Our Graduates: 1980 – present

OurGraduates-JPGSince 1979 when the Program was established at the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, Graduate Humanities students have come from varied backgrounds: teachers, engineers, English majors, business leaders, healthcare workers, librarians. Among our graduates you’ll find freelance writers and editors, K-12 and collegiate educators, television and radio professionals, photographers, artists, folklorists, museum professionals, and many others.

We are currently compiling a complete list of our alumni over the past 30+ years – what appears below is a developing list and we will update it as we gather further information.

If you would like to update your profile – or have information to help us update the list below – please contact our Program Assistant, Trish Hatfield.

Now appearing in alphabetical order . . .

Adkins, John

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Letters and Papers of the Baldwin-Felts Agency.” (Historical Studies) Where today? John is currently employed as the Director of Library Services for the Schoenbaum Library at the University of Charleston. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I found the experience to be completely positive. Joyce East taught me to look closely at my writing, Eugene Harper gave me the skills to begin my career in Historic Preservation, and Fred Barkey provided me with the encouragement and support to complete my graduate project and to continue my research on the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency.  I am a proud graduate of the program and if I can ever do a service to the program please let me know.”

Ahangardezfooli, Jeanette

2010 Title of Thesis/Project: “Perceptions of Muslim Women in America Specifically West Virginians.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Jeanette Ahangardezfooli works for: 1) the State of WV (Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Revenue Division); 2) teaches English 101 at Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College and; 3) at Strayer University she teaches HUM111 (World Cultures I), HUM112 (World Cultures II), Religion 112 (World Religions). (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “The support from all my professors, especially Director Eric Lassiter, Dr. Beth Campbell, and Dr. Fran Simone. Classes were always filled with interesting and stimulating discussions, with thought-provoking material. Their classes took me way out of my comfort zone, and I grew leaps and bounds because of that. I am very proud to say I’m a graduate of the Humanities Program from MUGC. I would not be teaching and enriching my life, and hopefully, the lives of my students, if it were not for the leadership I found at MUGC. I can never thank Eric, Beth, Dr. Simone, and Andu Meharie enough for their guidance and support.” Read excerpts from Jeanette’s final project, “Perceptions of Muslim Women in America, Specifically West Virginia,” in the Fall 2016 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Alcarzar, Delores

1989 Title of Thesis/Project: Where today? Delores teaches Spanish at Capital High School. Recently taught Spanish at the University of Charleston. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My Master’s from MUGC was very beneficial in aiding me to teach at University of Charleston and has helped me move into my secondary education career.”

Anderson, Colleen

2003 Title of Thesis/Project: “Windfall: Six Short Stories.” (Literary Studies/Creative Writing) Where today? Self-employed business owner of Mother Wit Writing and Design. Colleen works as a writer and graphic designer. (Last Updated: 2013)  What did you value about the program? “I enrolled in graduate school because I love learning, and I was a bit bored with myself! I valued the wonderful professors I had and the intellectual stimulation of being in college again. I continue to value the community of Marshall University Graduate College. I had no illusion of a master’s degree in Humanities increasing my income, although it may have made me a more credible workshop provider. The real value was that it opened up my mind, enriched me with new things to explore.” Read an interview with Colleen about her singing and songwriting in the Fall 2012 Graduate Humanities newsletter and a behind-the-scenes story of writing her children’s book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom in the Spring 2013 Graduate Humanities newsletter. 

Anderson, Karen

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Billing Below Title: The Contested Autobiographies of Frances Farmer and Louise Brooks.” (Literature and Culture) Where today? Karen teaches English Composition and Introduction to Literature at West Virginia State University. She’s also directing the English Computer Lab. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “Some of my professors from MUGC are now my colleagues. Having professors who continue to be in the workforce was very beneficial.”

Asbury, Elijah

2023 Title of Thesis/Project: “Religion in Appalachia: A Discussion.” (Cultural and Appalachian Studies)

Bailey, Diana

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: “Frances Lee Askew Spencer.” (Appalachian Studies Certificate) Where today? Diana is a reading interventionist in an elementary school. She works with students who have trouble with reading skills. These students are in small groups of 3-6 per group. She works on skills the students are struggling with, such as letters/sounds, sight words, and comprehension skills. (Last Updated: 2021) What did you value about the program? “I am better equipped to incorporate what I have learned about culture and Appalachia with my students.  When teaching my students to read words and stories, I can let them know about words and other characteristics that are part of Appalachia.  In addition, as I continue to work on my genealogy and find other sources about my family, I will better understand them and their Appalachian characteristics and know them better than just names and dates.” See excerpts from Diana’s final paper in the article, “Making the Life of my Grandmother Remain a Memory with Meaning,” in the Spring 2022 Graduate Humanities.

Bailey, Nancy

1985 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Writer and His World.” (Thematic Studies/Behavioral Science) Where today?  Nancy is retired from teaching Advanced Placement English in high school. She spends half the year in West Virginia and the other half in Florida. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I didn’t get to work on my Master’s degree until later in my career. It opened up a whole new world for me. I got to go to Oxford, England for six weeks to attend the International Humanities Program. There were 160 of us from all over the world. It was just fantastic. It changed my whole life . . . my self-esteem and my career. I felt comfortable teaching literature through Advanced Placement English.”

Ballard, William

1989 Title of Thesis/Project: (Thematic Studies) Where today? William is retired from Union Carbide. He keeps busy with retiree groups, especially with the National Organization of Carbide Retirees. (Last Updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “I took it for diversification. I had a degree in Engineering and all the people I worked with were engineers. I wanted to see how the other half lived and to give me something else to do. It was good. It was very interesting to hear different views and different perspectives.”

Beck, Sarah

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “’One Free Foot Kicking / Under the White Sheet of History’: Feminine Images in the Poetry of Eiléan Ni Chuilleanáin.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Teaches high school English and Advanced Placement classes. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My degree gave me a broad understanding of history, culture, and literature and how important the interaction is. I am able to convey that understanding to my students.”

Becka, Ryan

2012 Title of Thesis/Project: “First Europeans Navigating Appalachian West Virginia: Encountering Native Peoples.” (Appalachian Studies)

Belcher, Larry

1996 Title of Thesis/Project: Larry created a website for the Graduate Humanities Program. (Arts and Society)

Bell, Sue Ellen

1988 Title of Thesis/Project: “Religious Studies – History of Religions and Religious Hermeneutics” Where today?  Forty-two years with Marshall University Library in Government Documents. (Last Updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “The MA was a positive experience.”

Benincasa, Marcy

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “In the Shadows: The Search for Identity in the Writings of Gloria Analdúa, Cherrie Moraga, Sandra Cisneros, and Julia Alvarez.” (Literary Studies) Where today? marcy works as a paralegal. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My degree helped improve my writing and research skills.”

Blaul, Rosalie

1991 Title of Thesis/Project:

Blaylock, Mimi

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “African-American Women Faculty at West Virginia State College.” Where today? (Mimi passed on the summer of 2012)

Blisard, John

1989 Title of Thesis/Project: “Wagner, Hitler, and Music as Propaganda in the Third Reich.” Where today?  John is the proprietor of Fiddles on the Elk River and on the Board of Directors as Vice President of Music for Allegheny Echoes. He has written articles for Goldenseal, the magazine of WV traditional life, and also book reviews, the latest being for My People Was Music by Kirk Judd. Besides playing music, repairing violins, and writing, John is an antique and personal property appraiser and member of the Antique Appraisal Association of America, as well as holding an appraisal certificate from Gemological Institute of America to appraise jewelry, clocks, and watches. In addition, John has done title work for the oil and gas business for the last ten years. (Last updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “It was a flexible program. And besides the required classes, it gave me the vast opportunity to study so many different subjects. One of my favorite classes was Expository Writing with Dr. Bruce Ardinger from Marshall University.”

Bockway, Charles


Bonnett, Renae

2011 Title of Thesis/Project: “Conduits and Conveyances: Humanities and Life-Long Learning.” (Cultural/Literary Studies) Where today? Renae is completing a second degree (MA Teaching) at Marshall and working as an adjunct at a couple of colleges in the area. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “One thing, in particular, I found valuable while in the program was the intellectual challenge it offered through instruction, but also through those involved and fellow students. The program offered the means by which I could learn to look beyond analysis and the process of breaking things down and to consider meaning and experience relevant to understanding anything. The term ‘lifelong learning’ gets thrown around quite a bit by various disciplines — to get a job, to get a degree, etc.; however, it seems that it is only within humanities that the term is committed as part of the essence of being human.”

Borovicka, Zachary

2012 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Sigma Theta Epsilon, Alpha Gamma Chapter Oral History Project.” (Cultural Studies)

Bukac, Gerald

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Coming of Age in 1968.” (Cultural Studies)

Burke-Cremeans, Brenda

2007 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Way Were . . . The Way We Are . . . .” (Literary Studies) Where today? Brenda is an English teacher in Putnam County, teaches in a community college, and does freelance creative writing. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My degree opened fields of study for me to teach anything in the Humanities.”

Calwell (Fleming), Rebecca

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Role of Community in Two Novels of Barbara Kingsolver.” (Language and Literature) Where today? Rebecca is an Editor at the West Virginia Humanities Council. (Last Updated: 2012) What did you value about the program? “This degree broadened my mind. I attained a Humanities degree for self-fulfillment, not to advance my career.”

