Welcome Our Fall 2019 Incoming MA Class

August 12, 2019

Melissa Allbrandt just graduated from VCU with a BA in English and a BS in Public Relations. Melissa was born in Portland, Oregon. She moved to Virginia with her family at 4 years old. She has been a crafter of stories since she was very young, and has never stopped questioning everything. Melissa reads anything she can get her hands on. She has a particular interest in speculative fiction and in the development of fantasy during the Victorian era.

Callie Banholzer (pronounced Cali, like the state) is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she received a BFA in Creative Writing, a BA in Theatre, and a minor in English. Callie’s research interests reside in the world of folklore, legends, and fairytales. She aims to investigate how those tales and the characters from these tales have influenced literature and popular culture and molded societies, particularly in Europe and North America. Her dream is to become fluent in at least two foreign languages and travel the world, studying these stories in the cultures and languages of their origins. When Callie is not raging about social injustices and the ever-present grip of the patriarchy, she is looking up dogs available for adoption, harmonizing with the radio in the car, or adding a bunch of shows to her list on Netflix, but never watching them.

Timothy Berge grew up in Moscow, Idaho. In 2011 he graduate from the University of Idaho with a BA in English and in 2014 he moved to Bloomington, Indiana to pursue a Master’s in Library Science at Indiana University. Since earning his MLS Tim has been working as an academic librarian, first in central New York and later in Morgantown, West Virginia. In literature, he is drawn towards writers exploring ideas of the self through ongoing negotiations between the individual and the social as well as the actual and the possible. Tim is also interested in the political dimensions of reading, writing, and thinking about literature. He enjoys running long distances and eating ice cream cones.

Ollie Carter graduated from with their BA from VCU in 2018 after studying English and Gender Studies. They’re a lifelong lover of all things literary, but have a particular interest in 18th century women writers and all things queer and otherworldly in Victorian texts. When they’re not in the library, Ollie can be found at the nearest 24 hour diner or watching Archer.

Emily Csukardi is a high school Special Education substitute teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools. She is a music writer for Bleached Magazine and a volunteer at Richmond Young Writers. While earning her BA in English from VCU in 2017, she worked at VCU’s Writing Center. Emily is interested in teaching writing and literature in a way that is accessible to students of varying intellectual abilities. Outside of academia, she is a Talking Heads enthusiast, a novice bass player, and an avid reader of graphic novels and contemporary women writers.

Kayleigh Dumont, a Central Virginia native, is thrilled to be returning to her alma mater this fall. After receiving an AS degree in general studies from John Tyler Community College in the summer of 2014, she immediately transferred to VCU. There, she participated as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of Focused Inquiry (Spring and Fall 2015), served as a copyediting intern at Blackbird (Spring and Fall 2016), and worked at both VCU Writing Center campus locations as a writing consultant during her last semester through the end of 2017. In May 2017, she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English, including two minors in creative writing and psychology. Currently, she works at her church as an administrative assistant and communications coordinator and shows an invested interest in the field of copyediting.

Emily Furlich received a BA in English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies from VCU in spring 2019. Among other things, Emily is interested in divas, decolonizing, film, musical theatre, popular culture, and queer studies. Follow her and DM her on Twitter (@emdashfurlich) for more scintillating details.

Jane Hagen was raised in Deltaville, VA, and grew up splitting her time between being out on the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay or in the woods of her hometown. In the spring of 2019 she received her BA in English with a minor in Biology. Her academic interests include ecocriticism, environmental education, and literature and writing of all types. She hopes to expand her interests even further in the MA program. Outside of academia, Jane hopes to continue exploring the James River ecosystem.

Noelle Hisle has lived in RVA since she was little, and now makes her home in Midlothian with her husband. She graduated from VCU in spring of 2019 with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in British Studies, and is thrilled to continue her studies as part of the MA English program. Her areas of interest are 18th and 19th century British literature. Following the passions of her childhood, Noelle hopes to make a particular line of study in fantasy fiction, specifically in its early roots in the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing on the areas where the genre makes contact with various feminist movements throughout history. Noelle currently works as the Assistant Coordinator for John Tyler Community College’s Academic Resource Center, where she works with faculty and staff to develop and promote tutoring services to the students. She hopes to one day work as an English instructor at a community college—a passion of hers since she herself was a transfer student. When she is not working or studying, Noelle enjoys eating her way through Richmond’s food scene with her husband.

Marie Kreck graduated from VCU in the winter of 2016 with BA degrees in English and music. In 2017, she hopped a flight to South Korea where she taught English for two years. She has enjoyed traveling since graduation but will remain in America for the next few years to pursue an MA in English and spend some quality time with her cat. Marie’s fascination with literature stems from a life-long love of science fiction and her research interests center around narratology, genre theory, and interdisciplinary work that can incorporate her musical experience. She is a classically trained pianist and vocalist as well as an accomplished knitter of socks.

Samantha Merz is a transplant from Williamsburg, Virginia, who transferred to VCU in 2008 to escape the small town life. While in Richmond, she graduated in 2013 with a BS in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in English. During her time as an undergrad, she became very taken with British Literature and classes that had a GSEX slant, such as Women Writers. Following a few years of working in and around the city, she began working as a reading specialist at formerly non-accredited Title 1 East End Henrico County Public School. Her position was to assist children, from kindergarten to fifth grade, with their literacy and comprehension. Before the end of her first school year, she knew that she wanted to teach English at a secondary or collegiate level. She is hoping that while in this program she will be able to hone her writing ability and work toward becoming a British Literature laureate (or something of the sort). Her hobbies include talking candidly, using her encyclopedic knowledge of hockey and music, playing Dungeons and Dragons exclusively as a Halfling rogue, going to shows, meeting new people, eating tacos and showing pictures of her cat, Nugget. She recently began performing improv comedy downtown at the Coalition Theater and is expecting to continue doing so until she doesn’t break laughing on stage.

Amber Papineau has lived in, visited, or driven through all but eighteen states in the U.S. with plans to drive through and visit Canada and the remaining states she has not seen. She has been an avid reader since childhood with a focus—or what is more aptly described as a fixation—on horror and science fiction literature and cinema. Currently Amber is continuing research into the mechanisms of Biopolitical influence at work in science fiction and horror literature. She received her BA in English from VCU in 2018 and is pleased as punch to be in the MA program. Amber has lived in the Richmond area for close to ten years and is currently in the final week of wedding preparations to her longtime friend of twenty years.

Jess Rodgers graduated with a BA in English from VCU in the spring of 2018. In the year since, she’s spent her time helping other people figure out what to do with their writing, so she’s excited, and a little nervous, to go back to things being the other way around. Her scholarly interests are rooted broadly in American literature, with a great love of first-person narrators, voice, reliability, and a post-structural study of identity and language. She is also interested in textual bibliography and hopes to continue to explore this while pursuing her MA. A native of small-town southern Virginia, Jess loves living in Richmond and constantly meeting new people. Outside of school, Jess enjoys going to museums, listening to Janis Joplin on loop, writing fiction, and savoring the grandfatherly things in life, like crossword puzzles and the newspaper on Sundays.