Amy Sweeney
Amy is a junior pursuing majors in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, as well as Communication of Science and Technology. Although she is originally from St. Louis, she has fallen in love with Nashville after spending the summer here doing research. Ask her about the best taco salads Davidson County has to offer. She is the copy editor for Orbis, science writer for The Hustler, and has been a peer reviewer for the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal. She enjoys dancing to 80s new wave music, squealing at animals, and eating black beans, and she can’t wait to be a part of your writing process

Ariana Yeatts-Lonske
Ariana is a junior from Rockville, Maryland who is majoring in English (with a Creative Writing concentration) and minoring in Music and Psychology. In the past year, she has been a panelist at the Southeastern Writing Center Conference, the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Writing Symposium, and the Vanderbilt WGS Intersections Conference. Ariana feels very lucky to work at the Writing Studio, and she enjoys helping her peers become calm and confident writers. In her free time, she loves to do yoga, read memoirs, and attend concerts and poetry readings.

Ashley Shan
Ashley is a senior majoring in Philosophy and Sociology. She is from Shandong, China, a province known for being Confucius’s hometown, for its overpopulated education system, and for scallion pancakes. Although her childhood dream was to write computer programs that change the world, she discovered her passion in the humanities after taking Sociology 101. She is working on two senior theses that focus on the ideological origins and social construction of Chinese national identity. When she’s not reading books or writing papers, she enjoys baking, running outside, and making new friends.

Christine Huang
Christine is a sophomore studying history and public policy in the College of Arts and Sciences. She spent most of her formative years in Shanghai, and is a member of the College Scholars program. She enjoys reading about the Soviet Union and economic theory, but also likes her mystery novels and comedienne autobiographies. Obsessively rewriting and reorganizing essay outlines is her tool of choice for procrastination. When she is not doing text or language-related activities, Christine can be found trying to stay up to date with the news, baking in her friend’s much nicer Mayfield kitchen, and exploring local coffee shops.

Dan Haney
Dan Haney, born in Pennsylvania’s coal country, is an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief for Nashville Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from Ninth Letter, Rhino, Pacifica, and elsewhere.


David Shuck
While the two years of consulting already under his belt are a good indicator of his Writing Studio abilities, David would like to assure you that a great deal is also due to his natural talent and winning personality. It’s hard for Mr. Shuck to stress just how fond he is of his clients and his fellow consultants;  not a day goes by when he isn’t excited to drop in, fill his coffee mug, and greet as many as he can. As for detailed information, he’s a major in Philosophy with PhD dreams, he likes euro-games, Wikipedia, following the Tao, and one day hopes for the virility needed to sprout a Nietzschean mustache of his own.

Derek Pfister
Derek is a first-year MFA student in poetry. He grew up in Ohio and attended Ohio State  University, where he studied English and Creative Writing. While at Ohio State, he received a scholarship for study abroad in Germany and the Citino Poetry Award. Apart from poetry, Derek plays a Telecaster, piano, and soccer.


Evan Hall
Evan is a first-year MFA student in fiction.  He grew up in the sleepy backwater of Luck,Wisconsin, and attended UW-Madison.  After graduating with a B.A. in Creative Writing and Journalism, he spent a year teaching English at a high school in South Korea.  In his spare time, he enjoys camping, playing piano, ultimate frisbee, and Scrabble.


Gabriel Lazarus
Gabriel is a senior studying economics and philosophy, thereby ensuring that he will need to attend graduate school to have a career. Although it is hard to say which type of writing he most enjoys seeing clients about, Gabriel’s favorite writing instrument is, hands down, the fountain pen. Besides the writing he does for classes and the Studio, Gabriel has spent several summers writing for a law firm in Washington, D.C., and is currently editing entries for a forthcoming lexicon on Immanuel Kant.

Holli Loomans
Holli is a PhD candidate in the Department of Cancer Biology. Originally from Wisconsin, Holli completed a B.S. in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.P.H. from the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health. Her dissertation work focuses on the mechanisms of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma progression and possible therapeutic targets in these pathways. Holli is also an active member of the Cancer Biology Student Association and works as a graduate teaching assistant. When not hovering over a lab bench, Holli goes rock climbing and hiking out in the Tennessee wilderness.

Jesse Bertrom
Jesse Bertron is a candidate for an MFA in poetry at Vanderbilt University. He has worked as a carpenter, an actor, and a middle-school teacher. His poetry has appeared in HOOT, The Ilanot Review, and Pocket Guide. He is the co-director of Poetry at Round Top, an annual poetry festival in the Texas hill country.


Kara Sherrer
Kara is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, with double majors in English and Marketing & Communications. She is also the Life Editor of The Vanderbilt Hustler campus newspaper, and spends way too much time in the newsroom as a result. Kara also enjoys reading, working out, watching football and basketball, attempting to cook, and listening to music that she thinks is obscure. She is passionate about helping other writers express their ideas while maintaining their own voices.

