Skip Navigation

Meet the Professors

Elizabeth Aiossa
Instructor, English

Specialties: Composition, creative nonfiction, science fiction and screenwriting.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2005; previously taught for a year as a CLC intern/adjunct.

Subjects taught at CLC: English composition, scriptwriting, creative nonfiction and fiction.

Other professional experience: Publications include scholarly and creative works in both print and online journals and several conference presentations on digital composition, screenwriting, and science fiction films and literature.

Education: B.A. and M.F.A., Roosevelt University; Ph.D. candidate, Union Institute and University.

What I do to engage students: My goal is to foster inclusive community centered around shared passions (writing, research, science fiction and screenwriting… and zombies!), in which students develop individual voices, critical thinking skills and creative processes as means for personal empowerment.

Kelly Black
Instructor, Reading

Specialties: Researching how fluency is affected by the ability to decode two- and three-syllable words, especially in older students and ESL students; also researching how this all works together to influence comprehension and retention of information.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2006; previously served as a reading teacher and coach for more than seven years in the Chicago Public Schools.

Subjects taught at CLC: Strategic reading and writing.

Education: B.A., Michigan State University; M.Ed., DePaul University.

Nathan Breen
Instructor, English

Specialties: Medieval literature.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2011; previously taught at DePaul University.

Education: B.A., Boston College; M.A., Miami University in Ohio; Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Amanda Cash
Instructor, English

Specialties: Composition, writing and technology and online teaching.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2007; previously taught at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and online composition classes at Gateway Technical College and the Johns Hopkins University.

Subjects taught at CLC:  First-year composition, rhetoric and college writing.

Other professional experience: Delivered presentations at several national conferences on topics ranging from online writing instruction and learning to the history adult education.

Education: B.A., Lake Forest College; M.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What I do to engage students: Whether teaching online or onsite, I encourage active discussions in which students interact with each other as well as the course material. In terms of writing, I try to meet my students where they are and to enthusiastically acknowledge their strengths while working to develop areas in which they are less confident and adept. I challenge students to look at problems from a variety of angles, while reassuring them that rough drafts are generally ripe with opportunity for development. With thoughtful attention to revision, seemingly scattered ideas can be transformed into sophisticated and cohesive arguments.

Cathy Colton
Instructor, English

Specialties: Composition and rhetoric, women’s literature, Harry Potter and popular culture studies.

Teaching experience: In addition to teaching at CLC, she taught composition, introduction to literature and women’s studies at University of Illinois at Chicago as a graduate student. She also has published essays on Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” on abused women’s memoirs and on the “Harry Potter” series; also writes a blog on the AMC TV series “Mad Men.”

Subjects taught at CLC: Strategic Reading and Writing, English composition, women in literature and themed composition courses focused on “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games.”

Education: B.A., Northeastern Illinois University; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Illinois-Chicago.

Marlaina Easton
Instructor, English

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2002; previously taught high-school English.

Education: A.A. Elgin Community College; B.A. and M.A., Eastern Illinois University; Ph.D., Union Institute and University.

Katie Dublis
Instructor, English

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2011; previously, she had a full-time, temporary position teaching English composition at CLC and serving as a writing tutor and teacher in the Writing Center. Professor Ettlinger also spent two years teaching high-school English and speech in Indiana, and later—as a DePaul graduate student—interned at Robert Morris College, where she taught writing and humanities courses. She also has presented sessions about integrated reading and writing in developmental curriculum at national and regional conferences.

Subjects taught at CLC: Strategic reading and writing, English composition.

Education: B.A., Valparaiso University; M.A., DePaul University.

What inspires me about my field: I was initially attracted to teaching because of the significant influence a teacher can have on the direction of a student. Simple gestures of support can take a student great lengths. Not only am I teaching my students how to write, but I am teaching them that they can write and that their voice is important.

Patrick Gonder
Instructor, English/Humanities

Specialties: Comic books and graphic novels as art forms and literary genres.

Other professional experience: Named CLC’s Outstanding Full-time Faculty Member in 2008.

Education: B.A. and M.A., University of Missouri-Columbia; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

What I do to engage students: When assigning papers, I encourage my students to choose their subjects carefully. If students can write about a subject about which they are passionate, they will write better papers.

Robin Kacel
Instructor, English

Specialties: Composition theory and creative writing.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2006; previously, she taught at DePaul University for six years after she had taught part time at CLC.

Education: B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; M.A., University of Chicago; M.F.A., Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Kathy Kusiak
Instructor, English

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2009; previously spent four years at CLC as an adjunct and writing tutor.

