Meet the New Grad Students

Kansas State’s new English MA students come from all over the world and the United States. We can’t wait to start having conversations with them about everything from raising pigs to navigating the Visa process to critiquing the facial hair of the New York Yankees.


Name: Ademola Adefolami
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
Alma mater: Lagos State University
Area of study: Creative Writing

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: As a storyteller, my most productive period is from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. when there are fewer noises and distractions. As such, I am an early riser who likes to get things done as soon as possible. Additionally, for all my impressive social skills, I mostly like my own company when I can hear my thoughts, literally.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Saba from Sulaiman Addonia’s Silence Is My Mother Tongue because, even with being displaced from her hometown in Eritrea, she didn’t lose her poise and magic. She waddled through the harsh realities of living in a refugee camp and remained the astonishing human being that she was. She moved with grace and touched everyone she came across. Additionally, she was fearless and didn’t give in to the social and religious conservatism of her society.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Honestly, my best source of joy this summer was spending time with my family, especially my spouse in preparation for traveling for my Master’s. Also, I was able to read some of the books I had put off and worked on drafts of different essays that were in various stages of completion.


Name: Delaney Sullivan
Hometown: Camden, Delaware
Alma Mater: University of Florida
Areas of study: Children’s Literature, YA literature, queer literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I thoroughly enjoy baking, and the thing I make best is probably chocolate macarons.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Bella from Twilight so I could leave Edward and his toxic behavior and rewrite that whole story (even though I love it dearly). 

What has been your best source of joy this summer? I went to Louisa May Alcott’s home, Orchard House, and it brought me so much joy (as pictured).


Name: David Vasquez 
Hometown: Katy, Texas
Alma mater: Kansas State University
Areas of study: Creative Writing, Latinx Lit.

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I recently debuted as a writer with a short story of mine getting published. I’ve seen ¼ of the nation. I am nearly halfway done writing the first draft of a young adult novel.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! I’ve thought about this question for a while now and while I’m unsure of the validity of my answer, it is the most genuine. I would be the Scarlet Witch because I could warp reality to my own liking.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? My best source of joy this summer was when I found out a short story of mine was accepted for publication and seeing it published online.


Name: Maryam Mohamed KamalElDeen Mohamed ElZayat
Hometown: Gharbia, Egypt
Alma mater: Arish University 
Areas of study: English Language and Literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I tried so hard to think of something, but I just don’t know if there is something interesting about me!

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Dr. Watson from Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I find him a loyal, mature, and reliable friend; he’s a person that I would like to identify with and to have as a friend.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Visiting the sea and sitting on the beach the entire day. 


Name: Kinsley Searles (she/her/hers)
Hometown: Topeka
Alma mater: Kansas State University
Area of study: Composition and Rhetoric

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I love retro video games! My favorite game in my collection right now is a Japanese copy of Animal Forest (aka Animal Crossing) for the Nintendo 64. 

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! I would have to go with a childhood favorite and pick Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series. I would love to go on quests and live at Camp Half-Blood!

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Reading the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas for the first time—and my guinea pig, Peko. 


Name: Ty Ratzlaff (he/him/his)
Hometown: Paola, Kansas
Alma mater: Kansas State University
Areas of study: 20th century American literature primarily but generally literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I’m very into music with an entire room in my apartment dedicated to listening to, recording and appreciating music. It just needs more decoration!

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Sir Toby Belch from Twelfth Night. His wit and mischievous demeanor make him likeable, and he receives nothing ill in return. A sort of Homer Simpson, where his schemes always turn out for the best. Wait—can I choose Homer Simpson?

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Reading and writing! This is the first summer I’ve spent not working, so the ample free time gave me lots of room to read and think and write.


Name: Fereshteh Majdi
Hometown: Mashhad, Iran
Alma mater: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
Area of study: Cultural Studies

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I’m really interested in challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone—that’s probably why I’m here.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! I’d probably choose Jay Gatsby as he is kind of a cipher (as I am), and his eagerness for the American dream reminds me of my dreams.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? This summer, I was busy getting my Visa and also moving to Manhattan, but also, I learned some German.


