Alumni News


Tessa Dane-Henry works as a concept and cost development technical writer at JR Automation.

Kelly McMillen works as a document control specialist at JR Automation.

Sam Stebbins currently works for Talent 2025 in Communications and volunteers at the Creative Youth Center in Grand Rapids. She also writes poems, which have appeared in or are forthcoming from formercactus, Cease, Cows, the 3288 Review and elsewhere.


Emily (Davenport) Boswell is social media manager for Gaming Paper and Hollymatic and its sister companies. She works from home writing posts, and sharing news on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Michelle Kuznicki works at Columbia Southern University as a Writing Center Specialist, where she works with students by phone, email, and through screen share software, offering students feedback as well as tutorials, personalized recorded lessons, and other tools. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Human Resource Development at CSU’s sister school Waldorf University. She lives in Alabama with her cat Randy.

Sydney McCann currently works for a nonprofit, teaching ESL to recent immigrants and non-native speakers and writes for the online magazine called Because I Got Wine. She is also a sexual assault advocate at a domestic violence shelter called SafePlace.

Megan Rodawold is currently on a Fulbright Fellowship to the Czech Republic where she teaches English language and conversation at two secondary schools. She is also studying Czech as a language student and working on two nonfiction pieces, one long-form and one a series of letters.


Larissa Babak is currently pursuing her MA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Michigan State University where she also has an assistantship at the Writing Center.

Logan Bailey is a writer for Women’s LifeStyle Magazine with recent articles about poetry and about the Grand Rapids Orchestra. Recently, one of his poems was published in Ilanot Review.

Grayson DeYoung works as a Knowledge Management Technical Writer for Return Path in Broomfield, Colorado.

Shardae Rudel is currently pursuing her MFA at Kingston University in London, England, where she lives happily among the double-deckers and tea enthusiasts. She is also working on the final edits of her first novel, which she hopes to shop around early next year.

Kendra Vanderlip studies in the MFA program at the University of Memphis. In her current assistantship, she splits her time between grading for Literature professors and coordinating the River City Writer's Series.

Rose White is currently completing her master’s degree in Journalism at the University of the West of England (UWE, Bristol).


Kelly Brown is an Assistant Project Manager at Green Giftz/Promotional Impact in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is also a freelance writer and marketer, cheerleading coach at Rockford High School and barre instructor at Beer City Barre. Her non-fiction has been published in Revue Magazine, SOLACE Magazine, Holl and Lane, and elsewhere. Her fiction has been published in the 3288 Review, Brazenhead Review, Talking Soup, Gone Lawn and elsewhere. She frequently reads and participates in the Writers Under 30 events at the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters. 

Nikki Fisher is pursuing her Master's degree in Scientific and Technical Communication (RSTC) at the University of Minnesota where she works as a graduate instructor teaching first year composition.

Amy Hinman works as the Development and Communications Manager at HQ, a drop-in center for young people experiencing unsafe/unstable housing.

Ari Mokdad is a regular contributing writer for Michigan BLUE magazine, where she maintains a 5,000-word column for every edition. She has also published articles in Just Labs Magazine and Life on Holiday Magazine. She has recently accepted a new position as the New Media Developer and Marketing Manager at Dry Harbor Marine in Charlevoix, MI.

Marie Orttenburger works as a technical writer and marketer at Tu Automation, where she writes manuals and communication documents about material handling equipment. In her free time, she writes about craft beer for MittenBrew and local music for Mostly Midwest.

Andrew Wernette is halfway finished with The Creative Circus, a two-year advertising portfolio program in Atlanta, GA.


Sami Birch works as a Technical Writer at JR Automation in Holland, MI.

Sara Crill works at Great Lakes Companies as the Great Lakes Marketing Services, Inc. Marketing and Publications Specialist. She got married in May to Robert Crill (maiden name Sara Warren) and just had a beautiful baby girl named Olivia in October.

Lisa Dorrance is a social media marketing coordinator for the Greater Good Group.

Abigail Ebels started working toward a Masters of Divinity at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI.

Krisy Force works for GVC Mortgage in Indiana where she blogs, writes marketing copy, and manages social media for corporate and branch locations. She also writes, edits, and formats policies and procedures for the company.

Briana-Raine Gersky is pursuing her Master’s of Social Work at Wayne State University. She released her YA novel Destria Waves under the pen name Lily Raine with World Castle Publishing

Nicole Olweean is finishing her first year in the MFA program at the University of California—Riverside. She has been awarded a summer fellowship to teach poetry to high school students at UCR’s Gluck Program of the Arts.

