Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. Today’s featured faculty member is Jeremy White, Associate Professor of Mathematics in the School of Natural Science. Dr. White holds a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Louisville. 

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I enjoy mathematics and how it’s a big puzzle with several pieces, which allows me to explain math in several different ways. I like interacting with students, and I enjoy presenting mathematics in an enthusiastic way to give students a positive experience. Additionally, the small class size allows me to see students progress and catch students who need additional help.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

My PhD is in Mathematics, and here at Spalding I teach fundamentals in the School of Natural Science. My research area is in Lattice Theory, which involves discrete mathematics, which deals with analyzing math structures.

Why is your college/school a good option for new students to consider as their major? 

The sciences are an exciting area and lays a good foundation for all students. This could be beneficial for someone who is interested in the medical field, but it may be a longer path because it is a general degree. If a student is unsure but is interested in sciences, this would be beneficial especially if they were interested in medical school, dental school or physical therapy or another health profession. We try to prepare students to be successful in graduate school.

What is an interesting thing that you keep in your office?

I have an American bald eagle touch lamp that I received from running in a race. I used to be a runner, and I went to a race in Shelbyville and won my age bracket. Instead of an award, they laid out items on picnic tables and said to pick something, so I picked out this lamp.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Helping students make connections within mathematics is rewarding. For instance, oftentimes students just need to be shown math in a different way than what they were taught in high school to understand the material. For a lot of students, I may be teaching their last math class they will ever have to take, so maybe they will leave the math classroom without a bad taste.

At Spalding, we like to say, “Today is a great day to change the world.” How do you think your role at Spalding is helping you change the world or the world of your students?

I am hoping that students will not be afraid to ask questions because math is not easy. I want my students to know that I still have to work through problems just like they do. Everyone has to work through the early stages of math and work through the problems. Hopefully they leave feeling more confident about not just mathematics but other areas of study.

LAST WEEK’S FACULTY FOCUS FRIDAY | Minda Reves, BFA in Creative Writing Director

RELATED | School of Natural Science, Sullivan University form pharmacy pathway

Spalding University’s enTECH center, Kosair Charities and the families of nine children enjoyed a happy holiday gathering on Wednesday during the second annual enTECH Day of Celebration. Gifts of assistive-technology devices and toys were distributed to the children, who range from 2 to 16 years old and who all face physical or cognitive challenges.

The gift distribution was made possible through the support of Kosair Charities. After enTECH therapist Alison Amschoff announced the recipients and explained how the children would benefit from the devices, Kosair Charities President Keith Inman and Board Chair Hugh I “H.” Stroth were on hand at enTECH to deliver the gifts.

The participating families applied for the devices through enTECH and its Kosair Charities Lending Library and Financial Assistance Program. The assistive-technology gifts, which included iPads and iPad accessories and various other switch toys, provide therapeutic, educational and sensory benefits and help with communication and play.

“I just want people to know that enTECH is a really significant part of this community for families who have kids with disabilities,” said Eric Wright, whose teenage daughters, Ella and Elsie, received an iPad and Apple Pencil on Wednesday. “Their advocacy and what they do for parents in the realm of therapy and the realm of assistive technology is truly amazing. I’ve been blessed to be able to have this for my family. We love the therapists we’ve worked with, particularly Alison, who we’ve known since Ella (who’s now 16) was 2 years old.”


Wright said assistive-technology devices like the ones that were distributed on Wednesday can be expensive for families to purchase and may be difficult or impossible to acquire through insurance.

He said Ella’s old iPad, which she relies on to communicate because she is nonverbal, constantly freezes up but that it was unlikely the family would have replaced it anytime soon.

“To have Kosair Charities partner up with Spalding and enTECH to make this gift happen is really amazing,” he said. “This makes a big difference for us, particularly as we move into the new year.”

The Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (or enTECH) assistive technology resource center is a division of the Spalding University Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy. EnTECH is one of five state-designated assistive technology resource centers in Kentucky. Its mission is to create assistive technology solutions to meet the needs of the times through the enhancement of all people’s participation in everyday life activities. Its Lending Library provides families or individuals the opportunity to rent or be loaned pieces of assistive technology.

