July 2023 Graduate Newsletter

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Welcome to our first Offices of Graduate and Professional Studies newsletter! For the inaugural newsletter, we bring you a retrospective of the 2022-2023 academic year. We hope you enjoy reading about the programs and the students that we’ve spotlighted in this newsletter. Join us in looking back over the personal and professional goals achieved by our students last year –  and some fun moments, too!

Program Spotlight: BCE

Business of Creative Enterprises 

AY 22/23 was the second year for this exciting new graduate program.  Established as an “MBA for creative professionals,” this innovative program is fully online and accelerated, allowing students to earn a Master of Arts degree in only 16 months. The inaugural class of 17 students includes both recent graduates and mid-career professionals from the fields of theater, music, film and arts administration, among other areas.

Master of Arts  

 What they have in common, says Bob Lyons, the Graduate Program Director, is the desire to level up their skills, make connections and become change-makers in their fields.

Lyons heralded the flexible nature of the program. Offering both full-time and part-time options, the program is primarily asynchronous, allowing students to complete coursework and participate in class discussions on their own schedules. The only exceptions are two synchronous three-day immersions which bookend the program. These immersions allow students to meet faculty and each other in real time, work collaboratively on assigned projects and begin building the networks which will last them throughout their careers.

Among the courses offered are: The Advocate, Architect & Ambassador: Leadership for a Successful Organization; Failure 1, 2, 3: How to Rebuild the Idea; Foundations of Finance in Creative Enterprises; and Legal Basics: IP, Copyright, Contracts and Employment Law. 

For more information, please visit the Emerson BCE website

GSA Events

The Graduate Student Association is responsible for creating professional and social opportunities for students. This past academic year GSA hosted a variety of activities.

During the Spring Semester GSA hosted Submit It!, a writing pitch and submission talk and event. Additionally, they organized a Red Sox game day at Fenway and an end-of-year celebration at Guy Fieri’s. 

For more fun, socializing and networking with fellow Grad students, join us in the 2023-24 academic year! 

The GSA also assists graduate students with funding, offering Professional Development Grants and Mini Grants. Read more about these grants on the GSA webpage and find details about how you can apply by clicking here.

Grad Student Central

In the Fall 2022 semester, GSA kicked off the year for Grad Students with a number of events. GSA hosted a number of ecents, starting with Cider in The Common. They also hosted a discussion and workshop, “How to Be a Published Author But Not a Starving Artist,” led by Pop Fiction MFA candidate Rebecca Thorne. In the winter, they held the GSA Campus Winter Walk. Read more about this past academic year’s GSA events and activities…

GSO Spotlight: Book Club

Madison Muschalek and Robin Van lmpe started the new GSO,The Emerson College Book Club. Each month, the GSO reads and discusses a book. Previous book club picks include:

  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Interested in joining this organization? Email:


Professional Studies

The Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs (PSSP) at Emerson College offers a diverse and constantly evolving selection of courses, workshops, and certificate programs. The department provides a breadth of opportunities for individuals looking to advance their careers, train to enter a new field, earn new skills, or explore their passions.

The Deptartment of Professional Studies also oversees the programming for Summer Sessions and can answer any questions that Graduate Students who wish to take a summer course may have.

For more information about the dynamic programming and courses offered in the Department of Professional Studies, visit their web page: https://professional.emerson.edu.

Pre-College Programs

The Pre-College programs are intensive summer experiences for high school students.  This year Pre-College is back on campus and welcoming high school students from all over the world!

Prospective students can apply to any of our nine programs which include Creative Writers, Acting, Design/Technology for Stage & Screen, Digital Filmmakers, Marketing & Creative Enterprise Institute, TV Writing & Production, Musical Theatre Studio, Journalism Institute, and Politics, Activism, & Leadership Institute. The Pre-College programs are excited to have our exceptional faculty return for Summer 2023 to continue providing educational and fun experiences for the students.

Having been online since 2020 due to the pandemic, the programs will be back on campus for the month of July this summer. Pre-College students will have access to the same academic resources as Emerson undergraduate students. For high school students looking to add to their portfolio, obtain college credit, or gain the Emerson experience, this is a great opportunity!

Graduate Hooding Ceremonies

Emerson’s Graduate Hooding ceremonies gave students, families and faculty a chance to celebrate the incredible acheivements of a class that has thrived even in the face of  unprecedented challenges. 

Graduate Student Accomplishments

Abdulqader Abdulbari

Abdulqader Abdulbari, Public Relations MA ’23, attended three conferences in the Public Relations field and Celebration of the Saudi National Day at Emerson College. Over 200 people attended. 

