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Meet Former WAL Fellows

Angela Ashurst-McGee
Alan Barlow
Matt Burkhart
Diane Bush
Vanessa Hall
Matthew Lavin

Jacoba Mendelkow Poppleton

Sarah Rudd
Sarah Stoeckl
Sarah Vause
Angela Waldie

Angela Ashurst-McGee, 1997/98. Angela began work at the journal as the first-ever Thomas J. Lyon Fellow three months before her second son, Logan, was born.

Since Angela’s fellowship was set up only for one year, she then taught composition at USU. She became the Assistant Director of Writing for English 1010 and helped plan the following year’s composition curriculum and train new instructors.

She has worked as a freelance editor and then as the associate editor of the Joseph Smith Papers Series. [You see, those editorial skills do come in handy after all sometimes!] She is now a certified professional resumé writer und the founder and president of Red Rocket Resumé.

A few words from Angela: “My experience at Utah State University was almost uniformly positive. I got a good education taking good classes from good teachers. Faculty members were uncommonly friendly and willing to give advice and act as mentors. The English department treats its master’s students like colleagues and professionals rather than peons; comp teachers and editorial fellows work alongside faculty and participate in department decision-making.”

Update on 7-22-02: Congratulations to Angela and Mark on the birth of their third son, Levi Christian, who was born on June 1, 2002, and who, according to Angela, “has the biggest cheeks of all the Ashurst-McGee boys thus far.”

Update on 9-6-06: In the meantime, Angela and Mark have had another boy, Jesse Earl, and they also have adopted a girl, Haley Marisa, to balance out the gender inequality in their family.

Angela with sons Logan and Roscoe and husband, Mark
Newborn Levi with the big cheeks.

Vanessa Hall, 1998-2000. Vanessa graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English from Washington and Lee University in 1998. She then served as the first two-year fellow at Western American Literature. During that time she also completed her master’s with a thesis on Estelle Ishigo at Utah State University.

Purdue University awarded her an Andrews Fellowship to pursue a PhD. Her major field is contemporary American literature and her minor fields are labor history and women’s studies. Her research and teaching interests also include gender and class in literature and culture, Native American literature, and western American literature. Her dissertation is a cultural biography of Raymond Carver.

As of fall 2007, Vanessa is the first one of our editorial fellows to finish her PhD and become a professor of English. She has taken a position at the New York City College of Technology in downtown Brooklyn—far from her home state of Montana.

In the meantime, she also has become the mother of two lovely girls. Congrats!

Vanessa, 2000
Vanessa, 2003
Vanessa and daughter, Sophia, 2006

Sarah Rudd, 1999-2001. Sarah grew up in Salt Lake City and Mexico. She moved back to the Salt Lake City area, where she now works as a realtor. Sarah still thinks folklore rules and she contributed to a book on the history of folklore in Utah. The title of her contribution is “Utah Latino Folklore Studies.” We are looking forward to an update from Sarah once baby #3 is born. Congrats!
Sarah with her husband, Aaron, and their daughter, Kelsey, in 2002.
Kelsey, Sarah, Aaron, and Caleb in 2006.

Matt Burkhart, 2000-2002. Matt grew up somewhere around Chicago. He came to us from Missoula. He has moved on to acquire a PhD at the University of Arizona in Tucson. His research focuses on western American studies, especially Native American and environmental literature. He’s been developing and teaching thematically organized composition courses, which he has titled “Borders: Facts, Fictions” and “‘The Lure of the Local’ in the Era of the Global.” In May 2003, he was a finalist for the Ruth Gardner Award as an outstanding, experienced first-year Graduate Associate in Teaching. Most recently, he won the J. Golden Taylor Award for best paper submitted to the WLA Conference in 2003. From 2003-2005 he served as the graduate student representative on the WLA Executive Council.
Dog with Matt before their departure from Logan, 2002.
Matt at the 2007 WLA Conference
in Tacoma, Washington

Alan Barlow, 2001-2003. Alan grew up in southern Utah and has a BA from Utah State University. His computer skills were indispensable in our office. After getting his master's degree in English, he earned a master's degree in Management and Human Resources at Utah State University and then served as Director of Human Resources at Wilderness Quest in Monticello, Utah. He is now the Chief Compliance Officer and Human Resources Director for the Tule River Indian Health Center in Porterville, California. His wife, Emily, gave birth to their third child in April 2007. Congrats!

Alan with his first
son’s cradleboard,
spring 2002.

The Barlow Family in 2008:
Alan with Jake, Emily with Katie, and Ben all by himself.

Angela Waldie, 2002-2004. Angela has served as the Graduate Student Representative to the WLA Executive Council. In 2006, she was the recipient of the J. Golden Taylor Award for best graduate student paper submitted to the WLA Conference.

Angela is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Calgary, where her research focuses on portrayals of species extinction in contemporary Canadian and American literature. When not reading, researching, or teaching, Angela can be found exploring the hiking trails and hot springs of the Canadian Rockies, writing poetry, weaving, practicing yoga, or salsa dancing.

Angela in Logan, 2004

Melody Graulich presenting
Angela with the J. Golden
Taylor Award in Boise, 2006

Angela in 2008


Sarah Vause, 2003-2005. Sarah has a BA from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where she grew up. She is now teaching classes at Utah State University and Weber State University. She got married and is running and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Utah.

Sarah in WAL office, 2004

Matthew Lavin, 2004-2006. Matt came to us from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, where he also worked for a newspaper before going back to graduate school at USU. He has moved on to acquire a PhD at the University of Iowa, where apparently he's not challenged enough. In his spare time, he has started an online humor magagzine. In 2008, Matt was the recipient of the J. Golden Taylor Award for best graduate student paper presented at the WLA Conference.

Matt in WAL office, 2005
Matt at the WLA Conference
in Boulder, 2008

Sarah Stoeckl, 2005-2007. Sarah grew up in Salt Lake City and got her BA at Weber State University. She was awarded the WAG Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award for writing the best MA thesis across all departments at Utah State University. She is now working on her PhD at the University of Oregon in Eugene and recently had a paper published in the Willa Cather Newsletter & Review.

Sarah in WAL office, 2005
Sarah at the end of her
fellowship in 2007

Jacoba Mendelkow Poppleton, 2006-2008. Jacoba now works as a public relations and marketing specialist in the VP for Research’s office at Utah State University. Besides creating innovative marketing materials for USU, she diligently (maybe?) works on her own writing. She also can't resist a beautiful pair of shoes.

Jacoba as a first-year editorial fellow, 2006 Jacoba on her wedding day, 2008

Diane Bush, 2007-2009. Diane has taken an editorial position with another academic journal, the Western Historical Quarterly. Her obsession with the Donner Party continues. Or does it?

Diane Bush


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