Spalding, Kosair Charities and enTECH officials posed families at enTECH
Officials from Spalding, Kosair Charities and enTECH gathered with the families who received gifts at the enTECH Day of Celebration, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Faculty Focus Friday is a new Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. The first faculty member we’ll meet is Assistant Professor Minda Reves, who is in her first year as Director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program within the School of Liberal Studies. Reves, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California-Riverside, is a successful freelance writer outside of her teaching duties. She’s had articles in essays published by the Oxford American, Longreads, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Dropbox and elsewhere. She is an active member of Louisville’s literary scene serving on the Young Author’s Greenhouse board and leading community-based writing workshops for Sarabande’s Writing Labs.

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I love the students and my colleagues and staff. Everyone is great, and there is a lot of openness, positivity, compassion and willingness to learn about each other amongst everyone on campus.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

I am the director of the undergraduate creative writing program. Personally, I write personal essays, memoir and a lot of article and content writing.

Why is your program a good option for new students to consider as their major? 

A lot of times students who are passionate about creative writing seem to shy away from it because either society or their parents have taught them that there is no money in writing despite the fact that there are millions of people around the world making a living as writers. I feel like college is the place for exploring what you are passionate about, and over the years we have pulled away from that. As the new director of the program, I am putting an emphasis on giving students the freedom and empowering them to find out what fascinates them through creative art. I am also realistic because I know after their time here they have to go into the workforce, and I have a strong understanding of what a writer’s life can look like. Whether you want to write full time, or if you have a day job and need to remain connected to the writing community, I can help these young writers find their path.

LEARN MORE | Spalding’s BFA in Creative Writing and Spalding’s School of Liberal Studies 

What is an interesting thing that you keep in your office?

I have a pretty minimalist aesthetic, so I think the most interesting thing about my office is how empty it is. I’m sure I will get more books and things, but I am into design and decor and have a specific aesthetic that will prevail as I spend more time in this office.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Getting to see people grow and light up as they are encountering new thoughts. I also find it rewarding that the same cycle is happening within me. I learn just as much from my students as they learn from me.

At Spalding, we like to say, “Today is a great day to change the world.” How do you think your role at Spalding is helping you change the world or the world of your students?

Changing the world starts with changing people, and the first person you can change is yourself. I think when students or peers see you are willing to change it inspires others to grow and change as people. Change is scary, and it’s easier to stay small and closed off. But the more you face your fears and step up, I think that inspires others, and it becomes a chain reaction.

Follow the Spalding BFA in Creative Writing program on Instagram at @spaldingcreativewritingbfa

Five years ago as a college freshman, Miranda Wray attended a student activities fair – the kind of event that occurs every day on university campuses across the country. She walked around checking out  tables and booths for information, including a table promoting bone marrow and blood stem cell donations.

Without thinking much of it and figuring nothing would ever come of it, Wray said agreed to register as a potential stem cell donor. After providing a quick cheek swab, Wray left and didn’t think about it again.  It wasn’t long until she completely forgot that she’d even signed up.

As it turns out, a half-decade later, that afterthought of an afternoon put Wray in position to save a person’s life.

This May, Wray, who is now a second-year graduate student in Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, was contacted seemingly out of the blue by the donation service, DKMS, and informed that the sample she’d given five years earlier was a perfect match for an anonymous young woman with leukemia who was in need of a transplant.

At first, Wray didn’t remember that she’d ever registered to be a donor, and it took her a while to process it all.

“I was like, ‘Wow, what is this?'” she said.

Wray followed up with a long phone call with DKMS, which carefully explained the process to her and left her time to make a decision on if she wanted to move forward.

“I knew I wanted to do it, but I’d never even given blood before or anything like that,” she said. “So I was nervous. But (DKMS coordinators) were amazing, and there was no way I wasn’t going to do it.”

Wray was eager to participate, but making a stem cell donation is no simple task. It was a four-month process, with an arduous final week.

Wray doesn’t like needles, but she had to have her blood drawn five times over the course of several months. She said she nearly passed out the first couple times. Then, in the week leading up to the donation, she received 10 injections in order to boost her stem-cell production. The injections made Wray feel like she had the flu, but they worked. She entered the donation day with stem cell levels triple their normal amount.