Name: Stephen Oduro Antwi 
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Alma mater: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and technology 
Area of study: Children’s Literature 

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I have so much hope that it gives me extreme energy and the enthusiasm to give my best in any situation. 

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! I’d become Miles Morales, the first black Spider-Man, and go across the multiverse to get to know all the other versions of myself!

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Being able to overcome every obstacle to successfully relocate to Manhattan. 


Name: Evan Saltare
Hometown: Miramar, Florida
Alma mater: Florida International University
Areas of study: Creative Writing—Fiction; American literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I got my last name from my Sicilian paternal grandfather. It means jump in Italian.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Hunter S. Thompson’s Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing. It would give me the ability to experience all those ridiculously dangerous drug cocktails without actually putting any of it in my body.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Watching Matt Carpenter hit dingers with his magnificent ’70s ‘stache.


Name: Eli Long
Hometown: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Alma mater: University of St. Thomas.
Area of study: Cultural Studies.

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I love horror movies. I have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of scary movies from about 1979-1990.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Rip Van Winkle so I could escape my responsibilities!

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Relaxing and watching movies after finishing my undergrad.


Name: Jordan Dombrowski
Hometown: Junction City, Kansas
Alma mater: Kansas State University
Area of study: Children’s Literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I love to travel, and growing up as a military child allowed me to live in many places, including New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, and here. I’ve additionally been to Dubai on a school trip for K-State’s College of Education, which was by far the coolest place I’ve ever been to!

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Lucy Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series because I’ve always loved that series and have wanted to visit the world of Narnia. I’d want to be Lucy specifically because of her courage, imagination, and kindness, which allow her to make unique friends and have adventurous experiences.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? My dog, Nala! She is a one-year-old Brittany spaniel / Australian Shepard mix, and we went hiking in Colorado, took plenty of walks, visited the dog park many times, and spent lots of time outdoors!


Name: Mila Beliso.
Hometown: Los Angeles
Alma mater: Loyola Marymount
Area of Study: Experimental literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: My father was a soccer player for an established team in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the ’70s and throughout the ’80s and ’90s. I basically grew up on a soccer field.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Neely O’Hara from Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. I picked up the book at my local library during high school and fell in love with the glamorized portrayals of “old Hollywood” starlets. That’s as far off from the Harry Potter universe as I could manage, I think.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Reading Isabel Allende’s new book, Violeta, while I was in Buenos Aires—being in the Global South and reading about it at the same time was pretty special.


Name: Lindsey Bergner
Hometown: Pratt, Kansas
Alma mater: Kansas State University
Area of study: Literature 

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I’ve lived on a farm and raised pigs my whole life. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for pigs!

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Anne Elliot from Persuasion because I love her gentleness and reservation. She is imperfect and can be easily persuaded by others, but she has her own mind despite her flaws and (of course) ends up with her “lost” love.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? My pigs and my family and hometown community. Our 75th Pratt County Fair was a wonderful example of how my community comes together to support and love one another. 


Name: Ian Lutz
Hometown: Manhattan
Alma mater: University of Saint Mary
Area of study: Children’s Literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I am a commissioned leatherworker in my free time, and I worked in Japan for six years.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Terciel Abhorsen from Garth Nix’s Sabriel. Not only is the world of Sabriel so rich and intriguing, but Terciel himself is a good man and father who inherited a difficult occupation. 

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Watching my cat slowly grow more comfortable with our new home after a difficult move.


Name: Sarah Morgan (she/her/hers)
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Alma mater: Missouri State University
Areas of study: Cultural Studies, particularly film studies and gender and women’s studies.

Something interesting about me: For the fall 2019 semester, I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. She performs one of my favorite Shakespearean monologues (“O that I were a man!”). I also think it would be fun to wear an Elizabethan gown at least once in my life!

