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Current Graduate Students

Rudy Avelar
Rodolfo Avelar (Poetry) is a queer & nonbinary putx, poet, and artist from Fresno, CA. They hold a BA from Fresno State, where they studied English Literature and Creative Writing. Their poetry imagines futures/science-fictions/eroticas for queer people of color. They were awarded a Summer 2019 Milkweed Editions internship, in which they designed and edited book length poetry manuscripts. This work cemented their goal to work in editing to dismantle barriers of entry for queer poets of color by creating opportunities for, giving life to, and caring for queer poets of color and their work. They hope to publish, edit, & teach poetry, play lots of video games, and always listen to Charli XCX. 
Amanda Biggs

Amanda Biggs (Screenwriting) was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri before moving to the hustling and bustling metropolis of Laramie, Wyoming for her undergraduate degree in communication.  While in Laramie, she created and coordinated the first ever international Mountain West Improv Fest and made a small town name for herself in standup comedy.  She is excited to trade the sights of snow and cattle for that of smog and Priuses as she transitions back into city life and finds new inspiration for her scripts to come.

Patrick Carroll

Patrick Carroll (Fiction) writes, sings, and sews about history's playing on the body of the mind. He grew up in Silicon Valley, studied comparative literature at Princeton, and lived for six years in New York City, tutoring. He reveres George Herriman, Shigeru Mizuki, Joseph Roth, Dolly Parton, Emily Dickinson, Franz Kafka, Gayatri Spivak, Thomas Pynchon, Mary Austin, Ishmael Reed, Alan Hollinghurst, Joan Armatrading, Nathaniel Hawthorne . . .

Alejandra Castillo

Alejandra Castillo (Poetry) earned her BA at Kalamazoo College as a Posse Scholar from East Los Angeles. She majored in Anthropology and Sociology but sneaked in enough English classes to receive an English minor. Her poetry thesis, “Daughter, We Are Gypsies,” received English Department Honors and her plays, “Miss Long Beach” and “Say Yes” were staged in local theatre festivals. Upon graduating, Alejandra left the mitten state to return to L.A., where she worked as a Program Coordinator at 826LA’s After-School Writing & Tutoring Program. Her fluency in Spanish later led her to work for non-profit organization Operation Walk, interpreting for American medical teams in mission trips to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Alejandra’s other passions include reptiles, YouTube vlogging, rock concerts, tattoos, belly dance, aerial arts, the beach, and returning home to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Stefani Cox

Stefani Cox (Fiction) writes speculative fiction of all sorts and sizes, with a focus on race, gender, mental health, and the environment. Though currently living in Los Angeles, she spent most of her years in Northern California and will defend cold, windy beach cliffs any day. She comes to UCR by way of an urban planning and communications background, with a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley. Stefani’s work has been published to LeVar Burton Reads, PodCastle, and FIYAH, among other outlets, and she’s received fellowships to VONA and Hedgebrook. When not writing or reading, Stefani is usually hiking, crafting, taking pictures, or being a low-budget foodie. She lives with her husband and a cranky-lovable senior rescue dog.

Conor Devitt
Conor King Devitt (Screenwriting) spent his childhood in Seattle and attended college a few hours away at Washington State University, where he earned his BA in Journalism in 2015. After graduating, he spent nearly three years working as a political and business reporter for a small newspaper in the Caribbean. He likes Westerns.
Nick Domich

Nicholas Domich (Playwriting): The man strode across the stage to the podium and spoke into the mic, “Seen my lady home las’ night,/Jump back, honey, jump back./Hel’ huh han’ an’ sque’z it tight,/Jump back, honey, jump back.” The boy in the audience was ten years old. He knew he wanted to be a writer. His seventeenth summer was spent with Shakespeare not far from where Marlowe met his fate like Caesar but at the hands of a single brute. As he came upon his twentieth year he was thrust into the midst of a bunch of degenerate Beat writers. They kissed and cried and sat in uncomfortable positions longer than he cared for but there was enough poetry and music to cleanse them all. Then he put the pen down for a long spell. It has picked itself off the floor and its ink has yet to run dry. A return to school found him sailing and surfing in the frigid Santa Cruz waters while his play What in the World? had its debut on the university stage. Riverside is now where he resides but the theatre is his home.

