Our alumni harness imaginative reasoning to engage with diverse communities and work toward solutions to seemingly insoluble problems. Read their stories here and get inspired.
Dr. Douglas C. Beckwith was a lawyer, comedy writer, cinephile, and pioneer of online learning. Dr. Beckwith grew up in Albion, NE and attended the University of Nebraska, where he received his B.A. in English in 1973. His passion for film blossomed at UNL, and he was especially influenced by English professor emerita June Perry Levine, who taught the university’s first film studies course in 1970 and founded of the Film Studies program.
Lisa Knopp is the author of seven books.
Her first five books are collections of essays about Midwestern nature and places. In What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte (2012), for instance, Lisa explores the natural and cultural history of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte, rivers that she has come to know and cherish.
Holly Hassel is a professor of English and director of first-year writing at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. She graduated with her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2002 and taught for 16 years at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, a two-year campus of the state-wide institution, University of Wisconsin Colleges. She has served as editor of the journal Teaching English in the Two-Year College and as program chair of the 2021 Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Albanian-born Iris Elezi studied film theory and criticism, anthropology and women’s studies at UNL before completing her film production studies at the Tisch School of the Arts (NYU) in 2001. Her editing and directing skills on the award-winning six-part documentary series Under Construction (2007) resulted in the series being chosen for the “Films That Matter” selection for the episode Disposable Heroes.
Erin Flanagan’s novel Blackout is forthcoming in July 2022 with Thomas & Mercer. She is also the author of the novel Deer Season (University of Nebraska Press), a 2022 Edgar nominee for Best New Novel by an American Author. Her two short story collections–The Usual Mistakes and It’s Not Going to Kill You and Other Stories–were also published by The University of Nebraska Press in their Flyover Fiction series.
Tonya Moutray is a Professor of English at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY, where she co-directs the Honors program and teaches courses in nursing and literature, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, first-year composition, and children's literature. Completing her Ph.D. in 2006 at the University of Connecticut, Moutray published Refugee Nuns, The French Revolution, and British Literature and Culture in 2016.
Rebecca Jacobson is the public outreach coordinator for the National Institute of Science and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. Rebecca graduated from the University of Nebraska with degrees in English and Film Studies. While earning her degree, she began working as an intern at Nebraska Public Media, leading to a career in journalism covering science and technology. She has been a science writer and journalist for PBS, JILA, and the City of Denver.
Ian M. Rogers
Ian M. Rogers is originally from New Hampshire, and is the author of MFA Thesis Novel (Vine Leaves Press, 2022), a satirical novel of midwestern academia, and the chapbook Eikawia Bums (Blue Cubicle Press, 2018), about the Japanese corporate English teaching world. He works as an editor, writing coach, and a teacher of English in Japan, and writes about balancing a creative life with keeping the bills paid.
Gayathri Prabhu is the author of the memoir If I Had to Tell It Again (HarperCollins, 2017) and the novels Vetaal and Vikram (HarperCollins, 2019), The Untitled (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, 2016), Birdswim Fishfly (Rupa Publications, 2006), and Maya (Indialog Publications, 2003).
Jim Reese is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Great Plains Writers’ Tour at Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota. Reese’s poetry and prose have been widely published, and he has performed readings at venues throughout the country, including the Library of Congress and San Quentin Prison.
Originally from Mississippi, Nick White is the author of the novel How to Survive a Summer (Blue Rider/Penguin, 2017), which centers on a gay man reckoning with the trauma he endured at an ex-gay ministry conversion camp. The novel was named one of “Book Riot’s Best Queer Books of 2017.” His 2018 short story collection, Sweet and Low: Stories, was called “One of the Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2018” by O Magazine. Dr.
Rebecca Rezaei, M.D.
Rebecca Rezaei, M.D., is Medical Director of Sunflower Health Plan, a large managed care organization based in Lenexa, KS. She graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1983 with a B.A. in English, and received her Doctor of Medicine from UNMC in 1988.
Dr. Rezaei was a College of Arts and Sciences featured alumni in 2020:
Dave Heinke is Director of Business Development for the global advisory, tax, and accounting firm of Grant Thornton. He graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1977 with a B.A. in English, and went on to receive his M.A. in Secondary Education in 1978.
