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Department of English

Alumni News

The Monmouth University Department of English takes pride in the accomplishments—professional and personal—of our alumni. Our graduates have entered into a range of careers, and have engaged in experiences that have enriched their lives and the communities in which they live. Some of these accomplishments are listed below.

If you would like to add your story or to update information, please contact Dr. Beth Gilmartin-Keating at, Interim Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

Skylar Daley, B.A. ’21 – was accepted to the M.A. in English programs at American University, Fordham University, Boston University and Seton Hall University.

Amy Grimm Monahan, M.A. ’12 – was awarded the Monmouth University-Roberts Charitable Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award for 2020.

Bianca Zazzarini-Leon, B.A. ’20 – was accepted to the Spanish Doctoral Program at SUNY Albany, as well as the Ph.D. programs offered at Florida International University and the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Kimberley Morgan, M.A. ’18 – is currently an Assistant Managing Editor for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Katryna Cordova, B.A. ’17 – was awarded second place in the 2018-2019 Brooklyn Law School Regional Arbitration Competition. She and her team were also semi-finalists in the National Competition at the American Bar Association (ABA) headquarters. She is currently in her second year at New York Law School.

Maria Geiger, M.A. ’12, B.A. ’09 – After graduating from Monmouth University with an M.A. in English Literature, Maria earned a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (VOLT). She is an online educational technology instructor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and also adjuncts at Monmouth, where she teaches freshman composition.

Robert Magella, B.A. ’14, published

Michael Pagel, M.A. ’08 – Congratulations to Dr. Pagel on the completion of  his Ph.D. in English from Middle Tennessee State University!

Corrine Cavallo, M.A. ’14 – is a photographer based in Asbury Park.

Lisa Pikaard, M.A.’10 – is a senior writer of Pop-Break, a digital pop culture magazine, where she reviews and interviews hard rock bands.  She also works at The Barclay Center in Brooklyn.

Jennifer Pergola, B.A. ’05 – was awarded first place in the Stage Play category of the 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition for her play, “Change or Death.”

Anthony Valentino, M.A. ’10 – recently accepted a position as an Associate Professor at the County College of Morris

Bernadette Sabatini, M.A. ’13 – won 1st place in the Monmouth County Library Senior Art Exhibit for the second year in a row!

Maria Opirhory, B.A. ’12 – is currently a Lead Teacher in a preschool in Denver, but will be starting a new job in August as an Educational Assistant at Community Leadership Academy in Commerce City, CO. She is very excited about this new position because nearly 90% of her future students are ESL learners, and her main responsibility will be to provide supplemental support and small-group instruction to struggling 4th graders.

Christine Skirka, B.A. ’12 – recently accepted a position with Baker & Taylor in Bridgewater, NJ, as an Adaptive Cataloger in the book industry.

Lexah Ashlee Coppotelli B.A. ’10 – received her MFA from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. She has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature (Hebrew and English) at the University of Connecticut for Fall 2012 with a teaching assistantship. Her Ph.D. research will be on Jewish concepts in British literature during the Victorian Era.

LeAnn Moczdlowski, B.A. ’11 – is working as an Account Coordinator at R&J Public Relations, a Bridgewater, N.J., public relations agency with a diverse client roster. LeAnn is responsible for driving tactical activities on a variety of company accounts, including business-to-business clients, non-profit and association clients, as well as developing persuasive communication initiatives and materials.

Michele Giles, M.A. ‘10 – is adjuncting at Ocean County College, where she teaches freshman composition. She is also employed at Georgian Court University as the communications specialist for its fundraising division.

Meghan Kutz, M.A. ’10 – is attending library school at Illinois and is graduating with an M.L.S. degree on top of her M.A. from Monmouth University.

Jessica Ball Severin, B.A. ’10 – is working as a reference librarian at West Florida Public Library in Pensacola, Florida.

William Wend, MA ’09 – since leaving Monmouth he has been adjuncting at Burlington County College, where he is currently interviewing for a full time lecturer position. William has been published a few times, including the article he read at the winter ‘08 English symposium. A portion of his M.A. thesis is currently under review for publication, as is a “chunk” he deleted.

Tara Boswell, B.A. ’09 – was accepted in the M.F.A. program in Poetry at Columbia College, Chicago and was also awarded a teaching fellowship.

Erin Gallagher, B.A. ’09 – is currently back at Monmouth University for her M.S.Ed. as a Reading Specialist. Her first year out in the real world consisted of a job opportunity as a Special Education Aide in a local beach school district. However, her passion for literature, reading, and writing helped her decide to go back to school. She is also currently tutoring four children in areas of writing and reading comprehension, working with some “classics” in the field: Number the Stars or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Katelyn Mirabelli, B.A.’ 09 (Departmental Honors) – is employed in the Rights department at W.W. Norton & Company since graduating from Monmouth in spring 2009.