Emily Doyle
Emily Doyle -she/her/hers- (Fiction) writes stories that explore the relationship between self and other, with an emphasis on mental health, queerness, and mortality. Before joining UCR’s MFA program, she graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a lawyer in Washington, DC, focusing on antitrust law and pro bono projects involving underrepresented individuals—experiences which inform her fiction. As a California native, Emily spends her time swimming, hiking, and obsessing over TV and film. She lives in LA with her fiancé and bearded dragon.
Jennifer Espinoza

Jennifer Espinoza (Poetry) is a trans woman poet from California. She intentionally identifies herself as a “trans woman poet” because she does not believe in hiding who she is, nor in separating the art from the artist. Her work exposes and interrogates the failures of a strict gender binary, and questions the measures we use to decide who is granted personhood; it also attempts to make space to celebrate queer joy and survival. She is the author of two collections of poetry, and her writing has been published in various print and online journals, including Denver Quarterly, American Poetry Review, PEN America, and others. She lives in Riverside with her amazing wife and adorable dog. She is equally angry about the world and hopeful for the future.

Chantal Eyong

Chantal Eyong (Screenwriting) is a writer and media producer, born and raised in New Jersey. Her passions include education, storytelling, and exploring the mysteries of her identity as a first-generation West-African. Chantal received a BA in English with Concentrations in Geography and Creative Writing at Rutgers University in 2009. She also received a certificate in E-Learning and Instructional Design from the University of California Extension in 2019. Chantal also graduated from the 2018-2019 Creative Lab Hawaii Writers Program. As a media producer, Chantal has collaborated on documentaries and short films featured on PBS and national/international film festivals. The documentary short she co-produced, "Thailand Untapped" received an Emmy nomination in 2013. Chantal currently lives in Southern California. On her free time, Chantal sings, travels, admires freshly cut grass, and eats copious amounts of bolillo bread rolls from Cardenas Market.

Sara Fowler

Sara Ellen Fowler (Poetry) is an artist and poet living in Los Angeles, CA. Her writing has been published through Green Gallery Press, Hysteria, and Office Hours LA. She is the founding editor for the magazine collective plots by clots. She has shown art in Milwaukee, WI and Los Angeles, CA, and has participated in the Ashbery Home School and Community of Writers at Squaw Valley workshop. Sara earned a BFA in Fine Art from Art Center College of Design and is enrolled as an MFA candidate at UC Riverside, Fall 2019. 

Soleil Garneau

Soleil Garneau (Poetry) is a Los Angeles-based poet. Born and raised in New Jersey, she studied Photography & Imaging at New York University. Shortly after earning her BFA, she left New York for New Orleans, where she found writing. Both enraged and enthralled by her surroundings, much of her work was rooted in her experience of the Gulf South. Her poems explore her relationships to place and the body, as well as personal and family history. She uses her lineage as a lens through which to consider migration, diaspora, and intergenerational memory. She hopes to begin a career in teaching, to share her love of literature and help others foster theirs.

Esther Gatica

Esther Gatica (Playwriting) was born and raised in San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Her formal theatre studies began at CC-Artes (Honduras). Her career path continued with Teatro Prometeo’s Acting Conservatory in Theatre Arts at  Miami Dade College (Miami, Florida). With Prometeo she has performed in: “Electra” a Rasa boxes adaptation by Fernando Calzadilla, “The Conduct of Life” written by Maria Irene Fornes and Directed by Joann Yarrow for the International Hispanic Theatre Festival in Miami, as well as several staged readings done as part of the Miami Book Fair International under the direction of Beatriz Rizk. Esther has written and directed two of her own one-act plays "On Behalf of them, Thank you" and “Lolo”, presented as part of the Arts and Philosophy Department of Miami Dade College. Esther is a recent Bachelor's in Fine Arts recipient from Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, Oklahoma). There she also performed in several productions: "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern are Dead" by Tom Stoppard, "Twelfth Night" by Shakeaspeare, and  "Lost in Yonkers" by Neil Simon, among others. Understanding the power of storytelling in all forms, she is eager to continue growing and is blessed by the opportunity to do so at UCR! Para Dios todo es posible. 

