Congratulations, Fall '21 Grads!

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 31, 2021) — Congratulations to the class of Fall 2021!

Katie Allran


Description: My interactive fiction follows a young girl, Lucy, through her fifth-grade school year while she tries to cope with her mom's alcoholism. This story details Lucy's struggles with her feelings about her mom while also navigating through challenging life circumstances brought on by her mom's drinking. This story was created as a guide to help adults gain a deeper understanding of alcoholism from a child's point of view, so they can provide these children the support they need to thrive.

Advisors: Dr. Erin Bahl and Professor Laura McGrath

Ashley Banks


Description: An interactive fiction adaptation of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera that tells the story from the character Christine's perspective.

Advisors: Dr. Sergio Figueiredo and Professor Laura McGrath

Ronald (Ron) Baldwin


Description: My goal is to incorporate the narratives in this project into a short story cycle entitled Holly Springs, Virginia, a fictional small-town that I position geographically to the west of Blacksburg, Virginia. In actuality, this area is covered in forests, fields and pastures, winding farm roads, and a smattering of homes that a traveler might expect to see in rural Virginia. 

A short story cycle is a collection of stories that are in various ways interconnected, whether by place, characters, themes, or a combination of these dimensions and others. The intended benefit of these interconnections is to provide the reader with an enriched experience of the individual stories as well as the volume as a whole.

As represented in these stories, Holly Springs was constructed from my memories of small towns that I’ve experienced while living in Alabama, Texas, Virginia, and Georgia in most recent years. My characters are mosaics of my imagination using recollections of many acquaintances and, admittedly, a few friends. 

Advisors: Professor Tony Grooms and Professor Bill Rice

From beginning to end, the MAPW program was a challenging and rewarding educational experience. I am very grateful to the director, Tony Grooms, faculty, staff, and many student writers who contribute to the quality of this academic program and especially to those that directly impacted my learning experiences. 

-Ron Baldwin

Denise Boivin-Iassogna

Graduate Research Assistant


Description: This novel excerpt from Blue Amber follows a young woman, Amelia Winslow, on a journey from America to Ireland and back. The story centers around an ancient relic from Irish lore: the Tara brooch. Amelia is a young researcher who, while completing her studies, finds herself in an unhappy marriage and at a loss for direction in her life. She is befriended by an older Irish woman who bestows a gift upon her— beginning an adventure to a new country, a new career, and possibly a new relationship. The legend of the Tara brooch is woven throughout the story. Blue Amber is my attempt to combine a love for travel, food writing, and historical fiction with a little bit of romance sprinkled in.

Advisors:  Professor Anthony Grooms and Mr. Garrard Conley

The MAPW program has been an invaluable experience. It has bolstered my confidence not only as a writer, but also as a researcher. I am humbled and grateful for the encouragement from all of my professors and fellow students. I look forward to utilizing this knowledge for future endeavors and am excited to share the successes of the entire MAPW community. 

- Denise Boivin-Iassogna

Tiffany Marie Davis


Description: My capstone project looks to understand the value of writing and communication practices within the nonprofit sector. Specifically, my research analyzes how COVID-19 has impacted the animal-welfare nonprofit sector's writing and communication practices. This research strives to understand what changes have resulted in a portion of the nonprofit sector and why. 

Advisors: Dr. Lara Smith-Sitton and Dr. M. Todd Harper

My experience in the MAPW program has been invaluable. I have learned so many skills and have taken a journey as a writer and a professional. I was lucky to study under the professors in the program, and I am looking forward to taking the lessons I have learned with me into my professional career. 

- Tiffany Marie Davis

Melinda Grant

Graduate Teaching Assistant and Teacher-of-Record

Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing for International Audiences


Description: The purpose of my capstone project was to ascertain student perspectives on inclusivity in the first-year English Composition classroom. A pre-post survey was used to determine students' perceptions of their previous and current classroom experiences. The pedagogy was designed to embrace diversity in socio-cultural, socio-literate, and socio-linguistic student demographics. 

Advisors: Professor Chris Palmer and Professor Kim Haimes-Korn 

Entering the MAPW program has not only facilitated my occupational goals of teaching collegiate English Composition, but it has also provided me with the knowledge, confidence, and skill set needed to pursue professional creative writing opportunities. The faculty and staff have been very supportive, demonstrating a strong commitment to student learning. I feel honored to have been a part of such a wonderful graduate program. 

- Melinda Grant

Miro Jefferis-Nendick


Description: Adapted from John Milton's Paradise LostFalling Star follows the story of Stan, a man working for a large corporation in space. After an attempted coup to take over the company due in part to Stan being passed over for a promotion and the years of abuse he and other workers are faced with, Stan and his followers are thrown off the station and onto an uninhabitable planet. Here they must decide what to do: either try to take the station back again by force or some alternative strategy. We follow Stan as he navigates what to do and how he will exact revenge on his former boss, the CEO. 

Advisors:  Dr. Andrew Plattner and Mr. Jeff Greene. 

Dominic Ligon

Editorial Director of The Headlight Review


Description: My poetry chapbook consists of 30 poems that examine the historical and current experiences of the Black community within America. I display my perspective on blackness and how it's perceived in a climate filled with racial and political tension, hence the name—"Black Lens."

