The Catholic University of America

Who are we? 

The Writing Center is staffed by graduate instructors and undergraduate peer tutors. Our graduate instructors have received highly competitive fellowships and assistantship awards that fund their work in the Center. Our undergraduate peer tutors have been nominated by CUA professors and then selected after a rigorous review and interview process. All Writing Center staff undergo extensive and ongoing training.

Writing Center Instructors


Erik Gravel is a Ph.D. student in the English department with a focus on the British Renaissance, particularly Milton and Spenser. Originally from Rhode Island, Erik received his B.S. in Biology and B.A. in History from Providence College. He has taught college mathematics and anatomy & physiology courses, and has also worked as a professional science tutor. His interests include writing in the sciences (from lab reports to reviews of scientific literature, to research papers), historical, theological, and philosophical writing.

Engineering, Grammar, History, Humanities, Classics, Math, Philosophy, Sciences, Theology, APA Style

Emily Alianello is a PhD Candidate in English at the Catholic University of America, where she also received an MA in 2009. In addition to working as a consultant at the Writing Center during her teaching fellowship at CUA, she directed the 2014 Dissertation Boot Camp. Emily has worked as an adjunct professor at CUA and Trinity Washington University, and is currently a professional tutor at the United States Naval Academy's Writing Center. She has taught classes in rhetoric and composition, argumentative writing, and British literature. Emily specializes in early modern and Renaissance literature, and her primary research area is early modern religious literature, particularly sermons and devotional lyric poetry.

Dissertations, Scholarly Writing, Graduate Student Support


Kristin Backert is a first year M.A. student in the English department with a focus on Renaissance literature, particularly Shakespeare and early modern drama. Originally from New York, Kristin received her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Adelphi University. She worked as a peer writing tutor, online writing tutor, and writing assistant for three and a half years during her undergraduate career. Her writing interests include literary criticism, linguistics, gender, and creative writing.

MLA Style, APA Style, Annotated Bibliographies, Humanities, Creative Writing, Literary Criticism
Elizabeth de Mahy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English whose studies focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, especially the works of female novelists. She is working on a dissertation entitled “The Ethics of Crisis in the Works of Jane Austen.” In 2009, Elizabeth graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Political Science, and Spanish. She received her Master’s degree in English Language and Literature from CUA in 2011. Though born in St. Louis, M.O., Elizabeth grew up in Mississippi and Louisiana. Elizabeth has been an instructor in English composition and literature classes and has also worked as a T.A. in Media Studies.
Dissertations, Composition, Literature, Media Studies, Politics


Michael Evans is an M.A. student in the English department with an interest in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American novels, particularly those of the American Realists and Naturalists. Originally from just outside Kansas City, Missouri, he received his B.A. in English at Northwest Missouri State University, with a minor in Philosophy. Prior to that he completed some coursework toward a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology. His other interests include writers of the American Renaissance as well as social and political history.

Literature, History, Creative Writing (short stories and poetry), Philosophy, Wildlife Biology and Ecology



Justin Keena is an M.A. student in the English Department with a focus on the reception of Classical works, and especially ancient Greek philosophy, in 20th century British literature. Justin received his B.A. in Classics and Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville and his Master of Studies in Ancient Philosophy from the University of Oxford. He has previously taught Greek, Latin, Philosophy, and the Great Books (Honors) program at Franciscan University and worked with the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project to edit and publish von Hildebrand’s philosophical works. His scholarly interests range from philosophy in literature and religious autobiography to the Inklings and John Henry Newman. Justin also serves as the Writing Center's Social Work Liaison.

Social Work, Classics, Philosophy, Humanities


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Emily McBryan is an M.A. student in the English department with a focus on 20th century literature, particularly literature of the American South and Ireland. Originally from Philadelphia, Emily received her B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College, double majoring in Philosophy and Theology. For the past three years, she has taught courses in Latin, English composition and grammar, Theology and Drama. Her interests include classical and scholastic philosophy, history, theology, popular culture, linguistics, and creative writing.


Grammar, History, Humanities, Classics, Philosophy, Theology, Creative Writing



Victoria Scrimer is an M.A. student in the English Department with interests in Modern poetry and Medieval literature. She graduated with her B.A. in English from the University of Mary Washington in 2006. She has several years experience writing and editing materials for international non-profits, and has worked as a literacy tutor for both children and adults. Her interests include literary criticism, education, social and environmental justice, performance art, poetry, and creative writing.

