Alumni Alert: Fill Out a Questionnaire for a Chance at $25 Gift Card (Hint: Odds Way Better than Lottery!)

May 19, 2014

Dear WKU English department alumni,

My name is Rob Hale, and I am the new Head of English at WKU.  I arrived in Bowling Green last July, and I finally have a chance to catch my breath and introduce myself to you. You may have received a hard copy of this letter in the US Mail, but I wanted to follow up with an email just in case we have your home address wrong. I also thought it might be easier for you to complete our alumni survey if we provided a direct link in this post.

Dr. Robert Hale, English Department Head

Dr. Robert Hale, English Department Head

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Successful Interns: Saxon McCullough

Here at the Weblog, we are producing a series of interviews featuring past interns in order to gain insight into what an internship through the English department offers. An internship is a great experience, and it also adds extra credentials to your résumé! To check out some departmental offerings, visit the English Department Internship page.


This week’s spotlight is Saxon McCullough. Saxon graduated in December 2013 with a BA in English, concentrating on Professional Writing and Literature. Saxon was the intern for the Society for Values in Higher Education.

What internship did you do and what semester?

I was the fall 2013 intern for the Society for Values in Higher Education (the first ever!).

What kind of responsibilities did you have?

My supervisors were pretty open-minded from the start regarding what type of work responsibilities I would take on; they emphasized that I choose my intern tasks according to what kinds of skills I wanted to build for my future career. So, naturally, as a final-semester college student, I had no specific trajectory for my future career which is why I chose to develop a wide variety of skills including producing marketing materials and writing for the SVHE blog.

Why did you choose to do that particular internship?

I chose to apply for the SVHE internship because I was anxious to get my feet wet in the professional writing world. It was an invaluable experience having the opportunity to produce writing that benefited a professional organization’s vision and goals.

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Student Success Stories: Lindsey Westerfield (2009)

Lindsey Westerfield (Honors College 2007, MA in 2009 – both in English) is currently Director of the Russell County Public Library, and was recently elected to the Vice President of the Russell Country Chamber of Commerce. This means she will become the president next year.

Favorite book/author?

Too many to name! The best books are the ones that make you really think, really consider life and your place in this world. Many of the titles on my favorites list include ones I read in English classes at WKU…Beloved by Toni Morrison in Dr. Kelly Reames’ graduate class, and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner in Prof. Walker Rutledge’s Hemingway and Faulkner Honors class are at the top of the list.

What was your most memorable experience as a WKU student?

Being a Spirit Master during my junior and senior years. I was so humbled to represent WKU in such a capacity and give back to a university that gave me so much. Being a Spirit Master prepared me for a professional career in so many ways, giving me the opportunity to hone practical skills such as networking, public speaking, and leadership.

Why did you first become an English Major?

When I came to WKU, I started out as a Political Science major, and then spent my second semester as a News/Editorial Journalism major. Without any clear idea of where I saw myself professionally 5 or 10 years down the road, I was a little lost on choosing the “right major for me.” But I have always been a reader and a writer, so finding my way to the English Department at the beginning of my sophomore year seemed to fit.

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WKU Sisterhood Grants for Current Students and Alumnae

Money for projects of interest to English majors both current and alumni

Faculty and Staff of WKU: The WKU Sisterhood is a group of women affiliated with WKU (alumnae, friends, students, faculty, and staff) who have contributed a gift of $1,000 or more to help fund a WKU project that will be selected by members of the organization at their annual meeting in October.

The WKU Sisterhood is proud to announce that $34,000 is currently available for distribution and we invite you to apply on behalf of a WKU project.

Attached you will find information about the application and awards process. The deadline for application is Friday, September 13.

PLEASE NOTE: ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY! If you have questions about the application process or if you wish to learn more about becoming a member of the WKU Sisterhood, please contact Amy Miller at or (270) 745-5990. You may also access the application and further information by logging on to

Thank you for your interest. We look forward to sharing information about your project with women who are passionate about WKU! Julie Ransdell, Co-Chair WKU Sisterhood Kristen Miller, Co-Chair WKU Sisterhood”


Congratulations to all the Contest, Scholarship, and Award Winners from the Gender & Women’s Studies Department!

genderYesterday was the 2013 Awards Ceremony for the Gender & Women’s Studies Department, and I’m happy to announce the following students for their incredible accomplishments:

2013 Gender and Women’s Studies Contest

Undergraduate winners:

Brittany Cheak for her poem, “Sex Talk”

Abby Rudolph for her nonfiction essay, “For Molly Bloom and the Man in My Bed”

Graduate winners:

Elizabeth Burke for her nonfiction essay, “Chore”‘

Sara Volpi for her nonfiction essay, “Visions of Excrement”

2013 Gender and Women’s Studies Scholarships

Catherine C. Ward Scholarship: Whitney Marsh

Esther Fund Graduate Scholarship: Jacqueline Adams

Valere Scott Scholarship: Hilary Harlan

2013 Gender and Women’s Studies Awards

Seneca Falls Personal Empowerment Award: Bianca Brown

Catherine Coogan Ward Feminist Action Award: Jennifer Lynn Howard

Congratulations, everyone!

Mark Your Calendars: The 2013 Western Kentucky Film Festival Begins Monday!

festivalThe 2013 Western Kentucky Film Festival begins Monday, April 29 and ends Friday, May 3. It will be hosted on-campus in MMTH Auditorium. This is, of course, an incredible opportunity for film majors– there will be daily workshops and Q&A sessions– but English majors can benefit as well. Brandon Colvin, a recent WKU English major (class of 2009), is screening his feature film FRAMES Monday at 7:00 p.m. Check the schedule for a daily breakdown of the festival’s workshops and events, and view their website for any additional information. We hope to see you there!


English Alumna Bianca Brown Wins National Video Competition

Potter Gray Pic

Bianca Brown with students at Potter Gray Elementary (previously published in the Spirit of Engagement of WKU magazine)

Bianca Brown (pictured to the left) is a WKU alumna with a BA in Professional Writing and Philosophy, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities. Bianca is also one of two Public Achievement Coordinators for the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR), which is currently housed in Garrett Conference Center.

If you’ve ever wondered how to successfully integrate an English degree with other seemingly unrelated interests, there’s no better example than Bianca Brown. Bianca has recently earned a prestigious and rare honor from the American Democracy Project.  By way of a creative video submission, combining her knowledge of professional writing and rhetoric with her passion for civic engagement, she has been selected as a keynote speaker at this year’s conference.  Through her role as Public Achievement Coordinator for the ICSR, she has proven herself an excellent example of collegial and community involvement. I was fortunate enough to meet with Bianca outside Java City, enjoying the warmth of spring while we discussed her video, her passions, and her professional goals.

Bianca during her winning video submission

Bianca during her winning video submission

The theme of Bianca’s video is civic engagement, which she defines as “more than just being involved in school— it’s being involved in your community and your country and its politics. It’s being an active participant in public life  and being knowledgeable about issues, even looking for information so that you can be better informed about things that are going on.” Her video answers three questions centered on the obstacles of campus and community involvement. Though most schools now have campus activities centers, Bianca believes there is still a shortage of available “civic engagement hubs that have become the beacon for this kind of work.” Fortunately WKU has the ICSR, which houses civic participation and encourages involvement. Through her video, Bianca also explains that colleges and universities can better prepare students to be informed, engaged citizens by making civic participation a part of every day life. “Students must be encouraged to identify the many ways they can live informed and engaged lives within their chosen career path,” Bianca said. “This will prepare students to seek out information and civic engagement opportunities post graduation.” If you haven’t already, you can view Bianca’s video here.

PG Pic 2

Bianca teaching at Potter Gray Elementary in Bowling Green

Bianca’s passion for civic engagement is driven by her teaching goals. Through teaching English, she hopes to reach students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds that may otherwise be overlooked. “What really drives me is my goal to teach English. I want to teach students who will really benefit from it,” Bianca said. “It’s fine to have your own vernacular when you’re with your friends and family, but you have to be able to switch into a professional mindset. People don’t always grasp that about English sometimes, especially in certain economical situations. Part of what we’re learning in this [master’s] program is understanding the dynamics of how people find themselves in these situations in the first place. The better informed you are the better teacher you can be. I want to continue helping people help themselves.”

Bianca is motivated by her mother, who was consistently involved in her community. “She was always involved in different types of activism and even took me to protests,” Bianca said. “She always pushed me to be involved and take an active role in community building efforts. She’s a big part of why I’m driven to do this work.” Bianca is also grateful for the aid of Dr. Paul Markham, who originally introduced her to the ICSR.Dr. Markham’s own diverse academic background, I feel, enables him to direct students across the curriculum to ignite their passions for campus and community involvement.  And the ICSR is the perfect venue for that, as has certainly been the case in my own experience,” Brown said. “We encourage students from every discipline to consider how they can apply what they learn in the classroom to the betterment of public life.”


