Consultant Biographies & Specialties
Click on a name to jump to a biography:
Alyssa Pelish is a writer, editor, and longtime writing consultant, both here at Columbia and freelance. Her work has been recognized by The Best American Short Stories 2018 and The Best American Essays 2020, and her first story collection was a finalist for the 2022 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her fiction and essays have also appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, Slate, Conjunctions, Cabinet, New England Review, The Smart Set, The Baffler, FENCE, and North American Review, as well as having been featured on LitHub and the Granta blog. B.A. neuroscience, Carleton College. MFA Sarah Lawrence, creative writing. PhD coursework in literature, CUNY-Graduate Center. Specialties: American literature, Art Humanities, British literature, comparative literature, creative writing, critical theory, dissertation writing, ESL, fiction, film & media studies, grammar, linguistics, literary analysis, nonfiction, Literature Humanities, personal statements, poetry, master’s thesis writing, translation studies
Amira Silver-Swartz holds a BA in linguistics from Swarthmore College and an MA in Communication from UC San Diego. She has done research in comparative sign language linguistics; her overall focus is on language in connection to culture and identity. Her graduate studies include work in the fields of critical theory, political philosophy, sociology and anthropology, communication and media studies, gender and sexuality, education, and disability studies. At the Writing Center, Amira especially enjoys brainstorming, working on writing practices, and discussing conventions of standardized academic English. She spends her free time exploring the city, going to art museums, embroidering, baking, and over-analyzing jokes.
Barbara Paulus is a visual artist and writer of fiction, personal essay, and creative nonfiction. She has a BA in Literature and a BA in Arts Management from Purchase College. In 2019 she completed her MA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Film Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her areas of focus included documentary film, experimental film, art writing, and urban narratives. Previously, she worked as the supervisor of the Borough of Manhattan Community College writing center and has experience as a museum educator. Outside of work you can find her photographing coastal landscapes. Specialties: American literature, application essays, art history, Art Humanities, creative writing, fiction, film & media studies, grammar, literary analysis, nonfiction, Literature Humanities, mixed media/genre projects, MLA style, personal statements, research, museum studies
Bridget Potter, a writer, has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia and an MFA in Literary Nonfiction from Columbia’s School of the Arts. She taught University Writing at Columbia for three years, and conducted memoir-writing workshops for the Columbia Summer High School program. Her essays have been published in Guernica, Quarto, Best American Essays and Windmill. She has reviewed books for Publishers Weekly and The Wall Street Journal. Before entering GS at Columbia, she had a long career in television, as an executive and also as a producer, most prominently as the head of Original Programming at HBO. Specialties: anthropology, application essays, arts criticism, Art Humanities, comparative literature, Contemporary Civilization, creative writing, dissertation writing, fellowship applications, film & media studies, journalism, literary nonfiction, Literature Humanities, personal statements, sociology, theatre/playwriting, screenwriting, master’s thesis writing, University Writing.
Carin Jean White is a visual artist and theatre director. She holds an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University. www.carinjeanwhite.com Specialties: application essays, business & professional writing, comics & graphic novels, creative writing, critical theory, dissertation writing, fellowship applications, fiction, film & media studies, job search materials, journalism, literary nonfiction, mixed media/genre projects, multimedia composing, personal statements, proposal & grant writing, research, theatre, playwriting, screenwriting, master’s thesis writing, translation studies.
Celine Aenlle-Rocha is a writer and MFA candidate in fiction at Columbia University, where she teaches University Writing: Readings in Race & Ethnicity and is a Lead Teaching Fellow for the Center for Teaching & Learning. She has worked in an editorial capacity at The Kenyon Review, Columbia Journal, and The Morningside Review, and her creative writing has appeared in Joyland, Nimrod International Journal, Tahoma Literary Review, The Acentos Review, Puerto del Sol, Pigeon Pages, Fatal Flaw, The Suburban Review, and Solar Journal. Celine is the recipient of the 2021 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, as well as residencies from the Fairhope Center and Art Farm. She has taught high school Spanish and, after attending the Columbia Publishing Course, worked in academic book marketing at Oxford University Press on music, film, and linguistics titles. Her pedagogy centers on linguistic and racial justice in the composition and creative writing classrooms. When not writing or teaching, Celine enjoys knitting, sewing, and traveling. Specialties: application essays, creative writing, fiction, linguistics, personal statements, University Writing.
