Student Spotlight July 2015

    Keri Mathis




    Keri received her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Georgia in 2010. While at UGA, she became interested in Shakespearean literature and decided to pursue a Master’s in English through the University of Alabama’s Hudson Strode Renaissance program.





    1. What brought you to the University of Louisville?

    While at the University of Alabama, I became really interested in teaching composition. I still loved literature, but I found myself drawn to Rhetoric and Composition. My mentors suggested that I apply for PhD programs in this area, and the University of Louisville was at the top of their (and my) list. UofL’s program has excellent faculty and a strong peer mentoring program, and the program allowed a certain flexibility that accommodated my interests in Renaissance literature and in Rhetoric and Composition.

    2. Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

    I study how genres of writing evolve in specific moments of media transition. For instance, my dissertation is focused on the genre of the letter and ways they transition from manuscript to print, and from print to digital, have changed the way writers (particularly, women) have used and adapted letter-writing practices. I have always been interested in the ways changes in technologies have influenced the ways people write, and I am especially interested in how writers learn to write in new media platforms and in “new” genres as they evolve over time.

    3. How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?

    I would say that I study how people learn how to write in different ways, especially when new technologies change the ways we have written before.

    4. What made you go into this field of study?

    Teaching writing. When I was a new Master’s student, I was terrified by the idea of teaching, but as soon as I taught my first class with a group of really enthusiastic students at the University of Alabama, I knew that I wanted to continue teaching.

    5. Awards, honors, publications:

    a. 2015: Gesa E. Kirsch Travel Award – University of Louisville
    b. 2015: Newberry Renaissance Consortium Grant
    c. 2014-Present: Graduate School Assistantship, University of Louisville
    d. 2013: Newberry Renaissance Consortium Grant
    e. 2013-2017: Graduate Teaching Assistantship – University of Louisville
    f. 2010-2012: Graduate Teaching Assistantship – University of Alabama
    g. 2010-2012: Strode Fellowship – University of Alabama
    h. 2010-2012: Emerson R. Loomis English Scholarship – University of Alabama

    “ClarissaBlogs.” Written with Debra Journet, Anthony O’Keeffe, Stephen Cohen, Rachel Gramer, Megan Hartline, Kendra Sheehan, and Jessica Winck. Kairos 19.2 (2015). Web.

    6. How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?

    In pursuing this advanced degree, I have learned a great deal about my academic discipline and my specific subject area, and in doing so, I have learned to work closely with a team of individuals – including faculty, fellow graduate students, undergraduate students – to complete a variety of projects. I have also learned how to listen carefully and thoughtfully to others’ ideas and consider ways of enacting change based not only on how I view a specific situation, but based on others’ needs. To me, these skills are some of the most valuable skills I have acquired from my graduate education.

    7. Long term goals/ aspirations:

    I hope to continue teaching writing and ultimately develop community engagement programs for young women to realize their potential in a variety of careers. I am also interested in possibly implementing professional development programs for graduate students and new faculty.

    8. What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

    I just finished teaching the Digital Media Academy summer camp for rising 6th-grade girls, and I feel that this experience was one of the biggest accomplishments I have had thus far in my career. I, along with a team of excellent faculty members and graduate students, worked for months to design and implement this camp to teach girls how to use digital media tools, think critically about their places in their communities, and design spaces to make change in those communities. This experience was one that I will cherish, and I hope to be able to replicate this camp at another institution after graduating from UofL.

    9. What has been your favorite part of the graduate school experience at UofL?

    Last year, I became really involved in various events and organizations – including the Graduate Student Council and Student Government Association – where I had numerous opportunities to meet graduate students from other disciplines. I have enjoyed meeting these students and getting to learn more about the academic programs at UofL and the excellent work that these students are doing.

    10. What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

    One aspect of graduate life that is challenging for many graduate students is learning how to effectively manage time so that we can be successful academically, but also maintain our emotional and physical health and spend much-needed time with family and friends. To deal with this challenge, I have become a peer mentor in my own department to advise new graduate students on how to achieve this balance (though I am still learning myself!). I have also been fortunate enough to work alongside Drs. Beth Boehm and Michelle Rodems on planning workshops for graduate students that address these very issues through the SIGS’ PLAN workshop series.

    11. Family life:

    My wonderfully supportive husband, Clay Mathis, and my three dogs are here with me in Louisville while I complete my doctorate. The rest of my family lives in various parts of Georgia – my parents, grandparents, and younger sister live in South Georgia, and my grandmother and in-laws live in and around Athens, Georgia and Marietta, Georgia. I also have a beautiful niece and nephew who live in Georgia, and I travel back to visit with them as much as possible. I love and miss all of my family very much and always look forward to going home for visits.

    Fun Facts
    A talent you have always wanted: Playing the piano. I took lessons for several years and just got tired of the hours of practice. I would love the opportunity (and time!) to try again.
    Favorite book: I have too many favorites to pick just one, but most recently, I read Tori Murden McClure’s A Pearl in the Storm and was so impressed by her intelligence and strength. She is an inspiration, and everyone should read this book.
    Favorite quote: "Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way that we are always experiencing new things in the old and old things in the new. This life is always new." - Thomas Merton
    Favorite Vacation Destination: Anywhere and everywhere. I love to travel and look forward to doing much more of it in the future.
    If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? Teaching English at a high school, community college, or technical college.