Resources to Welcome You





Agata Guskaroska and Tom Elliott, students in our MA program in TESL/Applied Linguistics, have developed this interactive eBook “The Ultimate Guide to Surviving your First Semester at Iowa State” in order to provide helpful information for all new students at ISU. They also received Best Impactful Innovation Award for their presentation of this interactive eBook at the Graduate and Professional Student Research Conference at ISU in April 2018.








Welcome to the ISU English Department’s Peer Advising Resource Team!

Our advisers are excited to share their experience and perspectives with prospective, incoming, and established members of ISU’s English Department Graduate Student Community.

Whether your questions be about

  • Selecting a course of study
  • Finding somewhere to live
  • Navigating your first few semesters
  • Making the transition from coursework to independent research
  • Even looking for the best pizza in town

Please contact us, first looking at our individual bios and contacting us individually or sending general questions to our group at this address:

To help us best direct your questions, please put the nature of your question in the subject heading.





Kim Becker


My name is Kim and I started the PhD in Applied Linguistics & Technology in Fall 2015. My research interests include computer-assisted language learning and corpus linguistics.  I grew up in Mississippi where I earned a B.A. in English and then was a Teach for America Corps Member. I earned an M.A. TESOL at Northern Arizona University and afterward taught ESL for nearly ten years—primarily at a community college in Nashville, Tennessee—before moving to Ames. My household includes one husband, two sons (born in 2004 and 2009), five chickens, and a pet snake. We live in a home we bought near downtown Ames.

I am happy to answer questions about anything, but in particular, I have experiences to share about enrolling children in public schools, purchasing a home in Ames, trying to manage a family while in grad school, and raising backyard hens.

Bonus tip: I encourage you to freely ask questions of faculty, staff, and students. No one can learn everything from the POS Manual or website information. I wish I had asked more questions instead of assuming that I “should” know it all or that asking questions made me seem uninformed. As for food, I like the mac and cheese and homemade chips/dip at the Cafe, pizza at Vesuvius, and Scotch eggs, scones, and tea at the Mucky Duck pub.




Samantha Cosgrove


Hi! I’m Sam, a second-year PhD student in the Rhetoric and Professional Communication program here at ISU. My current research interests are risk communication, visual rhetoric, and navigating digital spaces. I plan on staying in academia after graduation, ideally securing a tenure track position at an R1 university. I have 3 years experience teaching English Composition courses and hope to teach Technical Communication courses in the future.

I am originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina, but have moved around a bit since starting graduate school. I came to Ames from Tampa, Florida so if you are also from a warm weathered state, we can reminisce about warm winters and flip flops. Topics I can advise on: renting apartments off-campus, CyRide, restaurants & bars, sorting out the course DPS, and getting in your transfer credits.

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking for good wings and a place to watch sports, check out The Other Place. They’ve got good drinks and a big screen for games!




Idée Edalatishams


I am a fourth-year PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program. My areas of interest include corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics, identity, spoken language, and learner autonomy. As a graduate assistant here at Iowa State, I have taught ENGL 150, 250, 99L, 99R, 101C, and 180A and have been working as a graduate communication consultant at the Writing and Media Center. Back in my home country, Iran, I was an English Translation major as an undergraduate, got a Master’s in TESL, taught English to adults and young adults at several language institutes and a university, and worked as a newscaster/translator in the English Radio. I love trying new foods and cultures, therefore travelling and finding new friends.

I would be happy to provide advice on: developing plans for PhD coursework; teaching any of the courses I have taught; applying for non-teaching jobs such as at the WMC; and travelling and visa processes for Iranians. I would also love to provide support for new (particularly international) students regarding cultural differences and adapting to their new life in Ames as well as possible difficulties that come with being a PhD student.




Tom Elliott


Hi! My name is Tom and I’m a first-year MA student in TESL/Applied Linguistics, with a focus on corpus methods. I grew up in Iowa and attended Iowa State as an undergraduate in Linguistics and French, then spent a few years moving around the country before returning to Iowa State for graduate school. Just prior to starting my MA, I was working as an ESL tutor for the America China Exchange Society in Seattle and playing fiddle in a honky tonk band. During the rare times when I’m not doing coursework, I usually have a musical instrument of some kind in my hands.

A classmate and I spent the last semester creating an eBook to provide resources for new students, and I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned in the process.




Jack Friend


I’m Jack Friend and I joined the MFA Fiction program to write horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Before I came here I taught high school English in Tucson, and boy, the cold weather has been an adjustment. But there are perks! I started the program at ISU in 2017 and have met more amazing people in the last several months than I’ve met in the last several years. I can provide information on eating in Ames, finding things to do around town, and what kinds of communities are in the MFA program. Also, if you are of a nerdly persuasion, I can clue you in on the Magic, DND, and Pathfinder groups that are already alive and well in the English department.






