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Meet our Staff


Kirsten Benson. Director, Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center. Ed.D., Leadership Studies in Higher Education. Dr. Benson has been involved with writing centers throughout her entire academic career, having started working in one while a graduate student, and she loves every chance to talk with people about their writing. When time allows, she teaches courses in qualitative research methods in writing studies, composition pedagogy, public writing, and persuasive writing. Her interests include reading of all types (especially dark Nordic mysteries), watching movies, beaches, walking and hiking, traveling, photography, and watercolor painting. Fun fact: She loves one particular movie so much, she’s watched it at least 100 times!
Kat Powell. Associate Director. PhD in English Literature with specialization in 19th-century British literature. Dr. Powell has worked in the JAHWC in some capacity since 2011. She returned in 2021 as the Assistant Director, Tutor-Training Coordinator. She is married to a talented photographer and is mother to two of the funniest humans on this green earth. She enjoys long-distance running, and races in 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons throughout the year. Reading with coffee is the first thing she does every morning. Fun Fact: She has run exactly one marathon and decided one was enough!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Matt-8-smaller-681x1024.jpgMatt Bryant Cheney. Assistant Director for Faculty Development, Community Engagement, and Research. PhD in American Literature (University of Kentucky) with specializations in 20th Century US Writing, Social Theory, Southern & Appalachian Literature, and Community-Engaged Pedagogies. After beginning his college teaching and tutoring career at UT as an MA student over a decade ago, Dr. Bryant Cheney returned to the JAHWC team in 2023 as Assistant Director, focusing on supporting faculty writing instruction across the disciplines, developing community-based writing programs and partnerships, and conducting research on writing pedagogy. Most recently, he served as Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Center for Community Development at Carson-Newman University. He lives in East Knoxville with his wonderful family (including four energetic dogs). He enjoys drinking fancy beverages, talking about Flannery O’Connor, watching baseball, reading comic books, and playing music with good company.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ALissa-707x1024.jpegAlissa Reeves. Administrative Specialist. B.A., English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics) and Religious Studies. Alissa has been with UT since 2013 and with the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center since January 2020. (She was also an undergraduate tutor in the JAHWC and is happy to return to “home base.”) She is excited to have a student-facing role and enjoys watching students develop writing confidence. Her interests include her motorcycle, Harry Potter, and Syro-Palestinian archaeology. She also has a slight obsession with the musical Hamilton. Fun Fact: She participated in an archaeological dig of a 1st century Roman fort in Aqaba, Jordan.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Amanda-768x1024.jpgAmanda. Undergraduate majoring in Psychology. Amanda is from a small New Jersey town and frequently enjoys amazing pizza, bagels, and Jersey famous Taylor Ham. She loves animals and has six cats, a parakeet, and many fish. She enjoys spending time outdoors, watching movies, and sending her friends TikToks. Fun Fact: She is the middle child of 5 kids, all of whose names start with the letter “A” and are in alphabetic order from oldest to youngest.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Anna-Marie-1024x732.jpegAnna. Undergraduate in Management. Anna is a junior who just transferred to UT. After she finishes her undergraduate degree, her goal is to attend law school. Her hobbies include traveling, doing lots of outdoor activities, dancing, and reading. Fun Fact: She grew up on a farm!
Anne. Senior Lecturer in the Department of English. Anne earned her PhD in English from The Ohio State University, where she studied African American and American literature and narrative theory. She published her first article in 2019 in The Henry James Review. She enjoys working with all writers—from first-year students to graduate students—who want to become more confident in their writing skills. When not working, she enjoys cycling, walking with friends, and reading.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Aspyn.jpegAspyn. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies with a Medieval concentration). Aspyn is an avid reader of all things fantasy and medieval. She loves reading, writing about, and discussing historical texts and primary documents, especially in French and Old English. Her writing specialties include literary analysis, art history, and linguistics. She enjoys playing video games, with a particular soft-spot for story-driven games (she is currently working through Disco Elysium). Other, less time-consuming hobbies include cosplaying, makeup, Wikipedia deep-dives, and traveling! Fun Fact: During her time as an undergraduate, she was part of an archaeological SONAR survey of the Tennessee River. In that study, her team found a sunken vessel that is presumed to be the Civil War-era U.S.S. Chattanooga.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Autumn-912x1024.jpgAutumn. Undergraduate in English (Literature) and Political Science. Although Autumn loves all fields of English, she especially enjoys research and analytical writing. She’s an East Tennessee native who spends her free time reading books, rewatching Gilmore Girls, and hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains. She also enjoys yoga, thrifting, and finding new coffee spots in Knoxville. There’s a 99.9% chance that she is currently drinking coffee. Fun Fact: She plays flute and piccolo.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ayesha-768x1024.jpegAyesha. MA student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics). Ayesha is very passionate about writing, teaching, and learning! As an English MA student, she believes reading comprehension and diligent writing are key to success and communication. When she’s not reading or writing, she finds herself gardening, working out, watching cartoons, and spending time with her friends and family. Fun Fact: She worked as a camp counselor during summer break and helped Afghan refugee children with their English skills (and challenged them in dodgeball!)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Brett-551x1024.jpegBrett. Undergraduate in Sociology (concentrating in Criminology and Criminal Justice) with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Brett is from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, and plans to attend graduate school to obtain a degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. She loves to watch horror movies, go to concerts, and drink coffee everywhere she goes. Fun Fact: So far this year, she has been to over 20 concerts.