Lisa A. Adams, B.A. ’08 – holds NJ Certification for Elementary Education K-5 and a NJ Certification for Teacher of English. She tried to find a teaching job for the fall of 2008, but, as she writes, “to no avail.” She then took a position managing the Internet Department at W&D Imports, which is located in Burlington, NJ, and recently left there to pursue her Master’s Degree in Special Education (Teacher of Students with Disabilities track) at Monmouth. She is currently living in Langhorne, PA with her boyfriend, and in her free time she is working on writing her first book, an autobiography. Lisa writes, “Yes, my life is actually a bit more interesting than it sounds :)”

Michael Pagel, M.A. ’08 – is a 2nd year English Ph.D. student at Middle Tennessee State University, specializing in Renaissance Literature with a secondary concentration in Old and Middle English.

Lisa Panettiere, B.A. ’08 – has worked at Mount Pleasant-Blythedale, a special needs school, as a teacher’s assistant for the past 2 years. This coming fall, she begins her studies at New York Medical College to earn a masters in Speech Language Pathology. Lisa definitely misses “the good ‘ol Monmouth days!!”

Wendy Adolfsen, B.A. ’07 – currently resides in Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the graduate program at Monmouth where she is seeking an M.A.T. in teaching secondary language arts with an endorsement in ESL.

Theresa Clark, B.A. ‘05, MAT ’07 – is about to begin her 4th year teaching English at the Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science.

Jennifer Pergola, B.A. ’05 – is a medical secretary with Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel.

Kellee (Fellenz) Rodriguez, B.A. ’05 – got married last year, and she and her husband are expecting a little baby girl during the week of Thanksgiving, so, Kellee writes, “we have a lot to be thankful for!” For the past two years she has been working as a clinical research associate for a medical education company. Prior to that, she was a Medical Editor for a pharmaceutical advertising firm in Manhattan.

Brian Daneman, B.A. ’04 – published his first novel, Unintended Consequences, available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. He has also written two screenplays that he has been shopping around, and is currently working on his second novel, The Dress. He hopes to have the first draft completed sometime next year. And lastly, he is about six months away from completing his Masters in Sports Administration from Concordia University in Irvine California.

Wendy Hilton, B.A. ’03 – Wendy writes that her “educational journey has been somewhat long and interrupted, but overall I love being in school and most of all love teaching my younger students to read.” After graduating from Monmouth University with a degree in English, she spent time with her daughter Grace who is now 11 years old. She now has teaching licenses in Elementary Education: K-5 and Highly Qualified in English K-12 and is currently employed by the Tinton Falls Public School District as a Basic Skills Teacher for grades 1-3. She is also attending New Jersey City University for her degree and certification as a Reading Specialist. And she still owns a copy of Boswell’s Life of Johnson!

Nancy Koenig, B.A. ’03 – returned last summer from Peace Corps service in Romania where she taught English in two village schools. Nancy writes, “What a fabulous experience it was!” She is currently looking for work, but in the meantime is working with ARC of Monmouth in a residential home for disabled adults.

Joe Palazzolo, B.A. ’03 – earned a Masters of the Arts in Public Policy with a concentration in Community Development in May 2006 from Rutgers University. Since August 2006, he’s worked as a Lending Officer/Program Director at a statewide, nonprofit loan fund called New Jersey Community Capital. In addition, Joe is an Adjunct Professor in Monmouth University’s Political Science and Sociology department where he teaches Intro to Political Science, American National Government, and Community Public Policy (a course that he designed). He’s also an online mentor for Thomas Edison State College where he is involved in their Business School’s nonprofit management curriculum. In January 2006 Joe opened a web design and maintenance company called Usable Web Solutions, LLC. Today, he has about 2 dozen clients focusing on small businesses and local nonprofit organizations. In 2008, Joe was elected to the Board of Trustees of the National Educational Foundation and last week was elected to serve as the Board Treasurer. Joe also serves as the Chairman of the Marketing Committee and the Strategic Planning Study Group. Finally, Joe volunteers some of his time to the local chapter of Sigma Pi at Monmouth University and tries to help out the other chapters of Sigma Pi located in New Jersey when possible.

Neva Pontoriero, B.A. ’03 – After graduating with a B.A. in English in 2003, Neva has since received an M.A.T. with NJ certification to teach English (2005) and an M.A. in Corporate and Public Communication with a specialization in Public Relations (2009), both from Monmouth. Over the past five years, Neva has worked as an adjunct professor at Brookdale Community College, a writing assistant in the Writing Centers of both Brookdale and Monmouth, an eighth-grade language arts and literature teacher at a local private school, and a freelance consultant for a public relations firm in New York City. Neva is currently employed as the Coordinator of Supplemental Instruction at Monmouth University, where she is completing an additional (and final!) M.A. in English.

Scott Bostwick, B.A. ’98 – Following graduation from Monmouth University in 1998 Scott attended Princeton Theological Seminary and was graduated in 2001 with a Master of Divinity degree. He has since become an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, currently serving a church in Bay Head, NJ, where during the summer months worship services are held on the beach. Scott also plays bass in the worship team. Scott was married in 2004, and has two sons, aged 4 and 2. He uses the skills learned at Monmouth weekly in sermon preparation and delivery.