Joe Geluso


Hi! My name is Joe Geluso. I am in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program. My studies focus mainly on corpus linguistics, phraseology, and SLA. Outside of the ALT program, my life consists of spending time with my kids (5 and 8 years old). Typical activities include scooting around and exploring Ames on our A5 Lux kick scooters, refining our ground strokes on the tennis court, kicking balls on the soccer field, building Legos, and studying Japanese together. I would be happy to share information about Ames related to family life (e.g., where to live, schools in the district, etc.).

I also have a lot to say on the coursework in the program and which courses I would take and in what sequence if I had the chance to do it all over again. Please ask me questions!




Agata Guskaroska


Hi! I’m Agata Guskaroska, and I’m currently an MA student in TESL/Applied Linguistics at ISU. I come from Macedonia where I taught ESL courses in primary and secondary schools and American literature course at university level for 7 years. I worked as a Teaching Assistant at FON university in Macedonia and I won Fulbright scholarship in May 2017. Currently, my major interests include computer-assisted language learning, corpus linguistics, pronunciation and second language acquisition.

Being a sponsored student, I can share advice and tips on anything that you may need as a new International or Fulbright student. Starting a new chapter in your life, adapting to a new educational system, integrating into a new culture and gathering a pile of documents, may be overwhelming and difficult at the beginning, so I encourage you to be well-organized, ask questions and create checklists.

In order to assist newcomers, we created an iBook called The Ultimate Guide to surviving the first semester at ISU’ where you can find information about any type of assistance that you may need. This iBook is inspired by the authors’ need of support in their first semester so we strongly believe that it will provide excellent support for you! It covers many areas, starting from tips on navigating the city, to campus resources, surviving the emotional breakdown and interesting facts about the American Culture. The iBook can be downloaded at:






Roz Hirch


Hello, and welcome to ISU’s English department website! I’ve been a PhD student in the ALT program since 2014, specializing in language assessment with a sort of unofficial minor in corpus-based methods. People often think I’m from around here (Iowa), for some reason, but I originally come from Canada—Medicine Hat, Alberta, to be exact. Other places where I have lived include Korea and Taiwan. As you might guess, I am pretty accustomed to picking up and moving to other locations, and have made more international moves than I care to recall. I am single and live by myself, though I do have 2 cats that have lived with me in all of the countries in which I’ve lived, so among other things, I can give advice about moving when you have pets.

Other things to ask me about: language assessment courses, general coursework, living off-campus, student visa (esp. for Canadians), clothes shopping, pets, ridiculously cute cat pictures

Bonus tip:  Lagomarcino on campus has a nice little cafe that serves food. It’s pretty busy during noon hour, but the rest of the time it’s usually quiet. Outside seating in summer (or winter if you’re brave). Off-campus, a nice coffee shop is the Dutch Oven Bakery. It’s fairly far from the university, but is a quiet and well-lit place. Good spot to get work done.




Zach Lisabeth


Zach Lisabeth is a second year MFA student in creative writing. In 2014, he graduated from the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop at UCSD. Before landing in Iowa he was a freelance writer and media strategist in Brooklyn, NY and Los Angeles, CA. He manages Iowa State’s graduate literary magazine, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Superstition Review, Defenestration, Liquid Imagination, Freeze Frame Fiction, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Mirror Dance, Pantheon Magazine, Burningword Literary Journal and others. You can follow his intermittent outbursts on Twitter @zachlisabeth or check in with him any timeat

Happy to be a resource on Iowa culture shock, local real estate, work/life balance, and navigating the byzantine world of higher education. My areas of personal interest include: cycling, gardening, local music, local politics, local beer, Kansas City, Minneapolis. Welcome to Ames.




Mariah McGuire


Hello all! I am an MA student in English Literature, and my research interests focus primarily on Victorian literature with an emphasis on women, violence, and legislature, though I dabble in Neo-Victorian studies, sci-fi, and Gothicism, and I love true crime. I am also a huge space nerd and nearly majored in astrophysics as an undergrad. I graduated from Iowa State and got my degree in English and International Studies. I currently teach ISUComm Foundation courses and was Editor-in-Chief of a creative writing club as an undergrad. I have lived in Ames effectively my whole life, and can tell you pretty much anything you’d like to know about the area.

I can help you find out where the best place to eat is (Great Plains is the best pizza in Ames, and anyone who says otherwise either hasn’t had it or hates good food), what activities there are in the Ames-Des Moines area (The Des Moines Art Festival is great, and Ames has summer concerts that are always fun. In the fall it’s awesome to go apple picking! There are two orchards within a 20 minute drive), what local schools are like, the best place to find cheap, fashionable clothes (The Loft on Main Street), and how to navigate the town. I also take in an inhumane amount of books, TV shows, and podcasts, so if you ever want to talk shop, just shoot me an email.




Ananda Muhammad


Hi! I’m Ananda, and I’m currently a PhD student in Applied Linguistics. I started my PhD in Fall 2017, right after I graduated with an MA in TESL/Applied Linguistics also from Iowa State University. I’m originally from the wonderful tropical Indonesia, where I taught for two years after graduating with a BA in English Language and Literature from Universitas Hasanuddin. During those two years I taught people of various ages and backgrounds in different settings: private language schools and higher education. Currently, my research interests are in Computer Assisted Language Learning and Language Assessment, specifically in the area of pragmatics.