Erin Quackenbush is a development assistant at Conductive Learning Center.

Matthew Russell is finishing a Master of Arts in Professional Communication at Clemson University with an emphasis in Human-Computer Interaction.

Mieke Stoub recently accepted a position as Marketing Manager for Local First of West Michigan. He will transition from his current role as Membership and Marketing Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Bar Association in early December.


Karah Bradshaw is a social media sensei and public relations manager at Author Sensei. In this position, she creates and copywrites for websites and manages social media pages.

Alexandra Dailey currently works at Crooked Tree Arts Center of Petoskey, Michigan as the Public Relations Specialist. As of 2016, she began writing monthly columns for the Traverse City Record-Eagle and the Petoskey News-Review.

Joshua Hackler divides his time between his freelance web design business (money), running the literary journal (industriousness), and writing fiction (passion).

Krysta (Thelen) Koenigsknecht works full-time as a bridal consultant as well as social media assistant for Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, MI. She published an article in FAITH Magazine in the Aug/Sept 2013 issue. She also started her own blog and is currently working on self-publishing a children’s book, My Daily Rosary, a religious book for young kids.

Hannah Matro works as a financial, writing, and social media specialist for WealthVest Marketing, a long-term savings company.

Meghan McAfee currently works at the Literacy Center of West Michigan. As the Development Assistant, she plays an active role in the organization’s fundraising and communications efforts. Previously, she served as the Program Director at the Creative Youth Center, where she focused on curriculum development, volunteer management, and program evaluation for youth-oriented creative writing workshops. She also volunteers at T.E.A.M. 21 and Gilda’s Club – Grand Rapids.

Michelle Oswald is a Senior Marketing Specialist for Landscape Forms, a manufacturer of high-design commercial site furniture and lighting, where she works managing their national advertising strategy, product photoshoot and trade shows, as well as developing marketing strategy and copy to reach new and targeted audiences. She volunteers at Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings in their hospice care, and does freelance branding/creative development on the side for clients in industries including law, manufacturing, and real estate.

Megan Smith works for VerTech Solutions in Highlands Ranch, CO. She started as a technical communicator for them, but now manages their marketing and CMS portal, develops websites for clients, trains clients in CRM, and performs software configurations.

Molly Waite is working towards her master’s degree in Arts, Literature & Society at Maastricht University in Maastricht, the Netherlands where she also works as a tutor for the university’s Writing Studio.


Claire Helakoski married Brandon Borstler, a fellow writing alum, last year. She lives in Grand Rapids where she teaches writing online at Walden University, and in-person at Kendall College of Art and Design as well as the high school CRAFT workshop at the Creative Youth Center. 

Ed Hillerich is an Associate Writer for Group Tour Media.

Allie Oosta is a style copywriter for in Seattle. She writes editorial stories featuring the latest trends for apparel, shoes, jewelry, and watches.

Kiera (Wilson) Prince started in April 2014 at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (formerly HP) as a Learning and Development Specialist. She works with internal and external clients to develop, design, and deliver training to call center agents based in Pontiac, Michigan.

Lizzie Uhl works as a Technical Writer at JR Automation in Holland, MI. She also manages the their social media accounts.


Janelle (Wing) DeBlaay works for Zondervan as an Editorial Coordinator in the Curriculum, Church, Academic, Reference, and Resource department. She performs editorial assistant tasks such as proofing and managing the schedule for book production processes.

Jamie deGraaf worked as a freelance journalist for Chicago-Scene magazine in Chicago before moving to Austin, Texas, where she now works as a creative writer for a start-up company. She’s getting paid to write— just like she always dreamed!

Jessica DeWent works as a Copywriter for at their headquarters in Walker. She loves what she does and feels great about using her writing degree at work every day.

Stephanie Gamble has been working for JR Automation Technologies as a Technical Writer since 2012.

Robyn Gordon works in Holland, MI as a Technical Writer at JR Automation. She collaborates with engineers and machine builders to write maintenance, changeover, calibration, and other types of procedures for their machines. She volunteers with WMEAC, which is where she interned while at GVSU, as well as with Bikestock and the Grand River Clean Up.

Madeleine Hart is continuing her tenure at Zondervan as the Trade Books Marketing Assistant. This fall, she will be applying to several higher education programs focused specifically on publishing.

Ariana Hendrix finished a Master of Arts degree in English Language and Literature from San Francisco State University.

