Meet the New Grad Students

Our new graduate students come to Kansas State University from California and Wisconsin and Florida and all parts of Kansas. They’ve been spending their pandemic free time learning to crochet and cooking and wandering the great outdoors and Snopesing out faulty family stories. They love their pets. We already love their pets, too! As is tradition, they answered a short survey to introduce themselves.

Name: Alainna Romeo (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Poland, Ohio
Alma mater: Westminster College
Areas of study: Creative Writing, Film Studies
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I love to draw as well as write, and I’d like to start a webcomic one day (once I’ve found both the time and the patience).
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Probably Bilbo Baggins. I wouldn’t mind living to eleventy-one and writing poetry in a very comfortable hole in the ground. 
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
My cat (pictured).

Name: Alissa Rehmert (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Purdy, Missouri
Alma mater: Kansas State
Areas of study: Creative nonfiction and short stories
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I am all about vintage clothing! You will often see me in pillbox hats and circle skirts.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
I would choose Huckleberry Finn because I miss the rolling hills, beautiful foliage, and winding rivers of my home state.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
I’ve enjoyed the extra quality time with my husband, Jon, and our two ornery rabbits, Kevin and Luna.

Name: Achilles F. Schartz (he/him/his or they/them/their)
Hometown: Abilene, Kansas
Alma mater: University of Kansas (my apologies)
Areas of study: Speculative fiction, ecocriticism and environmental writing with a special interest in human exceptionalism and animism, religious deconstruction
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you:
For years my paternal family claimed we were distantly in line for the throne of Lichtenstein. This was thoroughly debunked when I did 2 hours of genealogical internet research and found out both the Schartzes and the Georges are from Luxembourg.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Well I named myself Achilles. That being said I realize he’s an absolute walnut of a demi being and any person of strong moral fiber would identify with Patroclus (the true Aristos Achaion. I will not take questions.)
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic? 
My terrible, toothless, goblin dog, Loch. Less than a month ago I was forced to rush her to the veterinary school’s emergency department at 2 a.m. after she seized an opportunity to eat a lethal dose of chocolate off of the counter.  I love her very much. (She’s alive, don’t worry, but she refused requests to appear in the selfie.)

Name: Ash Hunt (they/them/their)
Hometown: Paola, Kansas
Alma Mater: Kansas State (B.A. in Psychology)
Area of Study: Literature 
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl is a beautiful wizard free from responsibility, who travels in his moving castle that contains portals to beautiful places (including his childhood home). 
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic? 
Reading horror novels and manga, and brushing up on my photography and editing skills. 

Name: Beth Hafner (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Sterling, Illinois
Alma Mater: St. Mary’s of Notre Dame
Area of Study: Children’s Literature
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I love to learn, pivot, and try new things. I left the general education classroom after 17 years and became certified to teach art seven years ago. I love yoga and became a certified yoga instructor two years ago. I teach at PowerLife. My love for travel ignited when I was an exchange student at age 17 and lived in Istanbul.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Jo in Little Women because she followed her dream and became a published author. She broke through stereotypes, was a savvy business woman, and had the foresight to keep the rights to her books, earning money for herself and her relatives.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic? 
I organized my library and gave away nine 6-foot tubs of books to good homes. Surprisingly, I still have all of my favorites which are alphabetized by author and categorized by genre. I took a French class because I want to retire in the South of France. I reconnected and/or stayed connected with so many family and friends via Zoom. I grew exponentially in the area of technology: making art projects using iMovie; using Canvas; teaching remotely via WebEx. I didn’t feel guilty binging “Ted Lasso,” “Bridgerton,” and “Anne with an E.”

Name: Sara Partin (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Augusta, Kansas
Alma mater: Kansas State
Area of study: Cultural Studies
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I’ve been allergic to fruits and vegetables since I was in second grade.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Feyre Archeron from the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. MaasI read that series at the beginning of the year and instantly fell in love with the world Maas created. It’s been my obsession since January.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
I got the chance to do quite a few things I’ve never done. From creating new hobbies, to binge-watching TV and movies, to COVID-safe travel, I did anything and everything I could in my free time.

Name: Natalie Liptak (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Alma mater: University of Florida
Areas of study: Children’s Literature, Russian Literature, Comparative Literature
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you. 
I speak fluent Russian, and I have lived in Canada and Germany. 
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Sadie Kane from the Kane Chronicles, so I could experience the magic of ancient mythology. 
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
I have enjoyed watching documentaries about history and other cultures. Watching videos about unique places has inspired my dreams of future travel. 