Carroll, Beth

2017 Title of Thesis/Project: “Influenza 1918.” (Historical & Cultural Studies) Read an excerpt from the transcriptions Beth made during a seminar on the Glenwood Estate with Dr. Billy Joe Peyton, and published in the Fall 2017 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Catsos, Anita (Zoe)

1992 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Road to Padua: Performances as Text in the Taming of the Shrew.” (Literary Themes & Genres)

Chisholm, Elaine

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “Clearing the ‘Mist’: A Reverse Reading of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.” (Literary Studies)

Clark, Ashley

2010 Title of Thesis/Project: “Glenwood Inventory Project.” (Cultural Studies/Appalachian Studies) Where today? Ashley is pursuing a 2nd Masters (Education) at Marshall University Graduate College South Charleston and is student teaching at Andrew Jackson Middle School. 6th Grade English. (Last Update: 2013) What did you value about the program? “The Marshall Humanities Program revitalized my faith in education. Yes, I realize that sounds cliché. Overly romanticized. But it’s completely true. In the Humanities Program, people weren’t concerned with the competitiveness of academia- they were concerned with me and my goals. I have never felt more encouraged in my academic pursuits. I also met a diverse group of people. Vastly intelligent. A well-traveled bartender with a love for Dostoyevsky. A computer-savvy servicewoman. A PR rep. Teachers, students, parents, retail workers. I grew so much in my understanding of the diverse human experience through listening to others tell their life stories.  All coming together for the same goal. Much like the humanities themselves. I learned about the importance of connections across disciplines. How it’s less important for your writing to sound smart than it is for it to be written clearly. I am currently employed at a local historic house because of connections I made through the program. I also am in the last stages of getting my teaching certification. If I hadn’t gotten my MA in Humanities, I definitely would not be where I am now. I would not have regained my faith in the educational process and would not have continued. It is a learning experience that has forever changed my life.” Read excerpts from Ashley’’s final project, “Glenwood Inventory Project,” in the Fall 2016 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Clark, Katie

2011 Title of Thesis/Project: “Belle Prater’s Boy: Where I’m From.” (Appalachian Studies Certificate) Where today? Katie teaches English (10th Grade) and World history (9th Grade) at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2013)

Clay, Terri


Cohn, Judith

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “It Means I Can’t Sleep When You’re Not There.” (A group of four original short stories) (Creative Writing & Media)

Cook, Shannon

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: “Helvetia in the West Virginia State Museum: Learning through the lens of the West Virginia State Museum Collections Processes and Educational Programming.” (Arts & Cultural Studies and Certificate in Appalachian Studies) Read excerpts from Shannon’s paper, “Museums as Cultural Mediators,” written in a History and Theory of Arts seminar with folklorist Emily Hilliard and published in the Fall 2021 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Cook, Steven

2004 Title of Thesis/Project: “Backcountry Rangers: A Study of William Preston’s Company in the Seven Year’s War.” (Literary Studies)

Counts, Diane

2003 Title of Thesis/Project: “Jane Austen’s Powers of Consciousness.” (Literary Studies)

Cox (Jr.), James

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Post-Civil War History in Cheatham Co., TN.” (Historical Studies)

Craig, Brenna

2014 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Formation of Mountain State Press.” (Culture/Literary Studies) Read Brenna’s interview, “We Had to Make Up our Own Mind,” about her learning experience in the program and in particular, in a seminar about the life, work, and culture of coal mining in West Virginia in the Spring 2014 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Crawford, Kimberly

1991 Title of Thesis/Project: (Historical Perspective) Where now? Kimberly works for Iredell County Library in Statesville, North Carolina. (Last Updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “I liked the idea of getting a 2nd Masters and going at night instead of in the day. Attending during the day would have required me to change my work schedule. I enjoyed the classes – I like history and English and the small size of the classes worked for me. Having a 2nd Masters Degree helps me make a little more money as a librarian.”

Cross, Holly

2002 Title of Thesis/Project: “Heka.” (Literature & Film) Where today? (Holly passed on October 17, 2009.)

Darby, Megan

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: “Growing Up at 203: Our Appalachia.” (Appalachian Studies Certificate) See excerpts from Megan’s final project in the Spring 2022 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Davidson, Joan

1992 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literature as Cultural Development)

Davidson, Seth

2013 Title of Thesis/Project: “Good Night in the Morning: Family and Food in Logan County, WV.” (Cultural Studies) Where now? Seth just accepted the position of a Geographic Information System administrator with Northeast Natural Energy in Charleston. He also has horses, crops, and the occasional pig and does tattooing…you name it! He’s gathered a crew together to produce a short mockumentary on a local band. (Last Updated: 2013)

Davis, Mark

1995 Title of Thesis/Project: “The State of Humanities Studies at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.” (Historical Studies/Philosophy) Where today? Mark is Executive Director of West Virginia State Community and Technical College. Teaches Humanities at Wheeling Jesuit and WVSC, has a private consulting business called WRITERIGHT!, which helps industry and businesses with their writing. Currently working on a law degree. Has a PhD in Education with a minor in English. Did post-doc work in Special Education. One of four nationally published dissertations. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program?  “I concentrated on three areas: 1) literature & language; 2) historical studies; 3) philosophy & ethics. My MA in Humanities has allowed me to teach more subjects at a higher level. It was a springboard in completing my doctorate.”

Dennison, Ashley

2018 Title of Thesis/Project: “Corbin Ltd. Oral History Project” (Cultural Studies) Read an interview with Ashley, “Communicating a different way, a better way,” in the Fall 2015 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Diehl, Royce

2019 Title of Thesis/Project: “Glenwood Project: A Traveling Exhibit for the Historic Glenwood Foundation.” (Historical Studies) Where today? “Royce is a research specialist at the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History. He is excited about the work he does to help preserve West Virginia’s local history. He is helping to develop a document-based education project for eighth-graders that uses online primary documents and gives the students opportunities to investigate the documents and use critical thinking skills to expand their knowledge. ‘Along with the research I do to help the public, this allows me to help people know more about our state and region.'” (Last Updated: 2020) What did you value about the program? “It was a perfect fit for me. I was able to do an internship at Glenwood on the West Side of Charleston that expanded from research to refurbishing an old exhibit to developing a new one.” (Quotes taken from “The Spirit of Appalachia,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 3/20/20. Available online.) Read excerpts from Royce’s Reflection Essay #5 on the “Appreciating the Charitable Section Seminar,” published in the Spring 2019 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Dobbins, Nancy


Dooley, Jennifer

2012 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Underside of Bridges: One Asperger Perspective.” (Cultural Studies and Historical Studies) Where today? Jennifer works in two roles for the West Virginia Division of Highways; as a Secretary for the In-House Design Section of the Engineering Division (with folks who design roads and bridges) and as an Educational Outreach Partnership Committee member working to increase educational opportunities for WVDOH employees and reaching out to students throughout West Virginia through programs such as the West Virginia Bridge Design Contest for middle and high school students, career days, and partnerships with colleges.  (Last Update: 2015) What did you value about the program? “The Graduate Humanities Program is education as it should be, with classes that leave you thinking long after the class has ended. Every aspect was rewarding; small classes where each individual contributes to the discussion, hands-on opportunities to put together art and historical exhibits, lectures by professors who not only know their stuff but know how their stuff connects with what life is and how to pass that on to students. Folks may chuckle about the notion of a degree in Humanities, ‘Humanities, what’s that?? I studied science, you studied… art??’ This program actually begins by forming students who don’t chuckle (mockingly) about anything (though we know how to laugh at a good joke or an excellent pun.) Humanities is the study of everything, but teaches you first that you’ll never know everything; thus it inspires an attitude of openness to see what is. Everything is potentially something to look at for the richness of its fine details. As an example, listening to a third-grader speak, a nearby adult in a teaching role might correct the child’s grammar and try to adjust them to sound like a standard sound from an imaginary standard place, but to listen to what they actually are and the way not only their words, but their pauses, their phrasing, and every detail show something about the place, time and people they come from and who they are as one individual person. This is a degree program that isn’t separate from life, and that won’t be separated out from life afterward. I believe in having work that isn’t separate from life, also, and everything I have learned shapes how I do my work on a daily basis.”

Doss, Joy

2003 Title of Thesis/Project: “Aesthetic Revolutionaries: Picasso and Joyce.” (Cultural Studies and Literature)

Drennen, William

1993 Title of Thesis/Project: (History) Bill was born and raised in Charleston, now lives in Shepherdstown. He was educated at Yale University and the College of Graduate Studies. He has worked as a producer of film and video and is a past commissioner of the Division of Culture & History. His publications include One Kanawha Valley Bank: A History and Red White Black & Blue: Dual Memoir Of Race & Class In Appalachia. (Last Updated: 2019)

Durst, Keith

2015 Appalachian Certificate

Eddy, Judith

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Narrative Voice of Lee Smith: Emergence of a Passionate Narrative Voice through Body and Spirit.” (Literary Studies)

Edwards, Harold

1982 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Development of Welded Sculpture.” (20th Century) Where today? Harold is retired from 40 years of teaching art-related classes in high schools *WV) and universities (OH and VA). Now, art is his sole pursuit. His sculptures, drawings, and paintings can be seen and purchased at the Art Store in Charleston, west Virginia.  Photos of his work can be seen online at http://www.theartstorewv.com/artist/Harold_Edwards/works/#!2162 (Accessed 1 October 2016). What did you value about the program? Harold was one of the earliest graduates of the program and in his thesis he gave special thanks to “a former member of the faculty of the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, Dr. Suzanne Sorrells. It was Dr. Sorrells who changed my goal from the simple pursuit of a master’s degree to that of wanting to and enjoying doing research.” Read excerpts from Harold’s thesis, “The Development of Welded Sculpture,” in the Fall 2016 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Back in 2013, during the work of updating our graduate database, Program Assistant, Trish Hatfield (’08), was visiting The Art Store and came upon a small hanging sculpture that she purchased for her home office. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that she connected the artist with the graduate student and realized she daily enjoys one of Harold’s creations.

Elmore (Webster), Kimberly

1995  Title of Thesis/Project: “Feminine Style in Political Discourse.” (Media Studies)

Evans, Traci

2006 Title of Thesis/Project: “Shattered, Broken, Mended, and Whole: A Memoir.” (Literary Studies)

Farruggia, Patricia

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: “Hitler’s Artistic Policies and His Use of Poster Art for Propaganda.” (The Arts in Society) Where today?  Worked as an art teacher for 20 years. In 2006 became Assistant Vice Principal at DuPont Middle School. (Last Updated: 2006)

Ferrell, Sandra

1995 Title of Thesis/Project: “Coming of Age Novels and Diversity: Middle School Literature.” (Literary Studies) Where today?  Sandra teaches Humanities 101 at WV State University. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “I feel that the Humanities enhances everything you do . . . rounds you out.”

