Alicia Marie Brandewie
Alicia Marie Brandewie is a second year MFA student in poetry. Her favorite things to help clients with at the Writing Studio are applications, brainstorming, and outlines. She grew up in Wyoming, Ohio, then fell in love with Atlanta as an undergraduate at Emory University. She is currently the Writer In Residence for East and Memorial houses, and an editor for the Community and Poetry sections for the Nashville Review, an online literary arts journal edited by the Vanderbilt MFA students. She also enjoys cooking, being outside, running, horseback riding, racquetball, attempting to keep her herb garden alive, and trying to make her cat semi-internet famous.

Ariana Yeatts-Lonske
Ariana is a sophomore from Rockville, Maryland who is double majoring in Music and Cognitive Studies. Ariana’s favored artistic medium other than music is poetry and her poems have been recognized in numerous competitions, including three national poetry contests. Despite being an optimist, she has an uncanny knack for finding books that wind up being extremely depressing. While on campus, Ariana enjoys singing in Symphonic Choir, volunteering, spending time with her friends, and saying “anchor down” in non-athletic contexts.

Ashwini Joshi
Ashwini is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Biological Sciences and Anthropology. She has a wide range of interests, from cooking to volleyball to gardening to k-pop. In her spare time, she can be found in one of two places: baking in her kitchen or curled up on her bed with a new book. She uses brainstorming and outlining to procrastinate on her papers until she finds the inspiration to actually write them. After all, that work will (hopefully) pay off, creating a better paper.

Ben Shane
Ben is a senior majoring in Asian Studies, fresh off a half-year stint living in southwestern China. He enjoys ancient Chinese poetry, modern American fiction, and Taylor Swift.



Chris Wells
Chris is a PhD candidate in Philosophy. His work focuses on the intersections between subjectivity, ethics, and political action. His dissertation explores these themes primarily through Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas. In his free time he can be found excessively walking his dog.

Dan Haney
Dan, born in the coal region of Pennsylvania, graduated from Bucknell University, where he worked for West Branch. He has been awarded the Cadigan Prize for Poetry, the Samuel Ziegler Lewis Prize, and a fellowship to the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.  He is currently a first-year MFA student at Vanderbilt University. ​His most recent work can be found in Radar.

David Shuck
Thrilled to meet you already, David gets pretty excited at the very thought of new clients and sessions. The Studio combines so many of his favorite things–coffee, Vanderbilt, philosophy papers (his major), writing, all these lovely people whose short bios you can easily find by scrolling up and down. He’s a junior and a vegan from Green Bay, WI, and likes other things too, like board games, Orbis, Wikipedia, arguments, disc golfing, the Nordic countries, Euchre and a few other things you could ask him about. He also hopes you have a wonderful day, so please do!

Faith Barter
Faith is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English.  Her dissertation examines U.S. law’s role in the formation of new literary genres in the nineteenth century.  Originally from Maine, Faith also recently lived in DC, where she practiced law before starting her Ph.D. When she’s not perusing dusty old books, she enjoys shopping for vintage baubles, and she is determined to make this the year of the roadtrip. She is an ENFP, a Gemini, and a southpaw.

Gabriel Lazarus
Gabriel is a junior studying philosophy and economics, thereby ensuring that he will have to attend graduate school to have a career. He enjoys both the science and the art of crafting a solid argument. Although it is hard to pinpoint what type of writing Gabriel most prefers, his favorite writing instrument is, hands down, the fountain pen. In addition to his exposure to academic writing, Gabriel has spent the past six summers writing for a law firm in Washington, D.C.

Gretchen Selcke
Gretchen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her work focuses on contemporary Spanish Caribbean literature and its intersections with race and identity. She is working to complete her dissertation, which explores the consequences of migration to and from the Spanish Caribbean and experiences of displacement and alienation. She was the assistant editor of the Afro-Hispanic Review and serves on its editorial board. Gretchen is also a Dean’s Fellow working on an online exhibition from Manuel Zapata Olivella Collection. At this phase of her own writing, she has dealt with many pitfalls, and is happy to help you work through your own writing angst.

Jane Hirtle
Jane is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology & Human Development.  She grew up in Ohio, and earned her B.A. in English and Psychology from Vanderbilt in 2011.  Her favorite Writing Studio activities are leading workshops and helping clients find their own voices in personal statements, analytic essays, and scientific papers.  In her free time, Jane enjoys reading, writing, old movies, cooking, and anything Scandinavian.

Kara Sherrer
Kara is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, pursuing double majors in English (with a Creative Writing concentration) and Marketing & Communications. She is also the web editor of The Vanderbilt Hustler and a past participant in the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Writing Symposium. When she’s not doing homework or hanging out in the newsroom, Kara enjoys reading, working out, and listening to music that she thinks is obscure. She is passionate about helping other writers express their ideas while maintaining their own voices — and meeting the assignment’s criteria, of course!

Kara Wilson
Kara Wilson is a cheery bookworm from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. She is a sophomore pursuing two Bachelor of Arts degrees in English Literary Studies and Communications, which she hopes will give her a leg up as she pursues a career in book publishing. In her free time, she co-chairs publicity for the Vanderbilt University Concert Choir, volunteers with the Nashville Dolphins, journals profusely, and reads anything she can get her hands on.

