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EIU Department of English

Handshaking Night 

What can you do with your English major (or minor)? Every few years, we have the opportunity to explore more. Below, you can read biographies of the professionals who were present at our 2019 Handshaking Night to talk with EIU students about their careers and the ways that studying English helped prepare them for a variety of professional experiences.


Below are the biographies for the professionals who who were on hand to talk with EIU students at our last Handshaking Night, as well as biographies for those who have participated at other past Handshaking Nights.

2019 Featured Professional Guests  
Brandy Barter Storm


Brandy Barter-Storm is a Lecturer at the English Language Center (ELC) at Millikin University. The ELC is a program designed to help international students improve either their academic English skills in preparation for university study in the U.S. or their professional English skills in preparation for work in their chosen field. Brandy regularly teaches Speaking & Listening, Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, and American Studies courses at the ELC. Her interests include raising cultural awareness through content, helping students develop their critical thinking skills, and the integration of teaching and technology. She is a member of several professional organizations including TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), CALICO (Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium), and ITBE (Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages--Bilingual Education). Brandy has an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Lake Land College, a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Eastern Illinois University, and an M.A. in TESOL from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Prior to coming to Millikin, she taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to a variety of learners from elementary school students in India to adult learners in California and Illinois. Brandy has also conducted teacher training for pre and in-service ESL teachers in China.

Tameka Johnson-Tillman  Tameka Johnson-Tillman is an Assistant Professor of English at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, IL and a doctoral student at Illinois State University. Her research interests include rhetoric and composition and curriculum design with a focus on accelerated learning models. She is also interested in literacy within the field of composition studies. Tameka has been teaching at the community college level for ten years. As a graduate of Parkland College and Eastern Illinois University, she has witnessed the positive impact that comes from developing relationships between professors and students and how those relationships can enhance students’ lives. To continue that tradition, she chooses to teach at the community college level.
Kirsten Bays Kirsten Bays is an attorney and has two jobs. Ten hours a week she is the Student Legal Services Attorney at EIU. Her “full time” job is being an adoption and reproductive technology attorney. As the SLS attorney, her job is to advise and refer students on a variety of legal matters including small claims court, land lord tenant issues, criminal matters and almost any other legal issue that arises while a student is at school at EIU. As an adoption and reproductive technology attorney, her job is to finalize all kinds of adoptions including private, agency, related, international and ward children adoptions. Additionally, she works in reproductive technology law including drafting related to gestational surrogacy, egg and/or sperm donation and embryo adoption. Lawyers write, read and talk for a living, so her job involves legal writing and research every single day. Although Kirsten didn’t graduate with an English degree from EIU, she almost did and only dropped the double major when she found out it would mean waiting a year to go to law school. She took several English courses while at EIU and the class she credits with helping her the most in law school and legal writing was The Structure of English.
  Bobbi Kingery is the Director of Career Services and a Master Career Counselor at Eastern Illinois University. Bobbi and her staff provide workshops, career fairs, and one-on-one counseling to help students prepare for their careers, find internship and other experiential learning opportunities, and prepare for all steps of the job search process.

 Randy Beebe


Randall Beebe is the Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He teaches courses in British Romanticism and 19th-century British studies, with research interests in the novel, poetry, and 18th- and 19th-century transatlanticism. 

Letitia Moffitt  Letitia L. Moffitt received her BA in English from University of California at Berkeley, her MA in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and her PhD in English/Creative Writing from State University of New York at Binghamton. She has taught academic, creative, and professional writing, as well as literature and ESL. She currently owns and operates a freelance writing and editing company, and her clients range from investment bankers to engineers to sociology professors.
 David Busboom David Busboom is a writer and editor based in Champaign County, Illinois. He earned a BA in English from EIU in 2014, and currently works as the Managing Editor for the Poultry Science Association. His fiction has appeared in such publications asHeroic Fantasy Short StoriesCrimson StreetsUnnerving MagazineThe Norwegian American, and Haunted are These Houses. His debut novella, Nightbird, was published by Unnerving in February 2018. More about David and his work can be found at
Eleni Tzounakos      


Eleni Tzounakos is an international second year graduate student at EIU studying Health Promotion and Leadership. She received her BS in Applied Psychology (Hons) from University of Derby, UK, and is a holder of a piano and vocal performance diploma.  Eleni was born and raised in Athens, Greece but has studied abroad in Poland, Belgium, and Italy and has volunteered and worked in France for two summers. Eleni focused her undergraduate research on cross-cultural constructions of same sex marriage, interviewing Greek and American LGBTQ+ members.  Wanting to expand her passion for cross-cultural experiences, Eleni joined EIU’s Office of Study Abroad as a graduate assistant in 2018, where her main role is to advise students wanting to go to Eurasia and students who want to teach abroad. She enjoys spending her free time playing music and wants to do a PhD in Clinical Health Research in New Zealand upon graduation.