Paige Goodwin

Paige Goodwin (Playwriting) appeared in her high school's production of Hairspray before realizing that she was, perhaps, the world's least gifted actor. Instead, she earned her BA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Maryland in 2016, where she wrote plays for a campus troupe and discovered her true place in theater. Since graduating, she has been a theater educator with multiple non-profits in Washington DC, and a house manager for theaters in the district. She is currently a reader for both the Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC) and Arena Stage, as well as member of the 2019 Playwright's Arena Cohort. She enjoys hiking in National Parks and keeping a count of how many rollercoasters she's ridden. Because she grew up in Maryland, she likes to put the state flag on nearly everything she owns, and Old Bay on nearly everything she eats.

Lily Hart

Lily Hart (Playwriting) grew up in Kohler, Wisconsin before moving to Minneapolis to study history at the University of Minnesota. From there, she found her way into museums and archives as far away as London (and even further on her computer’s long reach). But the history she learned kept begging for a better editor. Embracing her long standing passion for theater and fiction she graduated Summa Cum Laude as a double major in history and English, with a minor in creative writing in spring 2019. She then explored artistic opportunities in the Twin Cities before setting out for the promise of more deadlines in sunny California.

Chanel Harwick

Chanel Harwick (Fiction) is Wisconsin’s best kept secret, which is to say that no one even knew they wrote fiction before they got accepted into UCR. This is also to say that no one noticed Chanel leave. With a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire (a school only known to Wisconsinites) Chanel drove themself to the airport after their mother insisted: “Your life isn’t a John Hughes movie. Take the shuttle.”

Chanel is bitter, and brittle, and empty as their wallet. They write exclusively with themes in rural poverty, pulling from their childhood to build parallels using magical realism, with the ultimate goal of crafting short Midwestern gothics. Chanel’s other interests include: modern witchcraft, aestheticism, card games, the color yellow, Dollar Tree, cigarellos, and lying about having interests other than writing.

Sarah Helms
Sarah Helms (Poetry) often writes on themes around landscape, grief, and the body. She has written in Washington DC, Wyoming, Georgia, Virginia, and Nepal. In Nepal, she lived in a small village, volunteering with healthcare and women's empowerment via the Oda Foundation -- now states-side, she stayed on as their Operations Coordinator. Sarah also took the med school entrance exam this past year and almost applied - though grateful, she does not know what is on that horizon.   

Current projects include teaching in UCR's Along the Chaparral Fellowship, activism in her community, submissions for a short film, "Odanaku: poiesis of a Nepali family," and an interview / poetry project for women in Oda village. In our time, she has been thinking of Gregory Orr's "words are worlds," and that any relationship - near or far, virtual or in the flesh, environmental, historic into its present - can be a creative act. 

