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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

Alumni Profiles Fall 2014

Cristina B. Aviles
(2001) graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Letter of Specialization in Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC). After graduation Cristina joined Eze Castle Software (ECS), a financial software company located in Boston. She was what some call a "lone technical writer," in that she was the only professional writer at ECS at the time. Over the next three and a half years Cristina grew the technical writing team, hiring a second PWTC graduate and developing a strong base of written material supporting the entire ECS product line. In December 2004 Cristina was asked to work on a new initiative at the company, the ECS Training Program. Cristina now works as the Training Manager, designing and directing a training curriculum focused on developing programs that enhance employee job and career growth. In addition to her work in writing and training, Cristina is the chair of an internal committee created to provide employees with the opportunity to influence their work environment and culture. The committee works on a variety of projects from community-building activities like corporate events and potluck lunches to employee proposals for the annual management off-site event. Cristina continues to pursue creative writing on the side and plans to continue to develop her skills in the training industry.

Sarah Coffey (1997) is currently a reporter covering business for Reuters news agency in New York, NY. After graduating from UMass Amherst she worked for the Community Newspaper Company in Marshfield, Massachusetts and did some radio work for WATD-FM, also in Marshfield. A short stint at the Massachusetts State House as communications director for the House Minority Leader convinced her to abandon public relations and return to journalism. She spent four years reporting for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, and then worked as a reporter first for United Press International and then for The Associated Press. She returned to school to earn her master's degree in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., and then went to work for Reuters.

Timothy J. McGorty (2008) works in Boston full time as a Webcast Production Manager for Thomson Reuters. When asked how the English major prepared him for the real world, Tim replied by saying, “The English major is perfect for people who want to become well-read and articulate. While enrolled
at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, I improved my writing, public speaking, and analysis skills—the staples for success in any work environment. At the same time (thanks to the small number of required courses), the English major granted me extra time to take other classes like Mandarin Chinese, 3D Animation, and Documentary Filmmaking. As an added bonus, the friendships and connections I established at UMASS have proved to be most valuable in the real world”. In his spare time, Tim enjoys composing music and traveling.

Andrew M. Richmond (2009) graduated summa cum laude and with Departmental Honors in English, along with a minor in Classical Civilization and a Certificate in Medieval Studies. He is currently pursuing an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature from the University of Cambridge (UK), and plans to continue studying thereafter for a Doctorate in the field of Medieval British Literature. His specific scholarly interests include the semantic evolution of symbolism and imagery in Arthurian texts, and Medieval conceptions of memory and the human mind. Andrew was also active in promoting awareness of environmental issues while at UMass, including serving as an inaugural officer on the Student Government Association's Environmental Committee. As such, he looks forward to supporting green policies wherever his life and studies take him.

Mark Sullivan (2006) has made his career in the design and marketing of games. He began by starting his own company, designing games and toys, and moved on to jobs writing rules and copy for games, creating names for games, and writing the copy for game boxes and for commercials. After four years of this he took a job as principal game designer for Coleco, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids, where he designed word games in the Scrabble line, trivia games to go with Trivial Pursuit, and card games, among others, and continued working on the marketing of games, eventually joining the marketing department. He then moved to Mattel, Inc., where he was Senior Vice President of Boys Toys and in charge of brands like Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Uno, Pictionary, Harry Potter, Yugioh, Batman and Superman. Mark has recently accepted a role as Executive Vice President of Spin Master Toys, one of the fastest growing toy companies in the world. He has spoken about games on such programs as Good Morning America and Nightline and was Mattel's judge on The Apprentice, responsible for reviewing toy concepts created by two teams, choosing the winner, and explaining the choice to Donald Trump, the teams, and 20 million viewers. To read more about Mark , his career, and how he has used his English major, click here (PDF).

After graduation, Lai Ying Yu (2002) became the Lead Community Organizer for the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) in Boston, a community-based nonprofit organization devoted to serving the Asian American community of greater Boston-and especially to preserving and revitalizing Boston's Chinatown. Most of her organizing focused on a development campaign that advocated the return of a "Big Dig" parcel to Chinatown for maximum community development. As part of that work, she conceived, designed, and implemented the Chinatown Civic Participation Development Kit. This Kit, used by ten teachers in an English-as-a-second-language curriculum for over 150 adult students, introduced the history of Boston's Chinatown and its urban development and created ways for the students to become involved in the community campaign to reclaim the land from the "Big Dig" project. After working at the ACDC for two years, she took her present job at the Chinese Historical Society of New England, an organization dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting the history and legacy of Chinese immigration in New England. She has also written for and edited the Journal of Community Power Building and has published book reviews in the Asian American Writers' Workshop magazine, Ten.

The department takes pride in our alums’ creative career-making, and we are grateful to them for their generous investment in the future of our majors. Students attending the forum had the opportunity to ask questions and to have dinner with the speakers.