The beginning of every school year heralds the arrival of a new MFA class. The first glimpse of these newcomers occurred during the graduate teaching assistant orientation when Mary Ann Samyn, director of creative writing, joined the new writers for lunch at Hatfield’s in the Mountainlair. These writers told stories about their various professions leading up to the MFA. Their previous places of employment range from a pet center to America’s Money Class with Suze Orman, and everything in between. Here’s a little more about the MFA class of 2017:
Whit Arnold went to Muskingum University in Ohio. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and worked in TV for a few years. For the past four years he was in and out of South Korea working as an English teacher. Some of Whit’s favorite authors include: John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, David Sedaris, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff, etc. (this list could go on and on). Fun fact: he used to show pygmy goats at the Coshocton County Fair.
Kelsey Liebenson-Morse was born in Madison, Wisconsin. She was raised in Florida and New Hampshire. In 2012 she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in English. After a two-year hiatus featuring stints at restaurants and gigs in childcare, academia called Kelsey back and landed her here, in Morgantown. Kelsey admires the work of Alice Munro and Roald Dahl. In her spare time, Kelsey can be found outdoors.
Kelsey Englert is a fiction writer from Palmerton, Pennsylvania, who earned a BLA in landscape architecture, a BS in history, and a MA in English from Ball State University. Some of her favorite writers include Jeannette Walls, Steve Kluger, Karen Joy Fowler, Jill Christman, Cathy Day, and Audrey Niffenegger. She has published a short story and had a screenplay developed into a short film.
Megan Fahey is originally from Wheeling, WV, but spent the last two years getting an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC. Her favorite authors include Nicholson Baker, Karen Russell, and Brock Clarke. When she’s not teaching and writing, Megan is a part-time crematory technician at the Ohio Valley Pet Center in Wheeling.
Andrea Ruggirello is originally from Staten Island, NY, and spent her undergrad upstate at Oswego State University where she studied creative writing and journalism. After reading a book called How to Avoid the Real World, she found herself joining AmeriCorps and spending the next several years at an education non-profit in Boston before making her way to WVU. A few fun things she has done along the way include hiking 500 miles across Spain and going to Harry Potter world. Favorite writers include Junot Diaz, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jhumpa Lahiri. She continues to avidly avoid the real world.
Elizabeth Leo is from Philadelphia, PA. She attended Albright College in Reading, PA. Some of her favorite authors include Richard Hugo, Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska, Donna Tartt, David Foster Wallace, and Kurt Vonnegut. Two of her favorite texts she often returns to are Milton’s Paradise Lost and Richard Adams’ Watership Down. She’s generally very fond of plants, being outdoors, insects and all manner of critters. She recently started wearing glasses and, even more recently, made the discovery that she can, in fact, wear them in the shower. This has greatly improved the quality of her mornings. Also, she lives with a cat named Jonas.
Sarah Munroe grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and spent most of her adult life to this point in Philadelphia, where her husband still resides. She finished her undergraduate degree at Drexel University in political science and worked as a copywriter for the University’s Enrollment Management department before leaving for WVU with her small dog, Bodie, whom she adores. She loves dinosaurs, is good at going down steps, and whiskey makes her cry. One day she hopes to own chickens and goats for eggs and company. Munroe admires and is inspired by the work of Anne Carson, Charles Wright, Gregory Orr, and Neil Gaiman.
Welcome, MFA class of 2017!