Finally, early last month after undergoing a full physical, Wray traveled to a medical facility to complete the donation, called peripheral blood stem cell collection. The method required Wray to lay still in a chair for six hours with a tube in each arm while her entire blood supply was cycled five times. The blood exited through one arm and was sent to a machine, where millions of stem cells were separated out and collected. Then, the blood reentered her body through the other arm.

On the day of the donation, Wray so nervous that she needed about an hour before the donation began to calm down and get her heart rate down. But she never had second thoughts, and the donation was successfully collected.

MEET MORE SPALDING WORLD-CHANGERS | spalding.edu/changetheworld

“To be a perfect match with a stranger is so rare, so I just thought it was really awesome,” she said. “I knew there was a living, breathing person somewhere out in the world who needed it. If I didn’t do this, she eventually could have passed away.”

DKMS operates on a system of strict donor-recipient confidentiality and anonymity. Wray doesn’t know the name of the woman who received her stem cells and has been given almost no information about her. But it’s possible that if the transplant ends up successful and both parties agree to it, that they could meet in a year.

Wray hopes to meet the woman someday and said she has thought a lot about what a potential meeting might be like.

“I would definitely cry a lot,” Wray said with a laugh. “Just knowing that that person maybe could build a new healthy body with my cells is the most rewarding feeling I think you could ever have.”

Wray said Spalding’s occupational therapy faculty has been fully supportive during her donation process and excused her absences she needed to miss class.

Coincidentally, DKMS’s first contact with Wray came about a week after Dr. Laura Stimler gave a lecture in her pediatrics class about blood cancers and the work of occupational therapists in oncology settings.

Wray said Stimler lectured about the exact same transplant process in which Wray ended up participating, and Wray said that her Spalding coursework had helped inform her as she moved ahead in the process.

“I was inspired to hear that Miranda was going to be a stem cell donor,” Stimler said. “Her choice to step up and help someone with complex needs is consistent with the generous spirit among our ASOT students. Miranda put her busy life on hold to give a stranger a second chance at life. This is one of the most authentic demonstrations of compassion that I have observed while teaching at Spalding.”

Stimler, who spent most of her clinical career working in pediatric oncology rehabilitation, said that in practice, the focus is primarily on the stem-cell transplant recipient, not the donor. However, Stimler said, “Miranda’s journey reminded us to consider the perspectives of all individuals involved in the transplant process.”

Stimler added that she was thrilled to hear that the class at Spalding had helped her recognize some of the complex terminology and diagnoses that came up during her donation experience.

“Miranda’s story is inspiring,” Stimler said. “We are proud to have her in ASOT.”

In another coincidence, Wray gave the donation during September, which is Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

Now she hopes that sharing her story will inspire others to register to become stem cell or bone marrow donors.

“It’s so crazy and so rare that you may get the chance to give someone a second chance at life,” she said. “I don’t know anyone else who’s ever had the chance to do this and ever matched with someone who needed a life-saving procedure like that. It was definitely one of the coolest days of my life.”


Spalding student Miranda Wray sitting chair with arm connected to a machine that is extracting stem cells she was donating
Miranda Wray spent several hours connected to a machine while her stem cells were collected for donation.


Spalding University’s new class of first-time first-year students spent part of last week’s Engage student orientation helping out a neighbor while also getting an introduction to Spalding’s mission.

The freshmen completed a community service project to benefit the clients of the Wellspring mental health organization, which offers housing and psychiatric rehabilitation services for those struggling with mental illness.

The students gathered in the lower level of the Morrison Hall dorm, which is just across South Third Street from Wellspring’s Bernie Block Wellness center, and the freshmen assembled hundreds of hygiene kits and bagged meals that Wellspring distributed to individuals who are facing homelessness and mental illness.

“The work these students are doing is going to positively affect the lives of hundreds,” said Kim Johnson, Director of Development and Communications at Wellspring. “We so appreciate them taking the time to serve those in our community who need our help most.”

TODAY IS A GREAT DAY TO CHANGE THE WORLD | Meet more students making a difference

Spalding Director of Student Leadership and Service Learning Anna Foshee, who organized the service project, said the choice to work with Wellspring was a deliberate one because the organization is located adjacent to campus and because students may encounter those in need of services.

