Languages and Literatures Alumnae News

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Spring 2017 News


Chandra Plowden (’10) was awarded the prestigious 2017 Billings Preaching Prize at the Harvard Divinity School, where she is a master’s of divinity candidate. Chandra Plowden

Kiosha BoyleKiosha Boyles (’10) has joined Richland County School District One as a coordinator of marketing, where she will bring to bear her expertise in strategic marketing communications as she helps develop a brand identity for the district. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia College, Kiosha earned a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of South Carolina. Before joining Richland One, Kiosha served as the Marketing Strategist for Columbia College and was the owner of a digital marketing consultancy, Digitize Marketing.

Sarah Wendell

On Sunday, February 12, Sarah Haylar Wendell (’97) appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to discuss the genre of romance novels. Internationally recognized as an expert in the field, Wendell was invited to participate in a panel on Film and Romance at the South Carolina Literary Festival, Deckle Edge, on Saturday, February 25, 2017.


Fall 2016 News 

Kayla E. AlmanzarKayla E. Almanzar (’15) earned her master’s degree in social work from NYU in May and obtained her license in August. Currently she is working for the Jacob A Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a non-profit organization in Long Island City, Queens. She is the case manager for immigrant services and helps immigrants in the community to obtain resources and services they need. The organization also provides–free of charge–both instruction in English as a second or other language and immigration legal services, and Almanzar ensures that her clients are connected to these and other services. 

Amanda Potts Ruthven and Family

Amanda Potts Ruthven (’02) is currently the associate director of academic affairs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University. She received her master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Virginia in 2004. She and her husband, Wyeth, live in Arlington, VA, with their two-year-old son. Amanda says she uses the skills learned at Columbia College as an English major on a daily basis because her job requires analyzing complex situations and conveying sensitive information in writing. Amanda and Wyeth help current Columbia College English and writing majors find internships in Washington, DC.

Liz Walker BrownElizabeth Walker Brown (’07) is proving that an English major really does provide the foundation for success in any field. As a third-year PhD student, this fall she successfully completed her written and oral qualifying examinations in the health and rehabilitation sciences program at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. In January, she begins working on her dissertation, which will focus on the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion and how it affected access to care. Part of her dissertation will compare the rate of preventable hospitalizations in expansion states to that of non-expansion states. Aside from her family and research, Elizabeth uses her free time to volunteer at her son’s school and with local organizations in the LowCountry. She enjoys mentoring students and teaching. In the past year, she has guest lectured on access to care, program evaluation, and survival analysis as a statistical method. Her goal is to continue research in access to care and to mentor students in quantitative and qualitative research methods. In 2015, Elizabeth was named a Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) fellow. SREB provides financial assistance and countless resources to increase the number of underrepresented faculty at universities across the country. She credits SREB with helping her pursue her dreams to be a researcher and mentor while caring for her family.

Lori Mumpower Lori Mumpower (’98) was recently named director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in DaytonaBeach, Florida. Communication is at the core of Mumpower’s everyday work, from her engagement with faculty to construct syllabi and write grants, to her work with students to improve their fundamental writing skills. She is the founding director of the campus’s Digital Studio, a tutoring space to improve students’ digital literacies that recently received a Gladys Brooks Foundation grant to double its size and scope. Her research focuses on developing digital communication skills as an important aspect of STEM literacy, and she co-wrote recently published articles in The Florida Communication Journal and in the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching and a chapter in Science and Service Learning. Mumpower received her MA in rhetoric, composition, and literacy from the University of Oklahoma and her PhD in texts and technology from the University of Central Florida.

Hayley Driggers BowersHayley Driggers Bowers (’99) is celebrating her 10th year at M. B. Kahn Construction.  How did an English major end up as vice president at one of the nation’s largest construction firms?  By using her skills of editing proposals, preparing marketing materials, and public relations while representing the company at conferences and presentations across the Southeast U.S.  Bowers says the collaborative environment at Columbia College prepared her to work in diverse communities. The company she now helps to lead was building Columbia College’s Science Center when Hayley was a student at Columbia College . . .  it’s the wonderful kind of coincidence that is simply Columbia College magic! You can follow her activities here

Acacia Bamberg Salatti (’95), a White House appointee in the Obama Administration, serves as the the direAcacia Bamberg Salattictor of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For the past 7 years, Salatti has focused on a broad array of health equity issues, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and minority mental health. For her, being a public servant is both a privilege and an honor.  To learn about her work with the White House and HHS, read her two blog posts–one on the power of partnerships and another on the positive impact HHS has on our communities. 