Alyssa Tyra

In August, Alyssa Tyra, Pop Fiction, MFA ’23, started her dream job, where she writes about pop culture and entertainment. Then, by October she got a promotion within the same company to social media manager. Currently, her writing and reporting gets published 16+ times a month. Alyssa says, “I would never had heard about this company if It wasn’t for Emerson introducing me to amazing people!”

Cynthia Ayeza

Cynthia Ayeza, Creative Writing, MFA ’24, received an AAUW International Fellowship for 2022-2023.

Kayla Tomas

Kayla Tomas, Theatre Education & Applied Theatre, MFA ’24, was named a 2022-2023 Cutler Fellow, working in the Artistic Engagement Department of ArtsEmerson where she supports creative producing and community engagement.

Adam Swanson

Last December, The Rumpus published Adam Swanson’s (Creative Writing, MFA ’24) interview with memoirist, Taylor Brorby.

Asma Khoshmehr

Asma Khoshmehr, Film and Media Arts, MFA ’23, received a Full Fellowship Artist Residency at Mass Moca.

Christopher S. Wilson

Last winter, the Florida Review published Christopher S. Wilson’s (Creative Writing, MFA ’23) short story, “The Stupid Invasion.”

Donnie Cadman

Donnie Cadman, Film and Media Art, MFA ‘23, Completed his Thesis Film, “The Lesson” 

Natalie Rosselli

Natalie Rosselli, Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing, MFA ’23, got a job as a literary assistant at the Aaron M Priest Literary Agency in New York. 

Natalia Vázquez Torres

Natalia Vázquez Torres, Creative Writing, MFA ’23, received a promotion to assistant editor at Charlesbridge Publishing. 

Anthony (Tony) Freeman

Anthony (Tony) Freeman, Speech@Emerson MS ’23, has accepted a CFY job offer at a local SNF.

Tochukwu Okafor 

Tochukwu Okafor, MFA Creative Writing (Fiction) ‘25, was awarded the 2023 Elizabeth George Foundation grant; a full Alumni Scholarship Award to the 2023 Iceland Writers Retreat; the 2023 Kimbilio Fellowship; Named a 2024 Fellow and Writer-in-Residence at the James Merrill House Writer-in-Residence Program; Awarded a 2023 Fishtrap Fellowship to the 2023 Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers; Named a 2023 Artist-in-Residence at the Anderson Center at Tower View; Named a 2023  Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts; Awarded the 2023 Pruitt-Meinke Fellowship at the Eckerd College Writers in Paradise Conference; Awarded a 2023  Artist Residency at the Ragdale Foundation; Awarded a 2022 Vermont Studio Center Fellowship; Awarded a 2022 Ucross Foundation Fellowship; Named a 2022  Aspen Words Writer-in-Residence; Awarded 2nd place Winner in the Fractured Literary Reprint Prize for flash fiction, “Boy”  

Elizabeth Werner 

Elizabeth Werner, Speech@Emerson MS ’24, received a SLP-A position within her local school district for next school year!  

Andrés Hernández

Andrés Hernández, Sports Communication, MA ’23, as an International Student, is receiving Curricular Practical Training (CPT) working as an Intern for the Worcester WooSox!

Caitlyn Kunz

Caitlyn Kunz,  DMDA, MA ‘23,  is currently working for The University of New Hampshire as a Marketing and Promotion Specialist and her Emerson degree will help her advance her skills in this position!

Paula Orrego 

Because of a professor in her program, Paula Orrego, Communication Disorders, MA ’24, was connected with one of the leading researchers of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in the country, and together, along with her old speech therapist, wrote a research article, which was published in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. She feels it’s an honor to be able to share her story of DLD on such a large platform–taking her work in activism to a whole new, higher level–and being the first author of this paper. The article is free for anyone to access at their website: https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2023_AJSLP-22-00247

Sophie Gorjance

Sophie Gorjance, Creative Writing, MFA ’23, was invited to join the Board of MetaStellar.com, the fastest-growing science fiction and fantasy online literary magazine currently publishing. They publish short fiction, news, and reviews, and after writing book reviews with them for the last couple of years, Sophie is excited to take on a larger role.

Devin McGrath-Conwell

Devin McGrath-Conwell, Writing for Film & Television, MFA ‘23, “Watchdog,” a short film he co-wrote and co-produced, played at the New York Independent Film Festival on June 9th.

Kimbelyn Ortiz 

Kimbelyn Ortiz, Communication Disorders, MS ’23, has been offered a clinical fellowship at a skilled nursing facility. 

