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Our Staff

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


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 second 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.

English as a Second Language, MLA Style, APA Style, Annotated Bibliographies, Humanities, Creative Writing, Literary Criticism


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.

English as a Second Language, 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 

Lindsay Puvel is an M.A. student in the English Department with interests in 19th century American literature, postcolonial literature, and postwar literature, specifically post World War I. Lindsay received her B.A. in English with a minor in Theology from The Catholic University of America. For the past two years, she has taught high school courses in American literature, Writing and Composition, elementary Grammar, and Creative Writing. Lindsay's other scholarly interests include pedagogy, with a particular interest in classical education, and Metaphysical poetry.

Humanities, Grammar, MLA Style, Applications, Resumes, Creative Writing

John Ritenour is an M.A. student in the English Department. Originally from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, he received his B.A. in English Literature and a teaching certification from Messiah College. John has a wide range of scholarly interests but particularly enjoys 20th century novels. He plans to teach at a public high school after receiving his M.A.

Literature, Secondary Education, History

Monica Schroeder is an M.A. student in the English department with interests in both Renaissance and Modern literature, especially their uses of textual hybridity and classical philosophy. Originally from Indiana, she received her B.A. in English literature from Washburn University in Kansas, where she also worked in Washburn’s writing center as a tutor. Her scholarly interests include art, psychology, narrative styles, linguistics, gender studies, classical education, opera, and history.

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

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.
English as a Second Language, Creative Writing, History, Theology, Sciences.
Jonathan Wanner is a second year M.A. candidate in the English department with an interest in the English lyricists of the late Renaissance, especially the metaphysical poets. Originally from North Dakota, he received his B.A. in the liberal arts from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. He has previously tutored Latin and English and has worked as a theater director for several years. His interests include classics, opera, theater, Renaissance polyphony, philosophy, and creative writing.

Undergraduate Peer Tutors


Samantha Aurilia is a senior double major in History and Media Studies from Florham Park, NJ, with particular interests in gender issues and the roles of media in modern American history. She is president of The History Club on campus, but spends most of her time doing research and visiting various archives. When not researching, she can be found in a museum or one of DC’s amazing restaurants—Chipotle included. She has written about history, theology, drama, and media.

History, Media Studies, Philosophy, Theology. 

Helen Gorman is a sophomore English major and French minor from Hyattsville, Maryland. She loves reading, especially F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Moliere, and Flannery O'Connor. She also enjoys theater, creative writing, singing, swing dancing, and post-Revolutionary French history.

Alejandra Lado is a senior English major and Philosophy minor from Rockville, MD. She is particularly interested in Modernist and Realist literature, especially works by William Faulkner and Fyodor Dostoevsky. In her free time, Alejandra loves to read, watch zombie apocalypse movies, and discuss literature with her friends. She has written about philosophy, literature, drama, theology, and history.


Lucas Matheson is a senior 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 

Rebecca McCarron is a junior History major and Spanish minor originally from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She is particularly interested in American History especially the Revolutionary War Era, the Young Republic, and the Glided Age. She also volunteers with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and has just begun a position as a writing intern for Phi Beta Kappa’s The Key Reporter. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, reading, and exploring Washington D.C.

Rachel Moore is a Junior English Major and Philosophy Minor. She loves reading Southern Gothic literature and anything written by Kurt Vonnegut or Billy Collins. Outside the academic world, Rachel enjoys playing ukulele for her first-year residents in North Neighborhood 2 and drinking chai lattes. She has written about literature, philosophy, classics, and drama.

Literature, Humanities, Philosophy

Born and raised in the North Dakota oil patch, Mallory Nygard is a senior English major with minors in Philosophy and Theology. She is the executive editor of The Crosier, CUA’s pro-life academic journal. When she is not listening to melancholy acoustic music, Mallory likes to learn about the intersection of literature and theology, as well as art and architecture, especially in liturgical spaces. She has written about the North Dakota budget surplus, the use of superhero narratives as government propaganda, the religious consequences of the French revolution, and the poets of the First World War. The Brothers Karamazov, A Soldier of the Great War, and Stranger in a Strange Land are a few of the books on Mallory’s list of favorites.


Michaela Shea is a senior English major 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 copyeditor for The Tower.  In her spare time Michaela enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and going on adventures.  

Literature, Humanities 

Kathleen Strycula is a senior Psychology major with a minor in Studio Art. She has particular interests in cognitive psychology, literature, and philosophy of art. Outside of classes, she can be found reading, drawing, or sculpting. Growing up in military family, she loves to travel and has been to 42 states and 13 countries.

Psychology, Art History, Literature

Katharine Werthwine is a senior 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.
Art: Lucas
APA Style: Kristin, Michaela
Creative Writing: Kristin, Julia, Katharine, Michaela
Drama/Theater: Julia
Dissertations: Emily Alianello
Education: John Ritenour
ESL: Julia, Kristin, Michael
Grammar: Lindsay, Emily
History: Justin, Victoria, Julia, Sam
Humanities/Classics: Justin
Media Studies: Sam, Lucas
Philosophy: Justin, Lucas
Psychology: Michaela
Social Work: Justin
Sciences: Julia
Theology: Julia

 Peer Tutor Alumni

Sullivan Maciag, '13

Patricia Mars '14

Wesley Cocozello '14

Eva-Maria Ghelardi '14 

Administrative Staff


Dr. Taryn Okuma, Director of Undergraduate Tutor Program

Dr. Kevin Rulo, Director


Justin Keena, Lead Instructor
Victoria Scrimer, Outreach Coordinator



Locations and Hours

Pryzbyla 213 (Main Location): Mondays thru Thursdays, 10am-8pm

Fridays, 10am-5pm

Mullen Library (Satellite, Walk-in only): Wednesdays, 5-8pm; Saturdays, 11a-2pm

Leahy Hall 100 (Satellite, Walk-in only): Sundays, 6-9pm 

Closed holidays and during university holiday periods.

If the university closes for inclement weather (including early closings and delayed openings), the Writing Center will close and appointments scheduled during this time will be cancelled. If this happens, please reschedule your appointment online.

Current Events


Contact Us

213 Pryzbyla Center
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, DC 20064

Writing Center Email:

Writing Center Phone: 202-319-4286
Director: Dr. Kevin Rulo
Director of Undergraduate Tutor Program: Dr. Taryn L. Okuma
Lead Instructor: Justin Keena
Outreach Coordinator: Victoria Scrimer