Bianca pictured with Harry Boyte, the creator of Public Achievement program

So, how can you get involved? Bianca works specifically through an ICSR program called Public Achievement— a national youth initiative developed on the idea that societal issues are everyone’s responsibility. This program educates youth on becoming effective civic participants, and helps them learn to think and act as citizens. If you’d like to learn more about the program and how you can become involved, the ICSR is hosting a recruitment informational session this Thursday at 6 PM in Garrett Conference Room 109. They would love to see you there!


Post-MFA Advice and a Chance to Win an Free English Accessory!

Lee Martin

Pulitzer Prize Finalist Lee Martin

Back in the fall of 2011, we were lucky enough to have Lee Martin– Pulitzer Prize Finalist author of The Bright Forever and many others– host a reading in Cherry Hall. And let me tell you: he knows how to captivate an audience. At the time I was a freshman, new to all things English and completely captivated. On top of all that, he has some truly impressive writing. That’s why, when a professor recommended sharing Martin’s post-grad school advice, I knew it would a great source to share. As someone who plans to go to grad school (eventually), but also as a student graduating soon, I found his advice extremely applicable. Students, grad students, parents, professors, and anyone else in-between: you’ll find his suggestions helpful. You can read his Post-MFA advice here.

I wasn’t able to attend the Adam Ross reading last night, but I’ve only heard great things. Because this is one of the only on-campus readings we’re having this semester, I’d really like to give it the attention it deserves. So, we’ll be having a guest columnist next week to give us their take on the event and provide us with pictures!

Any guesses on who the surprise writer is? You could win one of these awesome buttons:

English buttons sold by the English club! Win a free one today!

English buttons sold by the English Department and the English club. Win a FREE one today!

I’ll give you a hint: it’s a student.

Comment below, or on the EMW Facebook page, and take a guess!


Monetize Your Craft: Put Your MFA or English Degree to Work for You

John Stanford Owen, a 2006 graduate of our creative writing program, recently informed the WKU English department that he has been working as a copywriter through a company called Sumer, LLC.  This company is offering a free tele-seminar titled “Monetize Your Craft:  Put Your MFA or English Degree to Work for You” on Wed. 12/12. I’ve posted a link to register for this event below.

Writing Jobs | Promote Your Writing.

“After my BA at Western Kentucky University and my MFA at Southern Illinois University, I didn’t know what would come next. Even with three years teaching and editorial experience and significant publications under my belt, teaching jobs weren’t available in my area. When I looked into alternatives, I began to freelance with blogging and product descriptions. To my surprise, I found that there was an actual market for creative writers, because companies have realized that those of us with English degrees understand what motivates people, and how to effectively communicate ideas. It wasn’t long until I landed a contract position with Sumer, LLC. I write blogs, promotional emails, press releases, website content, and social media posts. What employers are looking for is versatility. Right now, I write for a motivational speaker, a practitioner of functional medicine, addiction recovery programs, software and application services, and small businesses throughout the US and Canada. In short, you have to learn how to write in different voices, and this telecall will help students learn how to do just that when they’re on the job market.”

Assistant Editor Position at the Division of State Audit (Tennessee)

There is a job opening for an assistant editor at the Division of State Audit in Tennessee state government. The job would involve things like assisting with editing and proofreading, coordinating the printing of the reports with another government department, converting reports from one computer program to another, and making corrections in report documents. Mainly, this person would assist in helping accountants produce audit reports for the state legislature—helping them say what they want to say and come out with a finished product that is something we can be proud of. The legislature uses reports in its decision-making so we play a real part in making sure the state’s resources get to the people who need them. The working conditions are good, with an atmosphere of support for our coworkers, great benefits and flexible schedules, and concern for our families.

I think the person who would like this job would be someone who really enjoys helping people, has a way with words, and is content to spend some quiet days reading with coffee and/or tea in hand. For someone who craves excitement, this might not provide enough. But for me, life is exciting enough as it is, and I enjoy coming in every day where I can put my skills to use. That’s not to say that we never have challenges, but stress is not the norm here.

Amy Brack
Legislative Editor
Division of State Audit