 Chris Houchens Chris Houchens earned his B.A in 2009 and M.A. in 2011. As an undergrad, he worked as a clerk at the Charleston Carnegie Public Library, and as a graduate student, he worked in the EIU Writing Center. After finishing his degrees at EIU, he moved to Champaign, IL and worked as an Assistant Store Manager for Walgreens. After nearly four years working there, he went back to school and earned his M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois in 2016. While at U of I, he worked as a Residence Hall Library Supervisor, running his own mini-library. In March 2017, he returned to the Charleston Carnegie Public Library as the Library Director.
 Abbey Nosbisch After graduating from EIU in 2012, Abbey Nosbisch moved back to Effingham, Illinois, to begin working as a Marketing Assistant for the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. After five years in the tourism industry and eight years with the City of Effingham, she was promoted to Deputy City Clerk in the fall of 2017 and then appointed to City Clerk in February 2019. As City Clerk, Abbey's functions are broad and vital to the operation and welfare of the community serving as keeper of the official record of the City of Effingham and the City Seal. The City Clerk supervises the City debt, obligations, loans, liabilities and other payments of interest, along with being responsible for all City bonds, contracts, agreements, ordinances, resolutions and minutes. The City Clerk keeps a record of and attends all City Council Meetings. Abbey is also the Freedom of Information Act Officer and Open Meetings Act Officer for the City of Effingham. 
 Jill Monroe Jill Monroe is an editor at Mayhaven Publishing, Inc., a small but productive press in Mahomet, IL. She earned her B.A. in English from EIU in 2014 and her M.A. in History in 2018. As an undergraduate, she wrote a thesis on women readers in the novels of Virginia Woolf, and her research was presented at the Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference in 2014. Recently, her research on the evolution and use of music in WWI has been published in EIU's Historia.  Jill began her career at Mayhaven as an intern in 2013 and became the editorial assistant the following year. After the death of her mentor and Mayhaven founder, Doris Wenzel, Jill became the primary editor for the company in 2018. She is now working on taking over the business. She enjoys her working relationships with Mayhaven's authors and artists, helping them bring their works to life, and providing quality books in a variety of genres to Mayhaven's customers. While editing remains her favorite part of the job, she has also gained experience in the marketing, printing, retail, and legal aspects of publishing.
 Clint Walker Clint Walker attended the Graduate Program in English at EIU from 2009-2011 where his focus was Creative Writing. He currently is the Community Content Coordinator at the JG-TC newspaper in Mattoon, focusing on all items of Community Interest. His column, "The Throwback Machine," runs on the front page of the paper every Saturday. 


  Previously Featured Professional Guests
Hannah Osborne

After graduating from EIU in 2016, Hannah Osborne moved to St. Louis to start working at Concordia Publishing House as a copy editor, where she proofread books and other materials. After a few months, she switched positions and became a copywriter in the marketing department. Now, she spends her days writing promotional copy for emails, CPH’s ecommerce website, back covers of books, catalogs, blog posts, print ads, press releases, social media, and more.


Joe Tucci graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a BA in English in 2017. While at Eastern he studied Professional and Creative Writing and held an internship at the Mattoon Public Library as a writing intern for a semester. Now he is employed at the library managing their marketing and social media outreach as well as playing a role in their collections development and helping out with programs. He's also currently an intern at the Lumpkin Family Foundation. Next fall he plans to attend the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences to pursue an M.S. in Library and Information Science.



A father, writer, and impassioned nerd, Aaron White graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a BA in English in 2011 and an MA in Literary Studies with Creative Writing emphasis in 2014. When he was a Graduate Assistant with the English department from 2012 to 2014, Aaron worked as a Writing Center consultant, Bluestem Magazine editorial assistant, and composition instructor. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and is employed as an Assistant Registrar at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN where he oversees graduation and commencement for the Office of Registration and Records. He is also an adjunct instructor at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, IL and has been teaching courses in English, Communications, Humanities, and Adult Education since 2012. 

Prior to taking a position with ISU, Aaron was the Financial Aid Director at LTC from 2012 to 2014. In this role, he coordinated financial aid for the entire campus including disbursement, community outreach, and veteran affairs. This administrative insight, coupled with a strong grounding in English and communications as well as time spent as a faculty member, has shaped him into a caring educator with a unique insight on co-curricular education. 

While working in higher education was an unexpected calling, creative writing is still Aaron’s true passion. In what little free time he has, he writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He also remains active with Bluestem Magazine as an assistant non-fiction editor. His creative work has appeared in Prong & Posy, Brain Child Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, 13thDimension, Parent Co, and others.

Leon Mire

Leon Mire graduated in 2017 from EIU, where he studied English, professional writing, and philosophy. He took a summer internship as a content writer/editor for EIU's Office of Admissions, which the following semester became a part-time job. He is now pursuing his Master's in English with a professional writing concentration. In his graduate assistantship, he works in University Marketing and Communications, writing and editing a variety of print and digital publications and helping organize the university's communication plan for prospective students. 