MLA Style, Research, Creative Writing, ESL, Literary Studies, Proposals, Applications, Resumes


Robert Sherron is an M.A. student in the English Department with a focus on Modern and Post-Modern novels, specifically Catholic novels, particularly the works of Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Flannery O'Connor, and Walker Percy. A graduate of the University of Dallas, Robert majored in English and Theology, receiving a concentration in Applied Physics. He previously taught in the Intensive English Department at Catholic University, and was a lab instructor for Physics courses in Dallas. He also worked for the university newspaper at Dallas, where he wrote beloved satirical pieces and scathing theatrical reviews. His writing interests include Thomistic theology, philosophy of science, the Italian Futurists, the English Vorticists, popular culture, and creative writing, particularly if it is satirical. 

Art History, Theology, Philosophy, Physics, General Science Writing, Literary Criticism, and Creative Writing


Shaun Stiemsma is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the Catholic University of America with a focus on early modern drama.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Calvin College and his master’s here at CUA.  He has been a teaching fellow in English at CUA for the past 5 years, teaching courses on writing and literature.  He has also served as the assistant director of the writing program, helping to develop the syllabus and materials for the current iteration of English 101 taught at CUA.  He has also been a writing instructor for over 15 years, working with students one-on-one as well as in the classroom.   

Dissertations, Literature, Humanities



Michael Strickland is a second year M.A. student in the English department and has a focus on Old English and Old Norse. Originally from Front Royal, VA, Michael graduated from Christendom College with a triple major in English, Classics, and Philosophy. He has worked as a high school English teacher and as a cataloging assistant in multiple libraries. His interests include classical and scholastic philosophy, literary criticism, popular culture, and linguistics.

Philosophy, Theology, Humanities/Classics, APA Style



Emily Linz is a M.A. student in the English department with a focus on Twentieth Century literature, specifically Southern literature. Originally from Texas, she graduated from University of Dallas with a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and a concentration in Latin. She has written for the commentary section of University of Dallas’ school newspaper, The University News, transcribed memoirs, and worked as a Latin tutor. She is also interested in creative writing, particularly the short story.
Art History, Classics, Creative Writing, Music, Theology
Julia Torres is a M.A student in the English department with interests in Early Modern Literature, especially Shakespeare. Originally from New Jersey, Julia received her B.A in English with minors in History and Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Saint Joseph’s University. She also worked as a peer-tutor in the Saint Joseph’s Writing Center for a year and a half. Avid about writing, she served for two years as editor of her undergraduate literary magazine, and has articles published in The Key Reporter and The Greek Catholic Union Magazine.
Creative Writing, History, Theology, Sciences.

Ryan Wilson was born in Griffin, Georgia. He holds a B.A. from The University of Georgia, an M.F.A. in poetry from The Johns Hopkins University, where he won the Sankey Fellowship for Excellence in Poetry, and a second Master’s degree from Boston University, where he won the Schmuel Traum Prize for Literary Translation. His poems, prose, and translations have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in a number of literary journals and magazines, such as 32 Poems, Able Muse, First Things, The Hopkins Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, The James Dickey Review, The Journal, Light, The Lyric, Measure, Raintown Review, River Styx, The Sewanee Theological Review, and Unsplendid. Currently a doctoral candidate at CUA, his primary research areas are 20th century American poetry, Southern Literature, Modernist Literature, and contemporary poetry. His dissertation analyzes how Dante and T.S. Eliot influenced Robert Penn Warren’s work. He is beginning his ninth year of teaching at the collegiate level, and he has taught courses on rhetoric and composition, poetic form, creative writing, American literature, and Classical literature.

Dissertations, Creative Writing, Literature, Humanities


Undergraduate Peer Tutors



Audra Nakas is a senior psychology and politics major from Falls Church, VA. As Public Affairs Science Writing Intern at the Association for Psychological Science this past summer, she composed press releases and blog posts about the latest research in psychology. Before that, she spent a term studying abroad at the University of Oxford, which involved intensive research and writing every week in a one-on-one tutorial setting. With her interests in social justice, her writing experience also includes journalism, editorials, and letters to politicians. On campus, Audra is a teaching assistant for the University Honors Program and is involved in Students for Life and Psi Chi.


Psychology, Politics, Theology, Philosophy


Samantha Aurilia is a junior double major in History and Media Studies from Florham Park, NJ, with particular interests in gender issues and the role of media in modern American history. She is president of The History Club on campus, serves as a Junior PASS mentor in CAS, and holds a research apprenticeship in the History Department. When not doing research, she can be found in a museum or one of DC’s amazing restaurants—Chipotle included. She has written about history, philosophy, and media.