I came to Iowa State University to do my masters funded by Fulbright, so I know quite a bit about life as a Foreign Fulbright Student in the U.S. In fact, I have served for approximately 2 years (as of Spring 2018) as the President of the Fulbright Students and Scholars at ISU organization. Now as a PhD student, I’m funded through my work as a Graduate Assistant. I would be happy to share advice about navigating the U.S. academic setting as a Foreign Fulbright Student, and if you’re interested, transitioning from MA to PhD studies.

Other areas that I am happy to share advice on: securing funding from the Graduate College and English Department for conference travels, being a Teaching Assistant, travelling and visa processes for Indonesians, housing in Ames, and being involved in student organizations (which you should do!)




Mike Robbins


I’m a fiction writer in the MFA Creative Writing & Environment program, and I teach English 250 with a focus on environmental sustainability. I will be the managing editor for Flyway (Fall 2018), and I teach creative writing at Ames High School. I started the program in Fall 2017.

I graduated from Western Connecticut State in 2011 with an undergrad in English Literature. Then, I served two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in New Haven, CT and Washington, DC. After that, I stayed in DC and worked full-time as a grant writer for an elementary literacy nonprofit until moving to Ames.

In my writing, I am exploring image culture, environmental disasters (that exist before and continue after initial spectacle of violence), and the fictional possibilities of representing the energy systems that govern our lives but remain hidden and abstracted.

Some of my favorite works of fiction over the last few years have been: 2666 (Roberto Bolaño); Yonder Stands Your Orphan (Barry Hannah); Jazz (Toni Morrison); Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood); Mao II (Don Delillo); Hill (Jean Giono); and Blow Up and Other Stories (Julio Cortazar).

In my teaching, I explore issues of environmental sustainability while helping develop students’ composition skills. My course provides students with information about different environmental issues through a balance of criticism and theory in order to help them contextualize their place in the Anthropocene. I view the course as an opportunity for students to hone their writing skills while creating perspectives on environmental issues.

I am happy to discuss the MFA program, teaching assistantships, editing for Flyway, public transportation, biking, not becoming a total recluse during grad school, and pretty much any other questions you might have. Looking forward to it!




Shelby Rae Stringfield


Hi! My name is Shelby Rae Stringfield and I’m a second year in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Environment, where my focus is fiction writing. I obtained my BA in English from the University of Tennessee, so I can answer questions about moving from an urban area to a more rural environment as well as questions about transplanting from the south. If you’d like to discuss the opportunities provided by the MFA, I currently work with Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment as a fiction editor and would be happy to discuss this experience.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the program, coursework, the university, Ames, etc. If you have questions about moving to Ames with pets I can provide some insight, and I can also discuss the public transportation in Ames as my first semester I commuted to campus primarily via the city bus route.

Please feel free to contact me with any queries, or even just to discuss books! Some of my favorite authors include Zadie Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Michael Chabon and I’d be happy to chat!




Kristin Terrill


I’m a PhD student in Applied Linguistics and Technology. I started this program in 2016. My BA and MA are both from Northern Arizona University, where I studied English Literature and Professional Writing. Outside of academics, I’ve worked as a technical writer and quality assurance generalist in engineering companies. My research interests include discourse analysis, morphology, semantics, and computer science. I am happy to address questions about teaching ISUComm, project planning, group projects, and research proposals.

Personally, I live off-campus and commute (as much as possible) by bicycle. I have 2 dogs and a cat.

As far as navigating graduate student life in Ames, I can recommend a good veterinarian, mechanic, and CPA. If you like cooking at home, talk to me about recipes that are good for reheating as leftovers.




Sonca Vo


Hello! I am currently a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA. I used to be a Fulbright recipient from Vietnam and received my MA in TESL from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA in 2011. I am also a lecturer of English at University of Foreign Languages – the University of Danang, Vietnam. I am interested in validity, statistics, psychometrics, second language oral assessment, and quantitative research methods.

I am willing to provide advice regarding housing and transportation in Ames as well as courses that should be taken if language assessment and statistics are the areas of interest.




Hagan Whiteleather


Hi there! My name is Hagan Faye Whiteleather and I’m a second year MFA student in the Creative Writing and Environment Program. My focus is creative non-fiction, specifically of the short-story-cycle variety. The majority of my work revolves around my family’s farm and the cemetery where most of my dead family resides. I am also giving fiction a go in the form of a futuristic agriculture-based YA novel. Before coming to ISU, I had a blissful existence in Ohio. I graduated from Kent State University with degrees in English and Psychology, a minor in Writing, and a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language.

As for my Ames experience, there are a copious amount of hipster-ish coffee shops that let you sit in them indefinitely to grade, write, or just stare blankly at the espresso machine. Also, Indian Palace’s Paneer Masala is a pretty beautiful thing.

Final Note: I am more than mildly obsessed with Shirley Jackson, John Steinbeck, Sylvia Plath, Shel Silverstein, Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Roald Dahl, and any/all of the Brontës. If you want to talk books by the dead just drop a line.