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Current Graduate Students

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Amanda Alfonso (Screenwriting) formed her filmic consciousness as a lonely teen, borrowing screwball comedy movies at the library and watching TCM marathons to keep the blues away. While she aims to experiment more with genre and style, she primarily writes dark comedies about people living on the periphery and their attempts to articulate their relationships, identities, and desires within that space.

When not creating characters, she’s probably listening to her favorite song on repeat (“Bad Decisions” by The Strokes) or watching something she will equally love and scoff at (French films).

She received her BFA in Motion Pictures and Television from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. 

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Noah Amir Arjomand (Screenwriting) is an Iranian-American filmmaker and author. His first (co-directed, co-produced) feature-length documentary, Eat Your Catfish, is about his mother’s last years with the motor-neuron disease ALS. The film premiered in 2021 at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam and won Best Documentary at Istanbul Film Festival.

Cambridge University Press published Noah’s first book, Fixing Stories: Local Newsmaking and International Media in Turkey and Syria, in 2022. Fixing Stories explores the worlds of the “fixers” who act as brokers between foreign reporters and local sources from behind the scenes. He has also written about politics, culture, and media in Middle East and Central Asia for Dissent, Public Culture, Tehran Bureau, The Afghanistan Analysts Network, Profil, American Anthropologist, The New Arab, and others.

Noah earned a PhD in sociology from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from Princeton University. Before coming to Riverside, Noah lived in Bloomington, Indiana, where he taught at Indiana University. He likes cats and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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. 

Eduardo Brandi

Eduardo Brandi -he/him- (Poetry) is a native from Houston, TX, and a proud Mexican American. He attended the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in rural Minnesota and graduated with a Bachelor’s in English in creative writing. After college, his passion for learning cultures and teaching English led him to Okinawa, Japan, as an English TA for Shogaku Okisho.

His writing can be described as capturing moments of culture through a camera lens. He hopes to use his writing as a bilingual speaker to bridge understanding between people and their space in the world. He has been published through the American Library of Poetry and has attained international awards such as the Benjamin A. Gilman and Freeman-ASIA. His hobbies include playing the guitar, boxing, watching anime, attending music concerts, and taking adventurous road trips.

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Aron Brown (Fiction) is a non-binary bisexual Angeleno who learned to read at a very early age by imitating their parents, holding the book upside down, and making up most of the words. This put them on the road to composing stories for the rest of their life. Many years later, they graduated from Wellesley College with a major in Cinema and Media Studies. They are obsessed with history, literature (especially Shakespeare), comics, and tabletop RPGs. Aron also spent many years writing fanfiction, but don’t look it up.

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Efren Castro -they/them- (Poetry) is a queer Latinx poet, editor, workshop presenter, and record collector originally from Lennox, CA. They are an English graduate with an MCS minor from UC Riverside who writes, designs, and publishes their own zines. Their work is inspired by the past; nostalgia, retro 80s/90s aesthetics, and stories from their past. They are dedicated to community building through the sharing and preservation of stories often lost in modern popular culture. Their poetry zine "Heartbreak Stories" was published by Mi Casita Press in March 2020 and their art zine "Days in my Life" is available now with Curious Publishing!

