Staff

Program Director | Assistant Director | 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
knightm@mail.montclair.edu

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.

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Assistant Director

‌ Alicia Remolde
CWE Assistant Director
remoldea@mail.montclair.edu

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.

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Consultants

Alan Smith
Consultant

MA - Montclair State University, English/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 is in The Porchistas, a very busy, Montclair-based, independent rock band. 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.”

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Alice Freddi Beresin headshotAlice Freddi Beresin

Consultant

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 fourth year working at The CWE. Alice also tutors middle school, high school, and college students in composition, research, and study skills. She has worked with students on the Reading and Writing sections of the SAT and has helped high school seniors on college essays and applications. A number of Alice’s private clients have leaning differences. Alice currently freelances as an illustrator for private clients and has illustrated books for Prentice Hall, Inc., Jossey-Bass, and John Wiley & Sons. Additionally, Alice is on the board of directors of the off-Broadway theater company, VOICETheatre, where one of her duties is editing grants and promotional material.

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Camilla Finch
Consultant

BA in English at Barnard College

Area/Expertise: News writing for television, newspapers and magazines. Expertise in economic and business journalism.

Camilla has worked professionally as a journalist in both the television and print fields for 25 years.  She rose through the ranks to become a producer at ABC Network News working on the programs, “20/20”, “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” and “Business World”.  She specializes in writing about business and economic issues for both television and print. She is also a founding member of the Lydia Johnson Dance Company as well as a founding member of Youthnet, the after school program that serves the South Orange and Maplewood school district.

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Danielle Rettino headshotDanielle Rettino
Consultant

MA – Montclair State University, English/International Literature concentration

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Postcolonial fiction, Historical fiction, exploring cultural divides through literature

Extracurricular: Overseas travel, felting, yoga, hiking, ultimate Frisbee, top-roping

Danielle received her BA in English Literature with a double minor in History and British Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Danielle participated in two study abroad programs while at Fairleigh Dickinson, which fostered a love for international studies. She recently received her MA in English, specializing in International Literature from Montclair State University. Danielle is currently pursuing many career paths, in the form of four part-time jobs, and hopes to eventually find a place in a university study abroad office.

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Ellen Dreyer
Consultant

MA – University of London, English

BA – University of Michigan, English and Creative Writing

Subjects/Areas of expertise: Modern British literature, Women Writers, Children’s and Adolescent literature, Book Editing, Art History

Extracurricular: Writing, Travel, Museums, Theater

This is Ellen’s first year working at the CWE. Ellen is the published author of books for young people, including the young adult novel The Glow Stone (Peachtree, 2006), a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. She was a staff editor for companies including Penguin, Scholastic, and Dorling Kindersley; currently she is a consulting editor for authors and publishers. Ellen also tutors and coaches writers of all ages, and teaches writing and literature in the Rutgers REaCH program.

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 Emily Lagg headshotEmily Lagg
Consultant

MA – Montclair State University, 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.

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Gloria Lugo
Consultant

Major/concentration: MA – Montclair State University, English/American Literature

Subjects/Areas of Expertise:  American/Cultural Studies, Writing/Revision, Editing, Presentation/Layout

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, concentrating in American Literature and Writing Studies. Gloria is also a proposal manager who leads multidisciplinary teams in working collaboratively to write cohesive, focused, and persuasive proposals and business development materials.

Gloria is excited to begin her third year as a consultant with the Center for Writing Excellence and looks forward to working with all writers across the MSU community.

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 Heather Lockhart headshotHeather Lockhart
Consultant

Major/concentration: MA – Montclair State University, 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.

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 Janet Dengel
Consultant

MA - Montclair State University, English/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.

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Julie Candio-Sekel headshotJulie Candio Sekel
Consultant

MA – Montclair State University, English/Writing Studies concentration

BA – Ramapo College, Communication Arts/Writing 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.

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 Kristine Witko headshotKristine Witko
Consultant

MAT – Montclair State University, 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, volunteering, language exchanges

As an undergrad, Kristine was an English major at La Salle University. 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. After receiving her Bachelor's degree, Kristine went on to Montclair State University, where she received her MAT in Teaching English as a Second Language. After graduating, she spent 7 months in South America improving her Spanish and Portuguese and volunteering as an ESL teacher in Rio de Janeiro. She has been working at the CWE for over 5 years.

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 Laura Lubrano headshotLaura Lubrano
Consultant

MA - Montclair State University, English/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!