And Anita Hall, User Experience Librarian at Spalding, said that “being a good neighbor” is a core belief held by the university’s faculty and staff.

“We want to eliminate the stigma around those struggling with homelessness and mental illness,” Foshee said. “Instead of being fearful of them, we want students to feel compelled to do their part to help them in their time of need.”

Spalding freshmen conduct a service project every year as part of Engage. While the group of about 100 students packed the lunches and hygienes kits for Wellspring, another 30-40 did landscaping work around Morrison Hall, planting raised flower beds. Last year, Spalding’s freshmen stuffed back-to-school backpacks with school supplies that were distributed to young students through Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

“(At Spalding), you get to have the opportunity to actually make a change,” freshman accounting major Will Costello said. “It feels really good to get to do that. I think that young people are the key to making a change in the world.  It’s a great atmosphere here. Being a leader is about getting involved and being active in the community.”

LEARN MORE | The Record’s story and photos about the service project 



With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Cristi Embry, who is receiving the degree of bachelor of arts in psychology.

That Cristi Embry is now the first member of her family to graduate college is a memorable achievement. The fact that she’s achieved it as a 39-year-old mother of four adds even more to the accomplishment.

But most remarkably, she also overcame a brain tumor in order to earn the right to walk across the stage at Spalding’s Commencement on Saturday.

That walk will be a proud moment for a woman who achieved a lifelong goal by fighting through the pain caused by the noncancerous tumor as well as the effects it had on her ability to concentrate and study.

“I was strong, and I persevered,” said Embry, who is graduating cum laude.

Three years ago – during her second year at Spalding – Embry went to see a doctor after suffering from increasingly severe headaches and sudden problems with depth perception and her balance and coordination. She thought she might have a inner-ear infection.

The tumor was discovered. She was transported immediately in an ambulance to another hospital for surgery the next day.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t die. Who’s going to take care of my kids?'” Embry recalled.

Embry underwent 10 hours of surgery to remove the tumor, which was found to be the size of the surgeon’s fist. She then had a second surgery a month later to insert a shunt to help the movement of fluid in her brain. Soon after that she had a third surgery to treat an infection that developed after the first operation.

Last August, Embry’s tumor began to grow back more aggressively than was anticipated, requiring her to undergo six weeks of radiation treatments to counter the growth. (It hasn’t grown any more since then.)

The tumor, which will always remain at some size and is now being monitored, still causes her pain and discomfort, with the headaches and vision problems persisting. Going to four-hour classes and spending extensive time at home on the computer were physically taxing.

Though there were times, including this school year, when she thought about permanently stopping her studies at Spalding, she enjoyed her time as a student and her interactions with faculty too much to not finish.

“I looked forward to school,” Embry said. “It was a hobby. It was an escape. It was a distraction. I love learning. I love sitting in class with adults, with professors, and just loved the experience, so it was worth it to me.”

Through it all, she missed only one six-week session, and she completed her psychology degree in January.

Recently, she went by herself to the registrar’s office to collect her diploma.

“That was a special day I’ll never forget,” she said. “It was a celebration. It wasn’t about anybody but me. I cried, but nobody saw me. It was incredible. It was just like, ‘This is the most beautiful piece of paper.’”

She now has the diploma hanging next to her desk at home, and she looks at it every time she walks by.

Embry started at Spalding five years ago, fulfilling a desire she’d had her entire adult life to continue her education. She quit high school when she became pregnant with her first child.

She later completed her general education diploma and worked multiple jobs, including in an accounting office of a direct-mail company and in the office of an attorney. She also went through training to become a certified nursing assistant, but that never felt like a career she wanted. What she wanted was to attend college.

“I always loved school,” she said. “I love learning. I like to read and have always been really curious, and I just love knowing stuff. I just felt like there was something bigger out there and that I needed school to get where I wanted to go.”

She heard about Spalding about a decade ago from a classmate in that CNA training program and kept it in mind. She finally enrolled as a Flex student majoring in psychology and began taking two evening courses a week.

