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Our commitment to engaged teaching, experiential learning and community building helps our students succeed both in their studies and after graduation. Graduates of our program are imaginative, flexible, and have great critical thinking, communication and story-telling skills. They are leaders in publishing and editing, advertising, public media, professional and technical writing, teaching and the creative arts, as well as in higher education, government, business and the non-profit sector.

Alumni Profiles

Jennifer Cognard-Black

Jennifer Cognard-Black (PhD 1999) is a professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). Cognard received her B.A. in English and music, summa cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi, from Nebraska Wesleyan University; her M.A. in fiction writing from Iowa State University; and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in nineteenth-century literature and feminist theory. Cognard-Black's specialties are Anglo-American women novelists, fiction writing and the literatures of food. A two-time Fulbright scholar to The Netherlands and Slovenia, a recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching and a recipient of the Norton T. Dodge Award for Creative and Scholarly Achievement, Cognard-Black’s books include Narrative in the Professional Age (Routledge 2004); Kindred Hands (Iowa UP 2006); a writing textbook, Advancing Rhetoric (Kendall/Hunt 2006); an anthology of food fictions, culinary poems and recipe recollections, Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal (NYUP 2014); and a collection of essays by women writers about their everyday contraptions, From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women and Their Machines (MSUP 2016). 

Read Alumna Jennifer Cognard-Black honored with $250,000 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

Maggie Smith (MFA 2003) is an American poet and received her Master of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University in 2003. Smith’s poem “Good Bones” was originally published in the June 2016 issue of Waxwing, an online literary journal. That same month the Pulse nightclub shooting occurred in Orlando, Florida and the poem’s message of despair and hope struck a chord and quickly went viral.

The poem went on to be named the “Official Poem of 2016” by Public Radio International.

The Washington Post said the poem was able to “seize the mood — and social-media accounts — of so many people in the tumultuous year that was 2016.” Smith published KEEP MOVING: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change in October 2020.

Read Maggie Smith, MFA Alumna And Author Of Viral Poem "Good Bones," Publishes New Book.

Jenna Jackson (BA English and African American and African Studies 2003) is the Executive Director of the Writers Guild Initiative (WGI), an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 organization that is associated with the Writers Guild of America, East. Since becoming a part of WGI she has coordinated over 80+ writing workshops and programs with underserved communities including veterans, caregivers of critically wounded veterans, immigrant youth, exonerated death row survivors, and LGBTQ communities, among others.  She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2003 with a BA in English and African American & African Studies with a minor in Theater and received her MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.  Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, Jenna is writer, producer, and performer; having written several short films, plays, and monologues, most recently The Book of Ruth performed in Michigan.

Jackson was featured at the 2020 English Alumni Panel.


Shantay Piazza

Shantay H. Piazza (BA 2005) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2005 with a B.A. in English and a Minor in Professional Writing.  Since graduation, she has gained progressive communications and marketing experience that spans across the departmental, college and administrative levels at the university. In 2013, she earned a M.S. in Marketing and Communications from Franklin University. With over 14 years of experience, Shantay has held positions with the College of Arts and Sciences, The Office of Government Affairs, Partners Achieving Community Transformation, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Moritz College of Law.

Piazza was a featured panelist at the 2019 Alumni Panel and Dinner.

Art Ryel-Lindsey (BA English 2005) has been a professional writer/editor for going on 15 years. Chiefly that’s been for cultural organizations like the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Tribeca Film Festival and North Carolina Symphony, though, given the whimsy of the non-profit arts world, his job title has also at times included producer, videographer, video editor, marketer, moderator, programmer, educator, night watchman and assistant golf professional. His writing has appeared in Esquire and The American Interest, among others. Since 2016, he has led content writing and strategy for Huntington National Bank’s User Experience design team.

Ryel-Lindsey was a featured panelist at the 2019 Alumni Panel and Dinner.

Jessica Kehn

Jessica Kehn began dancing at the age of three, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters. She spent most of her formative years as a competitive dancer, competing both regionally in Central Ohio and nationally along the east coast. She later attended The Ohio State University where she received her B.A. in English and minor in dance. She has had the pleasure of studying at Cincinnati Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Harbour Dance Centre and Christina's Adult Ballet in Detroit, MI. In 2012, Jessica founded Artisan Dance Studio with the belief that dance is for everybody.  As director of the studio she oversees all operations, while also teaching classes to students from as young as three years old - through adults. In 2014 she was named the Clintonville Chamber of Commerce's "Business Person of the Year" award. In addition to the studio Jessica serves as an auxiliary board member for Ballet in the City. She volunteers at the Ohio Reformatory for Women where she teaches a weekly tap class for incarcerated women. Jessica continues to perform with her tap dancing duo "Poppy & Piper" performing alongside live musicians throughout Columbus.

Kehn was a featured panelist at the 2019 Alumni Panel and Dinner.