For now, Sarah is waylaid in Laramie, Wyoming, where winter will be a little different than winter in Riverside California.
Abby Hudgins
Abby Hudgins (Creative Nonfiction) is a Nashville, Tennessee native who graduated from the University of Mississippi with a B.A. in English, specializing in Creative Writing, and a minor in Psychology. Abby’s written work explores both familial and romantic relationships, mental health, and highlights the harsh reality of injustice and inequality that plague our world today. In addition to Nonfiction, Abby is very passionate about screenwriting for television and film. She hopes to one day have her creative endeavors painted on screen. When she isn’t writing, Abby enjoys evening walks with her dog, Debby, working on puzzles and watching psychological thriller movies.
Paul Ingoldsby
Paul Ingoldsby (Screenwriting) was born and raised in Wicklow, Ireland. He studied at University College Dublin and University of Toronto, earning a First Class BA in English and Film in 2018. He has worked in script development and as a talent agency reader. When not reading or writing, he enjoys hiking, playing football (“soccer,” if you must), and baking the perfect loaf of soda bread.
justvig_andrew Andrew Justvig (Playwriting) is from St. George, Utah and did his undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts Studies at Brigham Young University. His background is playwriting, but he has been an actor, director, tech, and dramaturg for many productions for the past decade. Andrew has applied his playwriting skills to politics and has interned for campaigns, the Utah Legislature, and the Utah Governor’s office. Andrew has Cerebral Palsy and was inspired by Disney movies and theme parks to walk at age seven. His dream is to work as an Imagineer for Disney and write scripts for the theme parks. Andrew married his sweetheart, Carrie, in August 2017 and they enjoy using their Disneyland Annual passes, serving in their church, and eating Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough while watching This Is Us.
Ryan Klachko
Ryan Klachko -they/them- (Poetry) is a SoCal hop-around who grew in Simi Valley and has never moved far from it. Their work embodies attempts to relate that which inspires them to themself and to readers. Such inspiration is often the experience of near non-duality with, or total relation to people, sometimes nature—as defined by less anthropogenic spaces—as well as occasionally words themselves. They love to run and read and feel most content when lost on a long run through canyons of oak-scrub, perhaps while a coyote signals the coming night.
Adam Kolvas
Adam Kolvas (Fiction) is a writer and editor from the Inland Empire. He earned his BA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside where he studied speculative fiction with an emphasis in science fantasy. He seeks to interrogate the borders between science and mythology and science fiction and fantasy. His interests include camping, fitness, books, books, and more books, and his never-ending pursuit for the perfect pun. 

John Lachausse (Fiction) earned his BA in Fiction from Columbia College Chicago. He serves as editor for The Matador Review and his research interests include Southern mythologies, queer theology, and birds.

Rachael McLaughlin
Rachael McLaughlin -she/her- (Fiction) is a queer, black writer from New Orleans, Louisiana. She earned her BA in Comparative Women’s Studies at Spelman College. Her work focuses on filling the world of fantasy and fiction with black feminist perspectives by engaging with topics like black maternal mortality, black mental health, and black queerness.
Glaydah Namukasa

Glaydah Namukasa (Fiction) is a Midwife and Writer from Uganda. She holds a First Class degree in Community Psychology from Makerere University. Alongside helping mothers deliver babies, she has delivered one novel, The Deadly Ambition(Mallory International Publishers, UK), ayoung-adult novella Voice of a Dream (Macmillan Publishers, UK) which was awarded the Macmillan Writers Prize for Africa in 2006. Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Uganda, South Africa, the UK, the US and Sweden. In 2014 she was selected on the Hay Festival List of the 39 African Writers destined to influence the future of African Literature.

She is a member of FEMRITE, Uganda Women Writers’ Association where her writing career was irrigated into bloom, and where she has mentored those who share the writing passion. Glaydah  believes in Writing as a mirror through which the world must look into in order to see a particular image of itself.

Dee Nickel
D. M. Nickel (Playwriting) graduated from Utah Valley University with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Creative Writing. She has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in various literary journals, and was awarded Best Play by Utah New Works Theatre Project in 2018. When she’s not typing away on her computer or awaiting the end of intermission, she plays bridge and raises three unruly houseplants. She is smitten by clever commercials, and she hasn’t read much Shakespeare.
Amanda Oliver

Amanda Oliver (Creative Nonfiction) is originally from Buffalo, New York. She has a B.A. in English and a Master's in Library Science. She worked as a librarian in Washington, D.C. for six years, focusing on underserved populations throughout the city. She has also lived in New York City, Seattle, and on Vancouver Island. She has written for The Hairpin, This Recording, Medium, and several other publications, focusing on relationships, travel, and the idea of home. While she appreciates her cold-weather roots, she is excited to be writing in Southern California. She lives with her cat, Monday, who very much embodies her name.

Kyrié Owen

Kyrié Eleison Owen (Creative Nonfiction) is an essayist and memoirist who experiments with hybrid forms. She received her B.A in Creative Writing from University of Cincinnati and was the nonfiction editor for their literary journal, Short Vine. She is Native American, affiliated with the Comanche Nation. Though she is a Native Midwesterner and was raised in many cities across the country, she thinks of the West Coast as home.