Fisher, David

2016 Title of Thesis/Project: (Cultural and Literary Studies)

Flowers, Richard

 2002 Title of Thesis/Project: “Miner Relief.” (Cultural Studies)

Fortune, Rachael

2023 Title of Thesis/Project: “From the Coal Camp to the Dairy Bar.” (Cultural and Appalachian Studies) Where are you now? Firstly, I am engaged! My COVID quarantine partner and college crush proposed a few months back at the Blennerhassett Hotel.  Aside from wedding planning, I am finishing the school year, and my career, at Logan High School. I am preparing my seniors for graduation as we celebrate their accomplishments. I decided to take a leap out of my comfort zone in my job search and take a break from public education. I accepted a position with the WV Military Authority as a Grants Management Specialist where I will be collaborating with a team on grant writing projects. I will miss education but cannot wait to expand my horizons and try something new. I am hoping one of the local universities will need a part time English Language Arts professor to help me ease into not teaching full time. What did you value about the program? The camaraderie amongst my classmates and professors. This degree involves a lot of coursework that will expand and challenge your mind, so having a great team to discuss and collaborate with is necessary. I always felt respected and welcome and any time I had an idea that was off the wall, I was encouraged to not abandon the craziness but embrace it.

Foster, Alanna (Morgan)

2019 Title of Thesis/Project: “Saint Albans Junior High.” (Cultural Studies & Appalachian Studies) Where today? Alanna is currently a general manager for a restaurant, but she’s looking for a new career. She’s still a student at Marshall and should have her master’s in Sociology this December. What did you value about the program? “I loved how inclusive the program is and the broad range of knowledge the program provided me with. I also loved all the people I met and I wish I could continue taking classes. It would be wonderful if Marshall had a PhD program in humanities! I definitely plan on getting my PhD but I’m not sure in what. I have multiple degrees and I would love to get a PhD in anthropology from the University of Tennessee with a focus on forensic anthropology. I guess I’m just a perpetual student!” (Last Updated: 2020)

Foster, Leska

2006 Title of Thesis/Project: “Historical Preservation in the Elementary Classroom.” (Historical Studies) Where are you today? Leska teaches 5th grade in Kanawha County Schools. (Last Updated: 2015)  What did you value about the program? “The program gave me a lot of knowledge about the US Constitution. I was involved in “Project Teach” which includes teaching about the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendment and their impact on slaves. Then the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Actually, we are all over the Constitution. I’m always backing up the kid’s question in class with answers from the Constitution.”

Foster, Sandra

2005 Title of Thesis/Project: “Mother-Daughter Relationships in Jennifer Johnston’s Novels.” (Historical Studies)

Freeman, Angela

1995 Title of Thesis/Project: “Kromer, Pancake, and Benedict: Tracing the Influence of One Generation Upon the Next.” (Literary Themes & Genres)

Fuller, Pamela

1990 Where today? (Pamela passed on in 2005.)

Gallagher, Andrew

1988 Title of Thesis/Project: (Historical Studies) Where today? Andy is a lobbyist for WV Housing Institute, Inc. (Last Updated: 2016) What did you value about the program? “Excellent education and enabled me to apply for higher-level jobs in addition to teaching at two universities. It was a great program. Good teachers who knew what they were talking about and passionate about teaching.”

Galyean, Candy

 1985 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Pursuit of Nancy Mitford: A Biographical Criticism of the Pursuit of Love and Love in Cold Climate.” (Literary Studies)

Gatens, Paula

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “Can Hope Exist in a Postmodern World? An Analysis of the Film Industry’s Treatment of Death and Dying in Four Postmodern Films.” (Influence of Past in 20th Century)

Giancola, Anthony

1992 Title of Thesis/Project: (Modern Fiction in English)

Gibson, Crystal

1996 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Art of Oral Tradition and Quest for Identity in the Writing of N. Scott Momaday.” (History and Culture)  Where today? Crystal is an English Language Arts and Theater teacher at Clay County High School. She also serves as an adjunct professor for West Virginia State University. Crystal has been an active member of the RESA III Fine Arts team. She is a member of the West Virginia Theater Conference (WVTC) and is currently serving as a WVTC Secondary Representative. (Last Updated: 2012)

Gooding, Andrew

2020 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Master Class with Jonathan Marks: Eugenics and Images of Appalachians.” (Appalachian Certificate) Where today? As the RBA Director, I work with over 300 nontraditional students returning to get their bachelor’s degrees.  The RBA is a statewide degree and Marshall’s is the largest by a number of graduates.  I work with two advisors who help students get reenrolled and register for courses and we also help students get credit for learning that has taken place outside of the classroom. Research interests include collective memory, have done papers on the Cabell County Memorial Arch and the Marshall Plane Crash.  I am continuing on to get my EDD in Curriculum and Instruction at Marshall starting the program this summer. Hobbies include racing kayaks, teaching fencing, and playing table tennis.  I have a wonderful wife of 29 years and we currently have two children in college, one studying Japanese who is a Junior and the other just finished his first year studying political science. (Last Updated: 2020) What did you value about the program? “I valued the Humanities program and the Appalachian Studies certificate for being able to learn about a different culture than I grew up in upstate New York and a different discipline as my undergraduate and master’s degree are in rhetoric and speech communication. In the program, I learned how to conduct collaborative ethnology in order to write oral histories.” Read Andrew’s synopsis of his paper, “Eugenics and Images of Appalachians,” written in a seminar with Dr. Jonathan Marks, Genetic/Biological Anthropologist, and published in the Fall 2020 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Goodwin, Lauren

2013 Title of Thesis/Project: “A Snapshot of Rural Healthcare in West Virginia.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Lauren is living in Wheeling and since graduating she has continued studying and reading about some of the topics studied during her program. She has found that since completing the program certain subjects have piqued her interests, so the program essentially encouraged what she hopes will be a lifetime of learning. (Last Updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “There wasn’t a part of the program that I didn’t value, but there are a couple of parts that were specifically important to me. I believe that being able to customize one’s program depending on their interests to be wonderful, even if those interests changed throughout the program, as mine did. I found that the professors were genuinely interested in me and the reasons that I was enrolled. The small class sizes were conducive to an environment where discussions were welcomed and encouraged. Overall, the program is welcoming and gives each student the opportunity to make of it what they desire. I have found that since completing the program certain subjects have piqued my interests, so the program essentially encouraged what I hope will be a lifetime of learning.”

Green, Jeff

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “Coyote Tracks: Examining the Trickster in the Works of Leslie Marmon Silko.” (Culture and Literature) Where today? Jeff is Director of Economic Research at WorkForce WV (State Government Agency). He’s also working on finishing his doctoral work in Education at the South Charleston MU campus. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program?  “The M.A. in Humanities has been invaluable with professional writing and further academic study. I still have a great love of literature and the arts.”

Greene, Deborah

1990 Where today? Deborah teaches Latin at Riverside High School, Belle, West Virginia. Previously taught the Classics. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “I believe the Humanities Program keeps the arts alive. The wonderful staff helped me design my interests around core classes. I wrote a program of study for the county and created a job for myself and the curriculum.”

Griffith, Alexander

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: “Archaeology Preservation & Management.” (Historical & Cultural Studies) Read excerpts from Alexander’s paper, “Reformation of Representation: How Modern Museums Shape our Understanding of American Indian Cultures,” written for a History and Theory of Arts Seminar with folklorist Emily Hilliard and published in the Spring 2021 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Hall, Shirley

1988 Title of Thesis/Project: “When Sally Meets Shakespeare.” (Literary Studies)

Hartz, Hope

1996 Title of Thesis/Project: “Authenticity of the ‘Last of the Mohicans’ Film.” (The Artist & Culture)

Hatfield, Trish

2008 Title of Thesis/Project: “Holding Smoke in Your Hands: Stories of Home and Purpose.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Trish used her master’s final project as raw material for an MFA Thesis in Creative Non-Fiction and graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2021. She is the Editor of the Graduate Humanities and is a Graduate Instructor for Marshall University’s Graduate Humanities Program. (Last Updated: 2021) What did you value about the program? “The Humanities Program increased my sense of self-worth and freedom. Hooray! I learned to write better, think more critically, listen deeply to diverse opinions and share my own ideas more comfortably. Plus I was exposed to materials that I would never have sought out on my own and was helped immensely by the seminar discussions to appreciate and understand more of the world.” (Trish was a contributor to the book, I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis, published by West Virginia University Press in 2020.) Read “So What Can You Do With A Humanities Degree” written by Trish for the Fall 2011 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Hechesky, Lisa

2005 Title of Thesis/Project: “Return to Main Street: An Assessment of the Main Street Revitalization Program.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Lisa is a Library Associate at Marshall University Graduate College, South Charleston Campus. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I loved all of the cultural and art courses.” Read about Lisa’s experience in a cooking competition in the Spring 2013 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Henning, Jennifer

2022 Title of Thesis/Project: “Articulating Appalachia” (Cultural Studies and a Certificate in Appalachian Studies) Where today? “I currently work in higher education at Marshall University in Student Affairs. My interests have taken on a different role lately. As a final project, I wanted to start something that gave me a creative outlet and combined that with my love of traveling, my kids, and my life in general. I love photography, albeit I am still working at it. I also have a love for creating via art, drawing, crafting, writing, and digital arts. So, I started a blog, Articulating Appalachia, that encompasses anything I find interesting. I actually enrolled and completed this degree for fun. I’m weird like that, I guess. I am in dissertation for my doctorate in educational leadership and I will begin my third master’s program this summer in digital marketing. While I am not sure exactly what my future holds, what I hope is that I can merge everything I have learned from this program with the creative and adventurous side of me and make something awesome for the future. (Last updated: 2022) What did you value about the program? “Everything. I valued everything from this program. I feel as if I have a much better grasp on thinking critically about the world around me. The professors that I have encountered throughout my time in this program are second to none. Moving forward with my certificate and degree, I want to keep learning and to have fun with the Articulating Appalachia website. While this might take some time to build up steam, it is a great creative outlet for me. I really have enjoyed bringing this to life. As a matter of fact, I completed my degree just for fun. As a lifelong learner, this is likely not the last degree I will complete, but I am most certain that the people I have gotten to know through this program have been much more influential on me than any other program I have completed. This certificate and degree are numbers three and four in my collection. I have enjoyed my time as a TA with Dr. Lassiter. I have had work published with Dr. Pierce. And, I have worked on publishing an Anthology with Mountain State Press with Professor Pleska. All of that was during a pandemic! I’m truly amazed at the opportunities you will find if you go looking for them. Marshall has built an excellent program and humanities community in the Graduate College. I hope to keep in touch with many of the people I have met and to be able to tell stories about my time with this program, including the time as a TA that a person was late to class because they were chasing coons out of the yard with a broom! What fun, you can’t find that just anywhere. I guess, my final words would be…thank you.” (Check out Jennifer’s blog at www.articulatingappalachia.squarespace.com.)

