Academics > Successful Graduates

Successful Graduates

Martha Hughes

Martha Hughes graduated cum laude in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and German. During the 2012-13 school year, she taught English at a German gymnasium through the Fulbright Program. After returning home to New Mexico, she served as a community and global citizenship intern at Albuquerque Academy for the fall semester of 2013. She is currently back in Germany, pursing a Master of Arts degree in intercultural education, migration, and multilingualism at the University of Education in Karlsruhe. Alongside her studies, Martha gives private English lessons.

"Coe College gave me the flexibility to fully explore my interests, as well as foster new ones. Through its liberal arts-based emphasis on education, I became a well-rounded reader and a critical thinker. What I cherish most about Coe, aside from the lifelong friends I made there, are the professors who take the time to get to know their students personally. They spend considerable amounts of energy to support and encourage students in both academics and extracurriculars." - Martha Hughes '12

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Sarah Clark graduated from Coe in 2011. As an English major at Coe she earned her Iowa teaching license. She is from Sioux City, Iowa, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is currently completing her law degree at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

"Coe's English Department set me up for law school success. Law school is all about reading, writing and critical thinking, and the  coursework and wonderful English professors at Coe gave me the foundation I needed to tackle law school coursework. At the University of Nebraska, I've gotten to work as the research editor for the Nebraska Law Review, intern for a federal judge, and work in private practice as a summer associate. I wouldn't have had those opportunities without the skills I learned at Coe, and I would recommend Coe to anyone considering law school in the future." - Sarah Clark '11

Jenna Shaw

Jenna Shaw graduated in 2009 with a major in English and a minor in classical studies.  After an internship at the Minneapolis-based independent publisher, Coffee House Press, she moved to New York City, where she spent two years working in publishing, first at a major children’s publishing house, then a literary agency.  In September 2011, Jenna relocated to southwestern Turkey, where she taught college-level English at Muğla Üniversitesi as a yearlong Fulbright scholar. I addition to teaching English at the UNI, she was reading Turkish literature in translation. She will be returning to Turkey in fall 2012 to continue work on her Fulbright project of working on organic farms in the Aegean-Mediterranean region.

“Beyond the basic (though not to be underestimated) skills of writing and researching, my education at Coe – in the English, Writing and Rhetoric Departments, particularly - taught me how to really explore the world and my place in it.  I was called to think and reason critically, encouraged to express my ideas creatively and thoroughly, and immersed in a broad range of new ideas and materials.  Perhaps most memorably, I felt welcomed into a lively and warm academic community by my professors and peers, one where I was supported and challenged in equal measure.” – Jenna Shaw ’09

Alonzo Avila

Alonso Avila is a 2008 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, double majoring in English and Spanish. Upon his return from his Peace Corps service in December 2011, Avila volunteered at CAIR-Chicago in the Communications Department and at Onward House’s food pantry. Currently, Avila works as a Learning Specialist with students with special needs at Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy.

“Coe has opened many doors of opportunities for learning and growing. One of those doors has been the opportunity to travel and experience the country firsthand: the people, food, public transportation, culture, society, the arts, and much more. Most importantly, traveling enabled me to step back and see my connection to humanity.” Alonso Avila, ’08

Iris Garcia

Iris Garcia graduated from Coe in May of 2008 double majoring in English and creative writing. She is currently employed as a scoring specialist by ACT in Iowa City. Iris was previously a scoring supervisor and professional scorer for Pearson as well as the administrative assistant for Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

“Coe expanded my perspective by developing proficiency in my majors and dexterity beyond my area of concentration. My professors inspired the confidence to apply my skills in myriad roles. The residential environment fostered appreciation for diversity and inquisitiveness for my surroundings. Ultimately, Coe helped me comprehend my own value, and the responsibilities I’ve taken on since leaving demonstrate the asset this can be.” – Iris Garcia, ’08

Allison Carr

Allison Carr graduated from Coe in 2005 double majoring in English and creative writing. After graduation from Coe, she spent four months teaching English at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. Allison earned her master's in English and comparative literature at the University of Cincinnati in 2009, where she teaches writing and digital composition. She is currently in graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, pursuing a doctorate in rhetoric and composition. Allison has recently launched The Failure Project, a digital archive of failure narratives ( Additionally, she works as an assistant editor for the PraxisWiki section of Kairos, a leading journal of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy.

“I can't say enough glowing things about Coe College - especially the faculty. While at Coe, I formed relationships with a cadre of advisors who were and remain tirelessly, endlessly supportive and encouraging of my scholarly ambitions, always pushing me to be better than I thought I could be. They taught me so much about what it means to do intellectual work, to be a part of an intellectual community, and they helped me find the fortitude (and sense of humor) necessary to pursue this work. Simply put, they are models for the kind of scholar and educator I'm working to be.” – Allison Carr, ’05

Heather Petsche

Heather Petsche graduated in 2005, double majoring in English and creative writing. She completed her Master of Library Science degree in 2007 at the University of Kentucky, while working full time as head of public services at UK’s Fine Arts Library. In 2008, Heather moved to Washington, D.C. and began working as a teen and adult services librarian with the D.C. Public Library. She has been at the Takoma Park branch for nearly two and a half years.

