Alumni — at work

“Everything you can imagine is real.” — attributed to Pablo Picasso

A degree in English prepares you for an enormous range of potential careers. The skills English majors develop for thinking and communicating are widely transferable, so it is no surprise our English majors go on to become:

  • teachers,
  • lawyers,
  • scholars,
  • writers,
  • publishers,
  • filmmakers,
  • business people,
  • diplomats

— and other callings worthy of pursuit. This page will introduce you to a small sample of our recent grads; here are some alumni at work . . .


Image of Kari Stupka-Piwoni Kari (Stupka) Piwoni
Human Resources Business Partner
TriQuint Semiconductor
Portland, Oregon

Kari Piwoni graduated with her Bachelors in English in May 2007 and graduated with her Masters in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from UIUC in December 2008. Upon completion she joined a Leadership Development Program with Raytheon Company and lived in Boston, MA; Tampa, FL; and Tucson, AZ while completing various assignments for the program. She currently lives in Portland, OR working for TriQuint Semiconductor as a Human Resources Business Partner.

As a business professional, Kari utilizes her critical thinking and creative writing skills gained from her undergraduate degree on a daily basis. Whether drafting a company-wide communication, coaching a leader on how to effectively deliver a message, or writing a company policy, Kari finds her background in English a solid foundation for her professional career.

You can find Kari on LinkedIn.

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Image of Seth Fein and partner Seth Fein
Entrepreneur — Culture
The Nicodemus Agency, the Pygmalion Music Festival, and Smile Politely
Urbana, Illinois

Seth Fein graduated in 2001 with a B.A. in Rhetoric. He is the founder and publisher of Smile Politely, an online magazine devoted to exposing culture in Champaign-Urbana since 2007. He also started and still produces the Pygmalion Music Festival, which is in its 10th year. In 2013, he partnered with the College of English to help develop a sister Literature Festival that will continue into 2014. In addition, he owns the Nicodemus Agency, a true boutique touring company where he represents artists like Damien Jurado, Richard Buckner, Stars of the Lid, Maserati, and more. He is married to Justine, a photographer, who hails from Chicago.

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Image of Dan Hass Dan Hass
Junior Copywriter
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dan Hass is junior copywriter at GS—a nationally recognized advertising agency in Milwaukee. Working with the GS crew, he designs print, digital, and interactive brand experiences across a wide range of media for clients like Harley-Davidson, Showtime, Red Bull, Reader’s Digest, Zoom, Mercury Marine, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

He graduated in 2013 with a double major in English and Creative Writing, and participated in the mentor program his junior and senior year. His experience in the program led to an internship at Disruptive Retail Thinking in Chicago—and, eventually, to his current gig at GS. Now that he’s finally broken in, he’s eager to lend a hand to like-minded undergrads who are looking for their big break.

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Image of Ryan Suffern Ryan Suffern
Entrepreneur — Filmmaking
Suckatash Productions
Los Angeles, California

Ryan Suffern has worked on films of all kinds over the past 13 years, starting with the independent film community in Chicago, and later, serving as an assistant to Steven Spielberg. Ryan has worn many different hats as a filmmaker— be it writer, director, producer, or editor; and in 2006, he began his own production company, Suckatash Productions.

In addition to serving as his on-set assistant, Ryan has documented the filming of four Spielberg movies, and as a member of the Writers' Guild, he's written a feature screenplay on assignment for DreamWorks. Ryan has also produced and directed music videos and webseries for the likes of Paramount Pictures, Universal Music, V2 Records, and Beggar's Banquet.

In 2012, Ryan finished editing two award-winning documentary features; Right To Play, which Frank Marshall directed for ESPN Films, and Bidder 70, the tale of Tim DeChristopher's defiant act of civil disobedience. Ryan and Frank have teamed up again to produce a new short for ESPN Films' acclaimed 30 for 30 series, and Ryan has just recently finished directing his own documentary, called Running Blind.

An English major from the University of Illinois, Ryan lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Kim, and daughter, Pearl.

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