Casey. MA student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics). Casey is from Mississippi and has lived there her whole life. She double majored in literature and TESOL at Mississippi College. Besides reading, she is a huge fan of musicals and knows every word to Hamilton. Fun Fact: She loves learning random and mostly useless things like morse code and shorthand.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Chris-1024x771.jpgChris. PhD student in Rhetoric, Writing and Linguistics with a concentration in Writing Studies. Chris has a MA in TESOL and a BA in History. He has been tutoring and teaching for about 15 years (7 of those years overseas). He pivoted toward higher education in 2013 after falling in love with writing centers. He is happy to be working here at his fourth writing center. His interests include cooking exchanges, hiking, fishing, RPGs, and frugal living. Fun Fact: He taught several classes called “Cheap Cooking for Grad Students” while doing his master’s degree.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Christopher-768x1024.jpgChristopher. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies) focusing on 19th-century literature and analyzing through queer or feminist theory lenses. Christopher is a St. Louis, Missouri, native but proudly calls Knoxville his home. He enjoys playing the piano and violin and creative writing in his spare time. He hopes to teach his daughter one of those instruments one day! His goal is to teach English in college, specifically first-year composition and queer theory classes, especially within the Victorian period. His interests include reading, writing, teaching, playing with his daughter, hiking, traveling, and cooking. Fun Fact: He really enjoys watching short Star Trek fan fiction stories. They usually center around multiple characters from a mix of the series’ many iterations.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Eli-678x1024.jpgEli R. Undergraduate in English (Literature) and Economics. Eli is a third-year student and finds that his strengths are in analytical and public writing rather than creative writing. However, he dabbles in whatever he can set his pen to. His goal is to become a teacher so that he can teach people how to find their own written voice. He is an avid movie goer, self-appointed film snob, and enjoys being a tutor by day and an emo poet at night. Fun Fact: He once had 2 near-death experiences in the 4th grade within 2 weeks of each other.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Elijah.jpgElijah E. Undergraduate in Philosophy and Statistics. Elijah is from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Knoxville, Tennessee. He enjoys a good book and long walks on the beach. Also hiking. Don’t forget hiking. He enjoys listening to music and reading when he can. Fun Fact: He has 2 dogs named Augustus and Bella.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Emily-768x1024.jpgEmily. PhD student in English, specializing in African American and 20th-century literature. Emily is originally from Kentucky, and graduate school brought her to Knoxville, where she and her partner have lived for 6 years. She has two adorable dogs named Pabu and Pippin. Her interests include yoga and spending time outside in the sunshine. Fun Fact: She is named after Emily Dickinson, and she has a few lines of one of her poems tattooed on her arm.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Emma-B-776x1024.jpgEmma B. Undergraduate in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology. Emma is a Junior from Johnson City, Tennessee. She enjoys reading, baking, yoga, and going on walks. Fun Fact: Her favorite animal is a sea turtle.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is greta-683x1024.jpgGreta. MA student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics) and earned her BA from Baylor University in Journalism, English, and Psychology. Greta is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, graduated from Baylor University in May 2022, and then stayed in Waco for an extra year. During that time, she worked in marketing and ultimately decided to apply to grad school which led her to UT. A few of her favorite things include coffee shops, C.S. Lewis, walks, Taylor Swift, and crocheting! Her hobbies are reading (especially theology and realistic fiction) and hosting parties/game nights with friends. Fun Fact: Her birthday is on Christmas Day.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ivy-576x1024.jpgIvy. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Ivy is hoping to study transmedia storytelling through media like literature, film, television, video games, and more. They enjoy forcing their friends to watch cheesy horror movies, milkshakes, and tabletop role-playing games. Their interests include horror movies, Dungeons & Dragons (and other TTRPGs), pop music, writing short stories, and tarot cards. Fun Fact: When their family lived in Italy, they would run away from their parents to chase pigeons in the city of Venice.