Susan (Kieda) Howard is the Assistant Director of Communications for Alumni Relations for GVSU. She manages a team of three student workers, collectively producing all of the copy, graphics, and videos needed to communicate with the university’s alumni. Social media, emails, e-newsletters, postcards, invitation, webpages, and magazine articles are the main mediums used to achieve the team’s communication goals. She earned her M.A. in English from GVSU in 2015. She uses the skills she learned in the writing program every day.

Jessie Levine works in Ann Arbor at PRIME Research, which specializes in strategic communication. Her role is a media analyst and researcher.  She also blogs for’s food and drink section.

Leah Mastee is the editorial assistant at Kregel Publications, an independent publishing company in Grand Rapids, MI. She writes catalog and back cover copy, reviews submissions, and edits manuscripts. Her responsibilities also include managing freelance editors and proofreaders.

Daniel Michniewicz landed a technical writing job with LSI in Fort Collins, CO. He mostly writes documentation for end-users. Some of his documentation writing also stays within the company for the chips and devices that they manufacture.

Kate Puisis is the Technical Talent Acquisition and Marketing Specialist for JR Automation in Holland, MI. In addition to technical writing, she helps JR recruit new engineers as the company continues its steady growth.


Nancy Finney works at the National Environmental Health Association as a technical editor in Denver, Colorado. Finney edits learning materials, manages public relations and communications, designs online courses, and writes articles and press releases for the association. Her writing was featured in an international publication, Food Safety Magazine, she was the managing editor of the book Professional Food Manager, Fifth Edition, published by Wiley Publishing Company, and her poetry has been featured on the radio. Finney received her Master of Public Administration degree from Grand Valley, and her thesis was published in the SPNHA Review.

Hillary Fishler is finishing a Master’s in Public Policy at Oregon State and intends to begin a PhD program. She currently works with three agencies: Institute for Natural Resources in Corvallis, OR; Earth Economics in Tacoma, WA; and Carpe Diem West in Sausalito, CA. The projects within these three agencies focus on valuation of ecosystem services.

Connie Pan lives on O‘ahu, where she works as a Communications Specialist for Chevron. In 2013, she earned an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Rosebud Magazine, Hawai‘i Review, Bamboo Ridge, and Ms. Aligned, an anthology featuring women writing about men. “The Patron Saint of Exits,” an excerpt from her novel-in-progress, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Jenn Bedard is working on her Master of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition at North Carolina State University.

Kenneth Caldwell was the Marketing Communications Specialist at McLaren Homecare Group, a health care provider based in Davison, MI. Recently, he took a position as the Marketing Communications Specialist Intermediate for the University of Michigan Information and Technology Services, based in Ann Arbor, MI.

Josh Fish recently started The University of Alaska’s MFA program focusing on Creative Nonfiction in Fairbanks. In the program, he is a teaching assistant. Since graduating from GVSU, Fish has spent almost two years in Taiwan and China teaching English and traveling.

Amy Holwerda is a freelance writer. She has had her work noted in the Best American Essays 2013 and has appeared in Quick Fiction, The Collagist, Flash International, and The Sycamore Review, among others. She currently writes from London, England and blogs about her travels at

Jenny Knodell currently heads the marketing department at PolyVista, a business intelligence software company in Kalamazoo, MI. She writes and designs marketing materials such as case studies, brochures and white papers, as well as drafts their internal and external documentation.

David LeGault and his family just moved to Prague for a two-year stint at an international school where he is helping to develop their AP English Curriculum. He is a contributor to the Essay Daily/Coffee House Press Anthology How We Speak to One Another which is forthcoming in March 2017, and his book of essays One Million Maniacs is forthcoming in June 2017 from Outpost19.


AJ Gretz graduated from Calvin Seminary with an MDiv in 2013. He currently serves as the Pastor of Community Life at Third CRC in Kalamazoo, MI. He is married with two children: Eli (3) and Fiona (1). He continues to occasionally write freelance articles and enjoys biking to work as often as possible. 

Meahgan Pear works as the Marketing Director for Beene Garter LLP, the largest independently owned accounting and consulting rm in West Michigan. She is responsible for the strategic development of the rm’s marketing strategies.

Brianna Reilly completed her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in 2010. She recently started a full-time position at Crain’s Detroit Business as a Data Editor.


