Alum Success Stories
This page archives the successes of recent graduates of the St John’s English department.
Brittany Cespedes (B.A. 2021) will be attending St. John’s Law School in the fall, where she will be a Ron Brown Scholar Recipient as well as the Theodore T. Jones Fellowship Recipient. Brittany was the recipient of numerous fellowships from law schools across the country, including full tuition scholarships to New York Law School, St. Thomas School of Law, Hofstra Law School, and scholarships to Fordham Law School ($25,000 yearly), Seton Hall ($35,000 yearly) and Ohio Northern University Law School ($31,000 yearly). She was also named Gates Scholars in the Cardozo School of Law. She is delighted to be attending her first choice: St. John’s Law School.
Michael Reich (Ph.D. 2020) is currently working as a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate at Northeastern University until 2022.
Srigowri Kumar (Ph.D. 2020) After teaching as an adjunct at Fordham University and her part-time job as Communications Manager at an NYC-based nonprofit, she recently accepted a full-time teaching position at Success Academy’s High School of the Liberal Arts, where she begins in July 2021.
Molly Mann (MLS 2013, Ph.D. 2019) has become the founding Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Faculty Development at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She will be overseeing the development of the College’s initiatives across three domains – innovative pedagogy, curriculum design and assessment, and faculty training—as well as developing an Institute for Faculty Excellence. Her responsibilities will include serving as liaison to academic programs and faculty, administering aspects of the Center, and directing the College on best practices and innovations in pedagogy.
Tembe Denton-Hurst (B.A./M.A. 2018) – Tembe’s editorial internship at Popsugar led to a full-time position as the publication’s Assistant Beauty and Makeup Editor. She is also a staff writer at NY Magazine, a freelance writer, and has a piece in print and online in Cosmo on intersectional feminism and its failures. Tembe’s work on lifestyle, culture, and literature regularly appears in NY Mag’s Strategist.
Miguel Vasquez (B.A./M.A. 2017 & 2018 ) – Miguel has recently begun his first semester as a fully funded PhD student in English at the University of Miami (FL). His current research interests include Afro-Caribbean diasporic narratives with an emphasis on race, religion, and desire in the wake of colonialism.
Katherine Rockefeller (M.A 2018) – Katherine received her M.A. in Spring of 2018 and has accepted an adjunct faculty position with the English department at SUNY Suffolk County Community College teaching freshman composition and developmental composition.
Jeremy Ashton (B.A. 2017, M.A. 2018) – has continued his studies at SJU Law, where he is
very grateful for the analytical skills, as well as the guiding belief in Social Justice, that he was
able to cultivate during his 5 years with the English Department. He is currently building off his
MA thesis project The Colonial Ga(y)ze: Racial Illiteracies, Legible Masculinities, and
“Reading” Heteronormativity within the LGBTQ Community, relating that work to law and
public policy as a starting point for legal scholarship during his second and third years of law
school and beyond. – Linkedin
Sarah Guayante (BA 2017 ) – Sarah will begin her PhD in English at Yale, with full funding, in Fall 2018. She plans to specialize in eighteenth-century studies with an emphasis in print culture, gender, and theories of mediation.
Regina Duthely (PhD 2017) – Regina received her PhD in the spring of 2017, and joined the University of Puget Sound’s English department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Writing in the following fall.
Dr. Meghan Gilbert-Hickey (PhD 2016) – Meghan was offered and accepted a tenure-track position at Guttman Community College.
Dr. Erica McCrystal (PhD 2016) – Erica teaches English at both St. John’s University and Berkeley College. Follow her on Twitter: @eamccrystal and Academia.edu.
Dr. Anna Sicari (PhD 2016) – is the Interim Writing Center Director and Visiting Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University.
Natalie Hallak (BA 2015) – Natalie is a HarperCollins, Editorial Assistant. She assists the Executive Editor of MIRA Books with acquired manuscripts and submission management, and also assists the Senior Director of Subsidiary Rights with the global publication of Harlequin titles.
Cara Messina (BA/MA 2015) – in Fall 2016 started her fully-funded PhD program at Northeastern University in the Department of English. She will be defending her dissertation on March 25, 2021 and has just accepted a tenure-track position at Jacksonville State University.
Bailey Robertson (BA/MA 2015) – is a Technical Writer for the department of Continuing Medical Education and Conference Management at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she helps plan, implement, evaluate and document educational programs that meet the needs of practicing health professionals.
Maria Angelidis (BA 2014) – Maria has just been awarded a State Department internship in Italy.
Patrick Hester (BA) – Patrick has just become the Associate Producer of Chew.
Erik-John Fuhrer (BA) – Erik-John has been accepted into the PhD program at Notre Dame University, full funding.
Kevin MacDonnell (BA) – Kevin has been accepted into the PhD program at Rice University, full funding.
Princess Ikatekit (BA/MA 2013) – Princess is now an Editorial Assistant at Oxford University Press.