Dasharah Green is an English PhD student at The CUNY Graduate Center. She received a BA in English honors with a double minor in Africana Studies honors and Political Science from John Jay College and an MA in English from St. John’s University. Her current research explores Black feminist archives and the art of Black women storytelling. She uses language as a tool to reimagine and uncover/track histories and genealogies of Black life through writing and storytelling. Dasharah has creative writing pieces and scholarly essays published in various interdisciplinary journals. She currently teaches English at Lehman College and in the Black and Latino Studies Department at Baruch College. Specialties: African-American studies, American literature, application essays, creative writing, fellowship applications, fiction, gender studies, job search materials, literary analysis, nonfiction, MLA style, personal statements, University Writing
Emily Foster is a PhD candidate here at Columbia, writing her dissertation on the unfinished 19th century novel. She has seven years of writing consulting experience, starting when she was an undergraduate at Cornell University. She has an M.A. in English Education from Stanford University, as well as an M.A. and an M.Phil in English Literature from Columbia. She’s also a Graduate Teaching Fellow and has taught University Writing several times, as well as Columbia’s introduction to the English major, “Literary Texts, Critical Methods.” She lives with her husband and her two cats, Prickles and Moo. Specialties: application essays, British literature, comparative literature, dissertation writing, ESL, literary analysis, personal statements, master’s thesis writing, University Writing
Emily "Miquela" Suazo is an MFA candidate in Fiction and Literary Translation in the School of the Arts. She has taught University Writing: Contemporary Essays, and University Writing: Race and Ethnicity, as well as fiction and poetry courses with Columbia Artists/Teachers. Specialties: application essays, comparative literature, creative writing, fiction, film & media studies, gender studies, history, literary analysis, Literature Humanities, MLA style, personal statements, theatre/playwriting, screenwriting, translation studies, University Writing
Evan is a member of the Columbia College class of 2023. He's majoring in English with a special concentration in sustainable development. He's passionate about mitigating climate change and leaving the planet better than he found it. He's also a member of Columbia SHARP, an a cappella group on campus.
Fiona is a playwright, screenwriter, and educator who recently graduated from Columbia's MFA program in playwriting. They taught two years of University Writing (Readings in Film and Performing Arts) during their time as a graduate student. Her approach to research and writing is interdisciplinary, often combining performance, media, and film studies with unexpected fields of thought, so she loves to discuss projects both inside and outside of her disciplinary "wheelhouse." When not writing or consulting, Fiona spends their time reading sci-fi novels, sewing and mending, trying out new vegetarian recipes, and watching reality TV with their cats. Specialties: American literature, application essays, Art Humanities, comparative literature, creative writing, film & media studies, gender studies, grammar, literary analysis, personal statements, poetry, theatre/playwriting, screenwriting, University Writing
Jason Takayuki Ueda
Jason Takayuki Ueda is coordinator of the writing center. Previously, he has taught composition and worked as a writing consultant at various universities in the city. His interests include modern and contemporary poetry, Japanese medieval history, labor studies, media and culture, cooking, and bike riding. Jason received a BA from Hunter College and an MFA in poetry from The New School. Specialties: American literature, Art Hum, British literature, close reading strategies, comparative literature, East Asian studies, grammar, Lit Hum, MLA style, personal statements and application essays, poetry, University Writing, long projects, American studies.
Joey De Jesus is the author of HOAX (The Operating System, 2021) and two chapbooks: We Animate the Dream: A Poet’s Run for Public Office (Mount Analog Political Pamphlet Series, 2021) and NOCT- The Threshold of Madness (The Atlas Review, 2019). Joey received the 2019-20 BRIC ArtFP Project Room Commission and 2017 NYFA/NYSCA Fellowship in Poetry. Poems have appeared widely in print and online and have been installed in Artists Space, The New Museum, and elsewhere. Joey is a co-editor at Apogee Journal and sits on the advisory board of No, Dear Magazine. Joey lives in Ridgewood, Queens, where they ran a competitive abolitionist campaign for New York State Assembly District 38 in 2020. Joey holds a M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University, a M.F.A. in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a B.A. from Oberlin College. Specialties: African American studies, American literature, American studies, application essays, Art Humanities, British literature, comparative literature, creative writing, critical theory, dissertation writing, fellowship applications, fiction, and gender.