Kara Wilson
Kara Wilson is a junior in the College of Arts and Science majoring in Communication Studies and English. Once she graduates, she hopes to work at a non-profit organization for the arts in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. When Kara is not in the Writing Studio, she sings in the Vanderbilt University Concert Choir, listens to music and podcasts, scribbles to-do lists in her bullet journal, and lurks in the candle aisle at Target. If she has writer’s block, she finds a really large whiteboard with a dry-erase marker and writes down any idea she has for a paper, then paces until she comes up with an argument.

Katie Foster
Katie is a second-year MFA student in fiction.  She grew up on the Niobrara River in the Sandhills of Nebraska and worked on trail crews for Rocky Mountain National Park before graduating from Creighton University in Omaha, NE with a B.A. in English and Graphic Design.



Katie Miller
Katie is a senior majoring in English with a minor in psychology (and no, she doesn’t know what she wants to do with that quite yet). She is a past Undergraduate Writing Symposium participant and her favorite topics of conversation mostly involve coffee and music. She adores her job at the Writing Studio, as it provides her with the opportunity to learn something new everyday from her fellow students and writers.

Kelsey Norris

Kelsey is a first-year MFA candidate in fiction. She has traveled the world by bus, barge, and donkey cart despite a truly dismal sense of direction. As a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Namibia, Kelsey taught English & Art, served as the school librarian, and facilitated a Girls Club in the village of Aminuis. She enjoys yoga, burrowing into used bookstores, and the thrill of cheating at crossword puzzles.


Kristen Navarro
Kristen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Her dissertation considers adaptational processes in Early Modern English drama, as well as how Early Modern dramatic works are contemporarily adapted on screen and stage. Kristen is originally from Miami, where she earned her B.A. in English at Florida International University. She is an avid lover and interrogator of pop culture, bringing it into her research and into her classroom whenever possible. On her free time, Kristen can be found starting knitting projects she’ll never finish, playing with her ever-growing makeup collection, and/or binging on Netflix’s TV catalogue.

Leah Spann
Leah is a senior in the College of Arts and Science, pursuing a double major in English Literary Studies and Psychology.  She spent last fall studying abroad at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, and will extol the virtues of her traveling experiences at length, if indulged.  When not buried in schoolwork, she enjoys singing in the Vanderbilt University Concert Choir, supporting the performing arts both on and off campus, and, unsurprisingly, writing.  She hopes to continue in a writing-related field after graduation, but for now, she’s excited to help others improve their writing skills and produce the best work possible.

Mark Haslam
Mark Haslam is a first year MFA candidate in fiction.  Originally from Southern California and Seattle, he has been teaching middle and high school English in Oakland and New York City, and ties his shoes his own self.



Max Eagle
From the San Francisco Bay Area, Max is a junior majoring in Economics and Mathematics, minoring in English, and studying whatever else he can manage in the spirit of the College of Arts and Science’s liberal arts education. In his free time, Max enjoys running, eating adventurously, discussing current events, and spending time (while at home) with his Australian Shepherd, “Dude.”


Rachel Gould
Rachel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Her research interests include literature from the eighteenth century, particularly texts that explore the relationship between the Ottoman and British empires. She fell in love with writing in college and now loves to share her excitement with others and helping them to develop their own voices. When she’s not reading or writing, Rachel will be sitting in front of a canvas painting or outside hiking through whatever state park is closest.

Scott Blain
Scott is a senior Cognitive Studies/MHS double major. He is interested in pursuing research in social and affective neuroscience, specifically concerning stress, empathy, and social cognition, in both clinical and neuro-typical populations. He is currently involved in research on personality, cognition, and behavior in individuals with Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Scott enjoys playing piano, both classically and in his world fusion band/student org, Jugal Vandy. His favorite authors are Kazuo Ishiguro and Cormac McCarthy.

Selden Hunnicutt
Selden Hunnicutt is a senior majoring in Latin American Studies and United States History. A Tri Delta sister and SEC football junkie (Anchor Down!), Selden just returned from studying abroad in Chile, where she developed a love for reggaeton and a hatred for instant coffee. Her favorite part of working at the Writing Studio is learning about all of the different topics that Vanderbilt students study. She can’t wait to assist each client in making the writing process easier and more enjoyable!”

Shannon Franklin
Shannon is a PhD candidate in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Peabody. Her dissertation explores the college choice process for students enrolled in for-profit higher education institutions. Originally from Birmingham, AL, Shannon lived in Korea for several years after college before returning to the U.S. for graduate school. When she’s not sitting in front of her computer digging through data or writing about it, she enjoys reading, traveling, and cooking; desserts are her favorite. She is also an animal lover and volunteers her time at the Nashville Humane Association.  She is an Alabama fan (roll tide), an NPR junkie, and a coffee addict.

Shelby Johnson
Shelby Johnson is a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University specializing in transatlantic literature, 1770-1840. In her dissertation project, she studies how political expressions and religious experience are negotiated in the writings of anglophone minority writers as a way to form political theologies of freedom, authority, and inheritance. Originally from Memphis, Shelby has never actually lived outside of TN, although she hopes to break that boundary someday. When not working on crafting the perfect sentence, Shelby enjoys improving her watercolor skills (slim to non-existent currently), walking her dog, and eating jellybeans.