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Aaron Chan (Creative Nonfiction) is a musician, filmmaker, and author born and raised on unceded Coast Salish territories (Vancouver, BC). He holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and his writing has been published in literary magazines and publications including Plenitude, filling Station, Polychrome Ink, and Xtra. His piece “A Case of Jeff” won subTerrain‘s Lush Triumphant Literary Award in Creative Non-Fiction, and he has published a poetry chapbook, Romantic Hopeless. He is the author of This City Is a Minefield (Signal 8 Press), a collection of memoir and personal essays about growing up queer and Asian in Canada. His second book, The Broken Heart (Rocky Pond Books), is a children's picture book forthcoming in spring 2024. Aaron also likes cats and vegan cheesecake.
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Sielo Moe't Coleman -she/her/hers- (Creative Nonfiction) is a Kentucky-born Tennessean with a BA in psychology. Sielo's writing reflects all things closest to her heart: women's rights, sexual assault awareness, real stories, true love, and growth. She aspires to solidify herself as a cross-disciplinary writer with works in biographies, societal critiques, fantasies, and screenplays. Her spare time is dedicated to supporting Black women and culture, studying astrology, learning about different cultures, embracing nature, and enjoying all kinds of food.
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.
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Kelsey Ferrell - she/her - (Creative Nonfiction) earned her B.A. at UC Berkeley in 2020 with a major in Development Studies (which now is known as Global Studies) and minors in both Global Poverty & Practice and Journalism. While attending college she wrote and edited satire for The Free Peach, was an active member of Songwriting at Berkeley, wrote and released her first album Trauma Portfolio, studied abroad at the University of Sussex, and began performing stand up comedy. She has spent her post grad years building a moderate TikTok following while pursuing music and stand up in Los Angeles. Kelsey’s writing explores power, corruption, wealth hoarding, and the impact of such on individual and collective pain. She dreams of one day having some cats and a house with a library that has rolling ladders.
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Ava Fojtik (Playwriting) is a writer and visual artist from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She graduated from Augsburg University in Minneapolis with a degree in World Religions. During her undergraduate career, she interned with the only Jewish community in Namibia, and had her photography published in Murphy Square and Plain China magazines. Her play “Two Men and a Woman in a House” was produced by Augsburg University in 2021. Her favorite writer is Kurt Vonnegut and her favorite food is raspberries.

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. 

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.

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Kristen Herbert (Fiction) is native to the Chicago area, but spent the last several years in Budapest and rural Hungary. She translates contemporary Hungarian literature to English, namely young poets. Her fiction work explores dysfunctional relationships, addiction, and dissatisfaction with the self. She is a co-editor and founder of the bilingual Hungarian-English literary journal The Penny Truth and serves on the masthead of Hungarian Literature Online. Her studies were in English Literature and Creative Writing at Roosevelt University in Chicago and the Hungarian literary translation workshop at the Balassi Institute in Budapest. In her best life she travels often.

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Aaron Higareda (Playwriting) is more than excited to return home! He graduated from UCR in 2017 with a B.A. in Theater, Film, and Digital Production with an emphasis in Writing for the Performing Arts. For the last three years he fell in love with the San Francisco Bay Area theater scene where he was the 2018-2019 Marketing Fellow for the American Conservatory Theater, a house manager for Berkeley Repertory Theater and Shotgun Players, and a box office manager for Playground-SF. He is currently the Data and Membership Specialist for Theater Bay Area. Aaron has had workshop productions with CASA 0101 and El Teatro Campesino and most recently self-produced a zoom staged reading of his first full length play “You don’t even speak Spanish!”. When he is not working, writing, or worrying about working and writing, he enjoys chilling with his partner and their two crazy-ass kids!

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.
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Victoria Hurtado-Angulo (Poetry) is a Latina MFA candidate in Creative Writing at UCR. She has been a featured reader and orchestrator at open mic events, held lectures for independent and academic poetry workshops, and published poetry ranging from zines to established publications such as About Place Journal/Black Earth Institute, EveryLibrary, and Bangalore Review. Her play What these flowers do at night/a message to the world was featured in UCR’s Latino Play Production this year. Besides academic work, Victoria is Co-Founder of Art of Nothing Press, a Southern California publication for poetry and visual art.

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.
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Cixous LeComte -she/her- (Poetry) is a Chicana writer from Southern California. She graduated from UCR with a BA in Poetry. Her writing explores grief and duality, where she attempts to juxtapose and understand two opposing forces, such as tenderness and violence, often within the familial space. Cixous is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a collaborator and a poet. Her family (blood and chosen) keeps her rooted and complete.
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Gerald May (Screenwriting) was born and raised in Houston, TX. He holds a BA in English with a minor in Communications from Prairie View A&M University. He is drawn to stories that deal with themes of identity. Gerald hopes that his writing will show viewers that their personal struggles -- no matter how big or small -- are surmountable. When he is not reading or writing, he’s watching film and television, listening to a podcast, or jamming out to music.