Safina Danish Elahi

Safina Danish Elahi, Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing, MFA ‘24, had a new novel come out in July 2023. Their novel, The Idle Stance of the Tippler Pigeon, was published by the Neem Tree Press UK. She received the Residency/Fellowship at the International Writer’s Program IWP with the University of Iowa Fall 2022.

Jamin Gordon

Jamin Gordon, DMDA, MA May ‘23, started the DMDA program in Jan. 2022. Then, in October 2022, she began a role with Thryv as the head of marketing strategy for the social media team. Jamin feels DMDA prepared in her in so many ways and continues to propel her in this new position. 

Tara Salvati

In August, Tara Salvati, Publishing and Writing, MA ‘23, will begin working towards her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric at West Virginia University, where she will also be working as a professor, teaching first-year writing.

Chelsey Brunelle

Following nearly a decade as a K-12 educator and school leader in California, Chelsey Brunelle, Business of Creative Enterprises, MA ’24, pivoted and decied to pursue the Master of Arts in BCE at Emerson. She was recently hired as a Program Manager at Turnaround Arts: California – a nonprofit and partner of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is able to apply a lot of what she learned from the BCE graduate program into this role, which she says has been really exciting! She can’t wait to see where this new chapter of her career takes her.  

Nikolette Orlandou

Nikolette Orlandou, DMDA, MA  ’23, following her work for almost 20 years in the private sector, primarily in the Entertainment Industry as a film/video producer and business development professional, transitioned into working for the local government as a video producer. She has received two career-advancing job offers since starting her M.A. in Digital Marketing, a year and a half ago, proving that she made the right decision in choosing Emerson College!  As “Head, Marketing & Communications” for L.A. County’s Aging & Disabilities Department. The Aging & Disabilities Department is a newly formed local agency, which presents a unique opportunity for her to help its leadership redefine how government organizations approach marketing and communications. “Thank you, Emerson, for helping me compliment my previous B.A. in Film & Television Production from USC, with a digital marketing curriculum that is enabling me to be a well-rounded marketing & communications executive!”  

Melissa Monti 

Melissa Monti, DMDA  MA, ‘22, is currently pursuing an Ed.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in Organizational Learning, Leadership, and Development (Penn CLO program). She credits the education and support she received in Emerson’s DMDA program with her acceptance to the Penn Ed.D program.

Student Spotlight: Alex Nezam

Alex Nezam smiling and wearing a suit in a black and white picture

Alex Nezam is a first year MFA candidate in Film and Media Arts working on a documentary film project about migration and how refugees are treated in Verona. “It was a humanitarian crisis, but there was also this incredible effort in a community of people that were banding together in in order to help the situation.” 

Where It All Started

The migration across the Mediterranean was at its height in 2019 when Alex Nezam said he felt heartbroken watching from his home in Ohio. So, he decided to do volunteer work, aiding refugees. He was in Athens, Greece for a few months and then decided he wanted to make a film about what he was seeing. Nezam says, “I made a film about several squat communities – a network of different abandoned buildings that have been repurposed by the anarchist community in this specific neighborhood in Athens.” This group of people trying to house a bunch of refugees who didn’t have a place to sleep fascinated Nezam. He explained that people repurposed entire hotels to house these communities.

Nezam’s interest in film started when he left high school early and went to community college. He says that’s where he first developed his love for cinema and realized it could be a serious art form. From community college he transferred to Webster University in St. Louis. Then, in 2021, Nezam was named the inaugural Toward Belonging Creative Fellow at the Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley. The current film project that he’s working on at Emerson first started with a grant from UC Berkeley.

Before starting his first semester in Boston, Nezam did all the filming for his project. He started the MFA program in September of 2022 with his film already in post-production. During spring semester, he workshopped his footage and was finishing up the editing process with the support and guidance of classmates and faculty mentors.

New and Returning Graduate Student Orientation 2022/23

Emerson held our Fall Orientation in the Paramount Center in late August 2022. The Emerson community welcomed over 200 new and returning graduate students. This was the first in-person orientation held since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. During January of 2023, we had Spring Orientation in the Student Performance Center.  We heard inspiring speeches given by Graduate and Professional Studies Dean Kimberly McLarin; Dean of Campus Life, Jim Hoppe; and Vice President for Equity and Social Justice, Shaya Gregory Poku. Following these talks, students gathered to enjoy food and refreshments while socializing. During the socialization, students got to peruse tables from Student Services, Administrative Offices, Student Organizations and the Graduate Student Association.

Fall Orientation

Spring Orientation

Emerson held Spring Orientation in the Student Performance Center

Let us know all about the exciting accomplishments you have been up to! Fill out this new survey so we can add you to the next newsletter!! 

Grad Student Accomplishment Survey

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