Meet Alum Catherine (Coelho) Riley ’10

Catherine RileyHometown: Hilmar, CA

Major/Minor: Majors in English and Communication, minor in Spanish 

Current Employment: Part-Time Assistant Professor, WFU Department of Communication, Owner and Director, Great American Writer’s Camp

What role has the English major played in your career path? 

English was my double, “just for fun” major. That’s what I told my family every time I flew 2,667 miles home for the holidays. Wake Forest was a distant and unfamiliar place for most of my relatives, and for my parents having a daughter studying English was especially strange territory; my mom is a math teacher and my dad is a farmer. Still, I was sure that it was a good idea to double major in English. What I found “fun,” I would surely find a use for later, right?

Since turning in my last English essay (a paper on abolitionist literature) I have indeed made a creative career out of literature, writing, and rhetoric. The love for literature that I grew in Tribble Hall, I now share each summer as the owner and director of the Great American Writers’ Camp, a creative writing camp for youth. The writing skills I honed—in my first class with Dr. Holdridge to my last with Dr. Hans—I now use as a part-time assistant professor across the Quad in Carswell Hall where I help communication students learn to write about rhetoric. Most importantly, though, the intellectual curiosity that my English professors modeled has continued to stir in me a desire to keep learning, to keep reading and, especially, to keep writing. What’s next? I plan to continue teaching, continue directing, and to finish working with a university press to soon publish my first academic book—all very “fun” things if you ask me!



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