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PW Alumni Profiles: April 2011

by | Posted April 14th, 2011

Networking: it makes your life easier. WRAC has contacted some Professional Writing Program alumni to ask about their experiences now that they’re out in the professional world. They were happy to speak with current students about their work and post-MSU experiences, and to give advice.

Amy Nalette
Amy graduated in December of 2006 with degrees in Spanish and Professional Writing. She’s currently living in Chicago, working for a children’s book publishing company. It publishes electronic books and novelty books, and the majority of its work is done with licensing partners like Disney, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, Eric Carle, HIT Entertainment (Thomas the Tank Engine) and more. Though her job title is Acquisitions Editor, it’s slightly misleading; her publishing company doesn’t accept outside submissions, so Amy is more of an account manager.

She works on several books simultaneously and is part of a review process to be sure that the books adhere to the Disney brand (or whatever brand she’s working with) before it is submitted. She is constantly communicating with Disney to be sure that she stays true to Disney standards, characters, copyrights, etc. A team of in-house editors writes the books, but they typically hire freelance artists for illustration.

Amy loves the people with whom she works, and says she couldn’t ask for a better boss: “It’s nice to work in a creative environment; I’m inspired daily by the talent and ideas that we have here.”

For more information about Amy’s job, contact her at

Jon Vereecke
Jon graduated in May of 2009. He’s currently living in Novi, MI, where he works full time for Gale/Cengage Learning in Farmington Hills. His official job title is Associate Content Project Editor; hired in October, a year before that he was working as a contractor for the same company. He works on several series of books for Greenhaven Press. Each book is comprised of essays, articles, blogs, and book chapters that are collected from different sources and that express different viewpoints. Jon takes these rough manuscripts and turns them into published products.

Some facets of his job include product management, people management, copy editing, proofing, working with rights acquisitions, and more. He says, “That list really doesn’t do it justice; currently, I manage 20 titles and that number is ever growing. Additionally, ‘people management’ may be a little misleading; it takes a lot of people to create a book; we need typesetters, rights specialists, composition specialists, and more. It is my job to make sure all these people are given the material and deadlines they need. A lot of the people I work with are out-of-office vendors and independent contractors. I think it is more appropriate to say that I work alongside many dedicated people. At the heart, what I do is manage projects.”

For more information about Jon’s job, contact him at

Casey (DeSmet) Kloostra
When Casey was a junior at MSU, she worked on a web project with WIDE as a designer and developer; while participating in the project she realized that though she loved web development, she wasn’t fond of coding and was no good at designing. The experience taught her that she wanted to work in user experience and information architecture. She proceeded to get an internship at a web development studio called Fusionary Media. “It was a fantastic opportunity and I learned a lot about web development in a business setting.”

Casey kept in touch with the three owners throughout her senior year and when it came time to apply for jobs, Fusionary was interested; after she graduated in May 2009, she moved to Grand Rapids to start work.

For the first year, Casey’s position was relatively fluid and all about finding her niche. She did many different things to try to figure out what she liked and what they needed. It was a huge learning experience; she says, “I feel very lucky to have had that freedom, flexibility, and guidance.”

Her job now entails a lot of different things, but she regularly works on content inventories and reports, content editing, information architecture, and more. She also spends a fair amount of time responding to potential opportunities (new business) and putting together proposals. Depending on the project, she does maintenance work for client sites.

Through trial and error, Casey learned a lot about herself, what her strengths and weaknesses are, and what she ultimately wanted to focus upon as a career path; this is an important thing that professional writers and others can take away: try it before you knock it because you never know where you’ll end up.

For more information about Casey’s job, contact her at

Jamming for Japan: PWers Plan a Festival to Aid Earthquake Relief

by | Posted April 13th, 2011

With support from local businesses such as Espresso Royale, Biggby Coffee, Outer Graphics Design, Splash of Color, Re-Threads, and The City of East Lansing as well as numerous musicians and media outlets, Jamming for Japan is working to bring the East Lansing community together to aid Japanese disaster victims.

Designed to raise funds for victims of the Japanese earthquake, Jamming for Japan will take place on April 16, 2011, from noon to 6 PM. There will be music, fun, and plenty of opportunities to contribute to worldwide efforts to relieve the suffering.

Each year in April, the internationally celebrated Record Store Day brings droves of music lovers of all sorts to Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, MI. This year, by drawing upon the audience already committed to Record Store Day, East Lansing’s The Record Lounge hopes to raise a sizable fund to contribute to the Japan relief effort. It has booked over twenty bands to perform at three outdoor locations across downtown East Lansing:

Throughout each of the 30-minute sets, bands will announce the location of several donation boxes throughout downtown. All funds earned from these donations will be sent to the Red Cross to aid in relief efforts.