Kirkwood is a lecturer in Writing Center, working with the Writing Guide program. He has taught composition at Fordham, College of Staten Island, FIT, Yeshiva and elsewhere. Before living in New York, Kirkwood taught at an elementary school in Boston. Back then, he was also a docent in the Gallery Instructors Program at the Museum of Fine Arts. He has an MFA in poetry. And he makes collages. Specialties: application essays, Art Humanities, Literature Humanities, personal statements, poetry, University Writing
Maria Baker is a writer of drama, fiction, and cultural criticism, as well as a translator. At the University of Vienna, she focused on German Philology, Theatre & Media Studies and eventually completed her B.A. in the US in English Literature and Creative Writing. She holds an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute where she co-developed and teaches two Undergraduate Integrative Courses. She’s the facilitator of an on-going writing workshop for senior citizens in Brooklyn and a founder of the writers' collective Verbal Supply Company. Specialties: arts criticism, Art Humanities, creative writing, fiction, film & media studies, German, literary nonfiction, Literature Humanities, poetry, theatre/playwriting/, screenwriting, translation studies, multilingual approaches.
Niki Cunningham began her academic journey in two departments: Women’s Studies and Modern Culture and Media. She then did graduate work in modern studies where she focused on historiography and popular culture. She also completed an MPH in the history and ethics of public health and medicine at Columbia. Along the way, she taught college writing and courses in the Holocaust and representation. For the past 17 years, she has been a preprofessional advisor at Columbia where she has focused on working with students on the writing required for professional school applications. In her free time, she enjoys building Legos with a certain 2nd grader.^ top
Steve Preskill was a professor of education for many years, specializing in the history of American education and leadership studies. He has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois. More recently, he acquired an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. He is currently doing research for a biography of one of his heroes – Myles Horton of the Highlander Folk School. He is delighted to be working in the Writing Center as a writing consultant. Specialties: American studies, history, research, biography and leadership studies
Dr. Sue Mendelsohn is the director of the Writing Center and the Associate Director of Columbia's Undergraduate Writing Program. She's taught writing and rhetorical theory for two decades and is co-author with Aaron Ritzenberg of the writing handbook How Scholars Write (Oxford 2021). Her research uncovers the history of writing instruction for African-American college students during the Jim Crow era. Specialties: University Writing, dissertation writing, research, the writing process strategies, personal statements, and application materials.^ top
Tyler is a writer, educator, and organizer hailing from the city of Philadelphia. He is currently a senior in Columbia College double majoring in creative writing and African-American studies. Outside of Columbia, Tyler is a community journalist with the Philadelphia Credible Messengers project, working on a long-form project to tell the story of how gun violence and trauma affect the lives of Black men in the city. Tyler’s interests include (but are not limited to) Black cultural politics, popular culture, education justice, and literature. At the heart of all his projects is a commitment to unpacking the nuances of Black life in America as portrayed through art and cultural production while also engaging questions about human intentionality, identities, and cultural history. In 2018 he self-published his debut chap book, What Would Malcolm X Do with an IPhone? When not in class or politicking with strangers on the street, he can be found perusing through local bookstores or on the basketball court running 5 on 5 with pretty much anyone.
Valerie Seiling Jacobs
Valerie Seiling Jacobs holds an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University and a JD from Cornell University. Before returning to academia, she practiced law for more than twenty years. She has experience teaching academic, creative, and legal writing. She is a former UWP instructor and previously served on the editorial board of The Morningside Review. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other publications. Specialties: University Writing, dissertation and thesis writing, business & professional writing, literary nonfiction, law, research-based writing, and journalism.
Yousef Tehrani is a teacher, writer, and musician with a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and a bachelor's in dance. He has been teaching and consulting with writers since 2009 and has presented at national and regional writing center conferences. His specialties are non-native and non-traditional students, blocked or anxious writers, creative process, and grammar. He writes in English and Persian and speaks Spanish and Turkish. His own creative process is an integration of dance, mountaineering, music, and language.
