Stories from Alumni

Many Humanities’ alums have stories to share with you. Read more about how each one moved from taking class as a student to the work world (directly or post-graduate school). Each story can inform you that there are great opportunities for humanities students like you or provide some ideas of steps to take to get to where you want to be on your path.

English, Creative Writing, Linguistics, and Literature

Nicole Moore, QA Specialist, Pixo (BA, English ’14)

Keena Griffin, Admission Counselor, Concordia University (BA, English ’13)

Jessie Ann Foley, Novelist (English)

Michael Chan, Legal writer (English ’14)

Eli Chen, Science Reporter, National Public Radio (Creative Writing, ’11)

Beth Cohon, Video Editor, Teak (English ’11)

Sara Colombo, Director of Business Development, Jellyvision (English ’09)

Seth Fein, Co-President/CEO, the Nicodemus Agency (English ’02)

Heather Gernenz, Publicity Manager, U of Illinois Press (English)

Steven Haruch, Independent Writer and Filmmaker (English/Rhetoric ’96)

Will Hubbs, Data Researcher, (English ’14)

Dan Klen, Assistant Scientific Editor, Illinois State Geological Survey (Creative Writing, ’12)

Austin Millet, Project Operations Coordinator, Velocity EHS (English ’10)

Katie O’Brian, Children’s Librarian (English and Creative Writing & minor in Spanish ’11)

Katherine O’Brien, Publishing (English ’87; video)

Donna O’Shaughnessy, Writer and Farmer (Creative Writing ’16)

Tony Pomonis, Assistant Director For Development, University of Illinois (formerly owner, Merry-Ann’s Diner; English ’02)

Stephen Steinhaus, Principal, Solihull Academy (English ’95)

Cultural and Language Studies

Lauren Karplus Academic Advisor (BA, German and International Studies ’10)

Elena Wilson, Research Fellow, NIH (German and MCB ’20)

Mouna Benbouazza, Communications Manager (MA, French, ’18)

Sandy Wagner, Associate Professor at the Defense Language Institute (French ’70)

Knox Wong, Entrepreneur (EALC ’19)

History, Classics, Philosophy, & Religion

Kyle Currie graduate student in public policy (Classics ’15)


A series devoted to stories about our College Alums. See the latest information in this series.

John Lowe makes unexpected career move to lead Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Corinne Cantwell Heggie’s degree leads to many dimensions of success in law with her first degree in French. Follow her story in this article.
Cyber threats, counterterrorism, and Shakespeare. Starting with her English degree, Erin Joe’s career in national security requires a mindset that began forming in college.

LAS Insiders Story

English, Creative Writing, Linguistics, and Literature

LAS Insider Story: Tredayne Cabanlit is a recent graduate of LAS, where he majored in linguistics with a focus on phonetics and phonology. The founder of several startups.

LAS Insider Story: Head coach of the University of Illinois wheelchair track team Adam Bleakney (BA, ’00, English; MS, ’02, journalism) is a four-time Paralympian and silver medalist. Now the LAS alumnus is leading a contingent of 15 Illinois wheelchair track student athletes and alumni as a coach of the 2020 Paralympics US track and field team at the Tokyo games.

LAS Insider Story: Words connect people’, Love for language and family have been the driving forces behind Dalya Qualls White’s (BA, ’00, English) career moves from human resources to communications.
As senior vice president and chief communications officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Qualls White leans on her roots at Illinois where she discovered words connect people.

LAS Insider Story: Brendan McGovern is a junior in LAS, where he studies English and political science. He is passionate about politics and writing, and he has found registered student organizations on campus to develop those interests.

LAS Insider Story: LAS student Cherish Recera has found her niche at the Research Park. Cherish Recera is a junior pursuing a dual degree in English and Community Health.

LAS Insider Story: LAS student Shelby Job discovered her skills and interests at Research Park. Shelby Job studied English and Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability with a focus on the eco-humanities, environmental writing, and geospatial technologies.

LAS Insider Story:  Megan Resurreccion is a senior in the College of LAS, where she is majoring in creative writing and minoring in informatics and statistics.

LAS Insider Story: Alumnus finds the Sweet Life

Cultural and Language Studies

LAS Insider Story: Alumna uses difficult experiences to build a career as a DEI consultant, racial healing practitioner Heather Ana Hathaway Miranda (BA, ‘95, Spanish) knows the pain of being marginalized.

LAS Insider Story: Alumna Lauren Turk (BA, ‘06, French commercial studiescommunication; MA, ‘12, political scienceEuropean Union studies) used the months of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic to cultivate a business based on her passion to make change happen. She found time without distraction to create a start-up company that is on a mission to “un-invent waste” using technology and the power of storytelling.

LAS Insider Story: Karen P. Layng (’84, BA, international economics and French commercial studies) wears several hats. From leading her own consulting firm to serving as the national president of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Layng says the skills she picked up during her undergraduate studies have helped her find success and pursue her passion.

History, Classics, Philosophy, & Religion

LAS Insider Story: Kyndal Gragg is a junior in LAS, where she studies the History of Art. Originally from Springfield, IL, but hailing from Tulsa, OK, she is passionate about space-making and advocating for underrepresented narratives in the arts.

LAS Insider Story: Issy Marquez is a junior pursuing majors in English and political science and minors in Spanish and history.