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The Poster Child for WCU:
Ellena Stone Shiflet,
Scholar & Online Writing Program Coordinator

By Maggie Chandler and Danny Thomas

Poster Child

Ellena Stone Shiflet has described herself as “the poster child for Western Carolina University” because she was born at Western. When Ellena was young, WCU professors watched her while her parents attended their Western classes. When Shiflet had her son, some of the same professors watched him while she attended class.


When Shiflet came to Western, she had her undergraduate degree in Journalism; upon entering the English department she had the good fortune of bumping into Professor Farwell, who worked hard with her to incorporate her into the department. Shiflet stated that her time at Western really introduced her to the field of English study. “It gave me a foundation in teaching and in working for the writing center so that I could do what I do now, which is to coordinate curriculum for one of the largest online writing programs in the world.”

Shiflet was able to push through the struggle of being a single parent and student. Even without the aid of online classes she was still able to complete her work. She was highly inspired by many of her professors at WCU, and it made her experience worthwhile and enjoyable. “Writing creates opportunities for all people; if you can write, you can survive.”

Shifltet has a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Florida. Her scholarly work keeps her busy. She has attended over 50 academic conferences in a variety of specializations, and she works to attend at least three academic conferences per year involving Florida studies, writing programs, and Hemingway Fitzgerald scholarship.

Memories and Advice

“My favorite memory of Western is when I got a paper back from Professor Farwell which said, ‘Melville may use double adjectives, but you may not." Then two semesters later I received another paper back that said, ‘Melville may use double adverbs and adjectives; you may not… yet.’ Farwell was a hard professor. That little note inspired me to become a scholar.”

Shiflet’s advice to students is to “study with every professor you can, and do not limit yourself to literature, or a particular period of literature, or rhetoric and composition. As a result I have become well versed in my field and published in several places. I also am able to work across disciplines.”

“Western hasfaculty with diverse history and backgrounds. You can have one professor who may be teaching four or five classes in different areas while being an expert at all of them. That’s the beauty of that small department; those professors have unbelievable things to teach you,” she says.


Besides remaining busy, Shiflet has the pleasure of traveling around the world. She recently attended a conference in Ronda, Spain on Ernest Hemingway and the Spanish Civil War. Shiflet’s scholarship has taken her to Amsterdam, France, England, the Caribbean, and all over the United States. For Christmas 2009, her career is taking her to South America, and she’ll soon present new scholarship on Hemingway and Florida in Switzerland and Italy.

These profiles were created by the Karen Greenstone's English 303 class (spring 2009)
and edited for the web by Mary Adams's English 303 class (summer 2009).

Students in Mary Adams's English 303 class (fall 2009) wrote additional profiles.