USF Adjunct Instructor Lauren O’Connor Publishes Book

Lauren O'Connor

Looking for something new to read? Take a look at a new book published by USF adjunct instructor Lauren O’Connor: “Robin and the Making of American Adolescence.”

In O’Connor’s first semester at  USF, she teaches College Writing I and Introduction to Literature. Even though she is new to the university, she says she “already feels so at home!” 

She shares that her book is about the social and cultural history of superhero Batman’s sidekick Robin, and how Robin was both a product and producer of the idea of the “American teenager.” The book looks at how adolescence intersects with a variety of identities, like race, gender and sexuality—all the while using Robin as a case study.

When asked why she chose this topic for her book, O’Connor responded, “I started my career as an adolescent counselor, and I felt really strongly while working in this field that the way we are taught to understand teenagers was not very accurate.”

She further explained that the stereotype of teens being dramatic, poor decision makers or overly emotional seemed reductive to her. She said that she chose to research Robin, in particular, because he is the oldest comic book teenager that is still around today, and many different characters have filled the role of Batman’s partner, so interesting comparisons can be made. 

O’Connor also says the book was a revision of her doctoral dissertation.

“It was very long and involved,” she explained. “I spent about four years total conducting this research and writing the book.”

O’Connor mentions that she had a wonderful group of advisors and a great editor assisting her. Even though the process was long and time-consuming, she says she can’t complain because she “got to read lots of fun comics!”

The book has been described as entertaining and funny. O’Connor worked hard to make it accessible and compelling, while also delivering lots of information about teenagers in society today to the reader.

You can learn more and order O’Connor’s “Robin and the Making of American Adolescence” on Amazon, or on the Rutgers University Press website.

Student Presenters Share & Learn at USF Writers’ Conference

USF’s Mary Kate Hynek and MaKenzie Munson were recently interviewed by sophomore Hannah Mitchell about their experiences as student presenters at the November 13 Writers’ Conference. The conference, hosted by the USF English Department, took place on Saturday, November 13. Poet Naoko Fujimoto gave the keynote address.

Q. What was it like creating your own graphic poem during the workshop with Naoko? 

MH: Creating a graphic poem with Naoko Fujimoto was an experience like no other; I’ve never worked with graphics and poetry in combination before (although I am a huge advocate for graphics and writing working together), so the process opened my eyes to new ways of thinking that I can incorporate into my creative writing process. Naoko’s energy and passion really inspired me to create, and she made me feel part of a creative community of writers. 

Q. What was your presentation about? 

MH: My presentation, titled “Dying Rose,” was a work of short fiction and an adaptation of a graphic novel scene set to appear in a future collaborative project. This piece is the result of seven years of collaboration and character development. The main character of this piece, a young man named Briar who struggles with an ancestral curse that causes irrational insanity, will be one of the main characters appearing in the graphic novel. My collaborative partner made an appearance during my presentation, and we emphasized the benefits of images and words coming together to create something amazing. My presentation won best overall performance at the SFWC. 

MM: My presentation was a paper I wrote for my foundations II class that focused on analyzing the movie The Social Network.

Q. How did it feel to present your work in front of a group of people?

MH: Presenting something that I put my heart and soul into was a nerve-wracking experience. Never before had I presented such a treasured piece of writing outside of a classroom setting. My parents, professors, and peers were all watching, and I was hoping my reading would be clear and concise. I made sure to read with emotion, and the nerves I felt before reading my piece disappeared. It was rewarding to hear the applause (and to applaud my fellow presenters) as I finished; the SFWC was such a positive, supportive environment. Presenting in a conference setting boosted my confidence and gave me valuable experience as a writer. 

MM: I have experience with public speaking but have not been able to do it for a while, so it felt great to be in front of an audience again! 

Q. Overall, what was your takeaway from this experience? 

MH: Overall, the SFWC was an incredible experience. It allowed me to make connections, share my work, and appreciate the work of other writers. Perhaps, most of all, I learned so much at the SFWC. I’m so glad that the University of St. Francis has a safe, supportive environment for writers.

MM: While I loved sharing my own work, the most inspiring part of the conference was hearing from others and being part of a space that included so many other talented and passionate writers. 

Internships Add Value to USF Education

Internships are a great way for students to get in-field experience and explore potential careers. Take it from COBHA senior Caitlin Bruemmer, who recently designed and published a website for her internship at Innovative Kitchen and Bath in New Lenox, Illinois.

