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Breaking news. Epic fantasy. While these genres seemingly have nothing in common, for Marshall University graduate Emily (Burch ) Harris, they are two published volumes in her professional bibliography.

Harris has worked in journalism for more than 25 years and is currently a lecturer and the program adviser for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s student newspaper, The A&T Register. In addition, Harris recently co-authored a book, “Shadowplay,” alongside New York Times best-selling author and friend, Terry Mancour.

“It was really rewarding, amazing and surprisingly painless,” Harris said of her venture with Mancour, who is the author of the “Spellmonger” book series. “Shadowplay,” which was published in October 2021, is the first book in a trilogy based on Gatina, a popular “Spellmonger” character. “ Shadowplay” is available on Kindle and Audible and was produced by Podium Audio.

Harris, who has edited the “Spellmonger” series since 2010, said she approached Mancour with the idea of collaborating on a book early in the pandemic. They spent weeks brainstorming and outlining, often speaking over the phone or video chat before being able to meet in person on a joint family beach trip in August 2020.

“I liken it to playing in someone else’s sandbox with someone else’s toys,” Harris said. “It’s his world, he built it, but I got to add my spin to it.”

Writing an epic fantasy novel is very different from the journalistic training Harris received as a student in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Harris, a two-time Marshall graduate, earned her bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism in 1994, and earned her master’s degree in journalism in 1996.

Harris said she always knew she wanted to be a writer, but it took time to find the courage to give voice to the type of writing she wanted to do. However, a breaking news story in the spring of 1993 regarding a student government election showed her journalism is where she was supposed to be.

“As a student journalist, it was the adrenaline rush,” Harris said. “That story, among a few others, led me to believe that’s where I needed to be. News is what I needed to be doing.”

Harris, a graduate of Winfield High School, had opportunities to attend college out of state, but her second campus tour of Marshall changed her mind.

“It was the squirrels,” she laughed, as she described Marshall’s welcoming, fur-covered friends and the picturesque scenery of the trees draped over the brick walkway between Smith Hall and Old Main. “I just felt like I was somewhere else. It felt like I had come home. Something in there connected with my soul.”

During her time as a student, Harris was on the editorial staff of The Parthenon, news director for WMUL-FM and editor of The Chief Justice, Marshall’s former yearbook.

While completing her master’s, Harris worked as a graduate assistant for the Marshall Artists Series where she got to meet legendary musicians Art Garfunkel and Stewart Copeland.

“I don’t think I would have had those experiences had I gone to Syracuse or Carolina,” Harris said.

Harris had one goal after graduating from Marshall – to work at a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper. Harris achieved this goal, later working at the Winston-Salem Journal. She has also worked for The Morning News, in Florence, South Carolina, as well as the High Point Enterprise and the Greensboro News and Record, both in North Carolina.

Harris, recounting her first off-campus apartment with its green shag carpet and olive green stove, highlights the impact her time in the journalism program and her professors, such as Dr. George Arnold, Dr. Charles G. Bailey, Dr. Janet Dooley, Prof. Dwight Jensen and Dr. Ralph Turner, had on her during her time at Marshall.

“Everything I did, everything I learned and all the experiences I had helped build me into the person I had become and am becoming,” Harris said. “That all ties back to the journalism program, as well as the patience, sense of humor and graciousness of the professors.”

In 2004, Harris began working in student media before taking on a full-time position in 2007. Regarding her teaching tactics, Harris pulls from her experience as a student in Marshall’s journalism program.

“I try to model the behavior that our advisers and professors presented us with when we were students,” Harris said.

In an age where journalists and the media are under regular scrutiny, Harris works with her students to dispel the myths surrounding the profession, as well as bolster the importance of media literacy, law and ethics.

“If it’s your passion, it’s worth pursuing,” Harris said. “If you know journalism is what you want to do and you want to be a recorder of history, then start with the history of the major.”

