Willimantic, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University’s English Department will host a panel discussion of Eastern alumni titled “English at Work” from 3-4 p.m. in Science 301 on Feb. 26. The discussion will be a part of the English Department’s ongoing visiting alumni series to help build support networks between alumni and current students. The panelists are Starsheemar Byrum, Jessica Fontaine, Kileen Gilroy and Matthew Ryan.
Byrum received her Bachelor of Arts in English, minoring in women’s studies. Following graduation, she completed her master’s degree in Women’s Studies at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). While attending graduate school she served as a university assistant to the director of the Women’s Center at SCSU. In her position at Eastern, Byrum creatively engages students in causes that provoke their growth and empower their futures. She previously oversaw the Intercultural Center, and today coordinates all operations of the Women’s Center as well as the Sexual Assault Response Team.
Fontaine graduated from Eastern in December 2008 with her bachelor’s degree in English. Assisting in Lisa Fraustino’s Deconstructing Disney Freshman Colloquium course in spring 2008 inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in children’s literature from Hollins University. She spent three years researching and writing her thesis, “The Francelia Butler Story,” and worked with original manuscripts to prepare Francelia Butler’s unpublished autobiography for publication (Mansfield Hollow Press, 2013). Fontaine is currently taking classes at SCSU to become a certified school library media specialist and is the librarian at Tolland High School.
Gilroy received her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education English, as well as a minor concentration in writing. During her time spent at Eastern, Gilroy was the chief editor of the university’s literary journal, “Eastern Exposure,” as well as the vice president of the English Club. Gilroy is a mixed media artist and emerging poet who has published in a number of literary and online journals. She currently teaches English at Lincoln High School in Rhode Island while applying for graduate school and writing a full poetry manuscript.
Ryan graduated from Eastern in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in English, minoring in History. He is employed at Union Savings Bank in New Milford as a supervisor and branch operations specialist; while he is working with numbers and computers, he puts his degree to use in writing appraisals, business correspondence and assisting administration with revising job descriptions.