History, Media Studies, Philosophy, Theology.




Tyler Lomnitzer is a senior English major with particular interests in philosophy and Latin. He thoroughly enjoys close reading exercises and writing about Catholic literature, Catholic authors, and Catholic saints. Writing and the writing process are his favorite part of academia. Around campus, you will see Tyler in a few different capacities: as an RA for Flather Hall, an Operations Assistant for athletic events at the DuFour Center, and an active member in the Knights of Columbus council. Hailing from CT, he enjoys spending his free time out on the Long Island Sound, golfing, and listening to Jack Johnson.

Humanities, History, Theology, Philosophy, Lab Reports



Lucas Matheson is a junior Philosophy and Art History double major with particular interests in contemporary art, critical theory, and the philosophy of art. He especially enjoys the work of Agnes Martin, Terrence Malick, and Arthur Danto. Outside of the academic world, Lucas can be found at either a museum, cinema, or volleyball court. He has always loved to talk to people about their writing and their ideas. Lucas has written about philosophy, art history, history, theology, literature, and film.

Philosophy, Art History, Humanities, Literature, Media Studies



Gretchen Midgley is a senior musical theatre major from Los Angeles, California. She is the president of the Swing Dance Club, as well as the Artistic Director and Writer-in-Residence of CenterStage Theatre Company. She loves to read and write, and she plans to pursue creative writing and writing for musical theatre in the future. She is interested in musical theatre and jazz history, C.S. Lewis, and promoting childhood literacy.

Creative Writing, Drama/Theatre, Music



Michaela Shea is a junior English major and Italian studies minor from Philadelphia, PA. She particularly enjoys Gothic and medieval literature, but loves recommendations from any genre. Michaela is a member of Redline A Cappella as well as a part of The Tower staff. In her spare time. Michaela enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and looking for adventures.

Literature, Humanities


Alex Sniatkowski is a fourth year English major. He likes to write and spends much of his spare time working on his own fiction.  When not representing Catholic University on the rugby field, he reads(mostly modernist and postmodernist authors) and watches movies and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He has written about history and philosophy.

Creative Writing, Philosophy, Literature, History   



Mark Strycula is a senior History major with particular interest in American military history. Last semester, he was an intern at the US Army Center of Military History, serving as a research assistant to the archival staff. When he is not doing homework, he likes to visit museums, watch football, and go for runs. On campus, he is a member of the Anscombe Society and Phi Alpha Theta. His dad is in the military, so he has a hard time answering the question, “Where are you from?” But if he had to name one place, he would probably choose Pittsburgh, his dad’s hometown.

History, Humanities, Philosophy, and Politics


Katharine Werthwine is a junior English major and Medieval and Byzantine Studies minor. She is particularly interested in medieval English literature, the history of the English language, and grammar. In her free time, she likes to explore Washington, DC., get lost in museums, write creatively, and read.
Literature, Theology, Humanities, Philosophy, Creative Writing

Looking for an instructor with a strong interest in writing in a particular subject or genre?
All of our instructors can assist you with any writing project or work with you on issues of grammar and citation, but if you’d like to request an instructor who has experience in a particular subject area or genre, please use the following list as a guide. If you cannot find your subject/genre on the list, but would still prefer a referral, please contact Dr. Kevin Rulo for assistance.

Architecture: Erik
APA Style: Erik, Kristin
Creative Writing: Alex, Kristin, Julia
Drama/Theater: Erik
Dissertations: Chris, Ryan, Shaun
Engineering: Erik
ESL: Erik
Grammar: Erik
History: Alex, Julia
Humanities/Classics: Erik, Michael S., Tyler, Justin
Math: Erik
Media Studies:
Philosophy: Erik, Michael S., Audra, Sullivan, Tyler, Alex, Justin
Politics: Audra
Psychology: Audra
Sciences: Erik, Tyler, Julia
Theology: Erik, Michael S., Audra, Tyler, Julia

 Peer Tutor Alumni

Sullivan Maciag, '13

Patricia Mars '14

Wesley Cocozello '14

Eva-Maria Ghelardi '14


Grammar Specialists

Erik Gravel


Administrative Staff


Dr. Taryn Okuma, Director of Undergraduate Tutor Program

Dr. Kevin Rulo, Director


Erik Gravel, Assistant Director
Emily Linz, Outreach Coordinator



Location and Hours


The Writing Center's main location is now in the Pryzbyla Center, room 213. Come and check out the new digs!




Wednesdays, 5-8pm