Anne (McKay) Clark completed a Master’s of Library Science in 2008 and works as the Children’s Librarian at Shiawassee District Library in Owosso, MI. In her position, she buys books for infants through high schoolers, plans and presents programs for the same ages groups, and helps them with homework and other research projects. She also serves on Michigan’s Mitten Award committee.

Nicole Corley works as a copyeditor/account manager for GSD&M, the largest ad agency in Austin, TX. She writes headlines for print ads, copy for websites, scripts for radio and television, product taglines, and social media posts.

Bison Messink lives in Brooklyn, NY and works as an editor at the mobile news magazine SPUN. He got over his fear of new content technologies just in time to land a couple of online writing jobs, and now finds himself with one solid foot in the “tech” industry.

Morgan Sherburne is a science writer for University of Florida Health, a health science center in Gainesville, Fl. She also freelances for The Flyfish Journal and other water-related publications.

Jacob Powers earned his MFA in Creative Writing at Boise State University in May 2010. His short story, “Safety,” was awarded 2nd place in Narrative Magazine’s “30 Below2010” contest. He currently teaches at Tallahassee Community College.

Mike Salisbury works for the literary agency Yates & Yates, one of whose recent projects—For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker - spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. His short story “All the Women Gone” will appear in Echolocation, Issue #15. Mike recently moved back to Grand Rapids from Denver, Colorado. He lives with his wife Amy and infant daughter Evangeline Grace.

Megan Ward works at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, MI. She is the Writing and Reading Center Coordinator, which entails running the Writing and Reading Center and overseeing an elementary reading tutor program that places students in local schools to help instructors teach reading. Ward also adjuncts at NMC, teaching one to two introductory composition courses each semester.


Chris Beal was recently appointed Deputy State Director of the Michigan Republican Party. He lives in Mason with his wife Sara Stuart Beal and their infant daughter Julia.

T Fleischmann lives in rural Tennessee. Fleischmann’s book, Syzygy, Beauty, was released by Sarabande in early 2012.

Katie (Lewis) Hayes is employed as the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Coordinator at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI. She recently took a group of students to teach English in China for a month.

Tracy Lee finished an MA in creative writing at Eastern Michigan University in 2008. After adjuncting for a few years in both Michigan and Arizona, she is now full-time faculty at Illinois Valley Community College, where she teaches English composition and creative writing. She also serves as the faculty advisor for the institution’s literary journal, River Currents. She has also been serving as an assistant editor with Narrative Magazine since 2009.


Cindy Penman Rinna lives in northern Alabama where she writes about homeschool, autism, and healthy living on her blog “My Life as a Rinnagade.” Last August, she published her first ebook Welcome to Autism: Empowering Parents of Children with Autism for Kindle. She also runs a special needs minis-try and helps churches start up their own special needs ministries.

Dawn Schout published her first book, Wanderlust, in January 2015 by WordTech Editions. It’s a full-length collection of travel poems and photographs from her travels in the U.S., Caribbean, Asia, and Europe. The book is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Abe Books. It’s also sold at the Bookman in Grand Haven, MI and Readers World in Holland, MI.

Amber Eby-Shearer is an Adoption Counselor for the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a no-kill animal shelter and education center. She received the Society’s Above and Beyond Award in 2010 and a 2011 Jim Ludwig Continuing Education Grant. Best of all, she helps people find their new four-legged best friends!  


Elizabeth Guarino-Kozlowicz works for the Kent District Library as the manager of the Caledonia Branch. She was promoted to this position in October 2010 after working with KDL for six years. In this position, she manages a staff of librarians and circulation assistants.

Abby Heugel is the managing editor for two national trade publications by day and a humor blogger ( at night. She has self-published two humor collections and has been part of three best-selling humor anthologies.


Alissia J (Riling) Lingaur earned her MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University in 2004. She has published stories in the Crab Orchard Review and The Villa online, as well as taught composition, developmental writing, and creative writing at community colleges in Metro-Detroit. She now works as an adjunct instructor at Northwestern Michigan College in the Communications Department, teaching developmental English and advising the student-run magazine. She self-published her novel, The Trainstop, available on Kindle, Amazon, and in local bookstores.


Erin (McGrane) Busscher works at Grand Rapids Community College as the Transfer & Articulation Coordinator. Her professional writing includes webpage design and management, policy writing, report writing, endless e-mails, and mass communication via e-mails and letters.

All Writing alumni are invited to submit updates for the Writing Department website and InWriting newsletter. Please send your updates to Professor Zsuzsanna Palmer at [email protected].

Page last modified December 13, 2018