Program Director | Assistant Director | Assistant Director for Professional Technology | Consultants | Greeters

The staff of the Center for Writing Excellence are dedicated to making your visit to the CWE a positive experience.

We welcome you and look forward to working with you!

Program Director

Melinda Knight headshot

Dr. Melinda Knight, Director

Professor and Director of the Center for Writing Excellence
PhD, New York University 1992
MA,. New York University 1979
BA, Cornell University, 1973

Research/Interests: Rhetorical Theory and Practice, Writing Centers, Writing in the Disciplines, Computers and Composition, American Cultural Studies.

Recent publications include “Understanding the Gap between High School and College Writing” (co-authored with Cheryl Beil in Assessment Update) and “Hybrid Writing Courses: Combining the Best of Online and Classroom Learning.” Writers Writing, co-authored with Brannon and Neverow, was published by Boynton/Cook in 1982 and is still in print.

Recent grants include sponsored awards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.  

Courses: Undergraduate: College Writing I: Intellectual Prose; Theory and Practice of Individualized Instruction; Graduate: Writing Center Theory and Practice' Teaching Writing Through Technology; Teaching Writing Through Literature.


Assistant Director

Alicia Remolde headshot Alicia Remolde
CWE Assistant Director

Major/Concentration: MA in English/Writing Studies concentration

Areas of Interest: Community writing projects, Women’s and Gender Studies, Asian Studies, composition and writing studies, travel, graphic novels, Korean women’s literature, classic monster movies.

Before joining the CWE, Alicia enjoyed working for the Women's and Gender Studies Program. She always likes meeting students, faculty, and staff from across campus and learning about their interests. Alicia thinks stories and storytelling are a fascinating and powerful part of our lives, both in their hearing and telling. She encourages writers at all levels to make use of the CWE, for all kinds of writing. Alicia really likes Korean food, good books on rainy days, and spending time near the ocean.



Alan Smith headshot
Alan Smith

MA - Montclair State University, English with Writing Studies concentration

Areas of Expertise: composition writing, creative writing, song writing, creative arts

Extracurricular:  Music, Natural Building, visual arts, carpentry, organic farming, cooking

Alan has an MA in English concentrating in Writing Studies.  His thesis "The Conflicted I" analyzed issues surrounding first person and personal writing in the composition classroom.  He has taught 8 semesters of English composition and has worked in writing centers for over a decade. 

Alan is in The Porchistas, a well-known independent rock band that has released three records and 26 songs in three years and has received notable reviews and features from formidable music journalists.  He spends several months of each year at Rancho Mastatal in a remote, old growth rain forest, teaching people how to build earthen structures and live sustainably. 

Alan enjoys being able to help students make their papers better while simultaneously improving their overall writing ability which is why he works in The Center for Writing Excellence.  He says, “The challenge of guiding writers to a better place, a more confident and empowered place in their writing is as rewarding today as it was when I first started. I thoroughly enjoy my job.”


Alice Freddi Beresin headshot
Alice Freddi Beresin


Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing - Montclair State University
MFA - Tyler School of Art
BA - Sarah Lawrence College
Subjects/Areas of Expertise: American and French Literature, Art and Art History, and Learning Disabilities

Extracurricular: Drawing, travel, reading, gardening and going to the theater.
This is Alice's third year working at The CWE. For the past ten years, Alice has also tutored middle school, high school and college students in composition, research and study skills. She has also tutored students for the Reading and Writing sections of the SAT and has worked with high school seniors on college essays and applications. A number of Alice’s private tutees have leaning differences. Alice also works as as a free-lance illustrator for private clients, Prentice Hall, Inc. and Jossey-Bass. Additionally, Alice is on the board of directors of the professional theater company, VOICETheatre, where one of her duties is editing grants.

 Danielle Rettino headshot
Danielle Rettino


Major/concentration: MA in English/International Literature concentration

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Historical fiction, women’s studies, and exploring cultural divides through literature

Extracurricular: Overseas travel, knitting, yoga, hiking, ultimate Frisbee, real world bouldering

Danielle received her BA in English Literature with a double minor in History and British Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University. While at Fairleigh Dickinson, Danielle participated in two study abroad programs, which fostered a love for international studies. She has studied in England, Vietnam and Cambodia and can’t wait to go back. This is Danielle’s second year at Montclair. When she graduates she would love to live and study overseas.


 Emily Lagg headshot
Emily Lagg


Major/Concentration: MA in English/American Literature concentration

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: American literature, cinema studies

Extracurricular: Emily enjoys old movies, loud music, traveling, and reading.