Henson, Sr., Harold

1989 Title of Thesis/Project: (Cultural and Political Forces in American History) What did you value about the program? “A broader perspective on the world; keener appreciation on the history and literature of the past; several years’ worth of enjoyable evenings!”

Holley, Angela

2018 Title of Thesis/Project: “Yours Affectionately: The Intimate Letter of Lucy Woodbridge and Lewis Summers.” (Cultural Studies plus a Certificate in Appalachian Studies) Where today? Angie is the Director of the Heart of Appalachia Talent Search Program (HATS). The HATS Program serves 600 students in Mason and Wayne county offering assistance with preparing/planning for post-secondary education. (Last Updated: 2019) The lead article showcasing Angie’s final project can be found in the Fall 2019 Graduate Humanities.

Homer, Charlene

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Formal Relationships of Traditional Quilts to Contemporary Quilts and Paintings.” (Arts and Humanities) Where today? (Charlene passed on in 2004.)

Hoptry, Janet (Robinson)

 1995 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Miserable Martyrs: Female Characters in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.” (Literary Studies)

Horwich (Ferrell), Sarah

2017 Title of Thesis/Project: “Guide to Rural Living &  Folkways: Life in Spencer, Roane County, West Virginia.” (Literary & Cultural Studies)  Where today?  Sarah resides in Spencer, West Virginia, and is employed by the WV Bureau of Senior Services as the WV SHIP/SMP State Coordinator. SHIP is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program and SMP of Senior Medicare Patrol. She is seeking out opportunities to teach part-time as a college adjunct professor. Along with her husband, Sarah owns and operates a software business, in which she helps market and promote their product to fire departments across the country. (Last Updated: 2018) What did you value about the program?  “What I valued about the program the most was that it challenged me to think in a different manner and to truly investigate why I hold the beliefs I do, etc. I found learning from fellow classmates to be as valuable as what the professors included in the curriculum. It’s a program I would recommend to anyone who has an appreciation for learning.” Read excerpts from Sarah’s reflection paper published in the Fall 2017 Graduate Humanities newsletter on a folklore seminar.

Huffman, Nancy

1987 Title of Thesis/Project: The Writer and His Audience.” Where today?  Nancy is retired. She taught English to college freshmen. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My Humanities degree gave me a well-balanced background in the arts and literature. It has also aided in all I have done professionally and personally.

Hughes, Ben

2010 Title of Thesis/Project: “Multi-Media Presentation Based Upon Original Narrative for Project Archaeology.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Ben is pursuing a 2nd Masters (Education) from Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Kentucky. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I didn’t have the time to attend classes on campus so I valued the program for the fact that it offered online classes when I was going to school.”

Hunt, Connie

1983 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Glenwood Collection.” (Early Kanawha Valley History)

Hutton, Robert

 2002 Title of Thesis/Project: “Narrative Devices in Jennifer Johnston’s Novels.” (Literary Studies)

Hypes, Brooke

2023 Title of Thesis/Project: “WE ARE APPALACHIA! An anthology of Appalachian authenticity.” (Cultural and Appalachian Studies) Where today? Brooke is pursuing a PhD in Public Administration and Public Affairs at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. (Updated 2023) What did you value about the program? “I enjoyed every aspect of this program. The small, discussion-based classes are a wonderful environment to explore important ideas about Appalachia, including what it means to be Appalachian. Coming from a political science and government background, the interdisciplinary approach of the Appalachian Studies program was refreshing and challenged me to think in new and different ways. Even growing up and being educated in West Virginia, the Appalachian aspects of my existence went largely unacknowledged, except for discussion of the bad, broken, and failing. But being Appalachian is no more a failing than any other accident of birth—the things that make us who we are should be acknowledged, studied, and celebrated. Faculty in this program encourage and support diverse interests, encouraging curiosity, interdisciplinarity, and holism. I am leaving the program with better insight into myself and the world around me. My time in this program has enriched me academically, personally, and professionally, and I will always remember my time in the program fondly and value it greatly.”  Read about Brooke’s perspective on the branches of oral history and ethnography in the humanities from her point of view as a government performance auditor in the Spring 2023 Graduate Humanities. 


Isaacs, Clifton

2004 Title of Thesis/Project: “Appalachian Material Cultural Bibliography.” (Language and Culture)

Isner (Mullins), Shanna

 2006 Title of Thesis/Project: “In Their Own Words: West Virginia Soldiers and Operation Iraqi Freedom.” (Literary Studies)

Jack, Jeffrey

2005 Title of Thesis/Project: “Irish Representations in the Films of Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Jeffrey is an Assistant Professor at the University of Phoenix. This position includes: facilitating online and ground campus courses in English, Communication, and Humanities; conducting classes in asynchronous environments; posting weekly materials; engaging in weekly online discussions with students; preparing weekly feedback on participation and assignments that are both qualitative and quantitative. He also participates in professional development, including workshops and content area meetings. Assists with curriculum development and design. Explores and learns about changes in courses and shares “best practices” with fellow faculty members. (Last Updated: 2012)

Jacobs, Kathy

1989 Where now? Kathy is an instructor at West Virginia University Institute of Technology. (Last Updated: 2012)

Jarrett, Gabi

2012 Title of Thesis/Project: “My Adventures in Graduate Admissions.” (Historical Studies/Literary Studies) Where today? Gabi is the Certification Officer and Assistant to the Dean on the South Charleston campus. (Last Updated: 2018) What did you value about the program? “The program was an incredible asset to my personal and professional growth, it allowed me to understand core concepts of humanities and a solid foundation to apply them and utilize public humanities. When people asked me in what area I was getting my M.A., their next question was invariably what will I do with a Humanities degree. My answer to that was/is anything my heart and mind desires to create: this is the gift of the Graduate Humanities Program, that if you can create it, it can be a reality. The field is wide open for those with backgrounds in liberal arts, and with diverse life experiences such as mine.”

Jean, Amy

1993 Title of Thesis/Project: (Cultural Influences on Modern Literature)

Jiménez-Góngora, Antonio

2010 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Hispanic Population in Southern West Virginia: Increasing Population, Language Barriers, Services and Perspectives for Change.” (Cultural Studies) Where today?  Antonio teaches Spanish at Chapmanville High School in Chapmanville, West Virginia, and at West Virginia State College. He is also pursuing a 2nd Masters (Education) at Marshall University Graduate College South Charleston. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “It is most difficult to put into words…the program helped me not only academically but culturally. It was truly enriching and helped me fit in by getting to know the region and the people. I also valued getting to know the teachers and my classmates.”

Jones, Patricia

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “Conjuring in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day.” (Literary Studies)

Juncosa, Alicia

2007 Title of Thesis/Project: “Economics and Stereotypes.” (Historical Studies) Where today?  Alicia is an Adjunct Professor in Spanish at West Virginia State College. (Last Updated: 2009)

Kees, Brenda Joyce

1987 Title of Thesis/Project: (Thematic Studies)

Keller, Michael

1990 Title of Thesis/Project: (Film and Video in Modern Culture) Where today? Michael is a Digital Media Editor at West Virginia Humanities Council; President, Board of Directors at West Virginia Youth Symphony; Owner Michael Keller Photography. He was twenty-six years with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. (Last Updated: 2012)

Kessel, Jessie

1995 Title of Thesis/Project: “Female Death and Desire in Tennessee Williams.” (Media Studies)

King, Helen

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: “Hear the Lonesome Whistle.” (History and Culture)

Kirk (Conner), Annette

2009 Title of Thesis/Project: “Why Do You Play That? The Mountain Dulcimer in Appalachia.” (Appalachian Studies) Where today? Annette works for Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College as the Transcript Certification Analyst and the Veterans Certifying Official. She is also an adjunct for WVSU teaching Origins and Race, Gender and Human Identity. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I value every bit of it, but mostly I value the way it has allowed me to open my eyes to both the good and the bad that this world has to offer. Without humanities, I feel as though many people would go through this world with blinders on and not really seeing anything as it really is. This program has also expanded my creativity and introduced me to some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and knowing.”

Knighton, Betty

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “Mother-Daughter Relationships in Irish Novels.” (Cultural Study through Literature) Where today? Betty has been the director of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life since its founding in 1998. A primary focus of her work has been building a network of public dialogue in the state through collaborative partnerships with educational, civic, faith-based, and governmental organizations. (Last Updated: 2015) What did you value about the program? I appreciated the flexibility the Humanities Program allowed in developing a concentration of courses in my area of interest – Irish Studies – made possible through the leadership of Dr. Joyce East. The opportunity to explore this field through in-depth interactions with dynamic students in small classes was especially valuable.

