Alumni Spotlight

Tabitha Miller (M.A. 2005, PhD 2014)

When I began my journey in the English Department at ECU, I was returning to school for my graduate degree in order to attain a full-time position at a community college. I had taught high school English for four years, then began teaching developmental English and Reading part-time at a community college and fell in love with the students and space. Thus, my love affair with the NC Community College System began, and ECU prepped me along the journey, providing me with the knowledge and skills needed to be the best community college educator I could be. I remember walking into Dr. Gay Wilentz’s Multicultural Literature class and being handed a brochure and told that I was going to go to Belize with her. And I did. I not only went to Belize, she taught me how to put Study Abroad trips together. When I was hired for my first full-time community college position, on my second interview, the VP asked me all about my work with ECU’s Belize program. I was hired then tasked two years later to create a program at my community college and did so because of the knowledge Dr. Wilentz shared with me. A moment such as this, outside of the classroom, connected me with knowledge that helped me hone new skills that lead to other opportunities for further growth and development as a leader and educator. ECU helped shaped me into the servant leader I am today.

On May 1, 2024, I will embark on my next moment within my life journey as I assume the role of President of Martin Community College, a moment made possible because of lessons learned within and outside of the classrooms at ECU.

Maya Williams (B.A., 2017)

I got my MSW from the University of New England and my MFA from Randolph College. I am currently working as a program coordinator at a nonprofit, my term as the poet laureate of Portland, Maine runs from July 2021 to July 2024, and I facilitate readings and workshops regularly on poetry, mental health, and interpersonal relationships. My time in ECU’s English department assisted my vocational journey by supporting my endeavors on the collegiate spoken word team I was a part of, Word of Mouth, along with publications as a student.

Williams (ey/em, they/them, and she/her) is a religious Black multiracial nonbinary suicide survivor who is currently an Ashley Bryan Fellow and the seventh Poet Laureate of Portland, Maine .

Williams’ debut poetry collection, Judas & Suicide, is available through Game Over Books. Williams’ second poetry collection, Refused a Second Date, is up for pre-sales now through Harbor Editions. 

Joshua Pittman (M.A., 2014)

I currently serve as Assistant Professor and chair of the English department at Bluefield University, and I have recently accepted a tenure-track position at Gardner-Webb University, where I will start in Spring 2024. I earned an MA in English from ECU, and that degree allowed me to apply to the PhD program at Baylor University. At ECU, I first encountered writing pedagogy, literary theory, and a host of literary periods I had not appreciated before. I began the process of professionalization in academia and gained valuable experience in teaching, publishing, and archival research. The friendships I made with mentors and fellow students continue even now. My gratitude for my time at ECU increases steadily as I realize how my initial exposure to so many concepts and skills prepared me to implement them later in my career.

Alexis Gadzinski (B.A., 2019)

During my time as an English major at East Carolina University, I have grown as a writer, student, and person. The English department is so unique and special because of the many professors who have helped me endlessly with my papers and have guided me through all the classes I took. The department is also unique because I was given the opportunity to serve as an intern for The North Carolina Literary Review during my senior year. I gained skills that have prepared me for life after graduation and I also made amazing friends. Studying English has contributed immensely to my success as a political science minor because I was able to properly do research for writing projects in a lot of my classes. After graduation, I will be attending Elon University School of Law to pursue a successful career in real estate law. I will forever be grateful for my time with the English Department at East Carolina and will never forget all I have learned.

Garrett Yarborough (B.A., 2019)

I am privileged to say that through the English Department, I’ve been able to find the success I have experienced through building upon the ample opportunities within the department to excel. My experience as an English major has been incredibly rewarding because of the tight-knit department’s support, and without their encouragement, I wouldn’t have been able to serve as the college’s Humanities Scholar or as the English representative on the Dean’s Student Leadership Council. As a double major in English and History, minor in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Business and Technical Communication, I’ve been able to diversify my writing across many disciplines. After an internship with Evolve Advertising, Marketing & PR, I discovered that copywriting is a career that allows me to combine my passion for varied writing interdisciplinary collaboration. Since I worked at Evolve as a paid copywriter for a year before leaving for a six-month study abroad at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. I’ve continued my work in advertising with several freelance advertising clients, and I can’t wait to hopefully continue as a copywriter at an advertising agency before resuming with graduate school.

Angela Kitchin (M.A., 2019)

Since I was in high school, I have wanted to earn my M.A. and Ph.D. in English in order to teach at a college or university. Life steered me in a different direction, and I ended up earning advanced degrees in education and teaching middle and high school in North Carolina. In 2018, at the age of 37, I decided it was time to pursue my original dream and get back on the English road. I looked at different English MA programs in North Carolina, but I was drawn to the program at ECU because of the variety of literature courses offered. I was excited beyond words when I received my acceptance letter and began taking classes in May 2018. I can’t believe how fast this past year has flown by.

As soon as I received an email to apply for a Graduate Assistant position, I did. Before the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester, I heard about the opportunity to work for the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) and interviewed with Dr. Bauer. The 2019 issue featured African American Literature, which is one of my main interests, so the timing could not have been better. During the fall semester, I was an Editorial Assistant with NCLR. As such, I helped edit and format pieces for the 2019 issue, worked with the authors, found artwork to accompany the pieces, and set up events at independent bookstores. In January, to my surprise and delight, I was promoted to Assistant Editor. I love working at NCLR and with Dr. Bauer; this experience has been priceless and helped me fall in love with English even more.

My time at NCLR has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about English than I would have just through my course work. I now have a much better understanding of the publication process from submission to publication, I have gotten to know more about independent bookstores, I have attended literary events, and I have met some amazing authors, like Elaine Neil Orr and Randall Kenan, whose work I would otherwise not have ever read. I have also come to understand how the publication process looks from the side of the publication. I now have less fear about submitting my own work; I even have a couple of book reviews forthcoming in 2020 because I was able to better understand the entire process and gained the courage I needed to write these reviews and submit them. Now that I have gotten my toes wet, I am encouraged to write more. I have some ideas for scholarly essays that I would like to write, and I have some essays that I would like to edit and submit to various publications.

Shaniah Andrews (B.A., 2019)

These four years have been much more than earning a BA in English, minor in Linguistics, and a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). All individuals on the campus of East Carolina University and many surrounding it have become the link that was missing in my academic and professional life. Studying abroad in London made me change my minor to linguistics and Ghana gave me a piece of my heritage and new networking skills. During my time at ECU, I have done lots such as participating in LeaderShape, volunteering in Baltimore for spring break, serving on two executive boards for two organizations, writing for The East Carolinian newspaper, speaking on panels, and discovering my identity in Christ. I am not sure what my future holds after I graduate this May, but I would like to use my TESOL certificate to teach English in South America and then go to graduate school. I will be patient and thankful even in the waiting process — a process preparing me for a future so purposeful that I could’ve never orchestrated or imagined it.