"The English and writing professors at Coe created an atmosphere in which I felt both comfortable and challenged. Through my experiences working on Coe publications, studying abroad, and completing a thesis and creative writing, I developed diverse skills.  These serve me well at the public library - where you have to be ready for anything!" –Heather Petsche, ’05

Here is a sample list of other Coe English graduates:

Name: Title: Company/Organization:
Kaitlin Boyse '08 Engineering Project Specialist Rockwell Collins
Katherine Roger '08 Academic Dean of Achievement Brownsville Middle School
Tanner Curl '07 Deputy Development Director Loft Literary Center
Betsy Herrman '07 Government Reporter Hastings Tribune
Harry Peterson-Brandt '07 Pastor Bilingual church in Los Angeles, California
Liz Mathews '05 Copywriter Tor Books
Dustin Floyd '03 Managing Partner
TDG Communications
Eleanor Jensen '02 Physician in Internal Medicine with focus on Palliative Care
Kristin Schuller '02 Technical Writer Pharmalucence
Megan Colbeth '01 School Psychologist Jefferson County Public Schools, Colorado
Jennifer Gehlhar '01 Freelance Book Editor
Scott Holland '01 General Assignment Reporter Clinton Herald
Jacqueline Weber '00 Assistant Dean of Student Life/Director of Residential and Greek Life
Rebekah Zinn '99 Lawyer and Court Commisssioner Thurston County Superior Court, Olympia, Washington
Eric Cline '99 Youth and Workforce Development Institute for Educational Leadership
Melissa Furness '98 Assistant Professor of Art University of Colorado, Denver
Camille Leganza '98 Production Supervisor DreamWorks Animation Studio
David Tominsky '98 Self-employed Core TCS (IT, engineering, legal recruiting service)
Michael Almony '97 Student Service Specialist All-in-1 Enrollment Services at Cleveland State University
Keri McDermott '97 Communications Director CIMRO (healthcare quality improvement organization)
Betsy Dougherty '92 Professor of Irish Studies Southern Illinois University
Scott Rettberg '92 Assistant Professor of New Media Studies Richard Stockton College
Carole Benson '87 Real Estate Agent Iowa Realty
Rebekah Walsh '87 Private Banking Officer Salin Bank & Trust Co.
Mary Wolf '87 Program Analyst Department of Defense
Diane Sloan '85 Executive Director Barron County Campus Foundation
Kay Fuglei LaZebnik '77 Actress McCarter Theater
Krisdaporn Singhasen '77 Publications Manager UN Commission of Refugees
Pamela Dunn '75 Publications Coordinator Mercy Medical Center
Honee Hess '75 Director of Education Worchester Art Museum
Eliza Ovrom '75 Assistant District Attorney Polk County, Iowa
Stephen Cone '72 Chief Marketing Officer Epsilon
Mary Eley '67 Freelance Editor
Gregg Kakesako '67 Assistant City Editor Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Dennis Hummel '66 Brigadier General United States Air Force
Anne McCabe '66 Assistant Presbyterian Pastor Lakewood Presbyterian Church
Theodore Miller '66 Retired Senior V.P. Editorial Director Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc.
Christine Billinger '65 Writing Instructor University of Minnesota/Loft Literacy Center
Virginia Gute '65 President Catalyst Marketing
Louise Miller '65 Vice President Zuckerman, Fernandes & Partners
Nolan Zavoral '65 Religion Writer Minneapolis Star-Tribune

This sampling of our alums indicates the wide range of jobs English and Creative Writing majors take up successfully, and this is just a small sampling. Coe English alums also have worked as: advertising writers, an American Express Vice President, day care professionals, elementary and secondary teachers, a federal drug enforcement officer, doctors, homemakers, farmers, a fund-raiser for public television, politicians, and salespeople. Were we to look at lists of executives, astronauts, politicians, artists, entertainers, and social leaders, we would find among them also a fair proportion of English majors. Some of them, of course, had second majors, but most have learned their jobs since graduating, and their English skills have helped them to learn effectively and to advance in their fields.

English at Coe helps students hone their interpersonal and communication skills, preparing them to succeed in any profession where those skills are valuable. Coe English majors become active, life-long learners. Reading literature continuously calls attention to the ethical and spiritual dimensions of life, helping us to live thoughtfully and richly, whatever professions we find our homes in.

English majors find many avenues for living and working abroad after graduating from Coe. Several recent graduates have gotten Fulbright fellowships to teach in universities around the world. Others have been accepted into the Peace Corps, joined the JET Program to teach in Japan, and taught at Chiang Mai University in Thailand through an informal Coe exchange.