Resources to Welcome You



Agata Guskaroska and Tom Elliott, students in our MA program in TESL/Applied Linguistics, have developed this interactive eBook “The Ultimate Guide to Surviving your First Semester at Iowa State” in order to provide helpful information for all new students at ISU.

They also received Best Impactful Innovation Award for their presentation of this interactive eBook at the Graduate and Professional Student Research Conference at ISU in April 2018.



Welcome to the ISU English Department’s
Peer Advising Resource Team!

Our peer advisers are excited to share their experience and perspectives with prospective, incoming, and established members of ISU’s English Department Graduate Student Community.

Whether your questions be about

  • Selecting a course of study
  • Finding somewhere to live
  • Navigating your first few semesters
  • Making the transition from coursework to independent research
  • Even looking for the best pizza in town

Please contact us, first looking at our individual bios and contacting us individually or sending general questions to our group at this address:

To help us best direct your questions, please put the nature of your question in the subject heading.



Kim Becker

Graduate Assistant [ENGL]

My name is Kim Becker and I started the PhD in Applied Linguistics and Technology in Fall 2015. My research interests include computer-assisted language learning and corpus linguistics. I grew up in Mississippi where I earned a BA in English and then was a Teach for America Corps Member. I earned an MA TESOL at Northern Arizona University and afterward taught ESL for nearly ten years—primarily at a community college in Nashville, Tennessee—before moving to Ames. My household includes one husband, two sons (born in 2004 and 2009), five chickens, and a pet snake. We live in a home we bought near downtown Ames.

I am happy to answer questions about anything, but in particular, I have experiences to share about enrolling children in public schools, purchasing a home in Ames, trying to manage a family while in grad school, and raising backyard hens.

Bonus tip: I encourage you to freely ask questions of faculty, staff, and students. No one can learn everything from the POS Manual or website information. I wish I had asked more questions instead of assuming that I “should” know it all or that asking questions made me seem uninformed. As for food, I like the mac and cheese and homemade chips/dip at the Cafe, pizza at Vesuvius, and Scotch eggs, scones, and tea at the Mucky Duck pub.


Sam Cosgrove

Graduate Assistant [ENGL]

Samantha Cosgrove is a student receiving her PhD in the Rhetoric and Professional Communication and co-majoring Human-Computer Interaction. She received her MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of South Florida in 2016. Her current research interests are risk communication, visual rhetoric, and navigating digital spaces. She plans on staying in academia after graduation, ideally securing a tenure track position at an R1 university. She has 3 years of experience teaching English composition courses and hopes to teach Technical Communication courses in the future.

She is originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina, but moved around a bit since starting graduate school. She came to Ames from Tampa, Florida so if you are also from a warm weathered state, you can reminisce with her about warm winters and flip flops. Topics she can advise on: renting apartments off-campus, CyRide, restaurants and bars, sorting out the course DPS, and getting in your transfer credits.

Idee Edalatishams

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Idée Edalatishams holds an MA in ELT and a BA in English Translation from Azad University, Tehran, Iran. Her primary research is on spoken language, pronunciation, identity, and ITAs, mainly through corpus linguistics as methodology. She has presented her work in conferences such as PSLLT, AACL, SLRF, CALICO, and TSLL. During her first 4 years in the PhD program, she has taught ISUComm Foundation Courses, as well as ESL courses focusing on ITAs’ speaking skills and undergraduates’ writing, listening, and reading skills. She has also worked as a graduate communication consultant at the Writing and Media Center and as a speaking/writing consultant at the Center for Communication Excellence, Graduate College.

Back in her home country, Iran, she was an English Translation major as an undergraduate, got a Master’s in TESL, taught English to adults and young adults at several language institutes and a university, and worked as a newscaster/translator in the English Radio. She loves trying new foods and cultures, therefore travelling and finding new friends. She would be happy to provide advice on: developing plans for PhD coursework; teaching any of the courses she has taught; applying for non-teaching jobs such as at the WMC; and traveling and visa processes for Iranians. She can also provide support for new (particularly international) students regarding cultural differences and adapting to their new life in Ames as well as possible difficulties that come with being a PhD student.

Thomas Elliott

Graduate Assistant-Teaching [ENGL]

Tom Elliott is an PhD student in Applied Linguistics and Technology (ALT). He received B.A.s in Linguistics and French, and an MA in TESL/Applied Linguistics from Iowa State University.  Prior to joining the program, he worked as an ESL tutor for the America China Exchange Society.  His current interests include corpus linguistics methodology and second language acquisition.

Jack Friend

Oect - Grading [G COL]

Jack Friend is a student in the MFA Creative Writing and Environment program. He graduated from Reed College in 2005, earned his Masters in Education in 2014, and has taught all grade levels. He writes horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

Jack can provide information on eating in Ames, finding things to do around town, and what kinds of communities are in the MFA program. Also, if you are of a nerdly persuasion, he can clue you in on the Magic, DND, and Pathfinder groups that are already alive and well in the English department.