Jennifer Ozols

Jennifer Ozols (Screenwriting) was born and raised in Southern California. She earned her BA in English at the University of California Riverside, emphasizing on racial injustice and the marginalization of ethnic women. As an undergraduate, her knowledge of systemic racism was broadened by authors whose written work speak volumes about the inhuman treatment of people of color. Jennifer believes novelists, as well as screenwriters, have a critical responsibility in counterpoising racial equality by creating non-stereotypical ethnic characters. The scarcity of these compelling roles inspired Jennifer to forgo acting in favor of creating transcendent stories. 

In addition to writing screenplays which advocate for racial diversity, her novels depict the many essential facets of mortal existence within the genres of young adult contemporary and fantasy. When Jennifer is not working on her own screenplays and fictional novels, she is on a literary adventure exploring the characters and worlds created by her favorite authors.

Although reading and writing consumes a great deal of her time, she also enjoys horseback riding and going on road trips with her family. Traveling abroad is a goal of hers, as she longs to experience the culture of those living in other countries.

Gennyvera Pacheco
Gennyvera Pacheco -she/her/hers- (Poetry) is still working through the impostor syndrome that stops her from admitting she’s a writer. But yes, she is indeed a writer. Everything about her is based on and in Orange County. 

In 2017, Gennyvera graduated from the University of Southern California, where she earned her B.A. in Communication with a minor in screenwriting and an emphasis in chicken salads with jalapeño ranch from the campus center. 

When she is not hunched over her laptop editing social media calendars, Gennyvera can be found hunched over her phone typing out her thoughts. She uses the process of writing to think through love in all its forms and how exhausting existing is, among many other topics thanks to her greatest talent: overthinking.

Aside from putting words together, Gennyvera is also fond of BTS, her family and friends, lists (to-do, pro and con, ones with Oxford Commas), and terracotta lipstick shades – in that exact order.
Abigail Reese

Abbie Reese -she/her/hers- (Creative Nonfiction) is an author and documentary filmmaker who is particularly interested in the lives of women in primary oral cultures and enclosed communities. In her relationship- and research-based practice, Abbie utilizes a hybrid of oral history, documentary, and ethnographic methodologies to explore the construction of individual and cultural identity, rites of passage, and the liminal stage as someone joins a heterotopia. She has an MFA in visual arts from the University of Chicago (2013) and an undergraduate degree in history (1999).

Abbie was a fellow at the University of Chicago Center in Paris (2017) and worked at a CNRS research center, the Interdisciplinary Institute of Contemporary Anthropology. She was a fellow at the University of Bern Institute of Social Anthropology (2013) and Columbia University’s Oral History Research Office (2008). Abbie lived for a year (2003-2004) on a hospital ship off the coast of Sierra Leone and worked as a media liaison for the BBC.

Abbie has received grants from the Embassy of Switzerland, the Illinois Arts Council, Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women, and others. She has been an artist-in-residence in Vermont and New Mexico. She is a dual citizen of the United States and Luxembourg, and is usually with her dog, Cedric, a traveling champ.

Danny Rivera

Danny A. Rivera (Playwriting) was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, arguably a Valley Boy through and through. He is a first-generation American with parents hailing from Mexico (Dad) and El Salvador (Mom). Danny acquired his B.A. in Creative Writing at California State University Northridge with a primary focus in narrative fiction before discovering his love of writing for performance. He has one published play but is assuredly working on getting more work published/performed. As a self-taught musician, Danny often composes accompanying music to the material he is working on.

Danny would also like you to know that he is an avid toy collector currently assembling his ideal Justice League in conveniently portable plastic form.

 Oh, and he also loves dogs.

Hannah Rose Roberts

Hannah Rose Roberts (Creative Nonfiction) left South Florida’s humidity to pursue an LA film career. She met and fetched coffee for many celebrities, became managing editor of Atomic Ranch, and worked a lot of odd story-fodder jobs in between. These days, she pays the bills as a proofreader and legal advocate.

Hannah adores live storytelling, and she has performed at The Moth on both coasts as well as curating her own show, ‘Backstories.’ Her cartoon caption once appeared in The New Yorker, and her Halloween costume once appeared in Cosmopolitan. She writes about travel, post-evangelicalism, and women’s bodies in society. In her free time she hikes, DJs, invents cocktails, and scavenges the discount bin at Ralph’s.