Emily attended American University for her BA. She majored in Literature and minored in Cinema Studies. Her undergraduate thesis was on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and the way it confronts problems of communication in postmodernism. As an undergrad, she wrote interviews, as well as concert, music, and book reviews for American University’s newspaper. She also worked as a DJ and Program Director at the school’s radio station. She hopes to incorporate her love of cinema studies and American literature into her work as a graduate student here at Montclair.


Gloria Lugo

Major/concentration: MA English/Writing Studies

Subjects/Areas of Expertise:  American Literature, American Studies, Cultural Studies, Writing and Revision, Editing, Desktop Publishing/Graphic Design

Extracurricular: Reading, writing, exercising, attending theater (dramas not musicals), traveling, and scavenging for chocolate

Gloria received her BA in English from Montclair State University, graduating summa cum laude and earning an honors distinction in English for a research thesis in American Studies. Before transferring to MSU, she earned an AA in Fine Arts/Graphic Design. She is currently working toward an MA in English with a dual concentration in Writing Studies and American Literature. Gloria is also a marketing professional who coordinates, writes, and edits proposals and business development materials. Additionally, she works with professionals who want to improve their written communication in the workplace.

Gloria is excited about beginning her second year as a consultant with the Center for Writing Excellence and is looking forward to working with all writers across the MSU community.


 Heather Lockhart headshot
Heather Lockhart

Major/concentration: MA in English/Writing Studies

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Creative writing, contemporary American poetry & fiction, young adult literature, mythology

Extracurricular: Writing, not writing, reading, shamelessly fangirling, constructing elaborate theories regarding the psychology of fictional characters, bunny herding, singing in the car, and thinking about going to the gym.

Heather received her BA in English from Montclair State in 2012. During that time, she minored in creative writing, Psychology, and Classical studies, was published in The Normal Review and The Montclarion, and spent a semester as an intern for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson out in Los Angeles. In true Heather fashion, her goals for the future remain unclear, but she thinks she would like to eventually pursue an MFA and/or Ph.D. in creative writing. She would also like to publish something she isn’t embarrassed to show her mother.



Janet Dengel

MA - Montclair State University, English with Writing Studies concentration

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: creative non-fiction, magazine/news writing, business writing, journal writing, and editing

Extracurricular: walking, bike riding, traveling, swimming and singing classes (not at the same time!), and time at the shore with family

Janet received her BA in Communication from Ramapo College of New Jersey and worked in publishing as a writer/editor for 25 years. She joined the Center for Writing Excellence as a consultant in Fall 2009 and enjoys working one-to-one with students and hearing their ideas. Janet finished her thesis about online writing consultation in December 2012 and looks forward to teaching college students about writing.


Julie Candio-Sekel headshot
Julie Candio Sekel

Major/Concentration: MA in English/Writing Studies concentration

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: first-year composition, application essays, scholarship essays, professional writing, MLA/APA citations

Extracurricular: spending time with family and friends, exercising, consuming loads of candy (to balance out the exercise), taking long drives, and singing loudly and poorly in the car

Julie received her BA in Communication Arts with a Writing concentration and Literature minor from Ramapo College of NJ and her MA in English from Montclair State University in 2013. She worked in the Center for Reading and Writing at Ramapo College for five years, and has worked in the CWE for the past two years. Currently, Julie holds a full-time position as an assistant editor at John Wiley & Sons, where she manages curriculum development projects. She also teaches Critical Reading and Writing 102 at Ramapo College and has a research study in progress that examines the efficacy of reflective writing for laryngectomees.


 Kristine Witko headshot
Kristine Witko


Major/concentration: MAT in Teaching English as a Second Language

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Working with multilingual writers, creative writing

Extracurricular: Traveling whenever possible, weekends in NYC/Philly,  reading, writing, drinking lots of coffee, language exchanges, and attempting to learn Spanish and Portuguese.

As an undergrad, Kristine attended La Salle University as an English major with a writing concentration. She originally planned on becoming an author or going into journalism until she started tutoring adult ESL students. The experience was so fulfilling that she decided to teach ESL instead. She graduated from La Salle in 2009 and is now in the last year of the TESL program. This is her fourth year as a consultant at the CWE. After she graduates from Montclair State, she would love to teach in South America.


 Laura Lubrano headshot
Laura Lubrano


MA - Montclair State University, English with Writing Studies concentration
BA - Rutgers University

Subject/Areas of Expertise: Secondary English Education, Creative Writing and First-Year College Writing. More recently, Laura has been interested in examining the transition students make from high school to college writing and how teachers can help facilitate this process.

Extracurricular: Traveling to new places, baking, reading, learning how to garden, shopping and, of course, writing.

