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About Us

Our Present

The 2016-2017 Writing Center staff members are:


Dr. Jim Purdy, Director
Dr. Jim Purdy is an associate professor in the English Department and directs the University Writing Center. He previously directed the Writing Center at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching interests include digital writing and research, new media technologies, composition theory, and writing center theory. He has published in numerous scholarly journals and edited collections. With Randall McClure, he edited two collections: The New Digital Scholar: Exploring and Enriching the Research and Writing Practices of NextGen Students (Information Today, Inc., 2013), which was awarded the Silver Medal for Education in the Commentary/Theory Category for the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards, and The Next Digital Scholar: A Fresh Approach to the Common Core State Standards in Research and Writing (Information Today, Inc., 2014), which was a finalist in the Educational/Academic Category at the 2014 USA Best Books Awards. With co-author Joyce R. Walker, he won the 2011 Ellen Nold Award for the Best Article in Computers and Composition Studies and the 2008 Kairos Best Webtext Award.

Ashley Kunsa, Assistant Director
Ashley K. is Assistant Director of the University Writing Center and a PhD candidate in English literature at Duquesne. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary fiction, war literature, American literature after 1945, and creative writing. Ashley holds an MFA in fiction writing from Penn State University, and her short stories, creative non-fiction, and poetry appear in a variety of print and online venues. She has received awards for both her writing and teaching, including Duquesne's Center for Teaching Excellence Graduate Student Award for Teaching Excellence. In Spring 2016 she co-founded the DU Dog Tags Literary Society, a creative writing group for the university's military and veteran students. She's very excited to be back at the Writing Center for 2016-17!

Graduate Writing Consultants

Nicole Aceto
Nicole is a new PhD student in English Literature. She received her bachelor's in English Literature from Franciscan University of Steubenville and my Master of Arts in Literary History from Ohio University. In addition, she has been teaching writing and composition for the last seven years, two as a teaching assistant at Ohio University and five as an adjunct professor at Eastern Gateway Community College. She loves to work with students to help their writing become effective in terms of audience and purpose. Though she has lived in Steubenville since she was eleven years old, she is a Pennsylvania native and has always loved the city of Pittsburgh. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and go to plays and concerts. She looks forward to working with you.

Erin Connel, ESL writing specialist
Erin completed her undergraduate degree, a Bachelor's in Psychology with a concentration in applied developmental psychology, at Edinboro University. There she was an active participant in Psychology and Law research and she has presented at many conferences in the Northwestern Pennsylvania area as well as at the international American Psychology-Law Society Conference. Currently Erin is pursuing her Doctorate degree in School Psychology here at Duquesne University. Here she is also getting involved in research related to early intervention. Being in the healthcare field, Erin is very passionate about helping others and spreading positive energy. In her spare time, Erin is very interested in overall physical health and fitness, including many different forms of exercise and healthy eating.

Ashley Cook, Online Writing Center consultant
Ashley is a master's student studying English Language and Literature with a certification in Women's and Gender Studies. Her goal is to continue her education into a Ph.D. program where she will pursue a career as an English professor. Her favorite author is Margaret Atwood, but she loves reading new authors and exploring other genres. Recently, she began venturing into reading sci-fi novels and graphic novels and she adores when friends and colleagues give her reading suggestions! Writing and helping others improve their writing is one of her passions and she is excited to be part of the Writing Center team.

Sadie Crow
Sadie is in her first year as an MA student in the English department, where she also works as a course instructor for UCOR 101. A West Virginia native, Sadie completed her under-graduate degree in English at West Virginia University in 2015. At WVU, she was a mem-ber of Sigma Tau Delta, an English honorary society, as well as Phi Beta Kappa, a liberal arts honorary society. Her work tends to focus on 20th century American literature, pop-ular culture, gender, and sexuality. She hopes to one day earn a PhD in literature and teach at the collegiate level. In her spare time, she enjoys binge watching Game of Thrones and listening to Beyoncé.