Jake B-Y. PhD student in Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics. Jake has been on the move since he was little; he’s lived in eight cities in four states and two countries over the course, although he considers himself a Kansas native. He studied English and Biblical Text at a university in Texas before moving to Knoxville. He loves words, farms, Stephen Colbert, begonias, and free food. His interests include cooking, doing dishes, listening to NPR, windowsill gardening, losing at Dutch Blitz, and writing poetry. Fun Fact: He is a sixth-generation Kansan from a family of Prussian/Russian Mennonites, and he can cook the borscht to prove it.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Julia-768x1024.jpgJulia. MA student in German. Julia is a lover of language learning, traveling, and podcasts. She enjoys cooking and baking vegan foods and playing with her two sweet cats. Her current reading obsessions include Murakami and German Krimis. Her hobbies include swimming, gardening, and dumpster diving. Fun Fact: She lived in Germany for the past two years teaching English.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kacper.jpegKacper. PhD student in Political Science. Besides politics, he is interested in music, literature and languages. He also loves to travel! Fun Fact: Before returning to UT to pursue a PhD, he spent 4 years in Spain studying and working as an ESL instructor.
Kaitlyn A. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Kaitlyn is excited to be returning to the mountains of Tennessee after attending Sewanee for their undergraduate degree and swearing they would “head up north.” Essays are their favorite form of literature. In their free time, they can be found hiking with their perfect pup, Darla, trying out new art projects, or singing to their plants. Fun Fact: They have quite the green thumb and have used that to create a magical reading room reminiscent of a jungle. They also sell small plants and propagations!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kaitlyn-C-768x1024.jpgKaitlyn C. Undergraduate majoring in Sociology (concentrating in Criminology) and minoring in Political Science and French. Kaitlyn is originally from Virginia but lived in Paris, France prior to moving to Nolensville, TN. She is an active member of Alpha Omicron Pi and hopes to either work for the government or attend law school. She has always loved writing essays, playing and watching sports, and spending quality time with her family and friends. Fun Fact: She loves animals and has a husky named Enzo.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FB_IMG_16863174088263-1024x735.jpgKate. PhD student in Creative Writing (Poetry). Kate received her BA and MA from Penn State and her MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State, where she also worked in the writing center. In her free time, she loves working out, watching sports (she’s a college wrestling enthusiast), watching “The Bachelor”, and playing with her cat, Macaroni. Fun fact: She has an orange belt in judo and hopes to continue progressing!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Keeley-768x1024.jpgKeeley. Undergraduate in History. Keeley is a third year history major from Knoxville. She is particularly interested in social and legal history. In the near future, she would like to travel and go to grad school so she can become a teacher or professor. Her interests include costume design, theatre, crochet, sewing, baking, and kayaking. Fun Fact: In the past she wanted to be a costume designer, and she worked on several local productions.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lily-769x1024.jpegLily. Undergraduate in English (Literature and Technical Communications.) Lily is from West Tennessee and is a country girl at heart who loves books, live music, UT football, and traveling. She is a huge fan of Game of Thrones (the books and the show), and she could probably give you a detailed plot summary from memory. In her free time, you can find her curled up with a good book or spending quality time with friends and family. Her other interests include musical theatre, singing, binge-watching TV shows, hiking, camping, kayaking, and target practice at the farm with her dad. Fun Fact: She loves Coca-Cola and must have at least one a day or she cannot function properly.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is elizabeth-768x1024.jpegLizzie. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Elizabeth feels that her writing strengths lie in creative writing and persuasive writing. She aims to help others find the joys of literature and writing. She is originally from a small town in Louisiana, but loves her life in Knoxville. Her interests and hobbies include crocheting, music (specifically funk, disco, and classic rock), spending time with her dog (Lucy) and cat (Miss Bee), reading American literature, and watching movies. Fun Fact: She has 15 piercings and 12 tattoos.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Luke-1024x683.jpegLuke. Undergraduate double majoring in Biology (BCMB: Biochemistry & Cellular & Molecular Biology) and English (Creative Writing.) Luke teaches public health topics as a Peer Health Lead with CHEW and is also the president of oSTEM (Out in STEM) UTK. He is excited to be working at the Writing Center! He loves silly food-themed board games like Slamwich and Bananagrams (Scrabble’s evil twin). He also enjoys spiraling coffee chats with friends and writing mysteries for the D&D campaign he runs with his best friend. Fun Fact: He collects rubber ducks.