“I gained a lot of professionalism working at my internship over the summer. Much of my job there involved assisting the company in finding new opportunities to expand our inventory, so I spent a great deal of time arranging appointments and informing outside sales professionals of the company goals and values,” Bruemmer said.

“I definitely have USF to thank for some of the communication skills I utilized during my internship. The many writing pieces and presentations I have had to prepare in my business classes contributed to my ability to design the company’s website.”

Almost every undergraduate student at USF will have the opportunity to do an internship at some point in their academic career. Internships give  students real-world experience and professional skills to be used in future career endeavors, as well as unique learning opportunities you can’t find in a classroom alone.

“Throughout my internship, I learned how vital marketing strategy is for companies that are just starting out. The company should know how to best reach and attract its target customer. Otherwise, the future success of the company can become uncertain. When writing content for the website, I had to choose specific words that I knew would make our company stand out over our competitors. My internship was overall a great learning experience that I am grateful to have completed,” said Bruemmer.

To find your own internship opportunities, visit the USF Career Success Center in person or online at

Making the Most of COBHA’s “3-to-Degree” Program

Making the Most of COBHA’s
"3-to-Degree" Program

3 to degree program with COBHAUSF’s College of Business & Health Administration offers a “3-to-Degree” program for business students to earn their master’s degree in five years. This means students can complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously.

If interested in this program it is important to get started as soon as possible, since beginning junior year, students can take up to nine credit hours of graduate classes that count towards both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

According to Shannon Brown, interim dean for the College of Business & Health Administration, “Continuing to get your master’s degree through this program would yield a cost of only $16,000-$17,000 for one more year, depending on what degree you are obtaining.”

Wondering why you should take advantage of this program? Brown explained, “50% of the U.S. has an undergraduate degree. Getting a master’s degree gives a differentiator.”

Getting a master’s degree not only helps graduates stand out from the masses, but also provides a better chance of obtaining better job opportunities. If you are an athlete, this program also provides the perfect opportunity to maintain eligibility.

There’s a lot of flexibility with many master’s programs to choose from, including the MBA, M.S. in Health Administration, M.S. in Management, and M.S. in Training & Development—with courses delivered face-to-face, and online in synchronous and asynchronous formats.

Applying to this program is easy with current enrollment at USF. However, if students have a business minor their course load will have to be checked to see if they qualify. Additionally, graduate admissions exams (GRE, GMAT) will not have to be taken.

COBHA’s 3-to-Degree Program saves both time and money. If you are interested or have any questions, you can reach out to Jeanne Washburn, assistant dean of the College of Business & Health Administration, at or 815-740-3591. You can also reach out to Shannon Brown, interim dean for the College of Business & Health Administration, at

The St. Francis Writers’ Conference is Just Around the Corner

The St. Francis Writers' Conference is Just Around the Corner

Naoko FujimotoOn Saturday, November 13, the University of St. Francis English Department will host the 30th annual St. Francis Writers’ Conference, featuring poet Naoko Fujimoto as keynote speaker. This conference gives students the opportunity to share multimodal writing and gain presentation experience outside of the classroom.

Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan where she attended school at Nanzan Junior College. She then became an exchange student at Indiana University, where she received both a B.A. and an M.A. Some of her recent work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse and The Arkansas International.

Fujimoto is the author of “Glyph: Graphic Poetry=trans. Sensory,” a multi-media graphic art book that relays the work of translating sources, events, and emotional revelations into text (Tupelo Press, 2021). Additionally, she is the author of “Where I Was Born” (Willow Publishing, 2019), and three chapbooks, or short books of poetry.

Assistant Professor of English Elizabeth McDermott looks forward to the event and the presentation by Fujimoto.

“The exciting aspect of the 30th annual St. Francis Writers’ Conference, in addition to the students’ presentations, is the interactive keynote. Naoko Fujimoto is leading conference attendees in a graphic poetry exercise, and attendees will leave the keynote with their very own graphic poem,” McDermott said. “Fujimoto previously visited my Introduction to Creative Writing course, and the students really enjoyed her workshop style because she took them through her process step-by-step, inviting them to become inspired by the relationship between words and images.”

Naoko Fujimoto is an associate and outreach translation editor at RHINO Poetry, as well as a senior translation editor at Tupelo Quarterly. You can learn more about Fujimoto by visiting her website here, and if you are curious about her artistic process, check out this YouTube video:

To learn more about the St. Francis Writers’ Conference or to RSVP, visit or email!