Diverse Students.” and “Language Myths.”

Bill Thompson ended his term as the Chair of MLA Libraries and Researchers ​Forum. He has been elected President of the WIU campus UPI union.

Alisha White published  “Second reaction: Discussion ideas for Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holliday and the dog who loved her” in First Opinions, Second Reactions. Her essay “In search of a cheerful lament: ‘Bizarre partners’ in an a/r/tographic community of practice” appeared in the Special A/r/tography issue of Visual Inquiry: Learning & Teaching Art, 3, 113-123. Her artwork A Single Raindrop [mixed media image] Lightning on Their Faces [pastel image] Margot Alone [pastel image] and Dis/closure Mask 2.2: Do robots make mistakes? all appeared in the issues of the journal Of-With: Journal of Immanent Renditions. She participated in the “Teaching in a Time of Cancer: Analyzing Embodied Experiences” roundtable at the annual conference of the Journal of Language and Literacy Education in Athens, Georgia and  “Stories from the past: A Tale of Two Maidens as a frame for teaching Feminist and Disability Studies Theories” roundtable session at the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English in Washington, DC.

Jacqueline Wilson-Jordan has a creative-non-fiction essay  entitled “The Wind” forthcoming, in The Mulberry Fork Review. She presented  “Rebooting the Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Assisted in the Recovery of my own Story of Child Abuse” March, 2015, Midwest Conference on Language, Literature, and Media, Northern Illinois University. She was also a facilitator for “Am I All Wrong, or Am I All Right?” April, 2015, Dealing with Difference Institute.  She was a facilitator for a session on narrative collage, writing and identity that featured the work of a former student, Jamiece Adams; “Veterans’ Voices: The Genesis and Development of a Literary Magazine for Student and Alumni Veterans of WIU” panel, with Barbara Harroun and Ryan Bronaugh (English Department Graduate Student) April, 2015. Dealing with Different Institute.

Erika Wurth published her novel Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend with Curbside Splendor. Her story “Beautiful, Terrible Thing” appeared in Sententia; an excerpt from Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review; “Mason Snap” appeared in Literary Orphans; “Wild, Animal Love” appeared in The Missing Slate 2014; and “Kes Woodi” was published in Contrary.

Emeritus Faculty

John Hallwas is the only Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Western. He is a regional, local, and WIU historian, with books like Western Illinois HeritageMacomb: A Pictorial History, and First Century: A Centennial History of WIU. Currently, he writes a weekly column for the McDonough County Voice, entitled “On Community.” You can find his website at: www.johnhallwas.jimdo.com