The three Professional Writing students responsible for this event–Ali White, Joel Heckaman, and Dan Nufer (pictured right)–have taken community engagement to a new level by voluntarily producing a massive community event that applies knowledge learned in PW courses to a pressing community need. The PW students worked fast and hard to produce graphic and textual materials, contact multiple media outlets, and plan each detail of the event.

East Lansing has its share of festivals, but the city has not yet seen an event quite like Jamming for Japan. Heckaman and Nufer planned a similar event in January titled Middle of the Mitten; the Jamming for Japan group is excited that this event is able to bring together the creative class for more than just celebration, but also to accomplish some good in the world.

So, if you’re interested in music and fun, and want to give something back to those in need, come on out to downtown East Lansing on April 16 from noon to 6 PM for Jamming for Japan.

For more information, catch us on The Impact student radio station this Thursday, April 14 at 8 PM or be sure to follow @Jam4Japan on Twitter!

David Cooper Turns to Photo Essays

by | Posted April 12th, 2011

WRAC professor David Cooper has been trying to “get people stoked about service learning” for a couple of decades. In 1995, with a grant from Campus Compact, he founded MSU’s Service-Learning Writing Project and designed a service-learning version of MSU’s first-year writing course. He taught WRA 135 Writing: Public Life in America for several years, mentored other faculty who went on to develop similar courses, and has been a tireless advocate and scholar on behalf of the kind of educational reform exemplified in service learning.

Most recently, Cooper has been teaching a photo essay class for the Residential College of Arts and Humanities, and now, supported by Michigan Campus Compact, has produced three photo essays of his own in an effort to continue inspiring service learning.

Cooper’s most recent photo essay, “Resistance, Persistence, Breakthrough,” has stimulated much excitement and conversation across many Michigan campuses.

“Resistance, Persistence, Breakthrough”

“Resistance, Persistence, Breakthrough,” brought Cooper to the heart of Detroit where he documented the work of a group of Marygrove College students. The photo essay documents the volunteer efforts of the students who have devoted much time to spreading HIV/AIDs awareness. The students organized workshops at which they worked with students from Mumford High School (also in Detroit) to inform and dispel myths about HIV/AIDs. (more…)

What PW Majors Ought to Know: Jennifer Wilkinson on Her Cool Job

by | Posted April 5th, 2011

Jennifer Wilkinson, a 2010 Professional Writing alum, took a minute (or twenty) to tell WRAC about her job, what’s great about it, and how the Professional Writing program helped her get it. Jennifer has lots of advice for PW students, including things that current PW students should know about portfolios, workshops, and more.

Currently, Jennifer works as the web coordinator at Leader Dogs for the Blind in the marketing department; she’s part of a 7-person team of marketing/communications specialists. Though her day-to-day activities vary, she has a few common tasks: formatting different kinds of communication, fielding web requests from colleagues, and organizing, revising, and creating web content. She also manages their Flickr account and Facebook.

One of Jennifer’s first tasks was copy-editing the website. This wasn’t easy: “It had never been done before, and a lot of the info on the site came from different people over a long period of time, so there were a lot of potential changes to be made. I think I ended up with 20 pages of notes.”

Jennifer has proven herself a capable copy-editor, so her supervisor has opted to make that a regular part of her duties. Still, she has a lot of freedom in her job: “My supervisor has numerous ideas for where she’d like to take Leader Dog’s web presence now that she has help, and I am free to propose and work on my own initiatives as well as collaborating with her on her own short- and long-term plans. There’s a lot to do and a lot to learn, but I’ve been lucky enough to get some of the most relaxed, friendly, and helpful coworkers I could imagine.”

Jennifer has some advice for current Professional Writing students:

1. Having an online portfolio was an important factor in me getting my job. My supervisor told me that even before I had my interview, I already had an edge on the competition by having a good body of work for her and her manager to review.

2. Doing my research beforehand paid off. I read up on Leader Dog extensively before the interview and spent a lot of time surveying the website, which I was able to convey during the interview. My supervisor also found a hit on her own online portfolio with an IP address in East Lansing on the day of my interview (I had indeed Googled her that morning), and she said that for her, that clinched the decision to choose me for the position.

3. Attending all those workshops was worth my time and attention. I did three interviews for this job. The first was a phone interview with the HR manager, then another phone interview with my supervisor, and finally an in-person interview with both my supervisor and our team manager. Because of all that literature I got from the interview workshops in PW, I was able to review what I’d been advised to do and felt confident about how I was going to answer tricky questions. In the end, being prepared for the tough questions made all 3 of the interviews almost easy.

4. Being well-rounded makes me flexible and expands my job possibilities. I did the editing & publishing track in PW, but I also took both web authoring classes and whatever else sounded interesting at the time, and my participation in other opportunities I was offered or heard about at MSU gave me a wide variety of experiences. Because my supervisor knows the spread of what I’m capable of, my job can include a lot more than web work. In addition to copy-editing and social media, I may do both web and document design and various kinds of writing (proving that I can be all 3 things listed on my portfolio–writer, editor, and designer).