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Madison-H-2-820x1024.jpegMadison. Undergraduate majoring in Sociology (concentrating in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies) and minoring in Social Justice. Madison is from just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and is the Vice President of Fellowship for Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity. She is also a Diversity Educator through Multicultural Student Life. She hopes to use her degree to work for community outreach organizations, and/or educational program design. Her favorite book genre is psychological thrillers. She loves listening to podcasts, spending time outside (anything from hiking, tubing, kayaking to spending time with her dogs), watching and playing basketball, and cooking with friends and family. Fun fact: She once competed in a Michigan State tournament for archery!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Maggie.jpegMaggie. PhD student in English (Contemporary American Literature). Maggie has a MA in English Literature from UT and a MS in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins. She loves making good food, especially when she can pretend she’s a contestant on the Great British Bake-Off, and she enjoys sharing food with her friends. Outside of reading and writing, she’s an avid trivia-goer, plant parent, and dog mom. She also enjoys road tripping. Fun Fact: She has 4 tattoos and all of them have a heart somewhere in the design.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Maria-1024x682.jpegMaria. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Maria has a BA in Portuguese and English language and literature. She was born and raised in Brazil, so moving to Knoxville was the first big change of her life. Reading and writing are things that come naturally to her, and she has loved it since she was a child. Literature is her biggest interest, specifically contemporary literature. Her favorite books are Pachinko and The Neapolitan Novels. Besides reading, she loves dogs, sparkling water, food, and getting to know new places to eat. Her further interests include drums, photography, watching movies, TV shows (she’s a big fan of The Office), and YouTube videos of cleaning, renovations, and Asian food preparation. Fun Fact: She loves fidget toys as she is always moving her feet or hands.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mariam.jpgMariam. MA student in English (Language and Literature). Mariam was born in Ghana, West Africa. She gained her BA in English from the University of Science and Technology (KNUST, Ghana). She loves reading novels and watching movies. Fun Fact: She can sacrifice her sleep to read a book when it is a very good one.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is marilee-768x1024.jpgMarilee. Undergraduate in Animal Science (concentrating in Pre-Veterinary Medicine) and a minor in English. Marilee (pronounced “Mary Lee”) is a Tennessee native and spends her free time reading books, swimming, watching TikTok and hanging out with friends and family. She has a deep love for all animals and, together with her roommate, she co-parents 2 rabbits and a leopard gecko. Additionally, she is the proud owner of fish, 2 turtles, and 2 dogs. Fun Fact: She doesn’t have a middle name.
Melinda. PhD, English. Melinda really likes meeting new people, cooking, and baking unusual desserts. She really dislikes baked beans, raw onion, and lists without parallel structure. Melinda loves to read science fiction and fantasy novels, play video games, and teach composition and literature. Fun Fact: Her first name was decided by her father, “Me+Linda.”
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Merrickl-814x1024.jpegMerrick. MFA student in Poetry. Merrick is a 90’s kid from Oklahoma City who loves to laugh. They have 2 cats, enjoy reading poetry by the campfire, and drinking coffee on any available balcony. Their interests also include movies, hiking, kayaking, traveling, and writing. Fun Fact: They have a prosthetic bone in their right ear!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is drmmacheret-703x1024.jpgMinadora. PhD in English. Minadora received her PhD in 2022 from the University of North Texas in Creative Writing, specializing in poetry. She is also a scholar of poetry of the Shoah. She spent several years working in her university’s Writing Center where she supported students of all walks of life in their writing journey. Her interests include traveling, cooking, and hanging out with her two dogs. Fun Fact: She speaks 5 languages.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Nevin-1024x1011.jpgNevin. MA student (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Nevin is from Nashville but has lived in Knoxville for the past five years. She enjoys solving crossword puzzles, both bird- and people-watching, and giving her friends unsolicited music recommendations. Besides reading, her hobbies include studying astrology, editing Wilikipedia, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Fun Fact: She cannot do a cartwheel (and is jealous of everyone who can).
