Faculty Bio: Maria Thiaw, M.S., MFA

Maria Thiaw, M.S., MFA

Professor of Writing


  • Creative Writing
  • Selected Topics in Literature (Intro to Poetry; Harlem Renaissance Poetry)
  • Contemporary American Writers of Color
  • College Composition I and II
  • Text and Film
  •  Writing for Public Relations
  • Intro to Human Communication
  • Public Relations
  • Fundraising and Grant Writing
  • Survey of Mass Communication
  • Social Movements
  • Topics in Multiculturalism
  • Selected Topics in Film (Stereotypes in film)
  • Sociology

Teaching Philosophy

As a senior faculty member at Central Penn College, I inspire students to embrace their inner communicator!

I would define my teaching style as inclusive and innovative. To be holistically educated in this era of information overload, students must become critical thinkers and literate consumers of media. I see imparting knowledge of bias and fallacy as an important part of various types of classes. My students will not only memorize fallacies by name, but practice using them in writing or speech. My approach may include some nontraditional activities such as creating commercials in English class or taking on a persona and conducting a debate in a humanities class.

These creative projects are just some of the innovative activities I include in my courses, as we move away from the lecture model that has been losing students for years. I encourage one-to-one communication, collaboration and research that will help them become better problem solvers in the future. I also enjoy using “jigsaws” to bring together different student perspectives on the material they are studying. Workshops and panel discussions are types of small group communication that can help students demonstrate their knowledge and analyze course material in new ways.


Maria Thiaw came to Central Penn's General Education Division and Corporate Communication program 15 years ago after working as a professional writer for several years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication/Journalism with a minor in Ethnic Studies from Shippensburg University.

Thiaw published her first poetry collection, Windows to the Soul, in 1999. She earned a Master in Communication studies from Shippensburg in 2003. That same year she published her second poetry collection, Rising Waters.

After working at Central Penn for a few years, she released her spoken word CD, FREEverse, with marketing help from students. She started a second master’s program at Rosemont College and eventually transferred to Goddard College's low-residence program, so she could continue to work full-time at Central Penn. She graduated from that program in 2009.

In 2011, Thiaw stepped down as program chair of Communication in order to focus on teaching her passion––creative writing and literature. She started the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club with student Greg Jones.

Thiaw next began work on the American Griot Project––a work of oral history in which she interviewed women about their memories of the Civil Rights struggle in the United States. In 2013, Talking “White”––her third poetry collection––was published. In 2018, she wrote poetry inspired by those oral histories and created the choreopoem, Reclaiming My Time: An American Griot Project, which was directed by Janet Bixler and performed in the Capital BlueCross Theatre.

Thiaw and Bixler started the nonprofit organization, Reclaim Artist Collective. “In 2019, we are working with the Sankofa African American Theatre Company to create another poetry-infused play entitled Bridge the Gap,” says Thiaw. The work is scheduled to be performed in September 2019.

“In my 15 years at Central Penn, I have grown as an academic and an artist. I'm looking forward to a bright future,” says Thiaw.


  • Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing – Poetry Concentration,Goddard College, Plainfield, Vt.
  • Master of Science in Communication Studies, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pa.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication/Journalism, Public Relations Concentration, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pa.


  • Certificate in Grant Writing, Temple University – Harrisburg
  • Certificate in Learning to Teach Online – LinkedIn Learning
  • Certificate in Gamification – LinkedIn Learning
  • Certificate in Nonprofit Management – LinkedIn Learning

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