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MFA Student Profiles

Class of 2024


Katherine Arden is a poet.

Savannah Bowen is a Caribbean-American writer, editor, and artist. She received her B.A. in English from Howard University, where she also minored in French. She's passionate about cross-cultural learning and is co-founder of Writers Rest, a retreat for black femme writers.
Julian Long is a Writer, Branding and Marketing Strategist, Voice Actor, Caretaker, and Commitment Coach with roots in NYC and Kentucky. His passion is helping people be up to big things. Like all good Southern-raised church boys he loves his God, his Mama, his dog ,and good fried chicken. Not necessarily in that order.
Nicholas Ruma
Akhira Mahal is a first-year MFA creative writing candidate specializing in fiction and a graduate instructor. While her strength is fiction, she also dabbles in poetry and nonfiction. In recent years, her focus has been on journalistic lifestyle and feature writing. She graduated from the University of Kentucky in December 2020 with a bachelor's in print journalism and English. Her articles have been local, statewide, and national finalists and award-winners. She also has over five years of copyediting experience, much of which is attributed to her time working for the Kentucky Kernel. What she is most looking forward to being back in the Department of English is getting to read, appreciate, and workshop her peers' and students' work. Outside of the world of literature, she enjoys traveling, cooking, gaming and watching anime and home design videos.
Deidra White
Jazmin Witherspoon is a poet from Saint Louis, MO, though she has spent all her adult life thriving in the mountains of East Tennessee. She received a BS in Communication from the University of Tennessee in 2017. In 2020, she accepted a fellowship with the 5th Woman Poetry Collective. Her poem “Roots of Revolution” was featured in the first issue of Pigeon Parade Quarterly. In her free time, Jazmin enjoys reading, singing, and cooking, and she dreams of combining her love of literature and travel into a television show.

Class of 2023

Yusuf Akman is a poet.

Daniel Collins is a Lexington native studying creative nonfiction. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 2004 to 2011, an experience that informs most of his writing. He lives in Lexington with his wife and their two children, and he's an emotional support animal to their dog, Penny. Daniel loves soccer, music, and the outdoors.
Sajida DiAugustine received her BA in English from UK and is now pursuing her MFA as she completes her first novel about the Asian Indian immigrant experience. She works as a Documentation Manager for Tanium.
woman in pink sweater Dorothy Freeman recently retired from a career in public relations with the University of Kentucky’s College of Fine Arts. She has previously studied creative writing with professors Gurney Norman and Erik Reece and is currently working on a collection of short stories about her time spent as a single mother in San Francisco’s 1960s.
Lucy Jayes has fostered a love of writing since she was old enough to hold a pen. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Kentucky in 2014. During college, she interned for Ace Weekly magazine with a primary focus on covering local events and happenings in the food and beverage industry in Lexington. Upon graduating, she moved to Denver, CO and worked in nonprofit fundraising and event planning and as a conference manager and journalist for a trade magazine covering the legal cannabis industry. She is focused on Creative Nonfiction writing.
Henry Knollenberg is a fiction writer from Des Moines, IA. He received his B.A. in English with the Creative Writing Option from the University of Kentucky in 2021. 
Kasimma is the author of All Shades of Iberibe and is a 2021 Nikky Finney Fellow. Her stories and poems appear on Guernica, LitHub, Writer’s Digest, Meet Cute, Native Skin, Solarpunk Magazine, The Forge Literary, The Puritan, Kikwetu, Isele Magazine, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Dgeku, Afreecan Read, and many other journals and anthologies. She’s been awarded writers’ residencies and workshops across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Kasimma has enjoyed, very thankfully, the privilege of learning under the voices of Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and others. You can read more about her and her works on
Kasimma is from Igboland—obodo ndị dike.
Clay Shields has crooked middle fingers, a floating clavicle, and is allergic to bee stings. He writes about central Appalachia, the opioid crisis, family, identity, community, deviance. When not at his desk or in a classroom, he can be found riding one of his bicycles.
Alfonso Zapata is an MFA Candidate in the field of poetry. Alfonso has previously attended The University of Toledo and The University of Southern Mississippi, where he obtained his MA in poetry, and served as the poetry editor for the student-run publication Product.



Class of 2022

Kevin Bond, Adachioma Ezeano, Payton Howard, Nita Jade, Betsy Packard, Allegra Solomon

Class of 2021

makalani bandele, Gavin Colton, Emily Jean McCollister Goldsmith, Jordan Honeyblue, Sarah Jiang, Chantel Kelly, Gabrielle Oliver, Erika J. Simpson

Class of 2020

Ash Baker, Leigh Glanzman, John Larson, Michael McEwen, Kaylen Rose, Raquel Olive, Zeke Perkins, Dane Ritter, Hagan Smith, Peter Williams, Julie Kuzneski Wrinn 

Class of 2019

Laurie Clewett, Angel C. Dye, Jeremy Flick, Suzanne Fernandez Gray, Tiara Brown, Isabelle Johnson, Omaria Sanchez Pratt, Taylor Sarratt 

Class of 2018

Evan Arneson, Austin Baurichter, Austyn Gaffney, Dorian Hairston, Parker Hobson, Jordan Hubrich, Rachel Kersey, Max LeNeave, Neleigh Olson, Krystin Santos, Kate Tighe-Pigott, Sophie Weiner

Class of 2017

Bernard Clay, Chad Gilpin, Amanda Kelley. Gary Smith, Ashlie Stevens

Class of 2016

Sarah Abbott, Joy Bowman, Catherine Brereton, Sean L Corbin, John Duncan, Megan D. Henson, Benjamin Honea, Jesse Houk, Sean Madden, Robin Rahija, Jordyn Rhorer, Erin Shoot