African American studies: Joey De Jesus, Tyler Campbell,
American literature: Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Tyler Campbell
American studies: Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Stephen Preskill,
anthropology: Amira Silver-Swartz, Bridget Potter,
APA style: Sue Mendelsohn
application essays: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, Celine Aenlle-Rocha, Emily Foster, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham, Sue Mendelsohn
art criticism: Maria Baker,
art history: Amira Silver-Swartz, Tyler Campbell,
Art Humanities: Amira Silver-Swartz, Bridget Potter, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Kirkwood Adams, Maria Baker
Asian American studies:
Associated Press style:
biography: Stephen Preskill
British literature: Carin Jean White, Emily Foster, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus,
business & professional writing: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, Niki Cunningham, Valerie Seiling Jacobs
Close reading: Amira Silver-Swartz
comparative literature: Emily Foster, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Tyler Campbell,
Contemporary Civilization: Bridget Potter,
creative writing: Carin Jean White, Celine Aenlle-Rocha, C.K. Kirch, Joey De Jesus, Maria Baker, Tyler Campbell
critical theory: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham, Tyler Campbell,
dissertation writing: Carin Jean White, Emily Foster, Joey De Jesus, Sue Mendelsohn, Valerie Seiling Jacobs
East Asian studies: Jason Ueda,
environmental writing: Yousef Tehrani
ESL: Amira Silver-Swartz, Emily Foster, Yousef Tehrani
fellowship applications: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, C.K. Kirch, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham, Sue Mendelsohn, Tyler Campbell
fiction: Carin Jean White, Celine Aenlle-Rocha, C.K. Kirch, Joey De Jesus, Maria Baker, Tyler Campbell
film & media studies: Amira Silver-Swartz, Bridget Potter, Carin Jean White, C.K. Kirch, Maria Baker, Niki Cunningham, Tyler Campbell
gender studies: Amira Silver-Swartz, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham
German: Maria Baker
grammar: Amira Silver-Swartz, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Yousef Tehrani
history: Amira Silver-Swartz, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham, Stephen Preskill, Tyler Campbell
international relations: Joey De Jesus
job search materials: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, C.K. Kirch, Joey De Jesus, Sue Mendelsohn
journalism: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Tyler Campbell, Valerie Seiling Jacobs
linguistics: Amira Silver-Swartz, Celine Aenlle-Rocha, Tyler Campbell, Yousef Tehrani
leadership studies: Stephen Preskill
legal writing: Joey De Jesus, Valerie Seiling Jacobs
letters of interest: Joey De Jesus
literary analysis: Amira Silver-Swartz, C.K. Kirch, Emily Foster, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham, Tyler Campbell, Yousef Tehrani
Literature Humanities: Bridget Potter, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Kirkwood Adams, Maria Baker, Yousef Tehrani
master’s thesis writing: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, Emily Foster, Joey De Jesus, Stephen Preskill, Sue Mendelsohn
medicine & nursing: Niki Cunningham
mixed media/genre projects: Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Tyler Campbell
MLA style: Amira Silver-Swartz, Jason Ueda
multilingual writing: Celine Aenlle-Rocha, Maria Baker
music: C.K. Kirch Tyler Campbell, Yousef Tehrani
Music Humanities: Yousef Tehrani
neuroscience: C.K. Kirch
nonfiction: Bridget Potter, Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Maria Baker, Stephen Preskill, Tyler Campbell, Valerie Seiling Jacobs, Yousef Tehrani
Persian: Yousef Tehrani
personal statements: Amira Silver-Swartz, Bridget Potter, Carin Jean White, Celine Aenlle-Rocha, Emily Foster, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Niki Cunningham, Sue Mendelsohn, Tyler Campbell
philosophy: Amira Silver-Swartz, Joey De Jesus,
poetry: Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Maria Baker, Tyler Campbell
proposal & grant writing: Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Sue Mendelsohn,
psychology: Amira Silver-Swartz, C.K. Kirch
religious studies: Amira Silver-Swartz
research: Amira Silver-Swartz, Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Stephen Preskill, Tyler Campbell, Valerie Seiling Jacobs
science & technical writing: C.K. Kirch
screenwriting: Carin Jean White
Social science: Amira Silver-Swartz
sociology: Amira Silver-Swartz, Bridget Potter, Joey De Jesus,
Spanish: Celine Aenlle-Rocha, Yousef Tehrani
theatre/playwriting: Carin Jean White, Maria Baker, Tyler Campbell,
translation studies: Carin Jean White, Joey De Jesus, Maria Baker, Yousef Tehrani
University Writing: Amira Silver-Swartz, Bridget Potter, Celine Aenlle-Rocha, C.K. Kirch, Emily Foster, Jason Ueda, Joey De Jesus, Kirkwood Adams, Sue Mendelsohn, Valerie Seiling Jacobs