Kosky, Pete

2004 Title of Thesis/Project: “Original Songs about the Allegheny Frontier.” (Historical Studies) Where today? Pete teaches history at South Charleston High School and is on the teaching staff for Allegheny Echoes.  (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “It’s what you want to get out of it–I needed a Master’s degree for my teaching certification which gave me a raise but it was a very enriching experience. My emphasis was on historical studies and I was learning more about history, which I teach. My final project included recording a collection of songs that I wrote about the Allegheny Frontier.” Read an interview with Pete about his singing and songwriting in the Fall 2012 Graduate Humanities.

Kuemmel, Wes

2016 Title of Thesis/Project: “Appalachia as an Arena for Agenda.” (Cultural Studies – MA in Humanities & Certificate in Appalachian Studies)  Where today? After completing his degree, and with his daughters in college, Wes and his wife left West Virginia for a small farm in Ohio (still Appalachia, though). There he plans to live quietly and perhaps do some writing. (Last Updated 2018)  What did you value about the program? “Marshall’s graduate humanities program allowed me to study across the spectrum of human . . . endeavor, while also permitting me to focus on one theme: Appalachia.”

Kuhn, Trudy

1991 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literary Studies)

Legg, Connie

2000 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Use of Fantasy, Narrative, and Motivation in Julio Cortazar’s Narcissistic and Ironic Paradise.” (Literary Studies, 20th Century)

Light II, James

2023 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Drowning of the Cherokee Mother: On the Flooding of the Cherokee Capital of Choto.” (Certificate in Appalachian Studies) Where today? Enjoying retirement in Grayson, Kentucky. However, I have submitted application packages to local community colleges and I’m awaiting hiring boards to convene to see if I can get my foot in the door as an adjunct history professor. (Last updated 2024) What did you value about the program? “The seminar structure of the Appalachian Studies courses allowed for all voices to be heard, and I think that made all the difference. A student comes into a classroom with their own assumptions and mindset, which is based on their limited personal experiences. To hear fellow students from different demographics and regions within Appalachia discuss topics from their own perspectives proved to be not only enlightening and educational, but at times heartwarming or tear-jerking. Every professor I encountered was knowledgeable and perfectly capable of lecturing for hours on end. However, each one stepped back from the podium and professionally guided the classroom while not only allowing but encouraging the students to bring their insights to the conversation, which opened doors and windows into levels of awareness I’d previously never considered. Every class seemed to be an open exchange of ideas, which fostered a phenomenal learning environment and unlimited potential for personal and academic growth.”

Lincoln, Hazel

1990 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literature in Context)

Lorish, Ellen

2007 Title of Thesis/Project: “A House, A Mother, and A Daughter: A Memoir of Dance.” (Literary and Historical Studies) Where today? Retired and . . . busy!  (Last Updated: 2015) What did you value about the program? “I’d have to say I most valued the methodology behind reading, researching, writing, AND THEN RE-WRITING!! It was and still is absolutely invaluable!”

Louderback, Anita

1992 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literature and Culture) Where today? Retired. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “I am 75 years old and completed my degree when the program was on the WVSC campus. The blend of younger students and older was an experience all by itself. I did not do the Humanities program to enhance job opportunities but (laughing) it will look good on my obituary.”

Love, Sally

1983 Title of Thesis/Project: (History and Theory of the Arts) Where are you now? After graduation, Sally Love continued on with 27 hours of art history. She started the Snowshoe Institute and continued with it for 7 years. She is now on the Marshall Foundation Board and the Huntington Art Museum Board. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? I had a very, very positive experience. The program changed my life—it was one of the best experiences.

Lucas, Tyler

2020 Title of Thesis/Project: “Policing Creative Queer Bodies” (Cultural Studies) Where are you now? Tyler works for Strength Corps, Step By Step, Inc. (Last Updated: 2020) Read excerpts from Tyler’s Reflection Essay #1 on the “Appreciating the Charitable Section Seminar,” published in the Spring 2019 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Marcum, Elizabeth

1990 Title of Thesis/Project: (European History and Culture) Where today? Elizabeth is the Visitor Services Manager at Pittock Museum, Portland, Oregon. (Last Updated: 2012)

Marrone, Rhonda

2017 Title of Thesis/Project: “West Virginia Activist Archive Project.” (Literary Studies and Arts and Society) Where today?   I am working with Step by Step, a nonprofit serving children and families in West Virginia, specifically in Charleston and smaller communities in the southern coalfields.  The two projects that I am currently working on are  1) Faces of Recovery, which will have interviews of people who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to help those who are recovering from addiction. Interviews and posters are similar to the West Virginia Activist Archive Project but we are hoping to have the interviews playing alongside the posters. We also hope to have it all transportable;  2) West Virginia Criminal Justice Listening Project, which is going to work to record the interviews and transcribe them of people who have been in the criminal justice system, their families, and those affected. This is a project that will have a report at the end of the year and suggestions that will be sent to those in the positions of power. (Last Updated: 2018) See Rhonda’s reflection essay, “Choice, along with Confidence.” in the Fall 2016 Graduate Humanities. and a brief reflection on her project, “West Virginia Activist Archive Project,” in the Fall 2017 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Martin-Williams, Susan (Dr.)

2002 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Bramwell Millionaire’s Garden Club: Tour Guide Manual: A Collection of Quotes, Facts, Stories, and Trivia.” (American Culture) Where today? Dr. Susan Martin-Williams is Associate Professor, Recreation and Tourism Management, Concord University; Chair, Concord University Division of Social Sciences; Concord University Faculty President; Director, Concord University Beckley Campus. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “It was a forerunner in online education for me. The schedule allowed me to get my M.A. at a time when traditional school was not an option. Dr. Joyce East was a wonderful advisor. I loved every class offered and the learning atmosphere.”

Mayes, Emily

2016 Title of Thesis/Project: “Her name Was Appalachia.” (Literary and Cultural Studies) Where today?  Emily currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she is pursuing teacher licensure for secondary education. She will begin student teaching in February at a local high school and plans to enter her own classroom next Fall. Emily hopes to incorporate Appalachian literature in her classroom curriculum. (Last Updated: 2018)  What did you value about the program? “While at Marshall, I felt that the true story of Appalachia (past, present, and future) was unfolding before me. I learned a great deal about the hills I had grown to love and thanks to projects like the water crisis manuscript and the radio documentary, I felt that I was very much a part of creating change. That was valuable for me as a student and as an individual.” (Emily was a contributor to the book, I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis, published by West Virginia University Press in 2020. Excerpts from Emily’s chapter, “In and Out of Appalachia,” were published in the Fall 2020 Graduate Humanities newsletter.)

Mays, Janet

2002 Title of Thesis/Project: “Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Emerging from the Shadows.” (Literary Studies)

McIntyre, John

2002 Title of Thesis/Project: Draft of a screenplay, “Citizen’s Arrest.” (Media Studies) Where today? John is working in the film industry as camera crew and photographer. Also working on the TV program, “One Tree Hill.” (Last Updated: 2006)

McKee, Martha

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Hands of Genius.” (Art and the Humanities) Where today? Martha is Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts. She has served on numerous boards including the University of Charleston Builders, Avampato Discovery Museum, and Capital Market. (Last Updated: 2012)

McKenzie, Rebecca

1990 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literary and Humanistic Studies)

McKnight, Megan

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: Growing Up At 203: Our Appalachia.” (Certificate in Appalachian Studies)

Meadows, Zach

2018 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Coal Miner: A West Virginia Heritage.” (Appalachian Studies Certificate)

Miller, Earl

1988 Title of Thesis/Project: (British and American Fiction) Where today? Earl is an Associate professor of Humanities at Southern West Virginia Community College, Wyoming Campus, Saulsville, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 1992)

Miller, Gloria

1991 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Failed Catharsis of Herman Melville.” (Literature and History in 20th Century) Where today? Teaching English and Speech at Matoaka High School in Mercer County. (Last Updated: 1992)

Miller, Mike

2011 Title of Thesis/Project: “Vestiges of Knowledge.” (Appalachian Studies Certificate)

Miller, Tia

2010 Title of Thesis/Project: “Much Ado About Shakespeare.” (Literary/Cultural Studies) Where today? Tia teaches Advanced Placement English and a dual credit class at Chapmanville High School in Chapmanville, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I went into the program hoping to get a degree to help me become an Education Director at a museum. I took classes from Mark Tobin Moore that led to an art installation at the Clay Center. It was a neat experience and I made professional contacts that I still use today. Although I don’t work in a museum, I have used a lot of things I learned in my classes to teach high school. One example is from the class, “Images of Art and Literature.” I do a project every year with my high school students in which we study art and literature from a particular time period. It’s my favorite part of teaching.”

Mills, Josh

2016 Title of Thesis/Project: “Lithic Analysis of Projectile Points from the Greg White Collection at Heritage Farm Village and Museum.” (Cultural and Historical Studies) Where today? Josh is currently working as a land surveyor in Maryland. He still sails frequently on the Chesapeake Bay on his new boat “Lovebird.” (Last updated: 2020) What did you value about the program? “I valued the flexibility which allowed me to really pursue my personal interests in my studies.” Read Josh’s essay, “Setting Sail for New Opportunities: Life After Grad School,” in the Spring 2017 Graduate Humanities newsletter. (Josh was a contributor to the book, I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis, published by West Virginia University Press in 2020. Excerpts were published in the Fall 2020 Graduate Humanities newsletter.)

Muehlman, Kathleen

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “Dora Carrington.” (20th Century Studies)

Mullens, Christopher

2005 Title of Thesis/Project: “Karen Vuranch, Teller of Tales.” (Arts & Society)

Mullins, Debbie

1998 Title of Thesis/Program: “The Construction of Motherhood in Sula and Beloved.” (Literature & Culture) What did you value about the program? “My experience in the program was positive.” (Last Updated: 2006)

Mullins, Sharon

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “The West Virginia Juried Exhibit: A History 1976-1998.” (Arts & Society) Where today? Sharon is Work Director of Membership Services for the West Virginia Health Care Association (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I spent 7 years completing my Master’s Degree in Humanities while working full time. It was the next step in my education and my commitment to lifelong learning. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to continue completing my credentials in my area of interest and expertise. Attending graduate classes in the humanities gave me the opportunity to be inspired by outstanding faculty members to strive for excellence.”