Stephanie Higgs
Stephanie is thrilled to be returning to the Writing Studio, this time in the role of Arts and Sciences Fellow.  She is currently a doctoral candidate in the English Department studying 19th-century British and American literature.  Her dissertation deals with the transatlantic cotton industry, specifically with the ways the institutions inside the industry (cotton plantations, mill towns, factories, etc.) were represented in the literature and how those representations served to enable or register protest against an oppressive economy.  When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, baking, shopping, and trying not to embarrass herself in yoga class.

Tatiana McInnis
Tatiana McInnis is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Department of English. She hails from the steamy city of Miami and has decided to make her hometown the topic of her dissertation which targets the alleged diversity of Miami through a focus on cross-cultural conflict, cultural (mis)representations, and local community organizations—Miami pop cultural references are very, very welcome and yes, she has seen every episode of Miami Vice. She considers herself a whiz at thesis statements and transition sentences, is a Virgo in every sense of the sign, and loves any television show created by Shonda Rimes.

Thomas Dabay
Thomas is a PhD candidate in the Philosophy department who works on topics in philosophy of language and epistemology.  His dissertation focuses on the relation between inference and meaning, and draws heavily from the work of Wilfrid Sellars and Robert Brandom.  When not working, he enjoys darts with friends as well as playing soccer and watching both U.S. national teams.


Thushara Gunda
Thushara is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Engineering.  Her dissertation work focuses on water for agriculture in rice farming systems in Sri Lanka. Originally from South India, Thushara has spent her childhood outside of Washington D.C. and more recently in Charlottesville, VA and Austin, TX before moving to Nashville. Thushara is also a Curb Center Public Scholar; for her project, she is conducting an outreach programme on water quality and agriculture targeted towards 6th-8th grade Sri Lankan students. Her hobbies include rock climbing, yoga, zumba, and cooking.

Tiana Clark
Tiana Clark is a Pushcart Prize nominee living, performing, and teaching poetry in Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Tennessee State University where she studied Africana and Women’s studies. Tiana serves on the board for a local non-profit literary center, The Porch Writers’ Collective. Her poems have appeared in The Raven Chronicles, Nashville Arts Magazine, Word Riot, Native Magazine, Rattle and forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review among others. She is a first-year MFA student in poetry at Vanderbilt University where she is the Writer In Residence for the East and Memorial houses, and a Poetry Reader for the Nashville Review, an online literary arts journal. For more information visit

Zach Gospe
Zach Gospe is a sophomore from Los Altos, California who is double majoring in English (with a Creative Writing concentration) and Physics. While Zach greatly enjoys writing scientific, analytical, and nonfictional works, he is most passionate about poetry and fiction. When he is not writing or reading, Zach can most often be found writing music, attempting to paint, baking, going for long walks, or losing a game of squash.

Administrative Staff

Gary Jaeger, Director
Gary has been teaching writing and consulting writers for over a decade. In addition to being the Director of the Writing Studio, he is a senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department where he teaches classes in ethics, political philosophy, and Indian philosophy. His research interests are primarily in practical reasoning and metaethics. He is the author of Repression, Integrity and Practical Reasoning (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and has published articles in journals such as the Journal of Value Inquiry, Philosophical Explorations, and Metaphilosophy. He earned a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago (2006) and a BA from Johns Hopkins University (1999), where he double majored in philosophy and writing. Before coming to Vanderbilt, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

John Bradley , Assistant Director
John is Assistant Director of the Writing Studio as well as Senior Lecturer in the English Department. He earned his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was introduced to writing center pedagogy and built up his passion for writing instruction and his conviction in the power of talk for the writing process. John’s research interests focus on twentieth-century American poetries, especially those of avant-garde and experimental movements.

Elizabeth Covington, Assistant Director
Elizabeth Covington earned her Ph.D. in English literature from Vanderbilt and is thrilled to take on the roles of Assistant Director of the Writing Studio and Senior Lecturer in English. She has articles forthcoming in Genre and Journal of Modern Literature, and she is currently working on a book about experimental psychological theories of memory and the emergence of modernist literature in Britain.

Jeff Shenton, Assistant Director
Jeff Shenton has worked with the Vanderbilt Writing Studio since 2008 as a graduate consultant and Fellow, and is now taking the reins of Assistant Director and Senior Lecturer in Anthropology.  His PhD is in anthropology from Vanderbilt University.  Jeff’s research concerns changing land use, aspirations, and conceptions of the natural world among indigenous residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon.  Previous to his graduate career at Vanderbilt Jeff worked in neuroscience research and has experience writing and publishing in both biomedical and ethnographic fields.  Jeff graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002 with a BA in English and French, with a concentration in creative writing.

Administrator: Kristen Sullivan Kristen.M.Sullivan@Vanderbilt.Edu