Advisors: Professor Anthony Grooms and Dr. Lara Smith-Sitton

This program provided me an opportunity to gain practical experience within the professional writing world, while also surrounding me with a tribe of talented creative writers.

- Dominic Ligon

Danny Madore

Graduate Teaching Assistant and Teacher-of-Record


Description: This historical fiction novel follows the life of one of the first landscape photographers in America, Carleton Watkins. Watkins rose to prominence after he took photographs of Yosemite Valley in the summer of 1861. Throughout this story, Carleton battles his inner demons and greedy competitors to prove himself as one of the greatest artists of his time. Unfortunately, the impact of Watkins has been forgotten about. Not only did his photography inspire countless other artists, but they were also a catalyst in the creation of the Yosemite Grant of 1864, America’s first instance of environmental protection legislation. This grant set a precedent for environment preservation in America for years to come. Peaks and Valleys addresses Carleton Watkins's unparalleled contributions to art and environmental conservation. 

Project: Professor Laura McGrath and Professor William Rice

The MAPW program has had such a positive impact on my life. It has helped me achieve my career goals and activated an immense confidence in my writing. I am so grateful for all I have learned and all I have met in this program. 

- Danny Madore

Giselle Elizabeth Meed


Description: A young immigrant and law school graduate learns that her father is in fact her step-father. Her mother refuses to reveal her biological father’s identity.  She takes a trip to her native country in search of answers and uncovers more family secrets. It is a story about immigration, culture, family and self-discovery.

Advisors: Professor Tony Grooms and Dr. Andrew Plattner

Laura Metzger

Managing Editor, The Headlight Review


Description: My screenplay is about two brothers dropped off at their grandparent’s dude ranch because their emotionally distant father is busy caring for their dying mother. Feeling abandoned, both vie for the affections of a young girl working on the ranch. Eventually, the eldest of the two, the M. C., leaves for eight years to become a veterinarian. He returns, having received an invitation to the wedding of his brother and former crush. Not having accepted nor understood the consequences of his abandonment, he is unequipped for the flood of complications that arise: an ailing grandfather, a wedding, a pregnancy, his father’s new wife, his unknown future, and the girl that makes his heart beat fast. The love interest is a young woman from Atlanta, encouraged by her aunt to go on her honeymoon-that-never-was trip, she finds the cowboy with the stethoscope quite irresistible. Sparks fly. Fireflies glow. Bulls buck. Boots scoot. Love wins.


Eight years away from the ranch and this cowboy-cum-veterinarian returns for the wedding of his brother to his former crush. But it’s a working dude ranch, so there’s livestock and guests, broken and new family ties, and a witty city girl playing tug-of-war with his heart.

Advisors: Mr. Mitch Olson and Ms. Anna Weinstein

Professor Mitch Olson has been the second most influential teacher in my life (my first was in high school). Having someone believe in you or in your abilities is life altering. Mitch has done that for me (and other students) over and over again. He has proven to be an exceptionally knowledgeable, encouraging, and caring instructor. I can only imagine the challenge it must be to greet each new student with the same level of enthusiasm and encouragement semester after semester, but that’s how Mitch rolls. After four classes with him, I can say without reservation that Mitch is all that and more. TY, Mitch.

I would like to acknowledge Professor Tony Grooms for being who he is, an authentic and charismatic leader, who never fails to reach out to me within a day. Not only that, but Professor Grooms brings a wealth of experiences and knowledge to the program. He seems uniquely drawn from the pages of a novel – a genuine one-of-a-kind individual. TY, Tony.

I would like to acknowledge Dr. Lara Smith-Sitton. Is there anyone more committed or hardworking? Within her power, there is nothing Dr. Smith-Sitton won’t do to help her students succeed. She is energetic and positive, and works very hard at teaching her students the value of experiences gained through internship programs. TY, Dr. LSS.

I would like to acknowledge Dr. Andrew Plattner’s influence during my MAPW course of study. He has been my instructor, my mentor, and the faculty advisor affiliated with The Headlight Review, our MAPW student-run journal, where I currently work. Though it might have taken an entire semester, I will always be grateful that he taught me the difference between a situation and a short story, as measured by my new and improved conflict-o-meter. TY, DR. P.

I would like to acknowledge my second capstone advisor, Anna Weinstein. While I did not take a course with Anna, I found her to be very encouraging, practical, and patient. Kindness always wins. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced writing anything more challenging than my capstone. I couldn’t have completed the task without the encouragement of my advisors. TY, Anna.

Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge my daughter, Kathryn Ann Metzger, with whom I started the MAPW program, but who will graduate the semester after me. Her unique gifts to me, immeasurable in so many ways, come in many forms. One in particular stands out, a journal she gave me before we travelled down this road together, simply titled, “And She Never Gave Up.” That is the story of us. TYF, Katie!

- Laura Metzger

Conner Sutton

Graduate Teaching Assistant and Teacher-of-Record


Description: My capstone project is an auto-ethnography based on my experiences as a synchronous online instructor. Using the current (and lacking) literature on synchronous writing instruction—as well as interviews with my fellow instructors—my capstone aims to explore how we define and measure classroom community and engagement from behind a webcam. 

Advisors: Professor Mary Lou Odom and Dr. Laura Howard

I am so grateful for the MAPW and the opportunities it has allowed me. The smartest and most caring people I know work in this program and have left a major impact on me—not only as a future instructor, but also as a human being.

- Conner Sutton