Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Meet our Staff




Kirsten Benson. Director, Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center. Ed.D., Leadership Studies in Higher Education. In one way or another 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, probably not surprisingly, reading of all types (especially, in the off-hours, dark Nordic mysteries). She also loves watching movies, beaches, walking and hiking, traveling, photography, and watercolor painting. Fun fact: She’s watched Malick’s The Thin Red Line at least 100 times and eventually turned that pastime (obsession?) into something productive by publishing an article on it.


Kat Powell, Assistant Director & Tutor Coordinator.

Alissa Reeves, Administrative Specialist. B.A., English 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 and is happy to return to “home base.”) She is excited to have a student-facing role in the JAHWC and enjoys watching students develop writing confidence. Her interests include her motorcycle, Harry Potter and Syro-Palestinian archaeology. Fun fact: She participated in an archaeological dig of a 1st century Roman fort in Aqaba, Jordan, in 2013.




Allie J. 4th-year PhD student in Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics. Allie first learned about writing centers as a first-year college student and has been hooked ever since. She enjoys being outside, spending time with family, reading good books, workout classes (especially yoga/barre), Netflix marathons, and playing the piano. Fun Fact: She waited until she was 26 to get her ears pierced.


Allie R. Undergraduate in Audiology and Speech Pathology; minor in Linguistics. Allie enjoys travel and has studied in Spain and New Zealand. She likes gardening, camping, and sitting on the porch drinking coffee. Fun fact: She volunteers to teach English as a Second Language classes for the Centro Hispano de East Tennessee.

Amber A. MFA student in Creative Writing (Poetry). Amber’s favorite color is Green Beret. She thrives, despite the daily doldrums; looking for relief, she’s found that kindness and goodness bring her joy. Her comfort reading is Wendell Berry’s and Joyce Carol Oates’s short stories. She is interested in how translations and their translators find one another, in everything from food to clothing to literature. Fun Fact: She loves jazz music, from its inception in the late 19th century to today, and sometimes, if the weather is right and the company is fine, she still plays her tenor.

Amber K-J. PhD student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics). Amber loves teaching writing. She is into mythology, is working on a YA Fantasy novel in her “free” time, and has 2 wonderful dogs named Baron and Regina. She dragged her husband to UTK from Upstate New York two days after they got married last July, and loves living in Knoxville. She likes writing, baking, walking her dogs, and binging Netflix. Fun fact: She loves doing DIY projects.

Ana. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Ana completed her B.A. in Classics from the University of Dallas. She’s an avid reader, especially of Medieval literature, and a firm believer in the power of the written word. Pursuing her MA, she hopes to gain the experience that will help her to encourage a love of learning. Her interests include Medieval literature, Norse mythology, political philosophy, theology, science fiction, knitting, and cooking. Fun fact: Having spent many of her formative years in the presence of cats, she occasionally meows instead of saying hello. It is strange and confusing for all parties involved.

Anne. 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.

Anita. MA student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics). Anita’s primary research interests include sociolinguistics, sociophonetics, and second language acquisition. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, painting, and playing with her new puppy. Fun Fact: She minored in Italian during her undergraduate career and studied abroad in Urbino, Italy for six weeks.

Ashton. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Ashton loves plants, books, art, and lots of coffee. Her primary research interests include Ecocriticism, trauma theory, and Native American studies. She has worked as a writing center tutor since 2018 and is excited to continue helping students with writing. Fun fact: She is getting married June, 2021.

Aubrey. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Aubrey is passionate about academic and creative writing and has published several study guides for contemporary novels. She has worked as a writing tutor since 2016 and is delighted to continue working in a field that gives her so much enjoyment. Her interests include reading, writing, researching, cosplaying, and attending anime and gaming conventions. Her academic areas of interest include both medieval and contemporary literature. Fun Fact: She comes from a large family; she has six sisters and two brothers, with three of her siblings being both special needs and adopted. She feels that her role in her family has contributed to her desire to help others by tutoring and teaching.

Casey. MFA student in Creative Writing (Poetry). Casey was born and raised in South Carolina and is excited to be living near the mountains. She loves poetry, astrology, and the color lavender. In her free time Casey loves to knit, but she’s not very good at it (yet). Fun Fact: She is going to be an aunt for the first time this February.

Catherine. MFA student in Creative Writing (Poetry). Catherine is from Northern California. She has taught and worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 10 years. Her interests include hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, singing, and writing. Fun Fact: She is a certified biodynamic gardener.