Name: Ben Trickey (he/him/his)
Hometown: Overland Park
Alma mater: Kansas State
Area of study: Creative Writing
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I was a member of On the Spot Improv and the marching band during my undergrad at K-State.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Dr. Victor Frankenstein, so I could be the father my poor monstrous son deserves.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
Spending time with my partner, Adri, and our goofy, one-eyed dog, Rudy.

Name: Joshua Konecke (he/him/his)
Hometown: Kohler, Wisconsin
Alma mater: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Area of study: Creative Writing (nonfiction) 
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
 I used an episode of “The King of Queens” as part of my analysis on the AP Literature exam in high school. 
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Jane Eyre because I’ve written about several Charlotte Brontë novels.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic? 
Watching sporting events on television. 

Name: Tucker C. Newsome (he/him/his)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Alma mater: The New School University
Area of study: Creative Writing (fiction)
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I spent several months living out of my truck while I backpacked and fly-fished in the Rockies.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? 
Bartleby from Melville’s “Bartleby, The Scrivener.” I’d finally have a proper response for all those callers concerned about my car’s extended warranty.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic? 
Never needing an excuse to get outside!

Name: Cecilia Pick (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Asuncion, Paraguay
Alma mater: Kansas State 
Area of study: English Literature
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I speak three languages, including an indigenous language from my home country, Paraguay (I am not fluent yet). During my free time in Paraguay, I volunteer by helping to build houses for families living in extreme poverty.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
I would want to experience a different reality, so maybe Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I would make it out alive, and I would be a symbol of hope and revolution!
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
My cat! My roommates went back home, but I couldn’t, so I spent the whole time in Manhattan. My cute cat and cuddle buddy kept me company and showed me some love!

Name: Adrien Kade Sdao (they/them/their)
Hometown: Los Angeles
Alma maters: UC Irvine, Antioch University
Areas of study: Children’s Literature, Creative Writing
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you. 
I like to read about quantum physics for fun.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Diana Wynne Jones’s enchanter Chrestomanci so I could check out nearby alternate universes.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
My cat, Shelly.

Name: Riley O’Mearns (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Arlington, Tennessee (right outside of Memphis)
Alma mater: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana
Areas of study: Creative Writing (poetry-focused), queer/lesbian experiences in literature
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I played the clarinet in the University of Notre Dame Marching Band.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility because I, too, have a passion for dead leaves — I would embrace the opportunity to constantly wax poetic about the small things.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
I never used to consider myself an outdoorsy person, but I welcomed the early-quarantine-era walks, and now I love being outside as much as possible.

Name: Pete Loganbill (he/him/his)
Hometown: Lenexa, Kansas
Alma mater: Kansas State
Area of study: Creative Writing
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I worked at The K-State Collegian for two years, writing, editing, and hosting an interview podcast.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Grand Admiral Thrawn from a series of Star Wars novels. He’s a brilliant strategist who’s interested in cultures, and I’d like to know what goes through his head.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
I’ve had so much more time to read than ever before.


Name: Liana Martin (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Oceanside, California
Alma Mater: California State University, San Marcos
Area of study: Creative Writing
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I crack different parts of my body, like my fingers and hips and neck and back excessively, especially when I’m nervous / uncomfortable in a situation.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Bess/Aisha from Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror.” Bess, after her mother dies, watches a  woman called Maxa, who is the star of Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, perform in Paris. Eventually Bess is taken under Maxa’s wing, moves into Maxa’s apartment, and begins writing plays for her and the other performers. I’ve always romanticized theatre life and the cities historically associated with performance art such as New York and Paris. 
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
Taking walks with my dog, listening to music, and cooking.

Name: Eric Thorsen (he/him/his)
Hometown: Topeka
Alma Mater: University of St. Thomas
Area of Study: Literature
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
Crowley from Good Omens. I would have the perspective from someone with thousands of years of knowledge.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
Spending extra time with my family.

Name: Ashlyn Kullberg (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Olathe
Alma Mater: Kansas State
Area of Study: Children’s Literature
Please tell us something interesting/unique about you.
I was the Kansas State uneven bars champ in 2011.
If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why?
I’d be Matilda because when I was a kid I was so smart that I developed the power of telekinesis and then outgrew it—so Matilda just feels like a natural transition.
What has been your best source of joy during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
I have been trying to learn how to crochet (and failing at it), and it’s so much fun—now if only I could figure out  how to do the magic ring!

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