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Spring Homecoming - April 30, 2020 - CANCELED


We look forward to seeing you next year!

Schedule of Events: Thursday, April 30, 2020 

130 Colson Hall 
  • 10 a.m. Coffee & pastries 
  • 10:30 a.m. Alumni panel featuring Isabelle Shepherd, Susan Shumaker, and Abra Sitler
  • 1:30-2:00 p.m. Refreshments
  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. Undergraduate Showcase
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. Appalachian Prison Book Project Book Wrapping

Rhododendron Room, WVU Mountainlair
  • 7:30 p.m. MFA graduation reading by:


Alumni Panelists 


Susan Shumaker
Susan Shumaker ('87)  is a Story Researcher and Producer at Florentine Films. She has worked on Country Music, The War, The Dust Bowl, and The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Currently, she is serving as co-producer for two new initiatives: a three-film series on mental health, to be broadcast as the flagship productions of a 10-year PBS initiative to draw attention to the mental health crisis, and a film biography of American essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. She has served on the boards of Read Aloud, an organization encouraging parents to read to children in the classroom, and the West Virginia Land Trust. At WVU, Susan was co-founder of Calliope and president of the English Club for two years.

Abra Sitler
Abra Sitler is an MBA student at Georgetown University McDonough, School of Business in Washington, DC. She is the author of Seeing the Biopharma Future, releasing April 2020. The book explores three breakthroughs in biotechnology that are driving the “precision medicine movement” and improving healthcare globally. She’ll begin a position in business insights and analytics with Bristol Myers Squibb, a biopharmaceutical firm in Princeton, NJ, in June 2020. As an undergraduate at WVU, Abra studied English and biology, and was inspired by exploratory science writers such as Carl Sagan. She started writing with her two sisters in her hometown of Bramwell, WV.  She served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Azerbaijan and Georgia, and has lived, worked, and travelled to over 30 countries.  A question she is currently exploring is “can everything in life be measured?”

Isabelle Shepherd
Isabelle Shepherd is a poet from West Virginia. She now lives in Wilmington, NC, where she received her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has held various positions within the nonprofit sector, as a public radio reporter, social worker, and advocate for historic preservation. Her poetry has appeared in DIAGRAM, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Redivider, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. Her work and reading dates can be found at

Undergraduate Students

Samantha R. Barney ('21) 
Follansbee, West Virginia, 

Samantha is an Honors student, majoring in English and French. She works in the West Virginia Dialect Project as a Research Assistant. She plans to attend law school after graduation. She enjoys discussing British literature and linguistics.


Cameron Ferguson ('21)

Cameron is pursuing an English major, with a dual emphasis in PWE and creative writing, and a Law and Legal studies minor. He is a member of the Billiards and Film clubs here at WVU. He hopes to attend law school and get a fancy federal job in DC, or write an awesome screenplay and then move to LA. In addition to workshops, he thoroughly enjoys classes in political science.

Erica Kushner (‘20) 

Erica is an English major with a focus in creative writing: poetry and non-fiction, with minors in Geology and Africa & The Middle East. They work in the Eberly Writing Studio, the LGBTQ+ Center, as well as serving as the WVU Hillel President. Every Friday, you can find them kneading dough and braiding challah for Shabbat.  


Maria Diana Pomales

Maria is a double-major in English (Creative Writing) and World Languages (Spanish). She was raised in Pendleton County in the Eastern Panhandle. Her mother, a WV native, is of English/German descent; her father was born and raised in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Maria’s writing is influenced by Gloria Anzaldua, Ralph Ellison, Isabel Allende, and Elizabeth Acevedo, and reflects growing up Latina in Appalachia: the wonderment, confusion, and overall unique life it produced for her.


Savannah Thomas ('20) 

Savannah is an English and Women's and Gender Studies double-major with a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. By day, she works as the Public Relations manager at the Daily Athenaeum. By night, she is a creative writer whose main focus is poetry. She is currently applying for the Master of Public Administration program and a Women's and Gender Studies graduate teaching assistantship at WVU. 

Since 2005, the Appalachian Prison Book Project, founded by WVU Professor Katy Ryan, has mailed over 30,000 books, receiving about 100 requests per week, and 100 imprisoned persons and 27 volunteers have participated in its book clubs. The APBP is currently working to bring for-credit college classes to prisons.