Joe Geluso

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Joe Geluso is in the PhD program in Applied Linguistics and Technology. His studies focus mainly on corpus linguistics, phraseology, and SLA.
Outside of the ALT program, his life consists of spending time with his kids (5 and 8 years old). Typical activities include scooting around and exploring Ames on their A5 Lux kick scooters, refining ground strokes on the tennis court, kicking balls on the soccer field, building Legos, and studying Japanese together. He would be happy to share information about Ames related to family life (e.g., where to live, schools in the district, etc.). He also has a lot to say on the coursework in the program and which courses to take and in what sequence if he had the chance to do it all over again.

Agata Guskaroska

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Agata Guskaroska is a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State University. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature, first MA degree in Applied Linguistics from FON University and second MA in TESL/Applied Linguistics from ISU. She taught ESL courses in primary and secondary schools and American literature course at university level. She worked as a Teaching Assistant at FON university in Macedonia and has won Fulbright scholarship in May 2017. Agata’s major interests include computer-assisted language learning, pronunciation and second language acquisition.

Being a sponsored student, she can share advice and tips on anything that you may need as a new international or Fulbright student. Starting a new chapter in your life, adapting to a new educational system and integrating into a new culture, and gathering a pile of documents may be overwhelming and difficult at the beginning. She encourages students to be well-organized, ask questions, and create checklists.

In order to assist newcomers, she and classmate created an iBook called The Ultimate Guide to surviving the first semester at ISU’ where you can find information about any type of assistance that you may need. This iBook is inspired by the authors’ need of support in the first semester. Theyt strongly believe it will provide excellent support for you! It covers many areas, starting from tips on navigating the city, to campus resources, surviving the emotional breakdown, and interesting facts about the American Culture. The iBook can be downloaded at


Roz Hirch

Graduate Assistant [SOE]

Rosalie “Roz” Hirch is a PhD student in Applied Linguistics & Technology, specializing in language assessment. More specifically, she is interested in validation, task design, and diagnostic assessments. She is also interested in corpus linguistics, and is working on several projects related to this field, most notably a project using keyword and cluster analyses for text analysis. She has presented her research at SLRFLTRC, and AAAL She originally comes from Canada—Medicine Hat, Alberta, to be exact. She has also lived in Korea and Taiwan.

Roz is single and lives by herself, though she has 2 cats that have lived with her in all of the countries in which she has lived, so among other things, she can give advice about moving when you have pets. She is happy to answer questions about language assessment courses, general coursework, living off-campus, student visa (esp. for Canadians), clothes shopping, pets, and ridiculously cute cat pictures.


Zach Lisabeth

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Zach Lisabeth wrote a thing once. Unless apprehended he will likely write again. He was born on Long Island and took a circuitous route to the MFA at Iowa State by way of Brooklyn, NY, Burlington, VT, Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA where his writing career began in earnest. He is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop at UCSD, an experience he credits with exacerbating his Weirdness.

Zach's work has appeared in several publications including Liquid Imagination, Freeze Frame Fiction, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Gaia: Shadow & Breath vol. 2 (Pantheon Press), Burningword Literary Journal and the anthology RealLies (The Zharmae Publishing Press). You can follow his intermittent outbursts on Twitter @zachlisabeth or check in with him any time at


Mariah McGuire

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Mariah McGuire graduated summa cum laude with an Honors degree from Iowa State University with a Bachelor's in English and International Studies.  She is currently a second year student in MA program in English Literature. Her research interests focus primarily on Victorian literature, specifically with an emphasis on feminism and criminality. Mariah teaches ENGL 250 and enjoys working closely with her students, colleagues, and instructors, and is more likely than not to bring up unrelated facts about serial killers in every conversation. Her current projects revolve around Victorian and Neo-Victorian murderesses, as well as Sweeney Todd and cultural cannibalism.

She has lived in Ames effectively her whole life, and can tell you pretty much anything you’d like to know about the area. She can help you find out where the best place to eat is, what activities there are in the Ames-Des Moines area, what local schools are like, the best places to to shop for inexpensive fashionable clothes, and how to navigate the town. She also takes in an inhumane amount of books, TV shows, and podcasts.

Ananda Muhammad

Graduate Assistant [ENGL]

Ananda Muhammad is currently a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program. She started her PhD after graduating with her MA in TESL/Applied Linguistics from Iowa State University as a Fulbright Scholar. She is originally from the wonderful tropical Indonesia where she taught for two years after graduating with a BA in English Language and Literature from Universitas Hasanuddin. During those two years, she taught people of various ages and backgrounds in different settings: private language schools and higher education. Currently her research interests are in computer-assisted language learning and language assessment, specifically in the area of pragmatics.