She would like to one day 1. write some stuff that is kind of moderately well-known, 2. establish herself as the “cool aunt,” and 3. conquer the “side crow” yoga pose. She hopes to make her family, her chosen family, and the ghost of Dorothy Parker proud.

Crystal Salas

Crystal Salas (Poetry) is a Chicana poet, educator, and soft creature of context who received her B.A. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared in Chaparral Poetry, The Speakeasy Project, The Acentos Review, and YAY! LA Magazine. On stage, her work has appeared in True Focus Theater’s original productions: Cat Fight and Life, Death & the Middle. In the years prior to her work as an MFA candidate at UC Riverside, she taught high school English and coached a fierce youth slam poetry team in Los Angeles. She was a 2016 Fellow for the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop where she continues to serve as an instructor every summer. When she is not writing, she can be found chauffeuring her abuelos around so they can see all the locales they bookmark when watching Huell Howser's California's Gold.

Selene Steets

Selene Steets (Fiction) has lived in many places, but Hollywood, CA is her hometown. After working with the homeless community in Los Angeles for several years, she moved to Eugene, Oregon to raise a family. During her time there she attended the University of Oregon and studied World Religions, Women and Gender Studies, and Creative Writing.

Influenced by anarchist politics and mystical literature across religious and philosophical traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, and Jungian Psychoanalysis, she is particularly interested in the meaning of these theories in the context of the modern urban outcast. Her writing focuses on the spiritual experiences of people in the fringes of society, particularly those experiencing homelessness, sex work, and mental illness.

Brittany Turner
Brittany Turner (Screenwriting) hails from Las Vegas, Nevada and is thrilled to be returning to her desert roots. She earned her B.A. in History and Literature with a citation in Japanese language from Harvard University in 2010, spent the last several years in Southern California working at various production companies as a marketer and development executive, and now writes scripts that poke at the anxieties underpinning the ever-expanding limits of Black identity. She consults as a freelance digital producer/strategist and enjoys playing guitar poorly, telling herself she'll work out...soon, re-watching Marvel movies, and catching up on all those novels she never read during her undergrad years.
Eileen Waggoner

Eileen Elizabeth Waggoner (Creative Nonfiction) is a writer and digital media producer from West Virginia. Her work is rooted in the intersection of arts and activism, and the geographical and cultural crossroads of Appalachia. She writes about pop culture, queer identity, and place. Her narrative essays, poetry, and screenwriting have been published in the Appalachian Anthology of Writers, the Travelin’ Appalachians Revue, Vandaleer, and Fluent Magazine, among other publications online and in print.

She is the cofounder of Boshemia, a US/UK arts and culture print magazine and global feminist collective for womxn and LGBTQ+ folks. As a part of her community engagement with Boshemia, she leads zine-making and poetry workshops in the UK and US. She believes in writing and performance as a means of empowerment and healing. Before returning to writing, Eileen moonlighted as a professional actor in the UK and produced documentary films and interactive exhibits for museums in Nashville and Washington, D.C.

Taylor Wiewel
Taylor Wiewel (Creative Nonfiction) was raised in Oklahoma, where she got her B.S. in strategic communications with minors in English and marketing at Oklahoma State University. She is inspired by Fiona Apple, Maggie Nelson, Louise Glück, Nina Simone, and Ween. Taylor’s work focuses on loss, mental health and identity, and things that bring her joy include hiking, cycling, the noise cats make when they land a jump, and the daily crossword puzzle.
Dan Williamson

Dan Williamson -he/him- (Fiction) was born in London, UK. He writes. His work has been published in Nebo, Kelp Magazine, S Magazine, TheMediaBriefing, and Glamour Girl. He dances in the kitchen, sings in the shower, and naps in the afternoons.

Reina Wilson
Reina Wilson -she/her- (Screenwriting) is a trans woman that doesn't quite know what she's doing. She holds a BA in English with a minor in Biology from Middle Tennessee State University. She primarily writes fantasy and scifi stories that try to make sense of the strange and absurd. She also likes to compose music (i. e. piddle on her guitar until she stumbles into a decent melody).