Emily Czerniakowski (’08) Gives Us an Update

Emily, an alum of our esteemed Writing Studies program, was gracious enough to provide an update on what she’s been doing since graduation.



Great to see all the exciting stuff coming from the SJU Writing Studies program. Just by way of update from my world since I last emailed in February of 2014:
I’ve enjoyed building a career in children’s media and entertainment – as a co-founder of nationally recognized youth dance company CaRu Entertainment, as a host for Radio Disney Philadelphia and as a host for Wilhelmina Philadelphia’s Philly Kids Got Talent. When I received the exciting news in August 2014 that I was going to have a little one of my own, I started Modern Mommie – a lifestyle blog geared toward non-traditional families. It has received upwards of 400 page views a week and has been retweeted by published authors, a major cosmetics brand and media outlets like WHYY. One of my posts was also featured in The Blended Family Digest. It is a project that I still consider in its early stages so I look forward to continuing to grow its content and its reach.
My career has seen quite a few twists and turns, but I am excited that this latest venture has brought me back to what I love to do most, to write.

 Congratulations on your continued success, Emily.  Thanks for keeping in touch!

SJU Writing Studies Author Showcase – Save the date!

Our fabulous literary magazine, The Avenue, has assembled some impressive talent for an Author’s Showcase, to be held on October 13 at 7 p.m. in Mandeville Hall, Room 313.  Alums and current students will present some of their work.  Come and enjoy this special evening with us!

Writers Showcase Flyer (final)





A big thank you to Dan Rousseau and Don Philbrick for making the showcase happen.


SJU Writing Studies Student Abdullah Aldayel Talks About His Experience in the Program



Abdullah Aldayel







I am Abdullah and I am from Saudi Arabia. I am a grad student in the Writing Studies Program. The Writing Studies Program interested me once Professor Tenaya Darlington, the Writing Studies Program’s Director, asked me to attend a class in the spring of 2014. I started my masters in the fall of 2014. It is an American-based program that I find challenging. As someone who is interested in gaining as much experience as possible, I find this program excellent for honing my English skills. “You will be the program’s star,” as Professor Tenaya once said.

My dream goal is to be an English instructor in one of the universities in Saudi. I chose this program because I want to perfect my use of the English language. I want to diminish my accent and learn how to use the English language correctly in class. This program definitely has helped me in terms of fluency. I am surrounded by bright, sharp, and opinionated American students, which can make me feel intimidated whenever I attend a class, but it also brings out the best in me.

It is definitely a competitive market out there; therefore, I need to be a step ahead of the other applicants trying to get a teaching position in Saudi. Being an ESL student in an American-based master’s program helps me continue to improve my use of English. I feel confident about the level I have reached. All credit goes to the competitive feelings I have when I attend class.

I invite ESL students who seek teaching jobs in their countries to seize the opportunity and apply to the Writing Studies Program. Not only will they know how to write professionally, but they will also learn how to speak English fluently and live an amazing experience with a very helpful, well-rounded staff.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us, Abdullah!  Congratulations to you on meeting each challenge that comes your way with a positive attitude.  Have a great summer!

Why I Write by Scott Lasley

Scott Lasley

Scott Lasley







In proper form, I have stolen my title from Joan Didion, who stole it from George Orwell. I’m not claiming to be in the same league as either of those wonderful people, but what I am claiming is much simpler: I did it because I can.

For some reason, there is a voice in everyone’s head. For the most part, I’ve found that it depends on your major. Regardless, that voice is saying, “You can’t write. You suck and you probably shouldn’t even try. Here. Do this math problem or go draw a picture. Good job.”

If you can imagine a little pat on the head after hearing that, then you understand what I’m trying to talk about. So many people have this strangely innate fear in them that says writing is out of their grasp, and what’s worse is they listen to that fear. We live within the lovely confines of a language that grants us so much freedom that it scares us. What many people forget is that they already know so many words, they just hesitate to put them on paper, or they think that there is a “best” or “only” way to do it.

I have a simple exercise that I have done with high school and college students alike. Have pairs of students, with one student telling a funny story and the other student typing it as it’s told. It takes maybe 5 minutes, and it shows the storyteller what the story looks like on the page. Sometimes it takes seeing it on a page to let you know you can actually do it.

Working as a writing tutor for the last 4 years, my advice has gotten very simple. Putting words on paper or computer screen should not be intimidating. If anything it can be time-consuming, but you just have to be willing to tough it out. I see writing as a way of finding out what I’m thinking, what I see and what it means. Writing has been a way for many stories to become lasting as opposed to lost. Words can capture what we want to remember! My advice is this: if you can tell a story, you can surely write it down. You are your own personal stenographer!

I think the reason that so many believe they shouldn’t write is because they think there is some mystical dimension that separates a person from a writer; a lack of access to the writerly realm.

Apparently writers aren’t people?

The funny thing is that writers ARE people; they are just people who have a lot of emotions and spend a lot of hours writing them down or avoiding them. Writers are also people who listen to things, watch things, hear things and interact with the world. What I’m saying is that writers are people and people are writers. The space between people and writers is imaginary! Who knew?

Before I step gingerly from my soap-box and run away from the elitist writers trying to chase me, I just want to leave some final words of encouragement. As people, cultures, friends, groups, humans and livers of life, we all have stories to share. Some cultures and languages do not even have a written form, so let’s take advantage of ours! Everyone is capable of capturing their stories with words. It’s a way of saving, remembering, learning and sharing. Without stories, what are we but ghosts in a windy world?

Thanks for contributing, Scott.  You’re right – if you can speak it, you can write it.  Anybody else out there want to share something?  We love hearing from you.