Bethany Csomay
Bethany graduated summa cum laude from Westminster College with All-College Honors and a BA in English literature; she is currently pursuing a Master's in English literature at Duquesne. Dedicated to writing and research in the humanities, Beth is a teaching assistant for the English department. Her areas of focus include British Romanticism, eighteenth century British literature, feminism, and narrative theory. She hopes to continue her research on Mary Darby Robinson's Vancenza; or the dangers of credulity and eventually establish the text as revisionist. She aspires to continue her education by pursuing a PhD in English after her MA. Beth hopes to help students of all writing levels and backgrounds as they traverse the collegiate journey.

Courtney Druzak
Courtney is a PhD student in the English Literature program. She received her bachelor's degree in Creative Writing at Chatham College for Women, and her MA from West Virginia University. Courtney enjoys all things medieval and early modern, and has a cat named Jasper.

Emily Keith, business wriitng specialist
Emily is a first year MA student in the English department. She completed her under-graduate degree at Duquesne, where she double majored in English literature and phil-osophy. She has worked at several editorial positions and considers writing an essential aspect of her life. As an academic, Emily's interests incline toward literary theory and mod-ernism, with a particular focus on women and marginalized voices. In her free moments, Emily spends time with her pet cats and tortoise.

Max Ma
Max is an English Literature PhD student at Duquesne University with previous education in Film Studies, Comparative Literature, and Japanese Studies. He loves poetry, Disney films, Arsenal and listening to the old time, sentimental storytelling country songs, and specifically, the songs by Willie Nelson. He was a captain in a college soccer team until tearing his left-leg meniscus, and with a last-minute equalizing goal in memory, he thinks it all worth it. He also likes film-making and philosophy. Max has a passion in writing and would like to spread this passion to his fellow students.

Dominic Mayle, science writing specialist
Dominic is studying law at Duquesne. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry with an emphasis on polymer science from the University of Akron. He has had the privilege to work on scientific papers that were peer-reviewed and published in his field. As a law student, he is interested in the intersection of law, science, and public policy in areas like intellectual property and healthcare. Dominic also enjoys reading fiction and philosophy.

Rachael Owen
Rachael is a first-year in the M.A. program in English. She is a recent graduate from Chatham University, where she received her bachelor's degree and studied English, Women's and Gender Studies, and Creative Writing. Her areas of interest include contemporary literature and queer eco-criticism. In the past, Rachael has acted as a peer tutor, and she currently teaches an undergraduate course at Duquesne. She plans to pursue a doctorate in literature, with the career aspiration of becoming a college professor. She loves the process of writing and revising papers, and looks forward to helping other students in this process.

Will Powell
Will is a graduate student in Duquesne's English Department. He teaches Thinking and Writing (UCOR 101) and Critical Writing and Imaginative Literature (UCOR 102). He enjoys working with writers at all levels, and has experience providing feedback on Rhetorical Analysis as well as Dissertation chapters. Will has worked in the Writing Center in some capacity for 5 of the past 6 years, and is a former ESL Specialist. In that capacity, he worked closely with both undergraduate and graduate non-native writers in English on topics ranging from the anxiety over how to begin an essay and how to interpret a prompt to topics as narrow as how to determine which is the best preposition to choose in a particular sentence. While Will is most conversant in MLA Style and format, he has also worked with APA, ASA, and Chicago (though he's also up for any formatting challenge). He especially likes discussing an essay's structure and organization, how conclusions work, and which different revision strategies might best help blocked writers.

Brie Sheldon, Online Writing Center consultant
Brie is a graduate student in the Master's of Leadership program. She received her Bachelor's degree from Duquesne in Organizational Leadership. Brie's writing credits include fiction and development work for the Firefly tabletop roleplaying game and a number of independent projects. She also works as an editor for multiple roleplaying game properties ranging from fantasy to horror. As obvious, she plays tabletop roleplaying games as a hobby, as well as watching a lot of movies, taking photos with her husband, writing flash fiction, and contributing to community activism.