Ciona Rouse

Ciona Rouse (’01) is a poet living in Nashville. Believing that poetry needs to be read aloud, she curates poetry readings around Nashville, including those for a program called Writings on the Wall and for a Lyrical Brew reading series at Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt. The author of Like Breath & Water: Praying With Africa, Rouse appeared on Nashville public television on December 15, 2016, and both read and commented on her poem “the cotton museum curator applauds blackface for paving the way for michael jackson.” In September 2016, she was interviewed by Nashville’s National Public Radio Station about her poem “Spit,” which she reads during the on-air conversation.

Lateshia Beachum

Lateshia Beachum (’09) has been named a reporting fellow at The Center for Public Integrity’s Economic Injustice and No Way Up projects.  The Center for Public Integrity is “one of the country’s oldest and largest nonpartisan, non profit  investigative news organizations” whose mission is “to serve democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of public trust by powerful public and private institutions, using the tools of investigative journalism.” She has covered community news for Syracuse, New York’s The Post-Standard, billionaires for Forbes magazine and health science and politics for The Washington Post. Lateshia earned a master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Lateshia spent the summer as an intern at the Washington Post. Read her work here!

Iman AbuAitah and her classAfter a year of teaching middle school math at the American International School in Gaza, ESL, SAT prep., professional writing, and American history and culture at AMIDEAST, Iman I. AbuAitah (’15) has accepted a position as a pre-college counselor for the Bridge program at the Welfare (Taawon) Association (WA). WA is a private non-profit foundation established in 1983 by Palestinian business and intellectual figures with the mission “to make a distinguished contribution toward furthering the progress of the Palestinians, preserving their heritage and identity, supporting their living culture, and building civil society with a focus on children and youth.” The Bridge program optimizes opportunities for high achieving, innovative and distinguished high school students in Palestine to enroll in internationally acclaimed universities. Iman plans to apply to graduate programs in the U.S. and Canada and hopes to begin graduates studies in the fall of 2017.


Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 News

                       Anna Edmonds      

Anna Edmonds (’13) serves as acting editor of Free Times Family. Besides working as the copywriter and social media manager for Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance in Columbia, SC., Anna is also a freelance editor specializing in dissertations by international doctoral candidates.

Elizabeth BagnallElizabeth Bagnall (’13) is currently working as an English I teacher, yearbook teacher, and poetry club advisor at Blackville Hilda High School in Barnwell County, SC.

DeAnna Rich

 DeAnna Rich (‘13) has been hired as the manager of Resource Center Communications for Communities in Schools in Washington, DC, a nonprofit organization that works across the country to reduce the dropout rate and support students who need support.

Kayla Almanzar

Kayla Almanzar (‘15) is currently getting her master’s degree in social work at NYU and will graduate in May of 2016. She is interning at a middle school in Lower East Side Manhattan and runs a group with six English language learners.

Megan DeVilleMegan DeVille (’14) teaches English Language Arts at a middle school in New York City where she teaches ESL students. She uses both the French and Spanish she learned at Columbia College to communicate with those students, their families, and other community members. She has been recognized several times for her work. She was also sent to an international leadership summit in Washington D.C., where she met and talked with retired National Basketball Association player Dikembe Mutombo.

Emelin Garcia

Emelin Garcia (’15) is completing her first year at Stritch School of Medicine in Loyola University. Because of her academic excellence, leadership and her outstanding work with the community she has received numerous awards both at the local and national level, they include : the prestigious Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. Scholarship for Young 

Hispanic Leaders presented at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, the very first Dream Scholarship Award given by Katie Couric on her daytime television show and the Don Quijote Award at Columbia College. Emelin was recently highlighted in an article in the Huffington Post. Garcia graduated Columbia College with bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Spanish. During her years at the College, she founded the first Latina Student Association and engaged tirelessly in outreach with the Hispanic community

Lydia Royals

 Lydia Royals (‘15) is a communications associate for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, where she is responsible for social media and the foundation’s website. Prior to her full-time role, Royals held two internships through the WPDM internship program. She first interned with The State newspaper where she had several front-page stories. She later interned with the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, which led to her current full-time position. Royals, who wants to continue her work with nonprofits, has decided to also continue her studies at CC, where she is earning a master’s in organizational change and leadership.

