MA in English Alum Marlana Eck

When I enrolled in the KU Master’s in English program, I needed a change in life. I had previously earned a Master’s in Education and was working as an adjunct in composition and ESL. I was fortunate because my first class was with Dr. Mahoney, who became a phenomenal mentor to me throughout the program. He was generous enough to give me my start writing editorial pieces for Raging Chicken Press. We also had a great independent study in Activist Writing where I was given the context to access different persuasive styles. I took literary theory with Dr. Shaw (who ended up being on my capstone committee) in my second semester, and this was pivotal in helping me join in the larger discussion when I started writing for other audiences in The San Diego Free Press and Hybrid Pedagogy.

It was around this time that I also founded the journal Lehigh Valley Vanguard with many early and current contributions from lots of KU people. LVV was definitely born at, and shaped by, the people at KU.

LVV has grown so much, and this past spring we had the Lehigh Valley Vanguard/Lehigh Valley Bartering Community Social Justice Summit at the Banana Factory with lots of art and poetry. We also have a semi-regular web series that I started with KU English MA student Joey Jobes and KU alum Kailey Tedesco where we discuss culture/current events. There have also been many community events surrounding LVV: poetry readings being the most frequent, as LVV now has two very active and notable poets as poetry editors (Tedesco and B. Diehl).

Colleen Clemens has also had a strong influence on me as a scholar. In her postcolonial theories and texts grad course we were introduced to research that is helpful when advocating for marginalized groups and explicating gender issues within and outside of the academy. A project I started in her class, “Anarcha-feminism in Woman at Point Zero,” was accepted to the conference “Anarchism and the Body” at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. When I found out I was accepted to the conference, I was taking Moe Folk’s class Rhetoric of Style, and he helped me create a digital presentation of the project. Many enjoyed the project and I made lasting connections while I was there. Although I had graduated by that time, I was happy to represent KU as a scholar-researcher.

Currently, I work at a 6-12 grade charter school in Allentown, PA. Patty Pytleski, who was my supervisor at the KU Writing Center, shared a lot of her positive experiences as a teacher for that grade level, and I think that’s what got me interested in teaching for that environment. I have also jumped into an interdisciplinary doctoral program at Drew University so I can continue my trajectory in publishing and keep my roots here in the Lehigh Valley. My article “How to be an Adjunct (and also a Cliche)” was just published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Kailey Tedesco and I will also launch my second publication, Rag Queen Periodical: A Postmodern Omnifem Publication, in November 2015.

I really grew as a scholar and person at KU. I’ll always be grateful I took a chance and went back to school, but especially grateful to have chosen KU. The teachers I connected with there have continued to mentor me, even though I’ve graduated, and I recommend their English department to anyone who is interested in their own personal and professional growth.