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Our graduates continue their active, engaged literary and educational life after USD. M.A. graduates have gone on to work for non-profit organizations, in the publishing industry, in higher education and some go on for further graduate study. Recent M.A. students have continued their studies at Notre Dame, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, University of New Mexico, Washington University (St. Louis), and SUNY-Buffalo. Our program helps our Ph.D. students to land the academic and non-academic positions they seek. Below, we’ve highlighted some of our graduate students’ recent placements and accomplishments.

Ryan Allen (Ph.D., 2009) is an associate professor of English and writing at Briar Cliff University, where he also serves as the nonfiction and Siouxland editor for The Briar Cliff Review.

Holly Teresa Baker (Ph.D., 2015) received a Fulbright research grant to Romania, where she researched and worked on her novel for one year. She has taught creative writing at the University of Bucharest and is currently working as a full-time lecturer at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Justin L. Blessinger (Ph.D., 2004) was named the winner of the 2008 Doug Fir prize for fiction. He is a professor of English at Dakota State University.

Leigh Ann (Annie) Christain (Ph.D., 2009) was promoted to full professor of composition and ESOL at SUNY Cobleskill. Her first volume of poetry, Tall As You Are Tall Between Them, was published by C & R Press in 2016. She received the grand prize of the 2013 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2013 Greg Grummer Poetry Award, the 2015 Oakland School of the Arts Enizagam Poetry Award, and the 2015 Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry. Additional honors include selection for the Shanghai Swatch Art Peace Hotel Artist Residency and the Arctic Circle Autumn Art and Science Expedition Residency.

Jenny Yang Cropp’s (Ph.D., 2016) book String Theory (Mongrel Empire Press)
was named a finalist in the 2016 Oklahoma Book Awards and was featured in an article by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, “Celebrating Asian-American Poets: Emerging Writers to Read.” String Theory was also named as one of Split This Rock’s 2015 Poetry Books We Love. She has taught English at Cameron University and is currently an assistant professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University.

Poet Sarah Den Boer (Ph.D., 2012) was a recipient of the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.

Jenny Ferguson (Ph.D., 2016) is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University. Her essay “Off Balance” was selected for Best Canadian Essays, 2020, and she recently sold two young adult books to an imprint of HarperCollins.

Sara Henning’s (Ph.D., 2016) second volume of poetry, View from True North, was selected by Adrian Matejka as a winner of the 2017 Crab Orchard Poetry Prize, and published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2018. She is currently working as a visiting assistant professor of English and creative writing at Stephen F. Austin State University. Recent awards include the 2020 First Prize Co-Winner, Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, Passaic County Community College; 2019 High Plains Book Award for View From True North; 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholarship, Sewanee Writers’ Conference; and 2019 George Bogin Memorial Award, Poetry Society of America.

Courtney Huse-Wika’s (Ph.D., 2008) chapbook of poems, Perch, was published by Anchor and Plume Press in 2016. She is the director of the University Honors Program and Associate Professor at Black Hills State University.

Sean Johnston’s (Ph.D., 2011) most recent book is We Don’t Listen to Them, a collection of short fiction published by Thistledown in 2014. He has also published the 2011 poetry collection The Ditch Was Lit Like This, and the novel Listen All You Bullets, which began as a USD dissertation, was published by Gaspereau in 2013. He teaches literature and creative writing at Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he co-edits Ryga: A Journal of Provocations.

Lindy Obach’s (M.A., 2005) volume of poetry, North of Zenith, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. She teaches at Dakota Wesleyan University.

Pen Pearson (Ph.D., 2001) is a professor of English at Northern State University. Her first volume of poetry, Poetry as Liturgy, was published by Edwin Mellen Press in 2010. She recently published an historical novel about poet Charlotte Mew titled Bloomsbury’s Late Rose: A Novel (Chickadee Prince Books, 2019).

Kerstin Tuttle (MA, 2018) is a doctoral candidate and graduate instructor at the University of Minnesota.