Education: B.A. and M.A., DePaul University.

What inspires me about my field: My interest in writing goes back to the first grade, when my teacher wrote on my report card, “Kathy is a very creative writer.” In adulthood, I knew that I wanted to be a college instructor when I graduated with my B.A. and did not want to stop learning. After entering the corporate world as a marketing communications writer, I still had a dream to teach writing. I couldn’t imagine anything better than helping others make an investment in themselves through education. The 10-plus years it took to achieve this dream make teaching at CLC even more of an honor.

Michael Latza
Instructor, English

Specialties: Poetry, early American literature, creative writing.

Teaching full time at CLC since: Full time since 2002, previously taught at the college part time for two and a half years. Professor Latza also has served as editor of the “Willow Review,” CLC’s international creative writing journal. Each May, he co-facilitates a multi-course trip to the Appalachian Trail with Professors Bob Remedi and Shane Jones. Professor Latza spent the fall 2008 semester teaching in China with a CLC field study course. He has published several poems in literary journals. His published non-fiction essays include “Another Late Night,” a creative nonfiction piece published on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” website.

Subjects taught at CLC: English composition, creative writing, introductory poetry and early American literature.

Education:  B.A. and M.A. Loyola University, Chicago.

What I do to engage students: Looking back, I had instructors who helped me to see and appreciate the joy, wonder and mystery that exists in the world all around me–whether it is in nature, science and people, or in stories, essays and poetry. I try to do the same thing for my students. If I can shepherd my students past the obvious and through the curtain of indifference and distraction, then their excitement will enable them to recognize and explore the joy, wonder and mystery that exists in their world.

Jenny Lee
Instructor, English

Specialties: English literature from the Middle Ages to the 21st century; rhetoric and composition; Shakespeare; classical literature and history; Asian American studies.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2012; previously taught at Northwestern University and Triton College, as well as high-school students in Chicago and Seoul, South Korea. Voted 2015 CLC Outstanding Faculty of the Year by students; CLC Women’s Center coordinator; recipient of Outstanding Teaching Award and the Jean H. Hagstrum Prize for Best Dissertation of the Year at Northwestern University. Former regular contributor to “Hyphen” magazine, a national Asian-American publication.

Subjects taught at CLC:  English composition, British literature, introductory Shakespeare and honors courses in humanities.

Education: B.A., University of California-Berkeley; M.A., University of Cape Town; Ph.D. Northwestern University.

Main goal in teaching: My goal is to guide students through structured investigations of literature and the arts in order to arrive at insightful new connections among the works they read, the papers they write and their everyday lives. I hope that my students translate their classroom experiences into a lifelong, passionate, intellectual journey long after the course has ended.

Gaoke Liu
Professor Emeritus, English

Education: M.A. and Ph.D., Bowling Green State University.

Vasilka Maslanka
Instructor, English

Specialties: Writing and rhetoric.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2007, and as an adjunct since 2005. Previously, she taught high-school English in the Chicago area and in California.

Subjects taught at CLC: English composition in face-to-face, online and hybrid courses.

Education: M.A. Writing, DePaul University.

Main goal in teaching: I teach because I want to help students imagine a better life for themselves. When they can imagine a better life for themselves, they will be able to imagine a better world for all of us. And that is pretty cool.

Michele Nelson
Instructor, English

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2012; previously, she spent 10 years as a CLC adjunct. Professor Nelson also spent a year at the college as a writing tutor. She began teaching in 2000 as an intern at Robert Morris University.

Education: B.A., St. Mary’s University; M.A., DePaul University.

Nicholas Schevera
Instructor, English

Specialties: Children’s literature, mythology and fairytales, composition and American literature.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 1998; also taught as an adjunct at Westchester Community College, Bronx Community College and College of Mount St. Vincent. Also taught as a graduate assistant at New York University.

Subjects taught at CLC: Critical thinking, American literature, English composition, developmental English, humanities, children’s literature, mythology and fairytales.

Education: B.A., Colgate University; M.A., M.Ph. and Ph.D., New York University; M.B.A., Pace University.

Main goal in teaching: To connect with students and their experiences, and to make learning relevant and important to their lives.

Jennifer Staben
Instructor, English

Specialties: Literacy, writing centers and qualitative research.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2001.

Education: B.A., Carleton College; M.A., University of Iowa.

Kathryn Starzec
Instructor, English

Education: B.A., Columbia College in Chicago; M.F.A., Union Institute and University.