Heinke was a College of Arts and Sciences featured alumni in 2019:
Dr. Sunita Jain
Dr. Sunita Jain was an influential Indian poet, novelist, short-story writer, and scholar. One of India’s most celebrated contemporary female writers, she has the rare distinction of having made her mark in two literary universes, writing in both English and Hindi and spanning multiple genres.
James Crews’ work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review, The New Republic, and The Sun, as well as on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry newspaper column, and he is a regular contributor to The London Times Literary Supplement. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a B.A. in English, Justin Perkins participated in an international service corps program with the Lutheran World Federation located in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Norma E. Cantú
Norma E. Cantú is Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln after earning her bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas A&I at Laredo and Kingsville, respectively. She was a senior arts administrator with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC and was Acting Chair of the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Trey Moody (Ph.D. 2014) teaches at Creighton University as an assistant professor of English and creative writing. His first book, Thought That Nature (Sarabande Books, 2014), was selected for the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry.
After a Rocky Mountain upbringing in Cody, Wyoming, Will Fech received a BA in English and Film Studies from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (2008), an MLitt in European Cinema from the University of Glasgow (2011), and an MA in English from Oregon State University (2013). Presently he is a Ph.D. candidate in Film and Moving Image Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, where he healthily obsesses over global art film, exhibition, and pedagogy.
Joshua Doležal was an M.A. student at UNL from 1997-1999 and returned for a Ph.D. from 2001-2005. Since that time he has taught American literature, creative writing, medical humanities, and sustainability at Central College in Pella, Iowa, where he is now Professor of English. He is also the author of a memoir, Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging (University of Iowa Press, 2014).
Nobuko Tsukui was a child living in Tokyo when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings killed more than 200,000 people in 1945. She moved to the United States in September 1961 and completed her doctorate in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has taught in Minnesota and in Washington D.C., and has dedicated her life to translating and giving life to the stories of the hibakusha - the survivors of an atomic bomb.
Kathleen King earned her Ph.D. in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and taught creative writing and literature for many years at Idaho State University. Over the years, many of her poems, stories, essays, professional papers and a novel have been published. She has also edited and published many literary magazines.
Jenifer "JJ" Dugdale, a native of Milford and graduate of Milford High school, earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's in curriculum instruction with a reading specialist endorsement.
Her entire 20-year teaching career has been at Lincoln East High School.
Her principal, Susan Cassata, said: "JJ is very student- and community-focused, learning-centered, passionate and focused. She is a driving force behind our work with students and improving their reading and strategies to help them be successful."
Amanda Barker is the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Civic Health Programs at Nebraskans for Civic Reform. She has a background in non-profit work, having previously been at the Arbor Day Foundation and the Nebraska Human Resources Institute, as well as MindMixer and Nebraska Tourism. She has a passion for civic engagement, community development, and the great state of Nebraska. She also was one of the founding members of Nebraskans for Civic Reform, and served on the board of directors for many years.
Pippa White graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.A. in English. She turned to solo performing in 1994, after an extensive career in theatre and television on the West Coast, including five years hosting a daily morning television show on ABC in San Francisco. In addition to professional storytelling, she offers workshops (Mining the Gold in the History Books: Finding Great Stories in History; Speech 101: How to Improve All Speaking Skills) and residencies, and has been a teaching artist with Nebraska Arts Council since 1990.
Molly Merrell graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2004 with a degree in English. Currently, she is the Locations Coordinator for the FOX drama Shots Fired and will be doubling up to prepare for the second season of Cinemax's new hit, Outcast.
Benjamin Vogt has a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an M.F.A. from The Ohio State University, and he is the author of the poetry collection Afterimage (SFA Press). Benjamin owns Monarch Gardens, a native plant garden consulting firm, and is on the board of Wachiska Audubon Society. He blogs about prairie at The Deep Middle. He presents regionally on gardening with prairie plants, and has appeared on local radio and television.
Theodore Wheeler is a fiction writer, bookseller, college professor, and, pub quiz host living in Omaha, Nebraska. He is author of the novels In Our Other Lives and Kings of Broken Things, and the collection of short fiction Bad Faith.
Domino Renee Perez
Domino Renee Perez graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1998 with a Ph.D. in English and specializations in film, popular culture, cultural studies, and ethnic American literatures.
