During Marya Kuratova’s tour of the campus on Admitted Students’ Day four years ago, she saw the Free Press office for the very first time. Confident in her future goals, she stopped her mom to point it out and said, “one day, that’s going to be my office.” And it was!
Kuratova eagerly showed up to the open house the editor-in-chief held on move-in day. She was one of the first people to arrive. From there, she worked tirelessly all four years of college, committed to the development of the Free Press.
Known for her work in Contrast Literary Magazine as well, Kuratova writes for many reasons. She finds creative writing incredibly cathartic and a useful way to process events and emotions in life.
“I think everyone should at least try journaling,” Kuratova advised. “Especially as college students, we all have so many worries and racing thoughts running through our minds, and sometimes just getting them down on paper and clearly articulating them can help remove a huge weight and make that stress more manageable.”
Kuratova has made it her responsibility to keep the campus up to date during her years at McDaniel.
“I write for the Free Press because I believe everyone deserves the right to knowledge,” said Kuratova. “I want the campus community to stay informed, and it’s my duty as a reporter to provide access to information.”
Out of the experience of writing for the Free Press, she has enjoyed learning something new for each article.
“I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some really interesting, talented people, and I always enjoy diving into some new research for a piece,” she said.
Year after year, Kuratova came back to the Free Press office, motivated by the great group of passionate people writing and running the paper. It was there that she met some of her closest friends, enjoying time together inside and outside of the lively meetings.
In her senior year, she stepped up as the editor-in-chief, well prepared by her time as the editor-in-chief of both her high school newspaper and yearbook. She has found that she enjoys editing more than she enjoys writing, though both remain significant passions.
“There’s something so incredibly rewarding about helping people improve their writing and find more confidence in their skills,” Kuratova said. “I’ve really enjoyed serving as a mentor, and knowing that I’m helping people keeps me going.”
Kuratova majored in English and minored in journalism and new media. She is also the first person to ever graduate from McDaniel’s newly instated major in writing and publishing.
In addition to managing a full course load, she has worked about five different campus jobs at a time. To name a few, she has worked in the Call Center for two years, raising funds for McDaniel, set up various campus events for the Conference and Auxiliary Services office, digitized files for the director of Risk Management, and tutored in the SASS office.
In her field, she has worked with Kathy Edmondson in the English department as an office assistant for all four years. Kuratova shared that Edmondson was the best boss she could have asked for.
“We’ve shared countless laughs together and I have so much respect and love for Kathy,” Kuratova said. “Going to work in the English office was the highlight of each day. It was like I could escape all the stress of the outside world and just come home for a bit.”
Kuratova additionally worked as a peer tutor in the Writing Center for two years, spent time copy editing book manuscripts for Mona Kerby, Ph.D., and worked on the Westminster Detective Library for two years as part of the summer research program.
Of her professors, Kuratova said, “I love that all my professors feel like family and I’m able to form such a great relationship with them all.” Kuratova is grateful for all the amazing professors who came to class each day passionate about the subject and eager to learn alongside the students. She took the time to thank some of her mentors.
“Dr. Mary Bendel-Simso has really pushed me to work to my best potential. Her great work ethic is really inspiring. Dr. Paul Zajac helped guide me through my English senior seminar, always challenged me in his classes, and served as a reliable and wise adviser for the Free Press. Dr. Paul Muhlhauser and I worked together to co-author a book chapter, and I hope to continue to write with him again in the future,” Kuratova said. “I plan on staying in touch with everyone in the English department, and I love that my professors and mentors are also my good friends.”
For her English senior seminar last semester, she wrote a 30-page essay entitled “This Pussy Grabs Back: Reclaiming Victim Narratives from Christina Rossetti to #MeToo.” She built on the work of biographer Jan Marsh to argue that Rossetti, a popular female writer in the Victorian area, likely suffered some form of sexual abuse at the hands of her father.
She analyzed recurring themes full of anguish in Rossetti’s poems and fiercely defended Rossetti against other biographers who have overlooked the likely abuse. She then contextualized the analysis within the #MeToo movement and emphasized the healing power of writing.
“Overall, it was an equally rewarding and exhausting process,” said Kuratova. “I feel as though I have personally gotten to know Christina, and I hope my readers will feel empowered when learning how she used her poetry to process the likely trauma.”
For her writing and publishing senior seminar, she spent a lot of time reflecting on who she is as a writer and editor. Kuratova spent this semester working on a poetry chapbook as a compilation of her best creative work, as well as a professional e-portfolio showcasing her journalistic writing and editing skills.
Kuratova’s relationships and evident drive culminated in great literary achievement at McDaniel. It kicked off during her freshman year with first place in Contrast Literary Magazine’s fictional prose category. She went on to win first place in both the poetry and prose categories the following year.
In her sophomore year, she had an eventful stay in Baltimore, interning for Baltimore Magazine. Kuratova documented and converted her time into a comical 10-page short story that went on to win the Millard Milburn Rice Non-Fiction Writing Prize during her junior year.
During her junior year, she helped McDaniel’s team secure second place in the annual spelling bee held by the Literacy Council of Carroll County. She additionally began serving as the co-editor-in-chief of the literary magazine, a role she would hold during junior and senior years.
Her senior year, she won the national Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest for the articles she wrote for the Sex on the Hill column.
Closing out her time at McDaniel, Kuratova was inducted to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and became employed as a copy editor for a murder mystery subscription box game. She has been working with the company three days a week since February and will transition to full-time once she graduates.
Kuratova leaves her legacy in the Free Press office she once projected would one day be hers. She plans to stay in touch with the English department, a place that has come to feel like home.
As a parting note to the McDaniel community, she encourages students to get involved with the Free Press.
“It’s a great way to stay informed about what’s going on around campus, build your professional portfolio (you can tell potential employers that you’re already published!), and will give you a platform to voice issues you’re passionate about,” said Kuratova. “Use the resources available to you to incite change, even if it feels like you’re only making a difference at a small level. That difference is just as important.”