Kathy Zhou
Kathy is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in English and Anthropology. When she’s not busy reinforcing the English major stereotype with her nose in a book, she enjoys cooking, watching reality competition shows, not finishing the crossword, and knitting rectangles of varying dimensions. Her favorite brainstorming tool is the sticky note.

Katie Foster
Katie is a first-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. Her interests include running, hunting for bones in the Niobrara, and, more recently, pilgrimage, born from a 600-mile hike across the northern coast of Spain.

Katie Miller
Katie is a junior majoring in English with either a minor or a double major (she’s still working out the details) in Women & Gender Studies. Her favorite topics of discussion are books, music, and Nashville coffee shops. She hopes to continue her education post-graduation and aspires to become an English professor, but for right now she is just excited to be working at the writing studio with some of Vanderbilt’s finest readers and writers.

Mary Somerville
Mary is a first-year MFA student in poetry.  She was born one of triplets in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and grew up in the small college town of Hillsdale, Michigan.  She graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2012 with an English major and minors in history and creative writing.  After graduating, she traveled in western China before moving back to Michigan to work as a barista, nanny, and church historian.

Max Eagle
Representing sunny California, Max is a sophomore majoring in Economics and whatever else he may manage in the spirit of Vanderbilt’s liberal arts education. He is both humbled and proud to serve as a writing consultant among his accomplished peers, and he wants to learn from his sessions as much as he wants to help other writers achieve their goals. In his free time, Max enjoys playing tennis, eating adventurously, watching and analyzing films, and spending time (while at home) with his Australian Shepherd, “Dude.”

Max McDonough
Max was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and escaped to sub-rural Virginia at the age of sixteen. Because the night wilderness of the local Walmart parking lot was too perilous an ordeal, he matriculated to the University of Virginia where he failed to become a surgeon and instead pursued a degree in creative writing. He is currently an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University, recipient of the Rachel St. Paul Prize in poetry, and nonfiction editor of the Nashville Review.

Miriam Martin
Miriam is a doctoral candidate in the history department studying Latin America and the Atlantic World. Her dissertation titled “Black Auxiliary Troops in the Eighteenth Century Atlantic World” focuses on black militias from the Saint Domingue Rebellion and their entrance into Central America. Miriam is a native Nashvillian, has a BA and MA in literature, and her love of reading began in the crib. When not writing, she binge reads YA fiction and bakes chocolate chip cookies.

Nicole A. Spigner
Nicole is a doctoral candidate in Vanderbilt University’s English program, previously earning her M.A. and B.A. in English from University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation, currently in progress, explores how, through classical allusions, themes, and forms, nineteenth-century African American women writers redefined literary convention, gender configurations, and racial identity, giving rise to a new genre of “Black New Women” fiction. Nicole also engages with black feminist theory, twentieth century African American and Caribbean literatures, and New World syncretic religions, as well as serves as a member of the Executive-Advisory Board of Vanderbilt University’s Issues in Critical Investigation (ICI).

Rita Bullwinkel
Rita originates from the San Francisco Bay Area but has also planted her feet in Brooklyn, NY, Providence, RI and Delhi, India where she worked at the Indian National Gallery of Modern Art. She is the recipient of several grants from Brown University and is currently a fiction MFA candidate at Vanderbilt. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in NOONThe Fanzine, Heavy Feather ReviewThe Brooklyn Rail, Two Serious Ladiesand the book Gigantic Worlds: An Anthology of Science Flash Fiction.

RJ Boutelle
RJ is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Department of English. His dissertation explores how slavery, race, and colonialism shaped different conceptions of “America” throughout the Western Hemisphere in the nineteenth century. Originally from Massachusetts, RJ is an avid fan of Boston sports teams, a lover of fresh seafood, and refuses to use his turn signal unless absolutely necessary. When he’s not on campus, RJ spends his time hiking with his two dogs, loitering in coffee shops, and enjoying live music whenever possible.

Scott Blain
Scott is a junior Cognitive Studies/MHS double major. He is currently researching cognitive deficits caused by schizophrenia and social stress in individuals with autism. He reviews for research journals at Vanderbilt and Colorado State and for IMPULSE neuroscience. He hopes to one day became a professor, investigating neuropsychological topics at the intersection of culture and mental health policy. He enjoys playing piano, both classically and in his world fusion band/student org, Jugal Vandy. His favorite authors are Kazuo Ishiguro and Cormac McCarthy. In his spare time, he enjoys eating, doing street magic, and riding roller coasters.

Scott Lyon
Scott is a first-year MFA candidate in fiction. He has a BS in Mathematics. He has worked with some of New York’s most acclaimed independent filmmakers, and produced a documentary (“Whatever It Takes”) that aired on PBS’s Independent Lens. In 2009, Scott left Brooklyn to travel and write. He has since surfed in three oceans. He currently facilitates a writing program with prisoners on Tennessee’s Death Row.

Selden Hunnicutt
Selden is a junior pursuing majors in Latin American Studies and United States History. She is a Tri Delta sister and an avid Vanderbilt football fan- Anchor Down! This spring she plans to study abroad in Santiago, Chile and travel throughout South America. 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!

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.

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