Murray, Sarah

2004 Title of Thesis/Project: (Cultural Studies)

Najjar, Nada

1990 Where today? Nada is on the English faculty School of Arts and Sciences at Mountain State University. (Last Updated: 2012)

Ocheltree, Chuck

2019 Title of Thesis/Program: “I Should Be Perfectly Willing to Live My Life Over Again’: The Autobiographical Notes of William Henry Edwards, Edited and Annotated.” (Historical Studies) Where today? Chuck is a librarian at the State Archives at the Cultural Center in Charleston, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2020) What did you value about the program? “Working on my master’s degree in the Marshall University Graduate Humanities Program gave me some real insight into the amazing and articulate people who live in West Virginia. Here at the State Archives, we have many of the original works of William Henry Edwards, who was the first American to carefully document the life cycles of butterflies. In doing some research, I found his unpublished memoir at West Virginia University and was amazed to learn about his business dealings and political involvement in the state’s founding. Edwards’ story is just one of the fascinating stories of the men and women in the state’s history. There are plenty of stories out there for people who are willing to follow the breadcrumbs.” (Quotes taken from, “The Spirit of Appalachia,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 3/20/20. Available online.)

Owston, James

1991 Title of Thesis/Program: (Media & History) Where today? Jim is Dean of Distance Education at Kentucky Christian University. (Last Updated: 2013)

Pauley, Beverly

2009 Title of Thesis/Project: “Eliza Poe: The Shadow that Breathed over Edgar Alan Poe’s Shoulder and Defined his Fictional Women.” Also Appalachian Studies Certificate: “Appalachian Quilts From the Cradle to the Grave.”  While Beverly was a student she published Gothic Bedtime Stories. (Last Updated: 2012)

Pauley, Cari

1996 Title of Thesis/Project: “Edna O’Brien’s Place in Feminist Literature.” (Literary Studies)

Perrine, Greta

2008 Title of Thesis/Project: “Appalachia Folklore: A Generational Comparison.” (Literary/Cultural Studies) Where today? Greta is an English 12 teacher at Webster County High School. (Last Updated: 2012)

Pierce, Calisa A.

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: “Louise McNeill and G.D. McNeill: Complementary Appalachian Voices” (Literary & Cultural Studies)  Where today? Dr. Calisa Pierce is a faculty member (English and Humanities) at BridgeValley Community & Technical College, where she currently serves as an Associate Dean. She enjoys her work as a member of the Equity and Inclusion Committee, which sponsors college events related to social justice issues. She is also a co-leader of BridgeValley’s book club. Calisa loves motorcycle touring with her husband Jim. She’s been serving as trail crew for Stormy Weather (Jim) during his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail and has earned her own trail name of “Hot Wheels.” Calisa loves to write short narrative/descriptive pieces and take photographs—she is gradually warming up to the idea of pulling together some of her work in a longer format. (Last updated: 2021) What did you value about the program? “I loved learning and discussing the big ideas related to culture, Western society, religion, philosophy, and history. My Appalachian Studies classes really opened my eyes to my own cultures and led to acceptance of my roles and histories there. And I learned so much about the complexity of social justice issues; I’ve been inspired to do what I can to make a difference. I’m a better person thanks to the program.” Read excerpts from two articles involving Calisa: 1) “Shifts in Perspectives: The Workings of the Duck/Rabbit Metaphor,” which originated in a philosophy seminar and was published in the Spring 2020 Graduate Humanities newsletter, and 2) “Falling in Love with McNeill’s Poetry,” along with an original essay and photo, published in the Spring 2022 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Pitzer, Michael

1993 Where today? Michael is a consultant at MTCI, Charleston, West Virginia, Area 1, Public Relations and Communications. Former Adjunct Professor at West Virginia State University, Public Affairs Director at United States Air Force. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “For the last thirty years, my career has dealt with some aspect of the Humanities. I was Director of Public Affairs at the Veterans Administration and for the Air National Guard. My Humanities degree has given me a well-rounded and extensive background. I’m thankful that the program offers usable communication and public relations skills.”

Pleska, Cat

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “In the Fullness of Time: The Literature of Denise Giardina.” (Literary Studies: 20th Century) Where today? Cat is a full-time instructor in Marshall University’s English Department and teaches expository writing and Appalachian Culture seminars in the Graduate Humanities Program. After leaving our program, she went on to graduate from Goucher College in 2004 with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Riding on Comets: A Memoir was published in 2015 by WVU Press. Cat is the president and chief editor of Mountain State Press, Inc., a 44-year-old nonprofit, traditional literary press. In her capacity as chief editor, she has edited 10 books for publication. Most recently, she’s become the Writer in Residence for Coalfield Development at their West Edge Factory in Huntington. As part of the NEA grant, Cat is creating a small museum dedicated to Corbin Coat Factory, LTD, and its employees from 1957-2003. (Last Updated: 2022) What did you value about the program? “The program is interdisciplinary – it helps the writer put writing in the universal context.  I am a better teacher.  I have a greater sense now of what people need to know: a sense of history and language.”

Read more about Cat and her writings in the following newsletters: Reflections as being Senior Editor of Fed From the Blade: Tales and Poems from the Mountains, Spring 2013 Graduate Humanities; Interview: “It’s All There on the Page: A Life in Writing and Teaching,” Fall 2013 Graduate Humanities; Musing: “This Rumpled Land Is my First Love,” Spring 2014 Graduate Humanities; Abridged summary by WVSU of Riding on Comets: A Memoir, Spring 2015 Graduate Humanities; Excerpt: From the introduction to One Foot in the Gravy – Hooked on the Sauce, Spring 2017 Graduate Humanities; Book Review of Fearless: Woman’s Journey’s to Self-Empowerment, Fall 2019 Graduate Humanities; Excerpts published in the Fall 2020 Graduate Humanities from “Citizen Response: On Leaving and Staying,” co-authored with Josh Mills (’16) for the book, I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis; Excerpts from an essay “Killing Time” published in the Fall 2021 Graduate Humanities.

Poe, Larry

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “Narrative Voicing in the Novels of Roddy Doyle.” (Literature & Arts – 20th Century) Where today? Larry is an Instructor of English at Clovis Community College in Clovis, New Mexico. Before moving to Clovis he taught at Belpre High School in Belpre, Ohio, and was an adjunct instructor in English at West Virginia at Parkersburg. He attained his Doctorate and after retiring from the public school job and WVU-P, he moved to the Boston area and became an Assistant Professor of English at Fisher College on Beacon Street in Boston. In 2013 he moved to Clovis to teach and get away from the harsh New England winters. Larry still teaches online for Fisher College and, also, reviews textbooks for Bedford/St. Martin’s. “I haven’t gotten back to West Virginia in a couple of years, and I miss the state. I am seriously considering returning to teaching high school as my year in community college consisted of teaching half of my students who were high school students dual-enrolled in the community college. I enjoyed the kids so much.  So, we’ll see where all of this leads.”   What did you value about the program? “I have nothing but praise for the Humanities Program at Marshall Graduate College. I am from Parkersburg, so the drives down to Charleston were daunting, at first, but the M.A. completion, literally, changed my life. I had started a couple of programs for master’s degrees in various education majors, but they just did not keep my interest. The humanities concentration coupled with the literary studies were exactly what I wanted and needed.  I finished my degree in 1998 and applied for the National Endowment for the Humanities seminar at Harvard in Celtic Studies in 1999. I had studied Modern Irish Literature with Dr. East at Marshall, and to get to take the ancient Irish Literature course at Harvard and be a faculty fellow for six weeks was a dream come true. I hope the program has maintained itself well. I will certainly check out the web page, and I am very flattered that you found me here in New Mexico.”

Porterfield, William

1995 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literature and the Arts) Where today? William teaches Humanities at the West Virginia Community and Technical College as Adjunct Professor. He is also Public Safety Officer at the college. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My degree allowed me to teach, which I love to do. I believe the degree allows me to teach the full picture to my students.

Pruett, Kelly

2013 Title of Thesis/Project: “In the Presence of God: Changing Religious Practices among U.S. Slaves, from Bondage to Freedom.” Where today? Kelly is the Financial Development Director at the YMCA of Kanawha Valley. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I loved the close-knit classes and personal attention given by the faculty. The classes were great for allowing and encouraging creative thought and expression. The program offered the best opportunity to meet and collaborate with a broad spectrum of viewpoints and interests.”

Pruitt, Kevin

2011 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Major Woodrum House: A Project in Historical Preservation.” (Literary Studies/Historical Studies) Where today? Kevin is a sheep farmer in rural West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “The ability to have a broad range of interdisciplinary study.”

Quinlan, Carolyn

2013 Title of Thesis/Project: “1953: Saint Albans Little League Takes to the Field.” (Cultural/Historical Studies) (Last Updated: 2014) Read excerpts from the lead article, “Finding Billy Dunn,” that covers the opening of Carolyn’s retrospective exhibit in the Spring 2019 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Recco, Carol

1989 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Relationship between Myth and Selected Works of Hawthorne: A Summary.” (18th and 19th Century Culture and Literature)

Reed, Christopher R.

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Political Context of the Sanctuary Movement.” (Historical Studies)

Reed, Jerry

2011 Title of Thesis/Project: “Understanding the Needs of Appalachia: Clay County, West Virginia.” (Cultural Studies/Appalachian Studies) Where today? Jerry Reed is a Museum Education Specialist for the West Virginia State Museum at the Division of Culture and History. (Last Updated: 2013)

Reynolds, Barbara

2004 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Art of Paula Clendenin.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Bobby is retired from Acting Commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services. She is teaching piano and enjoying her worldwide travels. (Last Updated: 2015) What did you value about the program? “Both the philosophy class (with the late Dr. John Richards) and the Rhetoric and the Media class were eye-openers, and I apply what I learned every day. I loved the facility in South Charleston—it was convenient and clean and new. Obviously, classes there provided many face-to-face opportunities, both with the teachers and other students, and therefore I was somewhat skeptical at first about the Internet classes. However, they proved to be the most difficult and most enriching: I had to think more deeply and be more resourceful and self-motivated. My writing improved with each paper I wrote while in the Master’s program, and I am proud to have edited Choral Repertoire, the definitive and comprehensive one-volume presentation of the canon of the Western choral tradition, for Oxford University Press in 2009.”