Jennifer Meehan DeFalco, B.A. ’98, M.A.L.A. ’05 – currently resides in Manasquan, NJ, with her husband of eleven years and two children, Mackenzie (6) and Anthony (5). After completing her undergraduate work at Monmouth in 1998, she worked at a small publishing company as a production assistant and then as an editor. Jennifer was employed at Monmouth University as assistant director of Enrollment Publications and Communications until the birth of her daughter in 2003. Jennifer is currently a stay-at-home mom, but plans to re-enter the workforce in 2011 when both of her children will be in school full-time. In the future, she hopes to write a book.

Mike Weaver, BA ’97 – has a new employer, ICF International, where he works as the Payroll Coordinator. He still lives in the Washington DC, metro area.

Justine Durdack, B.A. ’96, MAT ’07 – lives in Fair Haven New Jersey with her husband and three children. She has been working as a high school English teacher in Middletown Township since 2007. Prior to teaching, she worked for a local magazine publishing company as a fact checker and data compiler.

Betty Megill, B.A. ‘95 – is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and the pastor at two churches in South Jersey, Lumberton United Methodist Church and 1st United Methodist Church of Mt Holly. Betty has been married to Glenn for 35 years. They have a married daughter and a 3 1/3-year-old granddaughter. Betty just returned from a Mission Trip to Oakville, Iowa, to help rebuild after the levees broke in 2008 and nearly destroyed the small town. Betty writes that “They are fighting back – their motto ‘The little town that refused to drown’.” Betty is proud to say that she is a member of the first graduating class of Monmouth University in 1995.

Lena Milling, B.A. (EN and CO) ’89 – After having both of her children, Nathan and Sara Mahanirananda, she returned to Monmouth University in 1994 and received her Masters in Teaching in 1996, working first at Oakhurst Country Day School in 1998 and then in the public sector as an English teacher in Red Bank Borough from 1999-2001 and then for the Township of Ocean School District from 2001-2008. She has been an educational freelance writer and copy editor since 2005, and has published three grammar and writing books for LearningExpress, LLC. She left teaching in 2008 and worked as a Senior Project Editor for McGraw-Hill in NYC, writing and editing copy for McGraw-Hill’s Treasures reading program for the fourth and fifth grades. She describes this work as “a thrilling and very memorable experience commuting to the city and working for a ‘larger-than-life’ company whose materials I learned from as a child and taught from as a teacher.” She writes, “I found, however, that I missed my classroom, the kids, and the uniquely creative outlet teaching provided me, and so returned to Ocean Township’s school district.” She and her husband Tham celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past February. Her son Nathan graduated from MCVSD’s Academy of Allied Health and Science and is studying bio-medical engineering at Boston University, and her daughter Sara is entering her senior year at Allied as well and will graduate in June, 2011.

Virginia Amend, B.A. ’88 – Virginia describes her Monmouth University experience as “broadening,” leading her to, among other things, a lifelong appreciation of galleries and museums. She particularly remembers studying Chaucer with Dr. Barbara Jaye, and has passed her books on to her grandson, who graduated from Collier School this June as valedictorian. She has been in publishing for 38 years and has three community-based tabloids: Colts Neck Calendar, Holmdel Happenings, and Lincroft Village News. Randall Gabrielan once did a story on me for the Two River Times in which he described me as “The Conscience of Colts Neck.” In the 19 years from her first course at an off-site class in Neptune to graduation day from Monmouth in 2008, Virginia also put three daughters through college: Pat Amend Walsh, B.A. Art, Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Peggy Amend, B.A. Computer Science, Duke University; Jane Amend, B.A. Business, Rhodes College, Memphis, M.A. Penn State. Virginia has mentored many students, including a recent award winner. Virginia writes, “More than anything, I learned from my college experience the value, as iterated by Hannah Arendt, of ‘the life of the mind.’ My years at Monmouth University have enriched my life. My profile is different from young students. Nevertheless, it broadened my outlook. And that’s a good thing.”

Denise Adams Arnold, B.A. ’73 – earned her M.A. in English/Education from Agnes Scott College (GA) in 1999. She now teaches freshman English part time at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, GA and Mercer University in Atlanta, and does occasional freelance work as well.

Marcia (Edwards) Ford, B.A. ’72 – currently resides in Woodland Park, Colorado. For the past 10 years, Marcia has worked full-time as an author and independent editor. Prior to that, she was a newspaper editor, magazine editor, and freelance writer. She’s written 25 nonfiction books, all released by traditional publishers, plus several ghostwritten books, one for a New York Times bestselling author. Marcia is also a book consultant and conducts writing retreats for women in the Colorado Rockies.

Mary Fisk, B.A. ‘71 – graduated from Monmouth with a double major in literature and philosophy, but “given the lack of demand for philosophers (!), was able to earn a living with the English background.” Mary has been in publishing in one form or another for 35 years or so. For the last seven, she has been working as a manager of book production at the World Bank.

Sandy Bobrick, B.A. ’70, MS 73 – is an attorney practicing in Washington State for the past thirty years – 25 with her own firm, Sloan Bobrick PS.

Linda Deutsch, B.A. ’65 (MU Distinguished Alumni ’96) – is currently a special correspondent for the Associated Press, and has been recognized for excellence in her profession through several awards.