Bob Newell 

Bob Newell has been an Instructor of English at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois since 1999. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from Eastern Illinois University. In addition to teaching at Lake Land College, he taught courses for Richland Community College and Southwestern Illinois College from 1998-1999. At Lake Land College, his core teaching load includes Introduction to Literature, Introduction to Film Appreciation, and Humanities through the Arts. Additionally, he is an internationally published horse racing photographer. His work can be found on NBC, Daily Mail, and TVG.

Dr. Daiva Markelis  Daiva Markelis received her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Language, Literacy, and Rhetoric. Her dissertation deals with the literacy habits and oral traditions of Lithuanian immigrants; chapters have been published in Written Communication and in the edited volumes Ethnolinguistic Chicago and Letters across Borders. Her creative nonfiction and short stories have appeared in New Ohio Review, Crab Orchard Review, The American Literary Review, Oyez, Pank, The Fourth River, The Cream City Review, Other Voices, and many others. Her memoir, White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life, is published by the University of Chicago Press. She is a member of the English Department’s Graduate Studies Committee and has advised many students in the MA program at EIU.
Dr. Angela Vietto 

Angela Vietto earned a B.A. in English with a concentration in writing from Penn State in 1989. From 1989 until 2000, she held a series of full-time positions as a writer/editor, with increasing responsibilities: department editor at a magazine with national distribution; writer/editor at the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy, where she wrote press releases, feature articles, video scripts, curricula, newsletters, Congressional testimony, and marketing materials; graduate school editor; and admissions counselor/senior writer in the Admissions Office at Penn State.

While working full-time in these positions, she earned MA and PhD degrees in English, and in 2000 she joined the faculty in English at EIU, where she teaches both writing and American literature. In addition to publishing scholarly work, she has continued occasionally freelancing as a technical, education, and marketing writer and editor. Her freelance clients have included tech start up companies, a division of the European Union, and a variety of publishers.

Amanda Groves  Amanda Groves currently serves as a Lead Faculty member on SNHU’s Liberal Arts team. Amanda started with SNHU as an adjunct faculty member in 2012 and stepped into the Lead Faculty role in 2013. She now works on composition oversight, supports composition faculty, contributes to SNHU’s Writing Across the Curriculum initiative (WriteScape), serves as the Composition Newsletter editor, and works on various special projects. Amanda’s academic concentration includes composition and rhetoric and student empowerment through writing, especially in First-Year Composition. Before her time at SNHU, Amanda worked as a writing tutor and instructor, assisting and teaching writers at all academic levels within higher education.
Emily Ramage  Emily Ramage served as the English Department’s Presidential Graduate Assistant from 2005-06. While in the graduate program, she received a Williams Travel Award, received first place in the Women’s Studies Program Essay Contest, and taught a section of ENG-1000. After graduating from the master’s program in 2007, she began working as an adjunct instructor and Grants Specialist at Lake Land College. In 2009, she received the Outstanding Master’s Thesis from the EIU English Department and began teaching developmental composition courses for Strayer University. Since that time, Emily has progressed into new roles and responsibilities at Lake Land College, where she works as the Director of Grants and Academic Operations and is responsible for the College’s accreditation. She attributes her professional success to the strong writing background and critical thinking skills acquired during her graduate experience at EIU. Emily lives just outside of Mattoon with her husband, two teen-aged sons, and two fluffy golden retrievers.
Kristin Runyon  Kristin Runyon has a BS in Special Education, an MA in English, and has earned National Board Certification in YA/ELA. She is currently in her 29th year of teaching and has taught in three states in both urban and rural school districts. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Runyon is a co-director of the Eastern Illinois Writing Project, was a coach for the EIU Teaching with Primary Sources, and has presented at EIWP Institute Day, IATE, ILA, and NCTE.
Emily Tooy  Emily Tooy joined EIU's Office of Study Abroad in April 2018. Prior to her appointment at EIU, she was the Associate Director of the Office for Global Engagement at Utah Valley University. She specialize in faculty-led study abroad program development, student recruitment, international risk & emergency management, and policy compliance.  She has worked and studied abroad in four countries on three continents comprising a total of five years. She earned a BA in French from the University of Iowa where she studied abroad at institutions in Pau and Lyon, France, & Quebec, Canada. After she completed her degree, she moved to French Guiana, South America - an overseas department of France - where she was employed by the French National Ministry of Education (le ministre de l'Education nationale). While she worked as a teacher for the French government, she was also a French-English interpreter for the local Military Police (la Gendarmerie). During my career in South America, she was asked by the US Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname to serve as Warden.
Dustin White  Dustin White is a Web Specialist III in the Eastern Illinois University Web Office, where his primary responsibilities include working with EIU’s academic departments and other campus units to effectively develop and maintain their web presences. He also serves as webmaster for WEIU and provides written content for EIU’s top-level websites and EIU 360, the university’s online magazine. Dustin graduated from EIU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and went on to work as a sports reporter at the Effingham Daily News before joining Eastern’s staff in 2010. He grew up in Neoga and lives there with his family, spending his spare time providing PR services for a number of community groups and also broadcasting high school sports for Premier Broadcasting in Effingham.



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Department of English

600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-2428
Fax: (217) 581-7209

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