She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Perez has won numerous teaching awards and regularly teaches courses in film, young adult fiction, popular culture, American Literature, and Mexican American literature and culture.
Tom Cabela was one of the first Film Studies Majors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduating in 2001, he completed the production program at USC and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked briefly for production designer Jennifer Williams. Williams introduced him to Oscar nominated editor Peter Honess, who soon hired Cabela as a Post Production Assistant.
Matt DeGroot graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2006 with a major in film studies. He went on to earn his Masters in Media and Public Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and spent time working for a public relations and production company in the area. He is now a Production Manager at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, where he finds himself functioning as a jack of all trades.
SJ Sindu, who received an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln creative writing program in 2012, just sold her first novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, to SOHO Press. The novel is about a Sri-Lankan American lesbian named Lucky who is in a marriage of convenience with a gay man in order to assuage her conservative family. But when her girlfriend agrees to an arranged marriage, Lucky's life of lies starts to fall apart.
"After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2011 with a B.A. in English and Film Studies I spent some time volunteering at the Nebraska State Historical Society with Paul Eisloeffel, who is the Curator of Audiovisual Collections. There I worked with home movies and ephemeral or sponsored films, and I spent most of the time cleaning, repairing, and creating more detailed records of the collection.
Xaviera Flores is the Chicano Studies Research Center Library at UCLA, where she does library and archival work, including marketing, event planning, and grant writing. Previously she served as the Project Archivist for the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Grant project "Labor Rights are Civil Rights/Los Derechos de Trabajo son Derechos Civiles" at Arizona State University Libraries' Archives and Special Collections. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2007 with a B.A.
Ian Olney was enrolled in the English doctoral program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1998 to 2003 and pursued a course of study focusing on film. While there, he worked closely with Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Foster to manage the English department’s undergraduate Film Studies program, acting as Advisor for the major and regularly teaching film courses. His dissertation, which was directed by Gwendolyn Foster, focused on spectatorship, performance, and classic European horror cinema.
Cara Morgenson graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts (High Distinction, Honors Program) in English and psychology, minor in women's and gender studies. During her time at Nebraska, Cara worked in the Writing Center, served as an intern and editorial assistant for Prairie Schooner, and was a teaching assistant for a 189H Honors Seminar, "Great Love Stories," taught by Dr. Karon Lyons.
John Duncan Talbird
John Duncan Talbird is Professor of English at Queensborough Community College-CUNY where he is assistant director of the writing program and co-coordinator of WID/WAC. He is on the editorial board of Green Hills Literary Lantern and a frequent contributor to Quarterly Review of Film and Video.
Farrah Lehman Den
Farrah Lehman Den, Ph.D. 2010, is now an Indexer with the Modern Language Association in New York City.
Vanessa Steinroetter received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May of 2011. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Washburn University and will serve as the Department Chair starting in July 2017.
Liz Ahl earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2001. She is Professor of English at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where she teaches poetry writing, multi-genre creative writing, first year composition, and other courses. She served as English Department Chair for six years.
Tracy J. Prince
Tracy Prince received her Ph.D. in 1997 and is now a Research Professor in the American Indian Teacher Program at Portland State University in Oregon. Her first book, Portland's Goose Hollow, was published in 2011 (Arcadia) and she has since authored Culture Wars in British Literature: Multiculturalism and National Identity (2012, McFarland) and co-authored Portland's Slabtown (2013) and Notable Women of Portland (2017).
Chauna Craig is professor of Creative Writing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she has also served as Director of Women Studies and Dean’s Associate of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, Superstition Review, Smokelong Quarterly and elsewhere.
Attorney-at-Large, Gaynell Gavin’s novella, was published in 2012 by Main Street Rag Publishing. Main Street Rag had also previously published her poetry chapbook, Intersections. Gay wrote most of the novella while completing her Ph.D. at Nebraska. Her work appears in many journals and anthologies. A finalist for the 2011 Zone 3 Press Nonfiction Book Award, she now teaches at Claflin University in SC.
Dr. Derek Driedger
Dr. Derek Driedger received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2007 and became an English professor at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he is now Associate Provost for Teaching and Learning. He has received the Dakota Wesleyan University Faculty Professional Excellence Award multiple times, and previously served as Associate Dean of Digital Learning and Chair of the English Department.