In 2021, Harris was given the Honor Roll Adviser Award for a four-year newspaper from the College Media Association. While honored by the accolade, Harris said the award felt much bigger than just herself.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the students,” Harris said. “Everything I learned about student media ties back to The Parthenon and WMUL. Being named adviser of the year felt amazing, but it wasn’t just about me, it was about Arnold, and Turner, and Dooley and Bailey, and everyone else who came before me.”

By day, Harris may mold the minds of young journalists, but in her off hours she continues her passion for fiction. In 2016, she published her first novel “Avalon’s Choice: A Rebekah Keith Chronicle,” which is available on Kindle, and subsequent books are in the works. She also has other ideas for future books, including one set in West Virginia.

Harris, who resides in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her husband, Doug, and their 11-year-old son Connor, have visited the Mountain State and recalls the memory of a visit to Huntington in 2010, complete with a stop at a Jewel City favorite, Chili Willis.

“I wanted to stop by Stationer’s” Harris said. “When we got there, it was closed, and the keys were on the ground. We took them to MUPD, and the next day the owners called to thank us and gave us a $50 gift card.”

From the classrooms of Smith Hall to the realm of Callidore in the “Spellmonger” universe, Harris’ love for the written word can be found in each sentence of her stories, and it’s a love she hopes to inspire others.

“I would encourage people who have a story they want to tell to just start writing,” Harris said. “Nobody can tell your story but you.”

The American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region serves 77 counties in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Last year locally, the Red Cross responded to over 1,100 home fires; assisted nearly 2,100 military members, veterans and their families; helped make more than 1,000 homes safer by installing over 1,300 free smoke alarms; and collected 53,000 units of lifesaving blood at about 2,000 blood drives.

Tenikka Phillips, Marshall alumna serves as a Disaster Mental Health (DMH) and Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer for the American Red Cross Tenikka became a donor at 18 but was surprised by the variety of volunteer positions available.

She said she knew the Red Cross responded to home fires but always thought she was not qualified to do that. When she saw she could use her skills and education to give back, she wanted to take care of her community.

“I loved going to Marshall. The sense of community and taking care of others is such a huge part of the school and that led me to volunteering with the American Red Cross,” Tenikka said.

She first got involved with the American Red Cross during the historic West Virginia floods of 2016. Marshall put out a call for Mental Health Professionals to volunteer during this time. “I thought this was a great way to use my skills and give back.”

“Currently, I volunteer as a Disaster Mental Health volunteer and counsel those who have experienced a disaster and help them process the emotional trauma of their loss. I also facilitate workshops for the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. These workshops serve our active military, veterans and their families to better equip them with communication and coping strategies. I am so thankful that my degree from Marshall has allowed me to serve my community through the American Red Cross.”

From responding to disasters to serving our military heroes to delivering life-saving blood, resolve to give back in 2022!

Apply today here, scan the QR code, visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS for more information. Click on the graphics below to learn more about the most needed positions.

Each year, millions of people visit Walt Disney World. Wide-eyed children and their families move through its parks; their hearts filled with wonder and excitement. Smiles stretch ear-to-ear as their beloved Disney characters are magically transformed from reel life to real life, and each attraction immerses them into their favorite adventures.

But the magic of Disney World is not magic alone. It is the work of Marshall University graduate Jerry Frame, and hundreds of others, who bring to life these enchanting experiences for Disney World’s visitors.

Frame is the principal systems engineer at Walt Disney Imagineering. He oversees the design and architecture for new attractions at Disney World, as well as maintain current attractions.

“It’s my job to work with all the different groups at WDI – such as mechanical and electrical – and pull together an architecture and design from an engineering standpoint for an attraction so we can build it and give the creative group what they’re looking for,” Frame said.

Frame, who is originally from Red House, West Virginia, graduated from Marshall in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. Frame said he decided to go to Marshall because of its reputable computer science program, and because it was close to home.