Lauren Culley is the co-owner of Fox in the Snow and an alumna of Ohio State's Creative Writing Program. After completing her undergraduate at Ohio State, Culley earned her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Virginia and took post-graduate writing classes at Columbia University. While in New York City, Culley worked at Blue Bottle Coffee, where she began baking and met her future husband/business partner. Culley, a Columbus native, left New York with her husband to start a coffee shop and bakery in Columbus. Fox in the Snow opened its doors in 2015 and has since expanded across multiple Columbus neighborhoods and has received many regional and national accolades.

Read Alumni Profile: Lauren Culley on Crafting a Columbus Coffee Narrative.

Elizabeth Kulhanek (BA English 2012) worked at the Westerville Public Library after graduation, and later moved to New York and joined Grand Central Publishing in 2014. Since then, she has worked with New York Times bestselling authors like Min Jin Lee, David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Scott Turow, Harlan Coben, Nicholas Sparks, and more. Some of her recently published and upcoming titles are reissues of the award-winning novels of Octavia E. Butler, including the recent New York Times bestseller Parable of the Sower; So We Can Glow and This Close to Okay by award-winning author Leesa Cross-Smith; and Nala’s World by Dean Nicholson, creator of the 1bike1world Instagram account.

Kulhanek was featured at the 2020 English Alumni Panel.

Michael Phillips (BA English 2012) earned a Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State in 2014.  After graduation, he went to work at Highlights, the iconic children’s magazine. At Highlights, he has worked on the implementation of a digital archive and metadata management procedures. This effort has supported the company’s growth into new products and international markets, reaching millions of children globally and helping them read, learn and grow.

Phillips was a featured panelist at the 2019 Alumni Panel and Dinner.

Lauren Sheridan (BA English 2012) has dabbled in marketing and creative departments for companies across Columbus (and sang at Carnegie Hall) since graduating magna cum laude in December of 2012. Currently, Lauren is a Senior Copywriter at Root Insurance, working on just about anything from marketing campaigns and website SEO maintenance to blog posts and paid ads – and taking advantage of her prime location to food trucks at the Columbus Commons.

Sheridan was a featured panelist at the 2019 Alumni Panel and Dinner.

Matthew Martello (BA English 2018) is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Virginia. In his graduate studies, Martello focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and American poetry, narrative theory and various questions of poetic form

Read Alumnus Matthew Martello Wins Graduate Award for Essay on Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt.

Jon Theiss (BA in English and Spanish)

Read Alumnus Jon Theiss Champions Public Humanities with New Documentary.

Laila Ujayli (BS in International Relations and English 2018) is a Rhodes Scholar pursuing her MSt in Film Aesthetics. Laila Ujayli graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from The Ohio State University in May 2018 with a B.S. in International Relations and English. Her childhood experiences in Syria and Saudi Arabia heavily shaped her academic trajectory towards a deeper understanding of international conflict and its intersection with narrative and literature. Ujayli's honors undergraduate thesis examined Ahmet Hamid Tanpinar’s A Mind at Peace, where she analyzed models of social change reflected in the novel’s primary characters. As a graduate student, Ujayi specializes in the intersections of narrative and policy, and the human impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Ujayli is currently a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at Win Without War in Washington, DC, where she advocates for conflict stabilization policies that prioritize development and diplomacy. 

Read Alumna Laila Ujayli selected as Rhodes Scholar.

Chloe Heins (BA English 2018) is an English teacher for Columbus City Schools. While an undergraduate at Ohio State, Heins concentrated in English pre-education and worked at the Writing Center, which encouraged her to pursue a Master of Education. She received her MEd in Integrated Language Arts 7-12 in 2019.

Read Alumni Stories: Chloe Heins (BA'18) and Robert Lowery (BA'19)

Suzannah Showler (MFA Creative Writing 2018) is the author of Most Dramatic Ever, a book of cultural criticism about The Bachelor (ECW 2018), and the poetry collections Thing is (McClelland & Stewart 2017) and Failure to Thrive (ECW 2014). Her writing has been listed for and occasionally won awards from the National Magazine Awards, the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and elsewhere. She was a 2017-2018 Presidential Fellow at The Ohio State University and is a graduate of their MFA program. A dual Canadian-U.S. citizen, she currently lives in Canada with her partner, novelist Andrew Battershill. You can read her work in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Buzzfeed Reader, The Walrus, Hazlitt, Maisonneuve and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. 

Read “Some Magnetic, Beautiful Nonsense": Suzannah Showler on The Bachelor and the Heart of American Identity.

Meghan Callahan (MFA Creative Writing 2018) is a Production Assistant at DreamWorks Animation. She graduated from Denison University in 2014 with a BA in Creative Writing and Phi Beta Kappa honors. As an MFA student at Ohio State, she specialized in screenwriting, which has enabled her to lend her talents to productions such as The Man in the High Castle.

Read Meghan Callahan: From High Street to The High Castle.

Alumni, we want to hear from you! Please tell us your English story--we want to know how your time in the Ohio State Department of English has influenced your career path, hobbies and life in general.

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