She said she found Spalding’s faculty and staff, including her adviser, Cindy Green, to be extremely supportive, and Embry loved the dialogue and critical thinking that her classes generated. After her tumor diagnosis, Embry said she felt especially fortunate to be taking psychology courses and to be taught by psychologists, because her interactions felt like a type of therapy. She had courses that examined sickness, suffering, death and spirituality, and she reflected on her own experiences.

“All the psychology professors are just, wow,” Embry said. ” … It feels so good to be in their presence. … The coursework was a healing process in itself. I never would have thought about those things or written about the tumor, ever, on my own. Being in that setting, you’re forced to look at things critically in that way.”

Though she’s finished with school, Embry still enjoys driving through or stopping by campus.

“I love it here,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a business. It feels like friends and family. And it’s something of my own. I’m a mom, I’m a wife; that’s who I am. But this (when I’m at Spalding) is mine. It’s my time. These are my people, and I just feel good here.”

Embry continued: “Yes, the diploma is important, and, yes, finishing is important. But really it is just a journey and it improves your whole life and the way you look at the world and the way you look at people and the way you look at yourself. I don’t know another way that I would get that without Spalding.”

Embry said she plans to attend graduate school, and she’d like to become a counselor at a community agency, perhaps one serving young mothers.

Here’s more from Cristi Embry …

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
What comes to mind is Dr. Kathleen Nesbitt and my very first class was her writing class. She did a competition where we watched a news clip and had to write down all the scary or nervous words we could think of, and I won. I really like her, really respect her. I think she helped build my confidence. So I’d say my favorite memory was that very first night of class. She asked are there any new students to Spalding and are there any brand-new students to college? I raised my hand, and there were several other people. I was like, (sigh of relief). I’m going to be OK.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of from your time at Spalding?
Not quitting. Not giving up, even when I wanted to, even when I think it would have been totally justifiable and excusable.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The Mansion is my favorite building. A lot of my favorite classes have been there, so I just have a lot of good memories there and have learned a lot from a lot of smart people.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
A lot of professors have inspired me to change the world, and if I really like a professor, I’m going to let them know and let them know what they’ve done for me. Every professor I’ve done that to, they’re like, ‘It’s nothing I did. It’s you.’ I’ve thought about that and taken that, and everybody can change the world. Attitudes are contagious, and being nice and friendly and smiling, it does something for people. I do that. Being kind, that it is a way to change the world. All day, every day, when you come in contact with people, just be kind.

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Jerre Crenshaw, who is receiving the degree of bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary liberal studies.

After Jerre Crenshaw transferred to Spalding University in 2016, she immediately sought out a organization on campus where she could discuss social issues pertaining to the black community.

When she realized one didn’t exist, she worked to create one herself.

Crenshaw is the leader of the Black Student Alliance that officially formed last fall, and she said helping make it a reality is a proud accomplishment that she’ll take with her when she graduates this weekend.

“I knew Spalding’s mission statement says it is diverse community of learners, so when I came to Spalding, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.

Crenshaw said she got approval and encouragement across the board from Spalding faculty and administrators when she sought to create a Black Student Alliance, and she said the organization now has at least 10 active members who take part in programs and events on Spalding’s campus and on other campuses.

Additionally, Crenshaw said she is excited to  be one of the first students ever to graduate from Spalding having earned the new minor in African-American Studies. The creation of the BSA served as the praxis credit for the AAS minor.

“Sometimes in school you don’t hear history that pertains to you when you’re a person of color, so having that opportunity to really learn more about myself culturally as well as other African Diaspora people was really important to me,” she said. “I’ve really been happy with the courses I’ve been able to take. They’ve really widened my horizons and opened up my mind to new possibilities of thinking and viewing the world.”

Crenshaw, an alumna of the Academy of Shawnee, has enjoyed being in the liberal studies program at Spalding, saying all her professors have been “very compassionate and genuine and helpful.”

They’ve supported both her academic career, she said, “and me developing as a decent human being who critically thinks and questions things thoroughly.”

After earning her bachelor’s, Crenshaw plans to attend graduate school, and she would like to pursue a career in population health, providing resources that help eliminate health inequities for people from certain socioeconomic backgrounds.