Rhebel (Rhodes), Kaitlyn

2019 Title of Thesis/Project: “Using Public Media: Content Creation and Implementation.” (Literary & Cultural Studies) Where today? Kaitlyn Rhebel is a Senior Photo Editor and Story Manager in the entertainment industry who believes in the power of storytelling and connection. She received her MA in the Humanities from Marshall University. Originally from Saint Albans, West Virginia, Kaitlyn now calls Los Angeles, California home. She is known by friends for being ‘the vegan’ and always having the best memes handy. (Last updated: 2021) What did you value most about the program? “I valued so much about this program. The personal growth I went through while in this program was not coincidence, and this was such an integral part of my life. I am so grateful in so many ways. The people I met and what they added to my life are invaluable. My project was on social media, and I walked through every step from how I create the content (take photos, video, write), edit the content, and how it performs. There’s so much work that goes into blogging/influencing/content creation. I don’t think most people understand the breadth and depth of that work. It was a true passion project that I had been working on for years and it felt nice to be able to have focused time on growing that piece. I also reached out to publishers to get advanced reading copies of nonfiction to review for my blog and YouTube as part of my project.” Read excerpts from Kaitlyn’s “Climate Science Needs Anthropology” published in the Spring 2018 Graduate Humanities newsletter, and her essay as a guest contributor, “Reflections on this past year: Nothing at all / Everything at once,” in the Fall 2021 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Richardson, Preston

1996 Title of Thesis/Project: “Gas Kitchen Tales: Writing Short Fiction” (Three original short stories and an essay on the creative experience.) (Humanities and the Creative Process) Where today? Preston works for the West Virginia Rehabilitation Research and Training Center in Institute, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 1996)

Riecks, Alice

1986 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Mysterious Stranger Texts: The Dream Chapter in Context, An Introductory Analysis.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Alice is a librarian at Cross Lanes Public Library, Cross Lanes, West Virginia (Last Updated: 2012)

Roberts, Carolanne Griffith

1984 Where today? Carolanne is a freelance writer for The Roberts Organization, Inc. She writes for corporate publications and travel magazines throughout the Southeast US and Pro Bono writing for select organizations she feels strongly about. (Last Updated: 2019)

Rojas, Libby

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Aids in American Film.” (Media Studies) Where are you now? Per a phone interview in 2006, Libby Rojas works at the YWCA Family Resolve program as a Domestic Violence Advocate. What did you value about the program? “I enjoyed the program immensely.”

Sarles, Kellan

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “Considering the Source: High School Students Gain Skills and Understanding by Interviewing Older Adults.” (Literature in Secondary School) Where today? Kellan is Data and Information Specialist at Princeton High School, Princeton, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2012)

Schrader, Pat

1997 Title of Thesis/Project: “Resources and Strategies for Teaching About American Indians.” (Literary Studies) Where today? (Pat passed away on September 19, 2010.)

Scott, Adrian

2011 Title of Thesis/Project: “Family, Flowers, and Fancies: The Essence of Appalachia in the Poetry of Rose Burton Isaacs.” (Cultural Studies/Appalachian Studies) Where today? Adrian is a visiting instructor of Developmental English at the New River Community & Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “The range of the program. Stretching of thinking. It gave me a broad background that helps me deal with students. What I’ve found is that students need someone to care. I learned how to care in the program. I learned an appreciation for humans, the struggles that everyone goes through by learning History, Appalachian Studies, Literature, Literary Theory . . . making minds work. Appalachian Studies was very helpful in understanding my students, where they are coming from, and how I can help them overcome barriers. Not to brag but every one of my evaluations has been positive. When I called the Graduate Humanities Program office to find out what is being offered currently and heard Carolyn answer, I knew I was in a friendly spot. I looked at a variety of programs but I want to go back to the Humanities. It opened up different opportunities so that I can easily get other certificates for a variety of teaching positions.”

Scudder, Stacy

2017 Title of Thesis/Project: “Pedagogies of a First-Year Seminar Course.” Where now? Stacy teaches mathematics and first-year seminar at Marshall University, Huntington Campus. Read excerpts published in the Fall 2021 Graduate Humanities newsletter from Stacy’s reflection paper on Navahos Wear Nikes by Jim Kristofic.

Secrist, Hannah

2023 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Sealed Dragon.” (Literary and Appalachian Studies) Where today? Hannah is currently looking for a new job, as it is time for a change. She is also enjoying some hobbies again such as art and reading fiction. (2023) What did you value about the program? “I valued all the unique learning opportunities from the seminars. I especially enjoyed the independent studies programs. I also enjoyed the classes necessary for the Appalachian Studies Graduate Certificate as I was able to learn a lot about the region, especially not being native to it.”

Seger (Roth), Christine

2007 Title of Thesis/Project: “Drawing Hope: An Examination of Art by Prisoners and Patients.” (Cultural Studies)  Also “Decoration Day: An Appalachian Tradition.” (Appalachian Studies Certificate) Where today? Christine is an instructor of English and Humanities at Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I value the multi-level of information we were taught. It has given me tools for grant writing and to be able to teach in both humanities and English.”

Sherwood, Dolly

1980 Title of Thesis/Project: “Harriet Hosmer: The Roman Years: 1852-1864.” Where today? (Dolly has passed on.) Dolly published the book, “Harriet Hosmer: American Sculptor 1830–1908” in 1991 which was, to the best of our knowledge, begun or augmented while she was in the Humanities program. According to the book cover, Dolly wrote extensively on topics in the humanities, particularly American cultural history and the decorative arts.

Sias, Jennifer

2003 Title of Thesis/Project: “Telling God’s Sanction: Storytelling in the Narrative Journalism, Memoirs, and Creative Nonfiction of Rick Bragg.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Jennifer is an Associate Professor, Information Literacy Librarian at Marshall University. She published a blog on “The Meaning of Success” at marshall.edu/wpmu/fys100-sias/. (Last Updated: 2012) What did you value about the program? “I had a very positive experience with the Humanities program and was particularly fond of Arlene Thorne and Dr. East.”

Sills, Chip

1985 Title of Thesis/Project: “Individuation and Cultural Crisis: A Critique of Philip Rieff.”

Simmons, Gordon

1983 Title of Thesis/Project: “Dialectic of Culture: Social Interpretation of the Literary Text in Lucien Goldmann & Jean-Paul Sartre.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Gordon works for the West Virginia Public Workers Union, UE Local 170. He has worked as a bookseller, publisher, librarian, and adjunct instructor in philosophy at Marshall. He contributes articles to WV Encyclopedia and interviews West Virginia authors. (Last Updated: 2012) Since November 1, 2019, Gordon has been working at Public Defender Services rather than Local 170. And Cat Pleska, ’98,  has taken over for Gordon as host for West Virginia Author. (Last Updated: 2020)

Singletary (Reed), Jennifer

2001 Title of Thesis/Project: “If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit: An Ongian Analysis of ‘The Dream Team’s’ Addresses to the Jury in The People of California v.  Orenthal James Simpson.” (Cultural Studies)

Smith, Melissa

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “Abandonment, Neglect, and Poverty as Reflected in the Novels of Charles Dickens.” (Literary Studies) What did you value about the program? “I enjoyed my time in the program.” (Last Updated: 2014)

Smothers, Sally

1988 Where today? Sally is a Customer Service Representative at WISE WV Community Services for Women. (Last Updated: 2012)

Sparks, Harold

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: “To Read or NOT to Read John Steinbeck: A Reexamination of Steinbeck’s Female Characters and His Feminist Critics.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Harold went on to study law at Tulane Law School and is currently an attorney at Hendrickson & Long, PLL. (Last Updated: 2012)

Stewart, Jason

2008 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Magic Glass Changer and the Paper-Heart Boy.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Jason is a partner in the family business, Cathode Neon Services in Seymour, Tennessee.  (Updated 2013) What did you value about the program? The writing. I love to write and the program expanded my ability to write. Also, the artistic aspect did the same. I gained critical thinking skills  – being in an environment that challenged me to think and critique was very useful…evaluating culture and how to think about culture. All of these skills I still use today.

Stover, Joyce

2002 Title of Thesis/Project: “West Virginia Women’s Commission: A History of the Early Years.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? Joyce Stover is an Assistant Professor of Humanities, West Virginia University at Parkersburg. (Last Updated: 2013) (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I am proud to be a Humanities graduate of MUGC. In a world that emphasizes math and science, we enrich the lives of our students by exposing them to other eras and cultures through literature and how to analyze reading and writing using critical thinking, all things I learned at MUGC.” Additional Comments: When our faculty met with business leaders and asked, “What do you need from us?” the answer was “Teach them to write! They can pass entrance exams, but cannot spell, punctuate, or write complete sentences. We must monitor them closely, checking whatever they write, even emails, because they are a direct reflection on our company. Teach them to write.” We work hard on that in our English classes and also have writing across the curriculum. Virtually every business or organization needs people with a solid English background, and we help provide that.”