Kelli Weston

In April 2016, Kelli Weston (’12) earned her master’s from Birkbeck, University of London. Her focus was film, television and media studies, and she was fortunate to work with one of her heroes, feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey. Weston is heading back to the University of London this spring to work on her doctorate.

Autumn WeidmanAutumn Weidman (’15) was a nominee for a prestigious international 2015 Mitchell Scholarship and the distinction of 2014 National Collegiate Honors Council Honors Student of the Year; she is currently completing the challenging work of Teach for America in Mississippi.

Margaret Mendenhall (’15) holds a position as therapist and counselor at Bridgebuilders Family and Youth Services in Lancaster, SC.

Lateshia Beachum

Lateshia Beachum (’09) recently completed graduate work at the prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. After an internship at Forbes magazine in the spring of 2016, she will begin an internship for the Washington Post, where she will work on issues centering on politics and social justice and will manage the Post‘s database of police shootings.Helana Brigman

Helana Brigman (’08) is the creator of the award-winning blog Dances with Lobsters: Clearly Delicious Recipes from the Coast of Maine to the Gulf of New Orleans. She is a food writer, photographer, and cook whose work has appeared in Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine and in her column “Fresh Ideas,” which appears in Louisiana’s state newspaper, The Advocate. She is the author of The Fresh Table: Cooking in Louisiana All Year Round (2013). Helana has completed her Ph.D. at LSU. She has returned to her home state, Maine, where she teaches at Vinalhaven School, in Vinalhaven, Maine.

Lauren Bach Peebles (’09) held a staff position in Alumnae Relations at Columbia College until 2016. Jesika Brooks (’09) sontinues to serve as the Instructional Technology expert at the College.

Jordan PilkeyJordan Pilkey (’14) teaches 9th and 11th grade English at Waccamaw High School in Pawleys Island, SC.

Ciona Rouse (’01), author of The Bible Pilgrimage Travel Guide (2007), Like Breath and Water: Praying with Africa (2009), and the film production Listen: A New African Narrative (2009), has applied to the graduate school class of 2016 at Vanderbilt University.

Kristina Syrigos (’14) is studying at the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Sarkany, Allen, Lubecke, and BurchStephanie Sarkany (’14), Catherine Allen (’15), Joanna Burch (’14), Giesela Lubecke (’13), Keely Fagan (’12), Desirae Gostlin (’12), and DeAnna Ellis (’10) hold or have held writing and editing positions at Layman Poupard Publishing in Columbia, SC.

Lori Mumpower (’99) is the associate director for the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, FL.

Monica HenainMonica Henain (’13) is currently finishing a law degree at Whittier Law School, CA, serving as Ninth Circuit Ambassador to SBA Presidents and ABA Representatives, Moot Court Honors Board Member, International Law Society President, and Jewish Law Student Association Treasurer.

Katie Rose (’11) is a tutor at Applerouth Tutoring Services and Part-time Faculty Member at Georgia Gwinnett College.

Lilit MakaryanLilit Makaryan (’13) is a graduate student at George Washington University.

Evelyn Clary (’05) continues to be active in the Columbia, SC, theatre scene, most recently in a January 2016 children’s production of Romeo and Juliet for the Columbia Children’s Theatre.

 Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 News

Sarah WendellSarah Haylar Wendell (’97) has made quite a name for herself as an expert in romance novels, and she was recently interviewed on NPR

Spanish major alumn Renee Asamoah (’14) will be studying an M.A. in International Relationships and African Studies at Universidad Autonoma in Madrid. She has also been offered an internship in the U.S. Embassy in Madrid as well as in the Ghanaian Embassy in Madrid.

Olivia FrainAfter four years at Waterman Broadcasting in Fort Myers, Florida, where she went to work after her graduation from Columbia College, Olivia Frain (’11) was offered a job with WINK News in Fort Myers where she is an associate producer/editor.

Four English alumnae were recently featured in the College’s Shero campaign on social media. Chandra Plowden

Chandra Plowden (’10) combined her passion for research with her passion for education and became a research analyst for the Education Studies group at Westat in Rockville, Maryland. Beginning in August, she will be a M.Div student at Harvard Divinity School.

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