Dynestee. MA student in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics). Having spent over two decades in the small but lush city of Anderson, Dynestee is a South Carolinian. In her home state, she spent time completing an undergraduate degree in English and exploring the rhetoric surrounding veganism. When not engaging in academic work, Dynestee spends time with her dogs or scrolling through her Twitter feed. Her interests include reading, crafting creative nonfiction pieces, and exploring vegan eateries. Fun Fact: Her undergraduate honors project was a documentary on chicken communication.

Elizabeth. Undergraduate in Music Education. Elizabeth is a senior, a French horn player, a Knoxville native, and passionate about music, movies (horror and sci-fi, specifically), gaming, and writing. She plays piano, sings, and loves animals (she has a bird, a dog, and a fish). Her interests include social justice, gaming (animal crossing, Minecraft, Kirby, Mario, etc.), and creepy stuff (cryptids, conspiracy theories, the paranormal, true-crime, etc.). Fun fact: She has a bird named Squash whom she is teaching to talk.

Emma Grace. Undergraduate in Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. Emma Grace is a senior, and the next step on her academic journey is to attend law school. She’s passionate about philosophy and constitutional law and enjoys reading, writing, walking her dog, thrift shopping, and cooking. Fun fact: Almost 90% of her wardrobe is thrifted.

Hannah G. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Hannah majored in History and English and is especially interested in 20th-century literature. She enjoys making and playing text-based games and spending time with her nephews and nieces. She also enjoys making collages and occasionally playing the clarinet. Fun fact: Her favorite Pokémon is Bulbasaur.

Hannah S. PhD student in English (Writing Studies and Sociolinguistics). Hannah is a northeastern transplant to the south. She enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, and pretty much anything outdoors. Her secret for staying sane in graduate school and quarantine is cats. Her other interests include reading, sketching, and, did she mention—cats. Fun fact: She has completed three marathons, one of which she ran accidentally with very little preparation (the next week was rough).

Isabella. Undergraduate in Sociology, Environmental Issues concentration. Isabella is a junior from Nashville. She is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Philosophy and Public Policy Analytics. She spends her spare time organizing with the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led group dedicated to fighting for climate justice and a Green New Deal. She enjoys exploring restaurants and coffee shops in Knoxville, watching cheesy 80’s movies, and hiking in the Smokies. Her other interests include reading anything she can, seeing local live music, and learning about youth-led activism. Fun fact: She has played the clarinet for 10 years.

Jack. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Jack was born and spent most of his life in Texas and attended Dallas Baptist University for his undergraduate degree. He is passionate about the craft of writing and the different forms that can take. His interests include reading, writing, film, hiking, his dog, sports and coffee. Fun fact: He has traveled to five other countries.

Jake B. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Jake has a B.S. in Media and Entertainment, with a concentration in Audio Production, and minors in English and Business Administration. You can call him Jake or Jacob, whichever you prefer. He enjoys reading and writing and is happy to help you with composition. If you have questions, even questions he is unable to answer, he will do his best to point you in the right direction. His other interests include watching classic movies, running, and tennis. He’s tentatively been learning to play chess, and he is a big fan(?) of Franz Kafka and can probably answer your Kafka questions. Fun fact: He likes old, weird music and used to host a show at WMTS, MTSU’s student-run radio station, called “Dali’s Car.”

Jake B-Y. MA 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.

Joanna. Undergraduate in Architecture, with a minor in English and in Asian Studies. Joanna loves reading, writing and design. Instagram, Ted Talks, and Slam poetry are her weaknesses. She looks forward to working with students on their writing. Fun fact: She was a gymnast and one time she did a flip in class, at the professor’s request, and got extra credit for it.

Josh M. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Josh was born and raised in Knoxville and is excited to have the opportunity to pursue English at the graduate level. He hopes to study the many ways literature functions in the lives of individuals and encourage others to pursue literary studies as a form of cultural and philosophical analysis. If you can’t find him, he’s probably out in nature hiking, trail running, or rock climbing. Obviously he loves to read, but he is always open to dissect and discuss any kind of art, whether it be music, literature, visual art, or film. Fun fact: He is an all around coffee nerd and works at the local coffee cafe Honeybee Coffee Co., so feel free to stop in and say hello or discuss any book, movie, or album.

Josh S. MFA student in Creative Writing (Fiction). Josh has a canary in a coalmine relationship with the Internet, which finds its way into his fiction. His interests include playing/recording music no one will listen to, birdwatching, petting his dogs, cooking/eating, doing his best to keep his plants alive, and practicing as a professional amateur binge-watcher. Fun Fact: He once saw David Lynch crossing a street.

Josie. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Having recently returned from France working as an English-language assistant, Josie also tutored at the Lipscomb University Writing Center in Nashville, TN for three semesters. In her free time, she’s probably reading Shakespeare or Steinbeck, listening to an art history podcast, or rewatching Gilmore Girls. Fun Fact: Her pipedream is to work at the Louvre.