Straight, James

2015  Title of Thesis/Project: “Rock Lake Presbyterian History: Handling Change and Challenges in a Reformed Protestant Church.” (Cultural Studies) Where today? James is a FedEx Contractor for the downtown Charleston, West Virginia market and CEO of Alumni Builders, Inc. based in St. Albans, West Virginia.  Alumni builders take traditional construction and through best practices, different building products, and finishes, build houses that are more than just well-built homes. They build homes that are more healthy, energy-efficient, and comfortable without blowing the budget. (See more about James in an interview in the Spring 2018 Graduate Humanities Newsletter on this website.) (Last Updated: 2018) What did you value about the program? My degree brings a lot of value because I can talk to a lot of people, see a lot of different points of view, be open and understanding to alternative ways of seeing things and reaching goals. I believe critical thinking and creative problem solving are what the humanities bring to our economy.  When I was in the program, people would ask, ‘Well, what are you going to do with your degree?’ And I’d say, ‘I’m already doing it!’ I took these classes on purpose and it’s changed who I am.  If you look around and listen to different business people, forecasting what our economy is going to do in the coming years, technology is going to replace a lot of the baseline jobs that are out there. So you can say, ‘Oh, no. A lot of people are going to be out of work.’ But the truth is, the humanities are going to play a very significant role in transitioning folks.” Read an interview with James titled, “Building Energy-Efficient Houses: Life After Grad School,” in the Spring 2018 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Stringer, Gary

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Images of the Poor: Art and TV.” (Cultural Studies)

Sturgeon, Carolyn

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: “Maya Angelou’s Autobiographical Writings: A Tale of a Survivor’s Search for a Place in the World.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Carolyn is an English teacher at West Virginia State University.  She posted a review of West Virginia author, Belinda Anderson, on Amazon and was a Discussion Leader in 2008 for Kanawha County Public Library. (Last Updated: 2012)

Sturm (Santiago), Kathryn

2009 Title of Thesis/Project: “Constellations: An Anthology of the Marshall University Graduate Humanities Program Celebrating 30 Years (1979-2009).” Kathryn wrote in the Preface to her anthology, “I originally intended to compile another seminar anthology to learn publishing software. In true style of the Graduate Humanities Program, the idea of an anthology developed into several wider conversations and a program-wide project, one to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of our Program. Students and faculty subsequently submitted their pieces in the arts, literary, historical, and cultural studies.” Where today? Kathryn is Assistant Director, Marshall University Graduate College in South Charleston, West Virginia. (Last Updated: 2022) What did you value about the program? “The advantages I received from the Humanities MA program are research skills and the ability to reformulate questions that will allow me to look at problems from different perspectives/angles.”

Surface, Terry

1995 Title of Thesis/Project: (Media Studies)

Taylor, Ellen

1985 Title of Thesis/Program: (History and Theory of the Arts)

Teaford, Judy

1998 Title of Thesis/Project: “Appalachian Picture Books.” (Literary Studies) Where today? Judy is an English instructor at Mountain State University. (Last Updated: 2012)

Thomas, Jay

2017 Title of Thesis/Project: “Charleston Water Crisis.” (Literary and Cultural Studies) Where today? Jay is the food and beverage director in a Harpers Ferry hotel. (Last Updated 2018) What did you value about the program?  “The Humanities program, as I poorly joke, has turned me into a humanitarian. After studying different peoples, different ways of being, reading rich Appalachian literature, interviewing survivors of our toxic environment, etc., has expanded my range of understanding. I don’t know if I’ll ever use my degree as a means of employment; that’s secondary or tertiary on the value I place on my education. Having had the privilege to study under Dr. Lassiter and study with some of the finest folks I’ll ever know has been rewarding enough. My father told me when I was a pup that you don’t go to college to get a job, you go to get an education. That’s what I’ve gained in the wonderful program at Marshall.” Read three articles involving Jay: 1) an interview titled, “Something’s Going to Happen,” in the Spring 2014 Graduate Humanities newsletter; 2) excerpts from Jay’s contribution to the book, I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis, published by West Virginia University Press in 2020. The excerpts are from “Chapter 5: Blues BBQ” printed in the Fall 2017 Graduate Humanities newsletter and in the Fall 2020 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Titus, Ron

1997 Title of Thesis/Program: “The Diaries of Lt. Charles Edward Frampton of the American Expeditionary Force, 1917-1918.” (Literature and History) Where today? Ron is an Electronic Services Librarian for Marshall University on the Huntington Campus. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “The way that I was able to structure what I wanted. It was the type of experience I was looking for – my interest in history and in literature combined into one.”

Tolbert, Gail

1988 Title of Thesis/Project: Where today? Gail teaches at Cedar Grove Community School. (Last Updated: 2012)

Tovar (Settle), Angelica

2008 Title of Thesis/Project: “Daniel Boone: A Comic Strip and a Cultural Connection to Appalachia.” (Arts & Society) Where today? Angelica returned to Cali, Columbia where she owns a chemicals consulting business, Insumos Industriales J.J., and co-directs Alcanzarte, an art gallery with classrooms for teaching. (See Angelica’s work and resume at http://alcanzartetallerygaleria.blogspot.com/p/las-artistas.html) (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “Understanding of cultures, improving my visual capabilities for communication. Getting to know valuable people. The program gave me: (1) respect for others, it’s amazing what handling language can give to you; (2) understanding of who I am and what I want; (3) happiness – I am way happier than before because I make better use of my time, I am a better professional, I do a better job of communicating; and (4) I am a better teacher because I have tools and I am more open-minded. Humanities is everything we do, but we are not aware of it – that’s why it’s so difficult to talk about.” Read an interview with Angelica titled, “Science and Art,” in the Spring 2012 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Uppala, Sam

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: (Literary Studies)

Varney, Lora

2009 Title of Thesis/Project: “Relics of the Confederacy: The Feminine Experience in the American Civil War.” (Historical Studies) Where today? Lora works for Marshall University as a Veterans Certification Official. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “The diversity of the program. I loved the historical learning aspect and the growth I experienced as a writer under Dr. Fran Simone.”

Vaughn, Barbara


Vuranch, Karen

1994 Title of Thesis/Project: (Celtic Literature & Culture) Where today? Karen holds two jobs — she owns WV Enterprises, performing Appalachian and American history throughout the nation, and is a full-time instructor at Concord University in Speech, Theatre, and Appalachian Studies. In her living history presentations of famous American women, Karen brings to life novelist Pearl S. Buck, labor activist Mother Jones, humanitarian Clara Barton, Indian captive Mary Draper Ingles, Civil War soldier and spy Emma Edmunds, Irish pirate Grace O’Malley, Wild West outlaw Belle Starr and her newest character, the First Lady of Food, chef Julia Child. See www.enterprises.com/aboutkaren.cfm for more information. (Last Updated: 2013) What did you value about the program? “I valued the opportunity to develop my own focus of study, pulling together different aspects of what interested me. I also feel that the program made me a better scholar and honed my research and writing skills. The faculty at MU Grad School demanded excellent scholarship and I feel that has helped me as I pursued work as a Chautauqua scholar and as an undergraduate instructor. Additional Comments: “I look forward to hearing more about the program and about what other students are accomplishing.”

Wagner, Amy

1993 Title of Thesis/Project: “The Life Cycle Theory of Social Movements: Applying Theory to a Business Phenomena.” (Media Studies)

Warmack, Kyle

2021 Title of Thesis/Project: “More Than The Sum: The Missing History of COGS [West Virginia College of Graduate Studies] and What You Can Do About It.” (Historical Studies & Certificate in Public History) Where today? Kyle is the Program Officer for the West Virginia Humanities Council, “putting every bit of my humanities education to work every day.” (Last updated: 2022) What did you value about the program? “In addition to having extraordinary, passionate instructors, the program allowed me to find the historical connections between almost everything in which I’ve ever been interested. Opportunities abounded to explore history through photography, Appalachian literature, industry—you name it. Not only did this keep my studies fresh and exciting, it encompassed subjects with which I interface all the time in my professional work.” Read Kyle’s synopsis of his paper, “Don’t Call Me Ishmael: Eugenics, Pop Culture, and the Appalachian Quandary,” written for a 2020 Major Scholar Seminar with Dr. Jonathan Marks, Genetic/Biological Anthropologist, and published in the Fall 2020 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

White, Craig

1993 Title of Thesis/Project: “John Hawkes’ The Cannibal and the Gothic Tradition.” (20th Century Cultural & Literary Theory)

Wiik, Laura

1990 Title of Thesis/Project: (Art as Expression and Product) Where today? Laura is retired.  She taught at Marshall and worked in the West Virginia State University library.  She taught Introduction to Art Appreciation and Humanities. (Last Updated: 2006) What did you value about the program? “My degree allowed me to teach at the college level. I enjoyed my educational experience in the Marshall Graduate Humanities Program.”

Wilson, David

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Presence and Absence: Homosexuality in Irish Literature.” (Literary Studies)

Wilson, Michael

1999 Title of Thesis/Project: “Cleveland Bailey: Mountaineer Congressman.” (Historical & Cultural Studies) Where today? Michael is Senior Historian and Historical Services Unit Leader for the West Virginia Department of Transportation. (Last Updated: 2008)

Wood, Andrew

2015 Title of Thesis/Project: “A Memoir of Benjamin Wilkes Hale, Sr.” (Cultural Studies)

Wood, Christopher

1998 Title of Thesis/Program: “Transforming Emotion and Evil from Page to Stage: The Plays of William Trevor.” (Creativity and Writing) Where today? Chris teaches Essential Skills of the Written Language and Theatre Appreciation at Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College. He would like to teach a Film Appreciation class. (Last updated: 2014) What did you value about the program? “I learned how to read and write all over again at MUGC, beginning with the summer writing program. I have three master’s degrees, but the best education I ever got was in the humanities program at MUGC.”

Yeager, George

1992 Title of Thesis/Project: “Patterns of Virtue: A Search for Moral Virtue in Business.” (History and Application of Philosophy)

Young, Carol

1987 Title of Thesis/Project: (Communications and Humanities)

Young, Mikhaela

2020 Title of Thesis/Project:“Recovery Appalachia and the Art of Recovery: Representations of Hope and Healing in West Virginia.” (Cultural Studies) (Last Updated: 2020) Read excerpts from an interview with Mikhaela about the Environmental Humanities seminar with Dr. Susie Crate, Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University, published in the Spring 2018 Graduate Humanities newsletter.

Zappin, Craig

2003 Title of Thesis/Project: “Confronting Appalachia Myths on Film.” (Cultural Studies)