Sandra (Avey) Nelson (BA 2013) – After receiving their BA in English, Avey relocated to their desert homeland in Tempe, Arizona, and worked in the community college system for two years. They defended their dissertation for the Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. at Pitt in 2020, where they were studying queer theory in relation to the concept of queer world-making. Through their studies, their interests are focused in the contributions that language, rhetoric, and digital media make to the project. In 2021, they moved to the UK for a postdoc at the University of Sussex. Avey’s Sussex profile describes their research and publications in the fields of composition studies, gaming, queer studies, and sex work.
Elizabeth Walsh (BA/MA 2013) -Elizabeth Walsh is a Fulbright Student Grantee in Budapest, Hungary from September 2015-June 2016). She teaches and asissts courses on American literature at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University Institute for English and American Studies in Piliscsaba and Szent Ignács Jesuit College. Liz is also part of a team creating a multimedia museum exhibition on student responses to trauma in the Holocaust to be displayed at various Hungarian institutions.
Blaise Bennardo (MA in English and American Literature, 2012) – Blaise graduated from St. Joseph’s ’10, earning a BA in English, which helped him transition to working as a writing consultant in the Writing Center at St. John’s University. While doing so, Blaise earned an M.A. in English and American literature in 2012. Recently, Blaise was selected as a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) Grant, which placed him in Malaysia to teach American English in secondary schools, beginning January 2016.
Nevena Georgieva (BA in English and Economics, 2010; MA in English, 2012) – Nevena has held several jobs in publishing at Penguin then Penguin/Random House. Currently, she is a MBA Candidate at NYU Stern School of Business. Following a three-year stint in the book publishing industry, Nevena is now pursuing a business degree focusing on marketing and strategy.
Meredith Leverich (BA 2011; MA 2012) – Meredith is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at WHEDco, a non-profit community development organization in the South Bronx. In her role there, she works with the Executive Vice President to identify opportunities for organizational growth and design and implement strategies for achieving new goals. Also, she oversees WHEDco’s Individual Giving Program within the Development Department.
Greg Dybec (BA 2011) – Greg is now a Manager Editor of Elite Daily. Greg’s collection of essays – The Art of Living Other People’s Lives – published by Running Press [an Imprint of Perseus] will hit the store racks in Fall of 2016.
Justin Thrift (BA 2011) – Justin has been working as an Associate Managing Editor at Penguin Random House since June 2013. Prior to this position, Justin was working as an Assistant to the Managing Editor of Tor Books, Macmillian, which he started after his STJ graduation.
Sharell Walker (BA 2011; MA in Library Science, 2013) – Sharell is now a Librarian at Touro College, after having been Adjunct Librarian at Baruch College/CUNY.
Steve Williams (BA/MA 2011) – Steve was accepted into the Rutgers’ MFA Fiction program for Fall of 2014. He received both a Chancellor’s Stipend Award as well as a teaching assistantship, which have allowed him to teach for the university’s undergraduate creative writing program. Prior to this acceptance, since 2011, Steve taught composition at LIU Post.
Christopher Jones (BA 2008; MA 2010) – Christopher is currently employed at Prolific Interactive (prolificinteractive.com) as an iOS Engineer, working with a development team in creating apps for high-profile lifestyle brands, including SoulCycle and Alex & Ani [available on the iOS App Store].
Greg Leporati (BA 2009; MA 2010) – Greg is the Assistant Director of Communications at CUNY – Baruch College. Working in the Office of College Advancement, Greg is in charge of Baruch College’s communications relating to alumni relations and fundraising. In this capacity, he works alongside Baruch’s president, deans, and trustees to produce targeted emails and direct mail pieces. He also edits Baruch’s alumni magazine, oversees the office’s social media presence, and is currently overhauling its web site.
Stephen Pinto (BA 2009; MA 2010) – Stephen is currently employed at Grimshaw Architects, as their Marketing and Editorial Manager, where Stephen oversees the project management and creation of design proposal books in pursuit of high-profile architecture projects around the world.
Diana Castaldini (BA 2009) – A probing, inquisitive nature and a talent for clear, effective communication are qualities that skillful journalists possess. Diana Castaldini, a senior in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fits this profile precisely. A native of Queens, New York, Diana says she chose St. John’s because of its accessibility to New York City and its wide range of educational opportunities. Diana graduated in May 2009 with a degree in English literature and a minor in journalism. She says her experiences at St. John’s have given her the confidence to embark on the exciting road ahead.
Danielle M. Bacigalupo (BA 2008; MSEd 2010 & MA 2014 CUNY CSI) – Danielle returns as a newly accepted English PhD candidate at St. John’s, full fellowship funding. Prior to this acceptance, while pursing her second masters degree, Danielle was a Middle School English Language Arts teacher for five years. Presently, as a fellow, Danielle is an instructor of Literature in a Global Context for undergraduates, as well as an editor of the STJ English blog.