Laura began her English studies at Rutgers University where she graduated with a double major in English and History. While the focus of her study as an undergraduate was Renaissance literature and history, this interest shifted after working as a Graduate Assistant at Montclair State University. After tutoring her first students in 2002, Laura knew that teaching and working with student writers was her passion.

Since her time as a graduate student at Montclair State, Laura has taught in several high schools and colleges. She enjoys consulting at the CWE because she has the opportunity to discuss literature and help students develop as writers without grading papers!


Nicole Papaioannou headshot
Nicole Papaioannou


Major/concentration: DA in English
MA - Montclair State University, English with British Literature concentration
BA - Pace University

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Academic writing, teacher education program, creative writing

Extracurricular: Horseback riding, photography, dancing (but not well), spending time with friends and family, talking about Cluck, her bunny

Nicole has been a member of the CWE team since 2009 and truly loves working there. It was at the CWE where Nicole first discovered her passion for Writing Studies and helping others become better writers. Currently, she is working on a Doctor of Arts degree in English at St. John’s University, just at the beginning of the dissertation process, where she is thinking about issues related to ecocomposition, trauma, and writing spaces. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Pace University where she teaches academic writing courses.


Nikki Wittenburg headshot
Nikki Bosca


MA - Montclair State University, English with American Literature concentration
BA - Rider University

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Environmental Literature/Ecocriticism, Creative writing, Arts (Theatre, dance, music, art), and Literature.

Extracurricular: Reading, writing, dancing, yoga, theatre, cooking, gardening, hiking, and spending time with her cat.

Nikki recently received her MA in American Literature from Montclair State University. Since then, she has worked as an Assistant Instructor for the university’s EOF program, and she is currently an adjunct professor teaching College Writing at both Montclair State University and Pace University in NY. She compliments this work by continuing to hone her skills as a consultant here at the CWE. Previously, she worked at Rider University’s Writing Lab for two years as a Student Writing Tutor, and is certified with the College Reading and Learning Association. While pursuing her Masters at Montclair State, Nikki was lucky enough to be a Graduate Assistant and began working as a writing consultant at the start of her program. Combining those experiences, this is her fifth year working with writers in a writing center, and she just can’t seem to get enough!


Norman DeFilippo headshot
Norman DeFilippo


MA - Montclair State University, English with British Literature concentration
BA - Boston College

Subjects/ Areas of Expertise: Poetry, Samuel Beckett

Extracurricular: Listening to all sorts of music while sitting in traffic, sitting in traffic, complaining about sitting in traffic, reminiscing about having time to play guitar and bass, walking Molly, his American Bull Dog Terrier, while avoiding bears, watching the night sky sink into the soil from behind a desk, breaking things, and fixing things that break.

Norman began his undergraduate studies at William Paterson University, where he was Editor-In-Chief of the college newspaper and the literary magazine. After two years at William Paterson, Norman transferred to Boston College where he spent most of his time reading poetry and waiting for the T to take him someplace warm. In 2001 he graduated with a B.A. in English literature.

During the fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters Norman was a graduate assistant at Montclair State University. He aided four professors with three projects. He spent half of his time conducting research at the New York Public Library and the other half of his time performing online research. In the spring of 2012, Norman completed his M.A. thesis on three, twentieth-century, Irish novels and their depictions of the home, Irishness, and their characters’s descents into various underworlds.

In addition to his work at the writing center, Norman is now an Adjunct Professor at Essex County Community College where he teaches a variety of writing and literature courses. Norman enjoys working in the writing center and loves working with students on their writing. 




Amarilis DeJesus headshot
Amarilis DeJesus

Amarilis is a junio Spanish Education Major. Some of her favorite books are Of Mice and Men, In The Time of Butterflies, Women Hollering Creek, & Good Night Moon. In her free time Amarilis loves doing ZUMBA!!  Her favorite pastimes include: singing, cooking, playing the piano, and shopping. This past summer she traveled to Madrid to study abroad and her experience was phenomenal! Lastly, Amarilis is an extreme neat freak and loves candles & air fresheners.


Catherine Zapoll headshot
Catherine Zapoll
Catherine is a Psychology major and is in her sophomore year at Montclair State University.  She hopes to take all she learns at Montclair State with her abroad and spend the rest of her life traveling to as many places as possible. When she’s not learning about what goes on in people’s heads, she likes to read books and blogs, paint, and write down random story plots onto post-it notes. 



Jamie Abarca headshot
Jamie Abarca

Jamie is a recent graduate of Montclair State University. She has a BA in English and also enjoys economics, fashion, and politics. Aside from being a greeter at the Center for Writing Excellence, she also works for the English Department and Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education, where she was awarded the “Outstanding Student Worker Award” in April of 2010. Jamie’s other hobbies include shopping, “youtubing,” and blog browsing.