After finding her calling, ESL grad will serve those in need through language


November 30, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

A passion for working with different cultures and languages that began on a summer trip to Russia as a nursing undergraduate came full circle when Jenifer Fedun recently found herself back in the country, this time as an Arizona State University online graduate student working toward her ESLEnglish as a Second Language master’s degree through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Jenifer Fedun Jenifer Fedun. Download Full Image

The Los Angeles native was prompted to switch from nursing to ESL over the course of four years in an international service program at California Baptist University that took her not only to Russia, but also China, India and Taiwan, where she helped lead ESL lessons in classrooms and found it very rewarding.

Fedun’s own late mother was an immigrant who came to the U.S. from the Philippines with her parents and 11 siblings. Along the way, they experienced challenges that included racism, separation and financial hardship, but they ultimately found success and happiness in their new home country. Fedun said their stories inspired her to use her skills in ways that can make similar experiences easier for immigrants and refugees.

“In general, I just want to be able to help immigrants and give them tools to have a successful start and future in America,” Fedun said. “My mother and her family were immigrants and have been successful in this country, and I want that for all immigrants and/or refugees I meet.”

Fedun talked to ASU Now about finding her calling, maintaining straight-A’s and serving communities in need.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My “aha” moment occurred during the summer after my first year as an undergraduate at California Baptist University. I was originally a nursing major but after doing a nursing internship, I started to have doubts about whether I could see myself doing it long term. It was not until I was overseas in Russia during the summer working with orphans that I realized I loved working with people from different cultures and who speak different languages. One of our translators casually told me, “You know, if you teach English, you can do this all the time.” From that moment on, my passion for teaching English as a second language grew and took me to many different countries. My ASU master’s program even brought me back to Russia — where it all started — to teach ESL for my internship.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: It was not until I took my “approaches to research” class that I realized how much time, research and effort went into making a single scholarly article, paper and/or study. It made me have a profound respect for the scholars who dedicate their time to the furthering of knowledge in their field and inspired me to have such a work ethic. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I saw it was one of the top online graduate schools and had the exact graduate major that I wanted to study.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Ruby Macksoud, my professor for my internship class, taught me the importance of experience. There is only so much you can learn from books, but you will learn the most by putting what you have read and learned to practice.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Do your best and God will take care of the rest. Remember that where God guides, he provides, and he will get you through even the hardest of times in school and in life. Also, remember that it always seems impossible until it’s done; if it were easy, everyone would do it; and it will be 100 percent worth it.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on becoming an ESL professor at a community college or university. In general, I just want to be able to help immigrants and give them tools to have a successful start and future in America. My mother and her family were immigrants and have been successful in this country, and I want that for all immigrants and/or refugees I meet.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would create centers that would provide free education, housing, health care, food and job training for refugees and immigrants entering this country.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

Never stop wondering and ask a librarian: Tips for success from a first-gen grad


December 1, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

Hailing from the tiny town of Mineola in east Texas, Casie Moreland is a first-generation college graduate. But she didn’t stop with “just” a four-year degree. Moreland also completed a master’s program in her home state and now, this fall, she is earning a PhD in English (writing, rhetorics and literacies) from Arizona State University. Graduating ASU student Casie Moreland / Courtesy photo Graduating ASU student Casie Moreland, who is earning a PhD in English, has already secured a position as a visiting assistant professor at Western Oregon University. She began teaching there this past September. Download Full Image

Oh, and she’s coaxed her younger sister into attending college as well.

“I am so proud and excited to become an ASU alum,” Moreland said about adding the latest accomplishment to her pedigree. She said that she is grateful to the supportive staff and faculty and thinks fondly of the beautiful campus. “I am truly thankful to have had this experience.”

In her doctoral work at ASU, Moreland was supported by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Graduate Fellowship for First Generation Students, the David Herzog Fonds Scholarship from the University of Graz, Austria (to attend the Graz International Summer School in Seggau in 2016), and numerous other travel grants and research fellowships.

While still a student, Moreland was also successfully placing her scholarship in top-tier publications. Most recently, with her mentor, professor of English Keith Miller, Moreland co-authored an article that appeared in the CCCC Outstanding Book Award-winning collection, “Rhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education” (2016) co-edited by English chair Krista Ratcliffe.

Moreland defended her dissertation, “White Resistance, White Complacency: The Absent-Presence of Race in the Development of Dual Enrollment Programs” on Aug. 29. She began as a visiting assistant professor at Western Oregon University just a few days later. She’ll be coming back to the ASU campus in December for commencement festivities.

We asked Moreland a few questions about her journey to her PhD degree at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field? 

Answer: I first realized I wanted to teach composition during my first writing course while working on my undergraduate degree. I had so many questions about why we were doing what we were doing in class. I never stopped wondering. To be honest, I loved writing but did not love that class. I decided then I wanted to teach writing to students in college in a way that allows them to develop their skills in ways that builds their confidence.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: At ASU, the most surprising thing I learned was how one question could develop into years of research. The faculty at ASU really supported me throughout my process and allowed me develop my skills as a scholar and researcher. I hope to do the same for my students in the future.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the faculty and the program’s recognition in the field. I met (Keith) Miller while I was still working on my master’s degree at Texas State University. I soon found out that he worked with Shirley Rose and Paul Kei Matsuda. I had never been to Tempe and never had the chance to visit; I saw it for the first time when I was accepted and arrived to begin the PhD program. I loved the saguaros and sunsets, the campus and my peers and the faculty. I quickly found out that I had made the perfect decision.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Keith Miller taught me patience. He taught me that research is patient work and tedious work. Reflective of his research practices, he showed me the utmost patience while mentoring me throughout my time as a PhD student. Keith taught me, through guidance, about the type of researcher, teacher and mentor I wanted to be. I am truly honored to have had the privilege to work with him.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Be kind to yourself; progress is progress. Getting a degree is a more like a marathon rather than a sprint. Never be afraid to “ask a librarian” or visit the writing center or to get a tutor. There are so many services to help you get to where you want to go.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus was hanging out in LL (Durham Language and Literature Building — where the writing program once was). There I could hang out with my peers to catch up and work. I would oftentimes stop by the offices of (English staff members) Demetria Baker and Sheila Luna. Not only did they provide me with endless support as a teaching assistant and PhD student, but they are both great people. We shared food and stories more times than I can count.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I was offered and accepted a position at Western Oregon University as visiting assistant professor. I'm teaching multiple classes, from linguistics to first-year writing and first-year writing for international students. I also recently began a book project; I am co-editing a collection titled “The Dual Enrollment Kaleidoscope: Reconfiguring Perceptions of First-Year Writing and Composition Studies” with Christine Denecker.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: This is such a hard question to answer. While I’m not sure if $40 million would do it, I would try to help more women have access to reproductive healthcare. This money could provide women with access to services, such as prenatal care, birth control options, doctors and sexual violence support services.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

communications specialist, Department of English

480-965-7611