Julia A. Undergraduate in Hospitality and Tourism Management and Plant Sciences. Julia is a senior from Nashville. This is her third year in the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center, and she also works at the UT Greenhouses. She likes hiking, camping and gardening. Some of her hobbies include painting, making pottery and crocheting. Fun fact: She can touch her nose with her tongue.

Julia G. MA student in German. Julia graduated from UTK with a Bachelor’s in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, with a double concentration in German and Russian Studies. As a tutor, she enjoys working with students on archival research, application materials, and brainstorming sessions, which are always creative, interesting, and full of those “Aha!” moments. At other times she works on her German skills, listens to NPR’s podcasts, and explores Knoxville’s vegan cuisine. Her interests include fishing, thrifting, sustainability, roller skating, cooking, and yoga. Fun fact: She is an ordained minister.

Julia W. MA student in English (20th Century American literature). Julia is originally from the Bahamas but has lived in Knoxville for many years. She enjoys great questions, walks with her dog, and baking the perfect cookie. Her other interests include reading and playing sports. Fun Fact: She has a retired racing Greyhound named Teddy.

Katie. Undergraduate in International Development and Diplomacy and Arab Studies. Katie is a senior from Kingsport, Tennessee. She has been working in the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center since her sophomore year. She thinks this is the best job she has ever had because of her amazing fellow tutors and getting to help students and see them grow as writers and people. She loves travelling (when it’s safe), cooking, music, and reading. Fun Fact: She grew up in a household of anywhere from 8 to 11 people including her grandparents, her uncle, and a rotating cast of friends and neighbors who needed a home for a while.

Kelly. PhD student in Rhetoric, Writing & Linguistics. While she finds writing hard and scary a lot of the time, Kelly thinks that writing (and talking about writing with other people) is some of the most fun and meaningful work humans can do. She’s lived in Knoxville for about a year, and when there’s not a pandemic you can usually find her buying books at McKay’s or trying new places to eat downtown. In her free time, she likes baking, playing video games and D&D, hanging out with her two kittens, and spending too much time on Twitter. Fun fact: She has covered all four areas of the country because she grew up in California, got married in Montana, and graduated from schools in Virginia and Texas.

Lauren. Undergraduate in English (Literature) and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Lauren is from Hendersonville, TN, a senior, and is currently working on a plan for graduate school. She loves anything to do with clothing, thrifting, and DIY projects; she helps run an Etsy shop that sells vintage jewelry and accessories. She spends a lot of time with her friends, and she loves spoiling her cat. Fun Fact: Lauren has two fig trees.

Laurie. MA in Applied Linguistics. Laurie has taught for 23 years in UT’s English Department and is the proud mother of two UT graduates. With a B.A. in Political Science and German, M.A.s in Political Science and Linguistics, and a never-completed but brilliant dissertation on cross-lingual meaning negotiations, her current research interests are how English works as a global language and how graduate students develop expertise as writers in their research disciplines. She has lived and taught in Indiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Georgia, Minnesota, Germany, Mexico, and China. Laurie loves teaching, spending time with her family, singing, gardening, photography, reading about science, culture and history, traveling, and walking her dog Ruby. Fun Fact: Her name was once on the Berlin Wall (west side).

Maggie. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Maggie has an MS in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She’s a poet and a Pennsylvanian who’s been teaching and traveling in the South for 5 years. When she’s not dreaming about her next concoction, she is reading, snuggling her dogs, or working on crosswords/trivia with her significant other. Her interests include baking (preferably sweet treats, though she’s been getting into bread), reading, brief escapes into nature, writing, and spending time with loved ones. Fun Fact: Most of her houseplants have alliterative names; for example, she just got a dwarf palm who is now called Dolly Parton.

Megan. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Megan is from Huntsville, Alabama, and received her Bachelor’s at Jax State in Jacksonville, Alabama. She just moved to Tennessee with her husband and their wonderful cat Layla, and they are looking forward to all the new memories the future will bring. She loves reading and knows way too much about Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. She also enjoys spending time with her cat, and takes her out on walks when she can. Fun Fact: She comes from a very large family; she has five older siblings.

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.”

Michael. PhD student in Literature with an emphasis in Modernism, literary theory, and criticism. Michael loves video games, basketball,  television/films, and literature, but he got into the study of English and literature because he enjoys writing and helping people write. Discussing interesting ideas with people and helping them think through their ideas is enjoyable to him, so he has made it his career path. If people can better listen, think, and communicate, their lives will be better. In terms of his career interests, he is a big fan of T. S. Eliot and Modernism. Fun fact: He has ten siblings; one of whom is his twin sister.

