Student Bios

Second Year BA/MA Students 

Erin Servey is a second year BA/MA student, focusing in poetry although she hopes to explore fiction writing as well. She’s a Schreyer Honors Scholar and a Paterno Fellow who studies both English and psychology and intends to earn a minor in French. Outside of classes, Erin interns with the Hemingway Letters Project and enjoys editing, photography, and swing dancing. One of her favorite books is I am Messenger by Marcus Zusak which she secretly (or, not so secretly) hopes to turn into a play one day.

Kylie McCool is a BA/MA student living in St. Louis, MO. Her focus is on fiction and loves writing comedy. Her love for writing began at an early age, before she even knew how to write, when she scribbled on pieces of cardboard folded in half to look like books. She has been a competitive gymnast for over a decade, loves playing video games, cooking, and debating Harry Potter rhetoric, and will stop all of her forward motion if she sees a dog. Kylie is also a Psychology major.

Abigail Kennedy is a second year fiction writer in the BA/MA program. She has minors in History and Latin American Studies, with a certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). Abigail was on Penn State’s first slam poetry team that competed in the 2016 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in Austin, Texas. In the spring of 2016, Abigail spoke at the annual State of State conference held at Penn State University about the importance of creating a more socially inclusive and diverse syllabus for freshman rhetoric courses. She published her first work, Madam President: Five Women Who Paved The Way, a co-authored children’s book about women who have run for the presidency, with Dr. Nichola Gutgold in January 2012. Her undergraduate honors thesis is a historical novel about the U.S. covert instigation and funding of the 1954 Guatemalan coup and subsequent thirty-six year civil war and genocide.

bama-bio-pic-1Katrina Eckel, from Frenchtown, NJ, is in the BA/MA class of 2018 with a focus on writing fiction, although she enjoys experimenting with different genres as well.  Her undergrad thesis on the social history of WWI-era Belgium was completed in the History department last year, and she also minored in Anthropology, so she’s playing major catch-up in the English department. So when she’s not writing for fun or attempting to work her way through comically tall stacks of books, she can generally be found doting on her cat, hiking, baking, taking pictures, or watching terrible movies over and over again.


Kerong Chen, a BA/MA student from Leshan, China, focuses on fiction writing. She likes traveling, especially to Eastern Europe and has a great interest in those countries’ political transformation. She swore that she would never write anything political, but now she finds it spontaneous to include politics in her writing. She has published one poem, Haunted, on the March 2016 issue of Cha, a Hong Kong-based English online literary journal.


Lauren Barron from Reading, PA is a second year BA/MA student focusing on fiction writing while also studying media communications. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Tina Fey, and someday become a television scriptwriter. Between reading and writing, Lauren also enjoys belting along to karaoke at The Shandygaff, attempting to make people laugh alongside Penn State’s improv comedy troupe, and pretending that watching TV is simply studying for her ideal future career. Lauren can typically be found doing these activities or staring wistfully out of a window in the stacks.




First Year BA/MA Students


Laura Nejako is from Lansdale, Pennsylvania and is a first year BA/MA student double majoring in English and Education. She is also a Schreyer Scholar and Paterno Fellow. In her free time, she works as an Editorial

Intern at the Hemingway Letters Project. She is a writing her undergraduate thesis as a series of short cultural narratives to show how one brings their own culture into their perception of others. When not in class or at work, you can find her either trying to convince everyone to read more books by Margaret Atwood or making bad puns. Laura enjoys traveling and conquered her fear of heights this summer by rappelling down a waterfall in Brazil. Her parents are still trying to figure out how this counted as “studying” abroad.


Elizabeth Hopta is a senior
 at Penn State and a double major in English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). She is currently enrolled in the BA/MA program in English with a focus in nonfiction writing. Her passions lie within community service, advocating for human rights, and writing. Elizabeth aspires to be a writer, human rights advocate,
and world traveler.

Danielle (Dani) Fruehan, from Scranton, PA, is a first year BA/MA student in the class of 2019. Her main focus so far has been poetry, however she’s not ready to commit to one concentration just yet. Her love for character study and prose writing drives her to further explore options in nonfiction and fiction writing. She enjoys her jobs as both a tutor and workshop coordinator in Penn State Learning’s Writing Center. The only thing she loves as much as writing is helping others gain a voice through their own writing. When she’s not in class or reading for class or writing for class— basically, when she remembers she has a life besides class— you can find her sitting in trees on campus, eating pad thai, painting, or playing the ukulele/singing.

Chloe Cullen is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and English and looking to concentrate in Fiction and Non-Fiction in the BA/MA Program. Even though she grew up in Washington, DC, her grandfather made her tour Penn State in seventh grade. As an undergrad, she enrolled in classes that would teach her how to tell stories in different media, such as podcasting and Centre County Report. She will leave Spring 2018 to Los Angeles for the Penn State Hollywood Program (& hopefully she will find inspiration for her thesis there). When she grows up, she hopes to be the lovechild of Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert, but if not, she hopes she can write something good.

 Alex Bilger is a first year BA/MA student. He was born in Maryland,

but he (thankfully) left that swamp at the age of three, and spent most of his life growing up in Ankara, Turkey. He also spent some years in Athens, Greece, and Zagreb, Croatia. He’s half Polish on top of that, so the answer to where he’s from is always a mess.

He’s a double major in the Schreyer Honors College, with his majors being CAMS and English. His focus is on fiction, specifically more esoteric stuff like fantasy and science fiction. Outside of writing, He enjoy languages (He speak Polish, is fairly competent in Turkish and Greek, and people tell him his English is pretty good sometimes), drawing, video games, and historical fencing. He’s a Turkish tea enthusiast, so he generally tend to appear wherever the most of it happens to be.


Andrea Brown is from Snohomish, WA and is a first year BA/MA student in the class of 2019.  Her main focus is poetry, but she enjoys writing non-fiction and fiction.
As a Pacific Northwest native, she loves mountains, oceans, and trees that are green all year round. She hopes to be a travelling writer and editor. She especially wants to visit Denmark and Scotland someday to see the home countries of her ancestors.
When she’s not reading or writing, Andrea enjoys strumming on her ukulele and riding around town on her moped. She is also a shameless karaoke junkie and she will likely try to convince you to sing with her sometime.
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