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Madelyn Perez
Consultant

Major/Concentration: MAT – Montclair State University, English

Extracurricular: Traveling, reading, classic movies, shopping, attempting to cook

Madelyn received her BS in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University in 2012, and is excited to pursue her graduate degree and be a part of the CWE staff. Her past experience with undergraduate publications like The Daily Orange as well as post-grad freelance work has shaped her love of writing, and getting to help others with writing is an opportunity she is very grateful for.

This is Madelyn’s second semester at Montclair, and she hopes to graduate with her MAT within the next two years.

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Meagan DeJong
Consultant

Major/Concentration: MA – Montclair State University, English/Writing Studies concentration

Areas of Interest: Composition writing in process and practice, British Literature, Ancient Literature, Shakespeare, Business writing and editing

Extracurricular: music, reading and writing (of course), annoyingly editing friend's text messages, building blocks and racing Matchbox cars with my son, Jack, the Zen-ness of chopping veggies and creating meals, and that thing I sometimes (not often) do called "sleeping in on Sundays".

Meagan received her B.A. in English Literature in 2007 from Centenary College in Hackettstown, graduating summa cum laude.  For the past 7 years, Meagan has been employed in the field of business writing and editing, both freelance and professionally.  Meagan has also spent much of her time volunteering, for various causes ranging from domestic abuse to homelessness.  Meagan has now returned to her passion of studying English Literature, and is delighted to be both engaged and learning while also having the opportunity to help others.

Meagan is very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to consult at the Center for Writing Excellence as a Graduate Assistant.  She hopes that her knowledge and empathy will help writers to grow and feel more confident.

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Nicole Papaioannou headshotNicole Papaioannou
Consultant

Major/concentration: DA (ABD) – St. John's University, English

MA - Montclair State University, English/British Literature concentration

BA - Pace University, English and Communications

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Academic writing, Teacher Education, Technical writing

Extracurricular: Horseback riding, photography, dancing (but not well), being an eternal student

Nicole has been a member of the CWE team since 2009 and truly loves working there. She has a passion for Writing Studies and helping others become better writers. Currently, Nicole is working on a Doctor of Arts degree in English at St. John’s University. Her dissertation project is a qualitative study of student writing projects that started as class assignments and were repurposed into something beyond class. Aside from being a consultant and a grad student, Nicole also teaches college English courses and works part-time as an instructional designer. She believes that writing is a powerful tool for effecting change and wants to enable others to use that power.

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Nikki Wittenburg headshotNikki Bosca
Consultant

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!

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Norman DeFilippo headshotNorman DeFilippo
Consultant

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. 

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Peter Florek
Consultant

Major/concentration: MA – Montclair State University, English/Writing Studies concentration

Extracurricular: writing, rock climbing, travel, adventure, nature, nature documentaries, watching hockey

Subjects/Areas of Expertise: Creative Writing, Technical Writing

Peter received his BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He enjoys writing poetry, and published his first chapbook, Splattervision, with ELJ Publications in September, 2014. He also spent 2 years as a freelance writer drafting medical articles for journal publication. He is interested in the ways creativity manifests itself in the individual, and is not surprised at how creatively students can express themselves and their ideas despite constant self-labeling as non-creative. Work at the CWE is an exciting, collaborative effort that feels more like exploring the writing process than ‘work’.

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Greeters

‌Amarilis DeJesus
Greeter

Amarilis is a senior 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.

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‌Cassie Sardo
Greeter

Cassie is an English major in her sophomore year at Montclair State University. She is enthusiastic about learning and she always strives to get the best out of her education. In her free time, Cassie loves reading Chinese historical fiction novels, sketching, and doing crossword puzzles. As a frequent traveler, she loves exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. Some of her other interests include psychology, music, and Disney movies.

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Catherine Zapoll headshot

Catherine Zapoll
Greeter

Catherine is a Psychology major and is in her junior 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. 

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Jamie Abarca headshot

Jamie Abarca
Head Greeter

Jamie’s warm and familiar face has been part of the CWE team since the summer of 2010. As an undergraduate, Jamie worked for the English Department and the Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education. She graduated in January of 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. She’s still deciding on the lifelong course as either a coffee lover or tea drinker; she hopes this will be the defining tool in choosing a career path. Jamie loves to spark conversation wherever she goes. In her spare time, she enjoys reading pop literature and baking. Jamie hopes to join the CWE team as a consultant during her graduate studies.

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