What has been your best source of joy this summer?  I lived with my family in St. Louis. Spending time with all of them became my joy. We also traveled together a bit, and traveling has always been one of my joys.


Name: Rob Hilferty
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Alma mater: UMass Boston
Areas of study: Literature/Cultural Studies

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: My wife and I took a month off and traveled to six different national parks last year. 

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! I think I’m good just being me, no matter how temporary.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Without a doubt, my wife and my cat. 


Name: Jon Olsen
Hometown: Norwich, Vermont
Alma mater: The New School
Areas of Study: Composition and Rhetoric, Cultural Studies

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I have a small triangle tattoo in the corner of my hand, the placement of which was decided because Dame Helen Mirren has a tattoo in a similar spot.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat both to experience that glamorous queer fever dream and to make her stop the unnecessary Coachella-esque indigenous appropriation.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? I have two newly adopted cats, Sandy and Flora. They have become very close to me but aren’t 100% sure about each other yet. It has been a joy (sometimes) trying to make this love triangle work.


Name: Margery Punnett
Hometown: Chicago
Alma mater: University of Illinois
Areas of study: Composition and Rhetoric/Children’s Literature 

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: When I was 17 and going into my senior year of high school, I moved to Washington DC to be a Congressional page. The Capitol Page High School, back then, was in the dome of the Library of Congress. 

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Madeline. I want to live fearlessly in an orderly house in Paris covered in vines. 

What has been your best source of joy this summer? I travelled extensively this summer seeing family and friends. 


Name: Collin Brophy
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Alma mater: Michigan State University
Area of study: Creative Writing

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I’ve played multiple instruments on four different recorded albums. 

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Pennywise from IT. Those kids had it coming.  

What has been your best source of joy this summer? Reading, SSRIs, and sleeping in late where I could hear the waves of the lake. 


Name: Maggie Steuer
Hometown: Mattawan/Kalamazoo, Michigan 
Alma mater: Western Michigan University
Area of study: Children’s Literature

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I’ve spent more than a year of my life living other countries! A portion of my family (my second cousins) lives in German and my family goes to visit every couple of years when my parents, who are historians, go for research trips. I also had the opportunity in the spring of 2019 to study Creative Writing in Manchester, England, at Manchester Metropolitan University.  

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! Raven Madison from the Vampire Kisses series. I love how, both she and the series, really play into the goth, high schooler stereotype and don’t shy away from the cringe factor that many YA books shy away from.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? My dog, Schatzi. Though I’ve had to leave her behind in Michigan with my family, we spent a lot of time together hiking through nature trails around Kalamazoo. 


Name: Eve Wilson
Hometown: Franklin, Kentucky
Alma mater: Rhodes College
Area of study: Professional and Technical Writing

Please tell us something interesting/unique about you: I spent seven years working for a closed-captioning nonprofit, and I have seen more reality TV shows and bad horror movies than I ever care to remember. The last place I lived was very rural, situated next to Mennonite farmland, and I used to drive alongside horse and buggy traffic every day on my way to work. My aspiration is to become a professional grant writer; I helped a friend write a grant in January, and it was both difficult and rewarding.

If you could transform briefly into a literary character, who would you want to become and why? You are banned, however, from mentioning anyone from the Harry Potter universe! I would become Anne Elliot and push my older sister into the deepest mud puddle I could find in Bath, paint over my father’s mirrors, and cause as much trouble as I could. I’ve always felt like she was way too calm for her situation in life and too bound to duty and honor, even if she operated within the social constraints of her day.

What has been your best source of joy this summer? When there were temperate days or hours here in Manhattan, I would go for walks by myself or take my 15-year-old dog for a short walk (his mobility is bad, but he’s so happy to go sniff everything, and the exercise helps his movement). I have been in Kansas less than a year and am always trying to explore new outdoor spaces. I live near the Linear Trail and love that accessibility to exercise and nature.

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