Natalee. Undergraduate in Industrial Engineering. Natalee grew up in Cincinnati, which means she’s a fan of Skyline Chili and the Reds (although she’s never been to a winning game). She enjoys taking advantage of Knoxville hiking spots, planning events with CEB, and watching Netflix documentaries. Natalee loves Smokey and all things orange. Fun fact: She is obsessed with ducks.

Rachel. 3rd-year PhD student in English (20th-century American literature). Rachel’s primarily focus is Southern and working-class literature. This is her second year tutoring with the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center. During video tutoring sessions, her rabbit Maybelle June Carter might make an appearance. Her interests include reading, gardening, everything and anything related to Dolly Parton, and slaying zombies in video games. Fun Fact: She snacks like an old Southern grandpa; she loves beef jerky, boiled peanuts, pork rinds, and anything your grandfather keeps in his snack stash.

Sabrina. 1st-year MA student in English (Literature). Sabrina completed a Bachelor of Arts at Mississippi State University and is very excited to be living in Knoxville. She loves creative writing, doing research in 18th-century British literature, and when she’s not working on things for school, she loves all things music and concerts. Fun Fact: On her 16th birthday, Harry Styles and the rest of One Direction sang “Happy Birthday” to her at a concert in New Orleans.

Sean. Undergraduate in Psychology, with a minor in Linguistics. Sean is from Murfreesboro, TN, and has plans to go to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. On campus, he is involved in Greek life and research within the Psychology Department. He loves reading the work that students bring to the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center and looks forward to serving you this semester. His interests include writing, hiking, forcing himself to run, eating things, and serving. Fun fact: He was born the day that the Vols last won the CFB national title.

Shawn. Undergraduate in English (Creative Writing). Shawn would love to break into the industry and write novels for a living, but, for now, he is content to help others with their own writing endeavors. He is into weird art, whether that be film, video games, or books, so if he’s your tutor, give him a recommendation. His favorite film is Seven Samurai, his favorite book is Grendel, his favorite album is Wish You Were Here, and his favorite game is Bloodborne. In his spare time, he enjoys writing either short stories or art critiques. Fun fact: He was born in California but has lived in Knoxville most of his life, so it feels wrong to call himself a “Californian.”

Skylar. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). Skylar graduated from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor’s in English and minored in Creative Writing. Besides a love of literature both on and off the page, her life revolves around faith, family, and chocolate. Her interests include reading, writing, spending time with friends, playing with her Labrador Retriever named Buddy, and binge watching too many television shows. Fun fact: If she had a superpower, she would want elemental (water).

Tara. MFA student in Creative Writing (Fiction). Tara graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in English from the University of Georgia. She adores the stories we weave and unravel throughout our lives, which is why she loves reading, writing, and helping people on their journey to writing well. Her other interests include personality types, studying the history of WWII, singing and playing the piano, drinking tea, spending time in nature, and spending time with family. Fun fact: She studied abroad in Oxford, England.

Walt. MFA student in Creative Writing (Fiction). Walt is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and likes to run, play guitar, read and write fiction, and listen to records. His interests include music blogs, hiking, backpacking, and the Grateful Dead. Fun fact: A couple summers ago, he and a friend drove his ’05 Toyota from Birmingham to the Pacific Ocean and back. (And the car still runs!)

William. MA student in English (Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies). William is interested in modern and postmodern literature. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, vintage keyboards, hiking, and making noise. Fun fact: He has a phobia of horses.

Zoe. Undergraduate in Economics. On campus, Zoe’s in the Chancellor’s Honors Program and has spent two years on the Campus Events Board’s Arts & Culture Committee. Off campus, she enjoys watching Spanish telenovelas on Netflix and convincing herself that she loves going on long runs. When she has the chance, she loves to write for her fashion/travel blog. She also adores cooking and (more importantly) exploring new cultures through food. If she is not by her computer studying or writing, you’d probably find her dragging her friends to a new Thai spot or wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Fun fact: She was born with two teeth — she had her first dentist appointment when she was one day old.


Student Assistants


Courtney. Undergraduate in Advertising. Courtney is a compassionate empath with a keen eye for detail and loves the color orange. GO VOLS! Her interests include sports, reading and animals. Fun Fact: She loves plants but can’t have any because of her terrible allergies.

Mary Elizabeth. Undergraduate in Supply Chain Management. Mary Elizabeth is a senior and from Greensboro, NC. On campus, she is involved in NeXxus: Supply Chain for Women, CSCMP and is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. Her interests include yoga, kayaking, cooking and hiking. Fun Fact: She was studying in Milan, Italy during Fashion Week.