Alexis Randolph, Website and Soical Media Coordinator 
Alexis Randolph is a first year MA student in the English Department. She received her undergraduate degree in English with and concentration in professional writing and editing from West Virginia University. She enjoys media writing, journalism, and social media. Alexis loves all things HGTV, watching her little sisters play softball, and her cat Handsome Jack.

Undergraduate Writing Consultants

Mary Davis
Mary is a junior secondary education and English double major and is an Honors College student. On campus she is a member of the professional education fraternity Kappa Delta Epsilon, is a member of Delta Zeta, and is an orientation team leader. She has a passion for reading everything and anything, especially biographies and memoirs. After earning her bachelor's degree, she plans on pursuing her master's degree or attending law school.

Ohara Hamlin
Ohara is a senior business marketing major with a minor in legal studies. She dreams of one day becoming a lawyer, but writing will always be a passion of hers. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry and traveling. She loves a good adventure, in Fall 2014 she traveled to four different countries! Her favorite author is Ernest Hemingway, and she is a tad bit obsessed with the show Mad Men. This is her first year working in the Writing Center, and she looks forward to helping her fellow students to become better writers.

Anna Kemper
Anna is a junior corporate communication major with minors in philosophy, English, and digital media. She loves learning and the liberal arts. She is a leader of the ALIVE ministry on campus, and is also a member of Pursuing Purpose; Evergreen; and Sigma Delta Tau, the English honor society. She hopes to work in communication and design with a non-profit ministry in the future. In her spare time, she likes to play guitar, read G.K. Chesterton, and write poetry and fiction.

Marguerite Madden
Marguerite is a junior majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications with minors in Economics and Intercultural Engagement in the Liberal Arts school at Duquesne. In addition to being a tutor for the Writing Center, Marguerite is also the chair for FeelGood Club, a nonprofit with the goal of ending world hunger by 2030. In addition to reading, writing, and thrift shopping, Marguerite loves to run and has competed in both half and full marathons. Upon graduating from Duquesne, she hopes to find a way to bring her passion for running and nonprofit work together so she can promote the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and giving back to the community.

Angela Mignanelli
Angela is a junior English writing major with a minor in Journalism and Media Arts. She has many passions, including singing, running, and writing poetry. She hopes to one day sail to the heights of greats like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, her favorite musicians. She also has an interest in Beat poetry, with a fiery reverence for writers such as Anne Waldman and Jack Kerouac. Luckily, her academic studies work in tandem to inform her creative endeav-ors. Angela is also a year-round member of Duquesne's cross county and track teams, as well as a published poet in Lexicon, Duquesne's preeminent literary magazine. In her spare time, she can be found perusing record stores around the city of Pittsburgh.

Taylor Wadsworth
Taylor is a junior international relations major with a minor in sociology. A member of Delta Zeta, she loves creative writing and runs several blogs in her spare time. Travel and fashion are two of her greatest interests, and she studied abroad in Rome in Fall 2015, an experience she will never forget. Although she is not sure of what her exact plans are following graduation, she hopes that her major will allow her to travel more and learn more about the world and international affairs.

Joining the Staff

Students interested in applying to be a consultant at the Writing Center should submit a cv/résumé, academic research-based writing sample, and application form to the Director. Please contact the Director, Dr. Jim Purdy, at 412-396-1293 or purdyj at duq.edu for more information.


Consultants receive ongoing training and professional development in teaching writing. They have the opportunity to attend writing center conferences (e.g., the Pittsburgh Area Regional Writing Centers Conference, National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, East Central Writing Centers Association Conference).

Past consultants have gone on to work at writing centers at other universities; been accepted to graduate programs at top universities (e.g., Brandeis, Illinois State, Purdue); and pursued successful careers in education at middle, secondary, and postsecondary levels, as well as in business and law.

Our Past

The Writing Center has been a part of Duquesne’s academic life for more than twenty years. Originally housed in the English Department and designed to meet the needs of the Core Curriculum, the Writing Center has grown and expanded its scope of service to address the writing needs of the entire campus community, including students and faculty.