As a high school English and composition teacher, my master's degree coursework at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has helped me in many ways. First and foremost, it has made me a better teacher: by combining the experience of the Nebraska Writer's Workshop with literature courses and courses on the practice of teaching composition and literature, I have been able to have discussions about teaching and literature that (ironically) don't take place during my busy regular day. It has also helped me better understand my own work writing poetry.
Jennifer Sinor earned her B.A. in English and Russian from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1991, where her life was changed by teachers who loved their work: Professors Bergstrom, Knoll, Behrendt, Maslowski, Wolf, Berger, and Gibbon to name but a few. She is forever grateful for their encouragement, creativity, and passion. As a student at Nebraska, Jennifer first published in Laurus. She earned her Ph.D. in English & Education at the University of Michigan in 2000.
Dr. Megan Black received her B.A. in English and Film Studies from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2009. She is now assistant professor of International History at the London School of Economics with research interests in the United States and the world, environmental history, and political economy. Her current research explores the role of the U.S. Department of the Interior in spearheading the pursuit of minerals beyond U.S. formal sovereignty in indigenous lands, formal US territories, nations throughout the global South, the oceans, and outer space.
Nina Murray received her M.A. in 2006 in Creative Writing - Poetry. Since then, she has translated three novels: Fish and Stargorod by Peter Aleshkovsky, from Russian, and The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, from Ukrainian. In 2011, she joined the U.S. Foreign Service. She served in Lithuania as the U.S.
Ryan Wiegert attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln from 1999-2004 and graduated with a B.A. in English. He currently works as a high school English teacher in Omaha, Nebraska. Teaching mostly 12th graders, Ryan focuses his course content on preparing young people for post-secondary education and training.
Sarah Knight graduated with a B.A. in English in 2009. In May 2012, she will complete a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently works as a Library Media Services Technician at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Frank Wheeler received his M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May of 2010. He currently lives in Nebraska and teaches at SCC in Lincoln. He has published a short story and book reviews in the online magazine Crime Factory. His novel The Wowzer was published by Thomas & Mercer publishers in 2012.
Dr. Tyrone Jaeger is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in creative writing. He is currently an associate professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where he was Writer-in-Residence from 2008 to 2011. He is the author of The Runaway Note (2012), "the fragmented story of two star-crossed lovers as they steal the devil's can, resurrect a dead boy, and re-experience their past lives."
emily m. danforth
emily m. danforth's debut (Young Adult) novel, The Miseducation Of Cameron Post (2012), has been translated into seven languages. It was a finalist for the American Library Association’s Morris Debut Award and won the 2012 Montana Book Award. The Miseducation of Cameron Post was adapted into a Sundance award winning feature film directed by Desiree Akhavan.
Jacqueline H. Harris
Jacqueline H. Harris received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2015, with specializations in Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies and Women's & Gender Studies. She worked as a Lecturer for the University's English and Women's & Gender Studies Departments, and is now a Visiting Faculty member at Brigham Young University in Idaho.
Dave Madden is an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco and author of If You Need Me I'll Be Over There (Indiana University Press, 2016) and The Authentic Animal: Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of Taxidermy (St. Martin's, 2011).
Tracy Tucker is an alumna of the Place Studies and Creative Writing programs, where she specialized in Great Plains Studies. She is a certified archivist and Education Director for the Willa Cather Foundation, where she oversees the foundation's collection and presents regularly on Cather, Great Plains literature, and the environment.
James Engelhardt received his Ph.D. in poetry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010. During his time as a Ph.D. student, he focused on place studies and ecopoetry, and also served as managing editor of the Prairie Schooner. Currently, he is an acquisitions editor for the University of Alaska Press. His ecopoetry manifesto can be found at octopusmagazine.com.
Cathie English received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2011. Her emphasis was in Rhetoric and Composition, and she was also a part of the Place Studies program. She teaches secondary English and currently serves as a teacher consultant for the Nebraska Writing Project.
Julie Iromuanya received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010. During her time as an M.A. and doctoral candidate, she was named a Presidential Fellow and won the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Her dissertation (supervised by Jonis Agee) grew to become her debut novel, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, which has been shortlisted for the 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. She is currently hard at work on her second novel, A Season of Light.