Sara Bailey is a Richmond native and a VCU alum, having received her BA in English in 2012, with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and her MT in English Education in 2015. She teaches English and Creative Writing full-time at John Marshall High School in Richmond City Public Schools, while occasionally moonlighting as a Focused Inquiry Instructor. Sara is a lifelong learner with a passion for medieval literature, post-colonial studies, and a guilty pleasure for young adult literature. She spends what little free time she has at home in Glen Allen, reading, baking, and gardening with her fur-baby-felines, Pepper and Toothless, and fiancé.
Jack Carmichael received his BA in English and Spanish from Dickinson College in 2012. A Richmond native, he currently works as the Director of Annual Giving for the VCU School of Medicine. His principal academic interest is in Spanish literature, in particular Don Quixote. His hobbies include gardening, beekeeping, and hiking.
Mary Cumbie was born and raised in Hampton Roads. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Longwood University in 2014 and has been teaching high school English ever since. Her passions include (in no particular order): Shakespeare, coffee, ballroom dancing, impromptu adventures, new notebooks, nerdy TV shows, and the Oxford comma. Mary hopes to receive her Masters in English in order to better equip her students with a love of literature and learning.
Kelly Fenwick is originally from Brighton, Michigan but has lived in the Richmond area for over 15 years. She has a background in musical theatre and attended the Center for the Performing Arts in Henrico. She graduated with a BA in English in May 2016 from VCU and has future aspirations to obtain a PhD in writing and rhetoric. Kelly plans to pursue a career as a published author and professor, possibly running her own University Writing Center. Kelly spends her time reading, writing and enjoying art and music with her daughter, Riley. She enjoys seeing her daughter perform with The Richmond Ballet. Kelly can be found inspiring students to write with their authentic voices at the VCU Writing Center.
Angelica Fuchs is a native of Arlington, VA. Since ‘becoming an adult’ she has developed a love for travel whenever she’s not living in a book. In 2014 she graduated from VCU, where she studied English and History. In her free time Angelica enjoys writing and playing with different art mediums. She is a writer and hopes to one day have a career in publishing.
Katie Hedgepeth is a book addict. She work for an enabler (library) who constantly showcases captivating items and forces her to check them out and read them. Thank goodness she’ll be moving to Richmond this summer and will finally be free…but she’ll be pursuing an English masters, so it is quite clear that this plan was not entirely thought through… Katie’s love of reading spawned her love of writing and she is currently working on a novel. Contrary to the traditional lifestyle of a book addict, she is active. Katie plays tennis and belly dances, and she’s starting to train for American Ninja Warrior (they have a gym in Richmond!!). Last but not least, she is really excited about meeting her fellow book addicts and mingling with the grad school community.
Kemry Johnakin was born and raised just up the road from VCU in Mechanicsville. After seven younger siblings were born and many basketball games and chorus concerts later, she managed to graduate and make her way to Brigham Young University in Idaho where she received a degree in English Literary Studies. She loves to read, write, and listen to a lot of different kinds of music. Though a dog person, she respects cats and their respective “persons.” She does not yet have a concrete plan for the future but she does know she would love to write about people. That’s why she finds herself so drawn to English; it provides the opportunity to attempt to understand others alongside an author who seems just as confused about the world as she is. Kemry is excited to start her graduate studies at VCU.
Ariel Lawrence is a Richmond native and proud product of the Richmond Public School System. After spending her entire childhood with her nose firmly pressed between the pages of a book, she departed Virginia for the short and temperate summers of central New York State. At Ithaca College, Ariel double majored in Writing and English with a minor in African Diaspora Studies. She graduated in 2012 with the hope that she could one day share her passion for literature with others as a form of empowerment. After four years of living life as a certified cocktail geek, Ariel will attend VCU this Fall, focusing on the intersection of literature, literacy, and social justice. Her goal will center on using literature as a tool to help develop critical thinking skills in young students who aspire to be genuine change agents in their communities.
Preston Matson was born in Fairfax VA, and migrated to Richmond in 2011 to attend VCU as an English major. After completing his undergrad degree in Fall of 2014 and taking two years off, he is eager to return to school as a grad student. His primary academic interests are rhetoric and narratology, and he is pursuing his Master’s degree in order to learn more about how these disciplines can be employed in developing a unique critical theory paradigm for video games and other forms of new media. In his spare time, he enjoys watching/hoarding VHS horror movies, hosting a weekly radio show on WRIR, script-writing, and reading.
Rebekah Rifareal discovered the power of language through an interdisciplinary approach to literature. She received a dual-degree in Biology and English from VCU in 2015. As a graduate student, she hopes to explore the intersection between law and literature, examining how both influence healthcare and education policy. She would like to teach at the university level one day. In her spare time, you can find her editing her friends’ papers or obsessing over her baby nephews and niece. Her unofficial loves include: sharing a sunrise, taking a quality nap, or eating a good meal.
Summer Sutton recently graduated with a BA in English and Psychology from the College of William and Mary, where she enjoyed being a member of the synchronized swimming team and making fun of the copious fanny-pack sporting tourists. As an aspiring academic, she is primarily interested in contemporary literature from the perspectives of feminism, postcolonialism, and media studies. With an MA degree, she hopes to pursue a career as a professor who promotes social justice both in and outside the classroom. Outside of academia, she spends her time fostering a codependent relationship with her border collie, watching every indie film on Netflix, and stalking her favorite authors’ twitter accounts.
Julie Ward is a Richmond native and education enthusiast. After graduating with her BA in English from VCU in 2012, she joined Teach For America and taught high school social studies for two years in rural Alabama. She then briefly taught middle school students at a charter school in New Orleans, and then relocated back to Richmond with nothing but a record collection and kitchenware. Julie hopes that the MA program will further enhance her understanding of literacy so that she may continue teaching and influencing students who struggle with reading and writing. She plans to work in educational advocacy, teach in secondary settings (foreign and domestic), and pursue researching/publishing. Julie dabbles in nonfiction writing and reads mostly contemporary American literature. Folk music, the James River, and traveling are among her more personal interests, with all related activities typically conducted alongside her fiancé/musician/muse.