Meet our Alumni

Graduate Studies in English at NDSU welcomes news from its alumni. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies with stories and updates. We try to stay in touch with all of our and are always happy to hear from you. Tell us about your experience as a graduate student in our program and read what others have said. Go Bison!


Justin Atwell (PhD 2017)

Justin graduated from NDSU in 2017. He taught several undergraduate courses including ENGL 275: Introduction to Writing Studies, ENGL 324: Writing in the Sciences, and ENGL 459: Writing Grants and Proposals.

He currently works in the program for writing and rhetoric at University of Colorado boulder, where he teaches First-Year Composition and Writing on Science and Society.

Massimo Verzella (PhD 2016)

Assistant Professor of English and Writing Studies
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Erie, PA USA

“My experience as a graduate student at the NDSU English Department was invaluable for several reasons. The program is very well structured around key disciplinary areas that include literature, cultural studies, writing, and rhetoric. I particularly appreciated the cosmopolitan vision that inspires international collaborative projects such as the TAPP (Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Project), the spirit of innovation that drives the creation and development of courses, and the emphasis on collaborative work. But what makes the program truly exceptional is the availability of the teachers: Office doors are always open at the English department in an effort to build a close knit community around the values of scholarship, learning, and service.”

Neelam Jabeen (PhD 2016)

Assistant Professor of English
International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan

"The PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture program provided me with an opportunity to explore my area of interest from a whole new perspective.

The wide scope of the program enabled me to pursue my interest in literature and explore literary texts from different angles. The program’s emphasis on rhetoric sharpened my analytical skills that eventually led me to the unexplored areas of research in my interest area. 

Besides the excellent academic environment, the things that I appreciate the most are the welcoming and friendly staff and faculty of the department. As an international student, NDSU, especially the English department has been a second home to me."

Steven R. Hammer (PhD 2014)

Assistant Professor of Communication & Digital Media
St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA

"In my time at NDSU, I learned to listen to the voices that are seldom heard in our society, reshape my own perspective of the world by acknowledging my own privilege, and stand (and march!) as an ally with those who need our support most.

I was welcomed into a community of learning that crossed borders and reached beyond the walls of the classroom, and profoundly shaped what it means for me to be an engaged citizen wherever I live and work. I learned that my education is never really mine; to keep it I must share it with others."

Alyson Guthrie (MA 2013)

Technical Assistant
Planned Parenthood, Moorhead, MN USA

"I completed my M.A. in English at NDSU in 2013. My experience as a graduate student in the NDSU English Department was valuable in many ways. As a new, and slightly overwhelmed, graduate student in the fall of 2009, I was blown away by the level of support I received as both a student and teaching assistant.

The program is designed in a way, so that one is never thrown into a class or teaching situation unprepared. In fact, the first semester is designed to ease a graduate student into a schedule that allows her to hone teaching and academic skills with intro classes, such as TA Strategies.

Furthermore, the NDSU English Department encourages graduate instructors to tweak their courses with innovative lessons, and to share these experiences at workshops and conferences. As a graduate instructor, I felt supported, encouraged, and inspired.

In addition, I had the opportunity to enroll in a variety of courses. When I enrolled in the program, I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take, but I was able to study linguistics, grant writing, writing in the sciences, and I was able to participate in a teaching and administrative field experience.

Finally, when it came time to begin my M.A. Paper, I was able to research and write about a social, political, and cultural issue that mattered to me, which led to my current job with Planned Parenthood. While I entered the NDSU English Department nervous and maybe even clueless, I came out of the program with direction, confidence, and skills I carry with me both inside and outside of academia."

David Lemke (MA 2013)

David graduated from NDSU in 2013 with an M.A. in English Literature. He is currently pursuing a PhD in American Literature at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He recently finished helping organize a two-day symposium at the University of Minnesota entitled "Reparations, Repatriation, and Redress," which brought in academic speakers and activists from Minneapolis and throughout the country to discuss and debate different approaches to reparative justice. His research focus is uncovering early African-American utopian writers from the 19th and early 20th century and thinking about how they offer creative critiques of reparations projects after the Civil War.

Sarah Rude (MA 2012)

Sarah graduated with an M.A. from NDSU in summer 2012 and received a PhD from Baylor University in 2017.

She worked with Dr. Verena Theile at NDSU for her master's disquisition, "Providing for Duncan: Representing Hospitality and National Identity in Shakespeare's Macbeth."

She currently works as a tenure-track assistant Professor of English in the Language and Literature Department at Fairmont State University in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Abigail Bakke (MA 2011)

Assistant Professor of Technical Communication
Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN USA

Abigail Bakke completed her PhD in Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication from the University of Minnesota. Her teaching and research have focused on internet communication, health and medical communication, research methods, and rhetoric.

"As an MA student at NDSU, I got practice in many of the tasks required of me as a doctoral student and now as a faculty member: research collaborations, teaching, program administration, committee work, and conference planning and presenting. The faculty members were always supportive of me pursuing these opportunities."

Samantha Laine Perfas (MA 2011)

Samantha received her B.A. in English at NDSU in 2011 and an M.A. in journalism at Northeastern University in 2012. Her current job title is Digital Story Team Leader at The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, Massachusetts.

She leads a team to discover and implement new forms of creative storytelling at the Monitor, utilizing audio, video, multimedia, and social platforms. 

Her work can be found at:

Tatjana Schell (MA 2010)

Tatjana Schell earned her M.A. in English Studies at NDSU in 2010 and her PhD. in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture at NDSU in 2017. Her current position is at the Checkpoint Charlie Stiftung in Berlin, a small foundation that supports various small-scale projects to strengthen the ties between the city of Berlin and the US. She organizes tours for US military vets who used to be stationed in West Berlin before the Wall came down, support German teachers exchange between US and Berlin, and award scholarships to kids of the FDNY firefighters who have suffered from their work at the 9/11 site.

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