Meet the Writing Lab Counselors
Our writing counselors are experienced and trained to work with all AU students, including those with learning disabilities or ADHD, as well as students for whom English is not a native language.
Sharla Branscombe received her bachelor's degree at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, and has taught English overseas a couple of times: once in the Czech Republic and once in the Dominican Republic. She is from a small farming town in New Brunswick, Canada, speaks passable French and horrid Spanish, and is always curious about new languages!
Idris Evans is an M.A. student in the International Politics Program at SIS. He is specializing in human rights and development. Before relocating to DC, Idris lived in Japan, where he taught English to elementary and middle school children. Originally from NJ, he holds a B.A. in East Asian studies from Davidson College, and speaks Chinese and Japanese.
Ira Fabri holds an M.A. in international communications with a concentration in global media studies from AU's School of International Service, as well as a Master's degree in foreign languages and literatures from the University of Torino, Italy. She has been a writing counselor with the Academic Support Center of American University for three years. Ira started her career as a teaching assistant and a freelance journalist, and later became a teacher of English as a second language, a position she held for 12 years.
Connie Gelb graduated from American University with a Master's degree in TESOL and is currently teaching at AU's International Gateway Program. A native New Yorker, Connie also holds a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and has worked professionally as a reporter and multimedia editor. She received a B.A. from Hampshire College in English and creative writing.
Curtis Gwilliam grew up in Central New York, was graduated from Cornell University with an A.B. in government, and served in the Marine Corps as a pilot and military attaché. Over the years, Curtis has tutored English composition, American history, and international politics. He is currently a postbaccalaureate student in American's premedical program.
Ferrial Lanton obtained his J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School, where he taught upper-level writing within Michigan's LSA program. He has a B.A. in political science and art history and an M.A. in the history of art. He is also an attorney in private practice with a background in intellectual property and civil litigation. During his free time, Ferrial does research on contemporary American artists for a leading fine-arts-publication company based in London. He also enjoys long walks around Washington with St. John ("Sinjun"), his Jack Russell terrier.
John Marth received a B.A. in English from St. Mary's College of Maryland, where he also served as a writing tutor and was an editor of the college literary magazine. Since then, he has enjoyed a varied (read: directionless) career path that includes copyediting for a series of military-related trade publications and editing advertising copy for an Internet start-up. Outside of the Writing Lab, John searches for new cultural obsessions and lies about starting a blog.
Mike Martino is a graduate of Illinois State University (B.A. English) and Florida State University (M.A. Literature, Text Technologies), where he taught composition and tutored in writing and software use. He is currently preparing to go into a Ph.D program to study digital folk culture and artificial intelligence. In his spare time he does a very bad job at being diligent in recording music, studying computer programming and maintaining proficiency in Japanese and Spanish.
Katie Pearce earned a degree in English and minor in Spanish from Connecticut College, where she worked for three years in the school's Writing Center. She's worked as a writer and editor since 2004, including several years with the D.C. local newspaper The Current and various academic editing gigs. A DC-area native, she started with AU as the Tenley Campus tutor in September 2012.
Tim Tolka grew up living in various US states and later traveled for three years during and after college at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he studied humanities and Spanish. Writing has been a consistent interest, and he was a writing teacher to ESL students prior to coming to AU. At AU, he is completing a Master's in IR at SIS, focusing on political economy. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French.
Jamie White is a graduate student in counseling at Trinity University, and feels fortunate to be able to combine her love of tutoring, teaching, and counseling with her passion for writing in her work as a writing mentor with American University's Learning Services Program and in the AU Writing Lab. She is a former Montgomery College Writing Center tutor and DC schools teacher, and these experiences have fueled her passion for helping others achieve their writing goals. Outside of academia, Jamie is a founding member of the DC Area Screenwriter's Group and loves to spend time crafting fictional pieces and reading the work of her fellow group members.
Writing Lab and Writing Studio Coordinator
Shari Pattillo is the counselor for international students at the Academic Support Center and coordinator of the Writing Lab and Writing Studio. She graduated in 1993 from University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.A. in Anthropology, and completed her M.A. in TESOL at American University in 2002. She is an adjunct instructor in both TESL and LIT departments. Her professional interests include immigrant education, refugee resettlement, and linguistics.