“At the time, I had been interested in computers since fifth grade, and I was looking for a computer science program,” Frame said. “I looked around at the local schools, and Marshall had one of the better programs.”

After graduating, Frame worked at various organizations in West Virginia as a software developer before moving to Tennessee. However, when an opportunity to work for Disney became available nearly 15 years ago, Frame and his wife, Jacquelyn, moved to the Sunshine State so their daughter, Alexandra, could grow up experiencing the magic of Disney World.

“The main reason I took the job at Disney was because she was about a year and a half old at the time, and I had the ability to let her grow up around Disney,” Frame said. “I tend to see everything at Disney through her eyes.”

When Frame began his career at Disney World, he was a senior software engineer. One of his first projects was Radiator Springs Racers, a Cars-themed attraction at Disney California Adventure Park, which meant a summer working in California at Disneyland. This later earned him his first Themed Entertainment Association Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Other projects Frame worked on early in his Disney career include updating Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln with the first all-electric expressive head for the Disneyland attraction’s reopening in 2009, as well as assisting Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a steel roller coaster in Magic Kingdom at Disney World and Shanghai Disneyland Park in China. Frame also supports and upgrades various attractions throughout not just Disney World, but any of Disney Parks’ resorts.

“Basically, any of the attractions worldwide throughout Disney’s resorts that have been built or upgraded in the last 10 years is running software that I’ve developed,” Frame said.

In 2015, Frame was promoted to team lead and as such was responsible for show control systems and engineering. It was around this time Frame began work on Frozen Ever After, a new Audio-Animatronic attraction at EPCOT. The same animation system used in Frozen Ever After would later be implemented on several other Disney Parks’ attractions, including Star Wars character BB-8, which became the first Audio-Animatronic figure that can be touched by visitors.

“I helped drive the direction of all the new, modern animatronics systems,” Frame said. “I have been heavily involved in all the development.”

Frame said Marshall’s computer science program prepared him for his career at Disney World because the curriculum included both hardware and software components.
“One thing I liked about Marshall’s computer science program is it taught a mix of hardware and software,” Frame said. “They had us take classes like motherboard design and digital circuits. That really prepared me for later in life because the first job I got was a software job writing hardware components. That pretty much led me to where I am now.”

In 2018, Frame’s role at Disney World shifted and he began working for Walt Disney Imagineering. This allowed him to take his work with Frozen Ever After and apply it to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, both located within Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Disney World. Frozen Ever After later earned a 2018 Themed Entertainment Association Award for Attraction Reimagining, which earned Frame his second Thea Award in five years.

Though, Frame’s proudest achievement is the joy his work brings to the children and families who visit Disney World each day.

“I like Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy because it builds up, and the show is full of kids, and every time Lightning McQueen comes out all the kids clap and cheer,” Frame said. “It’s always fun when the kids get to see one of their heroes come to life.”

Out of each smile Frame brings to Disney World’s young visitors, his daughter’s means the most. Alexandra, who is now a teenager, will soon take a new ride – college. Though, where she will attend is yet to be determined.

“It’s funny,” Frame said with a laugh. “My wife went to West Virginia University, so there’s a bit of an in-house rivalry.”

After nearly 25 years post-graduation, Frame reflects on his own time in college and the community built within Marshall’s computer science program. He also speaks highly of his former professor, Dr. Herbert Tesser.

“He was a mentor,” Frame said. “We spoke a few times after I graduated, and I even spoke to him once after I got the Disney job. He was a big influence on me.”

Frame also has fond memories of his time at Marshall outside of the classroom. He made several friends on campus, and still cheers for the Herd in football.

“I met lots of friends there,” Frame said. “I went to Marshall at a time when we were big in football during the Randy Moss and Chad Pennington era. So that was always fun, getting together and watching games.”

What began as a storybook childhood for Alexandra has become a successful career for Frame. Though she may soon go off to college, Frame will continue to do what he does best – bring the magic of Disney World to life.

“I started the journey for her, and it has been a fun journey,” Frame said.