5. One of the many cover letters I wrote for a class actually helped me get a job. During senior year, I was pretty sick of writing cover letters. Between Portfolio Seminar and all my other classes that wanted proof I could properly apply for a job, any mention of resumes or cover letters gave me an instant headache. However, I wrote one for a job similar to the position I have now during my WRA 410 Advanced Web Authoring class and ended up only having to adapt it slightly to fit the new situation. Sure enough, the cover letter I wrote as part of a final exam opened the door for my job.

6. Doing lots of group work really helped me out. Having done lots of group work in college, it was easy for me to describe how I prefer to work in groups, how I interact with group members, what roles I’m good at playing, and what particular strengths and weaknesses I bring (as well as how I overcome my weaknesses). Being able to tell lots of stories about both group work that went well and group work that pretty much failed proved that I had the requisite experiences to be able to handle the ups and downs of being an integral part of a team.

Jessica Care Moore Visits MSU

by | Posted April 4th, 2011

World-renowned poet and activist, Jessica Care Moore,  spent a day with MSU’s WRAC department. She spoke to three first-year writing courses and attended the Writing Center’s open mic night. Jessica’s poetry has captivated audiences across the globe, and her performance at MSU awed those who were able to see it; this video is a brief recapture of the day.

Stay tuned for a more extensive follow-up video coming soon.

MSU Students & Faculty Presenting at the CCCC Conference

by | Posted March 29th, 2011

A list of current MSU grad students, faculty, and Rhetoric & Writing Program alumni presenting at this year’s CCCC.

W.3  F*ck Tradition!: Mapping/Making/Performing/Contesting Queer Relations

  • Trixie Smith, Matthew B. Cox, Travis Webster, Katie Livingston, Dianna Baldwin, Casey Miles

W.9  Situated Invention: Mapping, Documenting, Theorizing, and Contesting Generativity

  • Leonora Smith, Julie Lindquist, Nancy DeJoy, Steven Lessner, Jason Wirtz (Hunter College)

AW.2  Contesting Institutional Barriers and Boundaries: Engaging the Politics and Pedagogy of Ebonix (and Other Linguistic Varieties of Americans) in Classroom Practice

  • Geneva Smitherman, Austin Jackson, Denise Troutman, Bonnie Williams

AW.3 Standing Peachtree: Trading Ideas About American Indian Rhetorical Texts with “All Our Relations”

  • Angela Haas (Illinois State University), Qwo-Li Driskill (Texas A&M University)

AW.7  Writing as Radical Hybridity: An Interdisciplinary Writing Workshop

  • Daisy Levy, Suzanne Webb, Matt Novak

MW.7  A Common Ground in a Sea of Change: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Writers in the Writing Classroom

  • Marohang Limbu

MW.8 Making a Case for Tenure & Promotion within/outside Rhetoric and Composition

  • Douglas Eyman (George Mason University)


R&W @ CCCC: Alumni Celebration!

by | Posted March 29th, 2011

This year’s Conference on College Composition and Communication (a.k.a. CCCC), is set to take place April 6-9 in Atlanta, Georgia. CCCC is an annual conference that hosts hundreds of faculty, staff, and graduate students in writing-related programs and fields.

“The CCCC Reception has a few different purposes,” said Writing & Rhetoric Program director Bill Hart-Davidson. “Traditionally, it’s a grad program-sponsored event in conjunction with CCCC. This year is particularly special because one of our faculty members–Malea Powell–is the chair of the conference.”

You can read more about Malea Powell’s appointment as chair in former WRAC intern Ali White’s posts: The CCCC: Malea Powell Brings Big Changes as Program Chair and CCCC: Creating the Schedule.

Hart-Davidson said the reception acts as a reunion event. “It’s a convenient opportunity. All of our people are there, all of our prospective grad students and alums are there.”

This year, the Rhetoric & Writing Program is working with members of the CAL Dean’s Alumni Relations team, which is helping to sponsor the event. This means that the reception will also include any alumni from the College of Arts and Letters who are also attending the conference or happen to reside in the Atlanta area.

“While they might not have been part of the WRAC Department, the other CAL alumni still have a lot in common, and this reception gives them a chance to mingle and talk about the different things they’re working on. It’s also an excellent opportunity to network and recruit grad students,” Hart-Davidson said. “Other universities have similar events during CCCC. This allows us to get the WRAC name out there and to let other grad programs know what our students are doing.”

The Michigan State Rhetoric & Writing Reception will be held on Wednesday April 6th, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Max Lager’s Wood-fired Grill and Brewery.

Writers’ Bloc Interviewing Workshop

by | Posted March 25th, 2011

WRAC-TV coverage of the PW Interviewing workshop at which Lindsey LaTour Bliss, Lorelei Blackburn, Matt Cox, and Beth Judge stopped by to talk to us about the interviewing do’s and do not’s. Each had some incredible information to share so feel free to contact any of them for more information.