This newly unveiled peer mentorship program provides you—a University of Iowa undergraduate with a major or minor in the Department of English—with the opportunity to reach out to those who go before you in your respective field, and to learn from them. The following students, divided into PhD, MFA, and undergraduate programs, may be contacted directly at the email listed with questions pertaining to the professional study of English, be that in academic or creative worlds. They are divided below into PhD, MFA, and undergraduate programs; please choose accordingly. Peer mentors may be available for in-person appointments to discuss the above, but appointments are made on an individual basis and at the discretion and ability of the peer mentor. The peer mentorship program is co-coordinated by the Association for the Graduate Study of English (AGSE) and the English honor society Alpha Tau Iota.

Dept. of English PhD Candidates

Undergraduates interested in pursuing academic careers in the study of English literature or a related discipline may find the following mentors helpful.

Paul Schmitt –

Paul Schmitt is a fourth-year English PhD candidate, studying 20th and 21st century literature and media. He is interested in the infrastructural subplots of the novel form, the poetics of resource extraction, and the implications of both for local and global ecologies. He has taught Rhetoric and The Interpretation of Literature at the University of Iowa, and served as a research assistant for the Intermedia Research Initiative. Paul is a first-generation college student, and began graduate school at the University of Iowa the same year he graduated with his BA in Literature with Writing Emphasis from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, having dabbled in journalism, ad-agency copywriting, and GIS. He is a big proponent of interdisciplinary study, and has enjoyed the flexibility and scholarly community that UI has cultivated in that regard.

Enrico Bruno –

Enrico Bruno is a fifth-year student in the English PhD program and is currently working on a dissertation that explores the myth of the flying African in late 20th century black American literature. He teaches Interpretation of Literature with a focus on subversive fabulist literature and previously taught in the Rhetoric department. He graduated from The College of New Jersey with a BA in English and Creative Writing, then worked for several years in New York City in the publishing industry. He worked as a project editor for an academic publishing house and also freelanced for a literary magazine. Connecting with peers, faculty, and undergraduate students to help foster a supportive campus community has been his favorite aspect of graduate school.

Katie Randazzo –

Bio coming soon!

Torie Burns –

Torie Burns is a third-year English PhD candidate, studying 20th and 21st century American literature. She is especially interested in gender, embodiment, and life writing. Her interdisciplinary research explores how women portray themselves in their memoirs, specifically how they write about (or choose not to write about) their bodies within these texts. She's also working to earn a graduate certificate in Public Digital Humanities. Prior to starting graduate school, Torie worked in Vanderbilt University's business school's Marketing & Communications department. While an undergraduate at Duke University (where she studied English and abnormal psychology), Torie worked at Duke University Press and spent most of her free time volunteering as a copy editor, writer, and photographer for on-campus publications (including the university yearbook and both print and online magazines). Since joining Iowa's English department, she's been pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie between the graduate students, who have acted as both mentors and friends. 

NWP MFA Candidates

Undergraduates aiming to pursue a career as creative writers, especially in creative non-fiction, may contact the following MFA candidates.

Tiffany Tucker –

Tiffany Tucker is a 2nd year MFA candidate in the Nonfiction Writing Program. As a teaching assistant in Gen Ed Lit she has taught classes like “Love Stories” and “Black Genders and Sexualities.” As a creative writing teacher, she has taught outreach master classes on dialogue and character development. Tiffany is working on an essay collection tentatively titled “Hated on Mostly.” The collection will blend personal experience, cultural critique, theory, and humor to create essays that explore how adornment and fashion shapes the identity of Black women. Before attending the University of Iowa, Tiffany received an A.A. in General Studies from the City Colleges of Chicago while maintaining the fashion blog Fat Shopaholic. Later, she received a B.A. in English with minors in writing and media studies from Roosevelt University. She is a recipient of the Geneva Teaching Fellowship and her Essay “If You Let Me Tell You a Story” is forthcoming in The Rumpus Literary Magazine. Thus far, the most rewarding aspect of Tiffany’s graduate education has been the opportunity to attend and teach courses that require constant self-reflection and reckoning, as that kind of rigor creates dope art.

Aracely Mondragón –

Aracely Mondragón is a queer Xicana from California with roots in Guerrero, México. Aracely is a third year in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University. Before coming to Iowa she worked as a community organizer with Faith in Action Bay Area for three years, doing housing justice work. Aracely's writing centers the women in her family, their relationship to land, love, and displacement, and seeks to imagine home across different borders. The most rewarding thing about graduate school for Aracely has been a continuous redefining and interrogation of what it means to write ethically.


The following undergraduate mentors, all upperclassmen, are intended to serve as resources for first-year and sophomore students looking to find their way in the major. They can be contacted for informal advice on academic success, stress management, undergraduate literary life, and more. (For advice from the English Department itself in these regards, be sure to schedule regular appointments with your advisor, namely Kate Torno or Zachery Hickman.)

Emily Buttolph –

I'm currently a junior working on a BA in English/Creative Writing and a BFA in dance. In the area of writing I have a huge issue with procrastinating until the last moment and always wish I left myself more time to edit. When it comes time to edit my own work, there is nothing I wish not to do more. But I love helping others find clarity in their writing and working together to find just the right wordings and phrases to truly get the point across. In my free time, which doesn't really exist, I enjoy reading, traveling, watching Netflix, and spending time with my friends and family.

Megan Hitch –

I am a senior double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Anthropology on the gender and culture track. I’m also a member of the English Honors and University Honors programs, and I’m historian for Alpha Tau Iota (ATI), UI’s English Honors Society. I love to read, and I’m especially passionate about LGBT+ representation in literature. To me, no question is a stupid one and success isn't a "one size fits all" type of deal. When I’m not in class or studying, chances are I’m impulse buying more books and ignoring my seven unplayed video games.

Grace Holbrook –

I am a senior majoring in English and International relations with a Certificate of Sustainability and minors in Political Science and Economics.  After finishing my degree, I plan on attending law school with a specialization in Environmental Law.  English has always been a passion of mine, and it’s quickly become my favorite part of my time at Iowa.  I’ve taken honors courses through the department, and I am currently working with Professor Eckstein on a climate change project.  The environmental humanities have allowed me to explore aspects of the English degree that I didn’t know existed before coming to the University and, ultimately, lead me to my current career path.  I look forward to working with my peers about their goals for their future and their English degree.

Emily Ward –

Hi there! My name's Emily and I'm a Junior double majoring in Philosophy and English and Creative Writing on the Publishing Track. You are sure to find me in EPB any day whether I'm working as an Honors Writing Fellow for the Rhetoric Department, working the front desk of the English Department, working as the Operations Assistant for Lynne and Kate at The Iowa Review, or promoting an upcoming earthwords event as the undergraduate literary magazine's PR Director! In addition to these ongoing experiences, I have served on the executive board of my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and have internship experience with Flatiron Books, an imprint of MacMillan in NYC, as a Publicity Intern. If you have any questions about the Publishing Track, finding internships, arts activities on campus, or the English Major in general, I always love to chat!