“With Spalding being the first certified compassionate university,” she said, “I think it showed me the value of systematic compassion and that compassion can be implemented into a system. That was initially a thought that was far away from me, but it’s been contextualized by being here.”

Here’s more from Jerre Crenshaw …

What’s your favorite Spalding memory? 
My first day of class, it was over the summer and burning up hot, and I went to the wrong building and sat there for 20 minutes until I realized, “Maybe I’m in the wrong spot,” and looked up the addresses. But it’s my favorite memory because I ended up in the Mansion, which turned out to be one of my favorite spots on campus. It kind of reminds me of my high school with the wooden fixtures. So I discovered my favorite place.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of from your time at Spalding?
The creation of the BSA, of course. Being able to be senator of liberal studies this year and last year. And I think I’ve really improved as a responsible person and citizen.

What is your favorite spot on campus? The Mansion, as you said earlier?
Yes, the Mansion, right by the piano. Shawnee is an old building, so you can hear the creaks when you walk, and I got used to doing work in that kind of space, and I really missed it. It kind of brought me home away from home (to be in the Mansion).

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
I want to take my skills into the development of compassion as a system and take it to the outside world. So I’ve been looking at volunteering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters or through the judicial system and with kids who are in foster care. I want to be a part of giving people the space to be an individual, like Spalding has done for me.

My mom inspires. I come from a family of six. I’m the fourth-oldest. There are three girls, three boys. I’ve always seen my mom as a caring, strong person who really cared about being there for other people when they needed help, even if she didn’t know them. She’s one of those people who will stop to help an elderly person cross the road, or she’ll stop and pick up trash off the ground for other people. I always would think, hmm, I want to be mindful like that, even when I have other things going on around me. Having six kids is a lot, and she still stops to think, ‘What if someone steps on this? I better grab that.’

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience at Spalding?
I’m just really satisfied with my experience here, and I think it developed me as a person, and I got to meet a lot of great individuals who really helped me along my journey.

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Kristin Spencer, who is earning a Master of Science in Business Communication (MSBC) degree. Spencer is a young mom and an online student.

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My favorite Spalding memory is studying abroad in Ireland. It was beautiful!

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is, of course, graduating but also being able to enhance and perfect my time-management skills.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I did all of my classes online, so I was rarely on campus except when I went to the library, so I’d have to say my favorite spot is the library. The staff there was accommodating when I had to bring my son along and gave us a basket with coloring books and puzzles.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
After graduation I plan on changing the world by showing the African-American community that we can be great and obtain higher education. My 4-year-old son inspires me to be a #spaldingworldchanger! It’s an amazing feeling to have him see me graduating from college, and I already am instilling in him that knowledge is power.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your Spalding experience?
I’d love to give a shoutout to Dr. Robin Hinkle, who directs the MSBC program. She’s amazing!

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Ashlee Clark Thompson, who is earning a Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree.

When Ashlee Clark Thompson graduates this weekend, Spalding University’s MFA in Writing program will add to its list of alumni a busy and respected journalist, writer, public speaker and social media user who believes her time at Spalding has helped hone and heighten the storytelling skills she uses daily in her career.

Thompson, the Culture Editor at Louisville Public Media, said she’ll graduate feeling more confident than ever in her writing and proud of how she’s enriched the content she produces. Further, she said, the MFA program has fostered a culture of positive feedback and workshopping that inspires her to keep writing and telling stories in her personal time.

“I walked away from this program with a greater confidence in myself as a writer, and, honestly, that’s what I wanted to get,” Clark Thompson said. “It’s a program that fosters community. I’ve formed genuine relationships with people in this program, and just the general attitude with which we treat each other as writers – to build each other up and not tear each other down – has been really good.”

LEARN about all the offerings from the School of Creative and Professional Writing

Even before earning her MFA, Clark Thompson was an accomplished writer and journalist.

She has worked at LPM and WFPL since last fall, and her job includes oversight of the Do502 events calendar. She is also the author of the book “Louisville Diners” and is one of the hosts of The Moth StorySlam, a recurring storytelling competition at Headliners Music Hall presented by WFPL. She’s also the President of Louisville Literary Arts and a frequent presence on Twitter, where she posts her takes on current events and pop culture (often accompanied by funny gifs).