She knows quite a bit about life as a Foreign Fulbright Student in the U.S. She served for approximately 2 years as the President of the Fulbright Students and Scholars at ISU organization. She would be happy to share advice about navigating the U.S. academic setting as a Foreign Fulbright Student, Other areas she is happy to share advice on: securing funding from the Graduate College and English Department for conference travels, being a teaching assistant, travelling and visa processes for Indonesians, housing in Ames, and being involved in student organizations.

Mike Robbins

Graduate Assistant-Teaching [ENGL]

Mike Robbins is a fiction writer who, sometimes, writes a poem worth sharing. He studied English Literature at Western Connecticut State University and spent two years after college serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at education related nonprofits in New Haven, CT and Washington, DC. Before arriving in Iowa with the hip and ankle problems that corroborate his former passion for skateboarding, he lived and worked in Washington, DC as a grant writer.

He is writing a collection of short stories and a novel and is grateful to the students and faculty at Iowa State’s Creative Writing program for all of their conversation and support. He explores image culture, environmental disasters (that exist before and continue after initial spectacle of violence), and the fictional possibilities of representing the energy systems that govern our lives but remain hidden and abstracted.

Some of his favorite works of fiction over the last few years have been: 2666 (Roberto Bolaño); Yonder Stands Your Orphan (Barry Hannah); Jazz (Toni Morrison); Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood); Mao II (Don Delillo); Hill (Jean Giono); and Blow Up and Other Stories (Julio Cortazar).

He is happy to answer questions about the MFA program, teaching assistantships, editing for Flyway, public transportation, biking, not becoming a total recluse during grad school, and pretty much any other question you might have.

Shelby Rae Stringfield

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Shelby Rae Stringfield is currently a student in the Creative Writing and Environment MFA program. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee where she worked with the university’s undergraduate literary arts magazine, the Phoenix, as fiction editor and then editor-in-chief. She writes primarily fiction, occasionally creative nonfiction, and when prompted has been known to turn out a poem or two for which her dog, Gavin, is the primary subject and muse. Her literary loves include Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Donna Tartt, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Chabon, Colum McCann, and (when in need of a chuckle) Nick Hornby.

In her free time, she enjoys long walks around her apartment complex with Gavin, binge-watching the best of TV drama and comedy (Orphan Black, VEEP, Jane the Virgin, Orange is the New Black, and more that she will adamantly and repeatedly recommend whether her advice is solicited or not), eating, and marveling at the vastness of the corn fields in her new environment that contrast greatly against the mountain views she grew up with in the Tennessee Valley.

She can answer questions about moving from an urban area to a more rural environment as well as questions about transplanting from the south. She is happy to answer any questions about the program, coursework, the university, Ames, moving with pets, public transportation in Ames. If you would just like to discuss books, some of her favorite authors include Zadie Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Michael Chabon and she would love to chat!

Kristin Terrill

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Kristin Terrill is a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State. Both her BA and MA are from Northern Arizona University, where she studied English Literature and Professional Writing. Outside of academics, she has worked as a technical writer and quality assurance generalist in engineering companies. My research interests include discourse analysis, morphology, semantics, and computer science.

She is happy to answer questions about teaching ISUComm, project planning, group projects, and research proposals. She lives off-campus and commutes (as much as possible) by bicycle. She has 2 dogs and a cat. She can recommend a good veterinarian, mechanic, and CPA. If you like cooking at home, talk to her about recipes that are good for reheating as leftovers.

Sonca Vo

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Sonca Vo is currently a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State and received her MA in TESL from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, as a Fulbright recipient. She has had experience teaching English as foreign language at University of Foreign Languages—the University of Danang, Vietnam. Her research interests include pronunciation, corpus linguistics, language assessment, curriculum and materials development, and second language teaching methods. Sonca has presented her work at Annual TESOL Graduate Student Forum, Arizona TESOL Conference, and Australian Council of TESOL Associations International TESOL Conference. She has published in journals such as CALICO, TESL-EJ, and Journal of Australian Council of TESOL Associations. She is interested in validity, statistics, psychometrics, second language oral assessment, and quantitative research methods.

She is happy to provide advice regarding housing and transportation in Ames. She can also share information on courses that should be taken if language assessment and statistics are your areas of interest.

Hagan Whiteleather

Graduate Student [ENGL]

Hagan Faye Whiteleather is an MFA candidate in ISU’s Creative Writing and Environment program. Hagan graduated Summa Cum Laude from Kent State University with degrees in English and Psychology, a minor in Writing, and a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language. She was also president of the English honorary society, Sigma Tau Delta, and editor of her university’s literature and arts magazine, Luna Negra. Hagan’s writing is generally of the creative nonfiction variety. Her (yet to be completed) short story cycle revolves around her Aunts and their rural upbringing.

Outside of the MFA, Hagan’s passions include reading children’s literature, watching copious amounts of television, walking aimlessly, sitting in cars, and when she is at her Ohio home—tending to her family’s youngs and olds. Additionally, she is more than mildly obsessed with Shirley Jackson, John Steinbeck, Sylvia Plath, Shel Silverstein, Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Roald Dahl, and any/all of the Brontës.