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Nicole-768x1024.jpgNicole. Undergraduate in Political Science with a concentration in Law and Courts. Nicole is from a small town in northern New Jersey, which is about a half hour from New York City. Moving to Knoxville was a big adjustment for her, but she has learned to love the area–sans bagels and pizza. She is an active member of Delta Zeta and Kappa Alpha Pi and adores all of the new friends she has made through school. Though her major is political science, she is partial to all things having to do with the arts. Her interests include music, literature, animals, baking/cooking, travel, and anything having to do with true crime. Fun Fact: Her dream job as a child was to be a marine biologist, and she was so obsessed with manatees that her parents “adopted” a manatee for her.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Owen-768x1024.jpgOwen. Undergraduate in Political Science and Economics with a minor in German. Owen is from Johnson City, Tennessee, and has lived in East Tennessee his whole life. He hopes to work in academia in the future. Owen likes to draw, go for walks, and play Minecraft. He is a big fan of Jimi Hendrix, “Seinfield”, and the New York Knicks. Fun Fact: He can do a handstand.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sandra-Dolores-1024x1024.jpegSandra Dolores (Lola). MFA student in Creative Writing (Poetry). Sandra Dolores has a BA in Modern English Literature from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México / National Autonomous University of Mexico). She was born and raised in Mexico and worked as an English-Spanish interpreter and translator for people convicted of crimes and individuals in immigration detention. She also volunteered in prisons and rehab centers. She loves watching horror movies, playing board games, dancing, cooking, and reading poetry. Fun Fact: She has a fraternal twin and seriously believes in twin telepathy.
Sarah Y. PhD student in Medieval Studies. After living all over the world as an Army brat, Sarah and her two Main Coon cats (Sokka and Zuko) settled in Knoxville for the coffee shops, breweries, and UTK. She received a BA in English from the University of South Carolina, Aiken and an MA in English from UTK. When she’s not working, she enjoys painting, reading in different locations, and listening to loud music that will inevitably damage her hearing. She also enjoys D&D, thrifting, and hiking (a very new hobby.) Fun Fact: She was at the Berlin Wall when it came down.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Shira-1-768x1024.jpgShira. MFA student in Poetry. Shira grew up in Michigan and completed her undergraduate degree in Pennsylvania. She enjoys new people and experiences. Her interests include cooking, reading, bike riding, and knitting. Fun Fact: She has the opposite of a green thumb, even though she loves plants!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Stefania.jpegStefania. MA student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics). Stefania is a fun-loving teacher who fosters inclusivity, passion, and knowledge in her teaching and learning environments. She learns from her students and her students learn from her! She has also developed a keen interest in the concepts of aestheticism, modernism, and metamodernism. She enjoys singing, browsing through photos on Pinterest, eating spicy foods, dogs, watching old movies from the 1980s and taking long naps when the weather is very cold. She will forever love Lord of the Rings, Cher, Gloria Estefan, Sade and Asa. Fun Fact: She loves feisty chihuahuas and smiley golden retrievers. They represent her dual personality well.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Stella-C-12.41.10-PM-754x1024.jpegStella C. Undergraduate in Linguistics and Psychology. Stella was born and raised in Nashville with her three younger siblings. She loves taking classes in Linguistics, Spanish, and English and plans to go to grad school for either English or Linguistics. In her spare time she likes to take photos on film, listen to music, and drink really good coffee. Fun Fact: She spent both semesters of her Junior year at UT studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is stevenphoto-1.pngSteven. PhD in English (Post45 Literature). Steven is a lecturer at UT. He received his PhD in English from the University of Missouri, where he taught writing and wrote a dissertation on how social movements get narrated in contemporary novels. Before Knoxville, he taught writing and tutored in Atlanta, Georgia; Madison, Wisconsin; Columbia, Missouri; and Fullerton, California, developing idiosyncratic hobbies and fascinating interests at each stop. He enjoys playing video games, watching soccer, and bird watching. Fun Fact: He logged more than 200 hours of playing Elden Ring in order to write an article about how video games are different from novels.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Temi.jpgTemi. MFA student in Creative Writing. Temi is a Nigerian writer with a degree in German from the University of Ibadan. He enjoys writing, reading, going on walks, listening to music, and doodling. Fun Fact: When in transit, his mind is often occupied with the most mundane thoughts.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Tristan-B.jpgTristan. Undergraduate in History. Tristan is a sophomore from Nashville. She is passionate about activism and volunteering. In her free time, she likes to read and spend time with her friends. Fun Fact: Her favorite color has always been orange, even before she knew she would attend UT!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Valerie-768x1024.jpgValerie. PhD in English (Renaissance Literature). Valerie received her PhD from the University of Virginia, where she taught in the first-year writing program. Her research interests include literature and material culture, and she can often be found writing in coffee shops. Her interests include reading, writing, cooking, and traveling. Fun Fact: She is an identical twin.