Clark Thompson previously worked for the tech magazine/website CNET reviewing products and appliances, and she’s a former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter.

“Journalism school was great and taught me how to be a good reporter, but I wanted to learn how to be a better writer, and there are differences in that,” Clark Thompson said. “I knew how to go find facts and interview people and work on deadline, but I needed help learning how to tell a story. Being in Spalding’s MFA program was about enriching the work I already did.”

For instance, when she was writing for CNET, Clark Thompson said lessons from the MFA program helped her find more creative and engaging ways to write reviews about appliances and technology, and she gained the confidence to write more commentary pieces.

“Spalding taught me how to have an opinion and how to write it in a story that is compelling to read,” she said. “And I was able to combine that with my journalism background to prove my points with facts. The marriage of those two made me a much better writer and much more confident writer. I learned I can tell stories in a different way.”

Clark Thompson, who concentrated on created non-fiction, exemplifies how a working professional can earn an MFA through Spalding’s low-residency format.

During her time in the program, she’s changed jobs multiple times and said Spalding was flexible in allowing her to take time off and resume when she’s ready. During those times she did need to step away, she said, faculty kept in touch with her and that she “never felt disconnected.”

“It has been an amazing experience for me because of that flexibility,” she said. “For a lot of working people, that’s the flexibility that we need. Spalding really takes into account that life happens. You can’t control ‘fill in the blank’ circumstance – whether it’s money, family, job, travel, whatever. … As a working person, it’s awesome.”

She said the Spalding program encourages its working-professional students to draw from their experiences in their writing, and collectively, the diversity of life experiences within the MFA students – some older with established jobs and families, some straight out of undergrad and beginning their careers – creates a robust learning community. Several MFA students come from jobs outside of traditional creative writing professions.

“When all these people come together for residency, it’s an amazing experience because that is such a rich tapestry that I get to be a part of,” she said.

Clark Thompson now works downtown at Louisville Public Media headquarters, only a couple blocks from campus down Fourth Street, and only a couple doors down from the MFA residency activities at the Brown Hotel.

As  Louisville native and resident, Clark Thompson said she was attracted to Spalding’s community of MFA faculty and alumni. After graduation, she envisions continuing to make quick trips over to attend MFA readings and public lectures.

“I’m super proud (to become an alumna of the program),” she said. “I want to tell people, ‘Right here in Kentucky there is this great program where you can get all this learning and do it on your terms.’ That’s what is so appealing to me. Instead of looking down on people who are may be late to writing or haven’t been writing steadily, Spalding welcomes those people.

“‘Oh, you have life experiences? Awesome, we want to teach you how to be a better writer.'”

Some more from Ashlee Clark Thompson:

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My first workshop. Our workshop leaders at the time were Dianne Aprile and another instructor. Before we started with our workshop, they said, “The way we critique people is to give them love notes and help notes. We tell them what we love about their writing, what really worked, and then help notes of things that could be improved.” That’s something that’s really stuck with me this whole time I’ve been in this program when I approach other people’s writing but also just in general when I approach my own writing. Just being nicer to myself.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
Finishing. (Laughs)

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Probably the ELC Lectorium (which is the site for many of the MFA program’s readings and presentations). I know that, OK, when I sit here, something good is about to happen.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
I want to change my corner of the world. The world is such a big place, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the news or Twitter or whatever. But I want to use storytelling to make my corner of the world a little bit better, whether it’s sharing my own story and that maybe helping others know that they aren’t alone in whatever they’re going through, or it’s amplifying the stories of others.


With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Taylor Thompson, who is earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. She is also the 2018 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s golf champion, and she helped Spalding to two SLIAC team titles.

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
It’s hard to choose something specifically; however, I’d choose my entire freshman year as a whole. Getting the opportunity to join a new community and meet new amazing people was something I’ll never forget.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
Winning SLIAC women’s golf championships with my team in back-to-back years and individually my senior year.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The outdoor area by the Mansion with the tulip poplar tree.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
While I don’t have a specific plan to change the world, I hope I can continuously find ways to positively impact my community and the people around me. As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Spalding has taught me how to embrace a diverse community, and I hope to continue to create that sense of belonging postgraduation in whatever community I end up in.