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Frances McCann (Poetry) was raised in Charleston, SC and moved to Lafayette, LA in late high school.  She graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in English literature and creative writing. She spent much of her life wanting to be an epidemiologist, and only recently decided to pursue writing. She enjoys hanging out with her cat, biking, and making earrings out of doll accessories.
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H.M. Minger Urquilla (Playwriting) is a Salvadoran from Los Angeles. In addition to playwriting she dabbles in poetry, directing, and the occasional acting role. She holds a B.A. in English with a Theatre minor from CSULA, where she served as poetry editor on their student magazine, STATEMENT. While her work is largely rooted in Magical Realism, she hopes to explore as many genres as she can get her hands on.

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Allison Moon (Playwriting) is a sex educator and the author of five books including the instant classic sex-ed guide Girl Sex 101. Inspired by her education work, Moon writes screenplays, stage plays, and teleplays that explore the complexities of human sexuality, identity and desire, particularly when interfacing with technology. She has a degree in Neuroscience and Theatre from Oberlin College. Read her work at alliedmoon.com
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Ebonee O'Bryant (Fiction) is a writer from Sacramento, California. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in English (Creative Writing). Ebonee enjoys schlocky horror movies and has seen over eighty movies this year alone (they're not all bad). She's an expert in smoothie making and enjoys writing characters as they go through transformative experiences. She dabbles in short story writing, poetry, and a bit of playwriting. Her play Thinking of Today was produced at SFSU’s Fringe Festival, and she has been published in TheAna, a literary magazine based in San Francisco. Her work has been described as "exploding with vivid imagery that transports you into a whole new world". Some of her biggest writing influences are Octavia E. Butler and Roxanne Gay. Go ahead and ask her for a movie recommendation and watch as she scrolls through her letterboxd account to find a good one.
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Debbie Ou -she/her- (Fiction) graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Writing Seminars and works as a designer of voice recognition systems. She is interested in writing strange stories about faith, technology, and reclusion. In her free time, she hikes, sews, and throws pots on the wheel.

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Carlina Perna -they/them- (Screenwriting) Their writing has appeared in World Literature Today, and Carlina has created an edition with artist imprint OHpapers and contributed to the Dream Quest activation at Burning Man in 2022. Carlina's short film, Stick with It, was selected for production by the Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts at UC Riverside. Carlina holds a BA in Spanish Literary Studies and Religious Studies from Occidental College and an M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania. Carlina has also completed a Fulbright teaching grant at the Universidade Federal da Bahia in Salvador, Brazil.
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Quyen Pham -she/they- (Fiction) explores desire and pain as felt by individuals in diasporic communities. Kinship, estrangement, and capitalism are her frequent subjects. Originally from the Canadian prairies, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a BA in English Literature. They have lived in upstate New York and Saigon, which gave them an education in the ubiquity of cultural confusion. They are now at UCR as a Fulbright Fellow, reading broadly, writing slowly, and researching Asian American lit. They spend their free time hunting for the perfect flat white.

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Zosha Roberson (Creative Nonfiction) grew up in a rural Southern Indiana in the Hoosier National Forest, just north of the Ohio River. She obtained her bachelor’s degree at DePauw University, a small liberal arts college in an Indiana farm town. Her writing focuses on her quiet upbringing among the Midwest corn fields and wooded hills. While Zosha’s true passion is creative nonfiction, she is excited to also explore her love of comedy. (An interest she has had since she read Tina Fey’s autobiography Bossy Pants in the 6th grade.) Even though she has never lived within fifty miles of an airport or a department store, she is ready to take on apartment living and call Riverside home. Beyond writing, her interests include cleaning, workplace sitcoms, filling out her planner, quietly sitting outside, and other seemingly mundane things.

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.

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Yoselin Saucedo -she/her- (Creative Nonfiction) was born and raised in Southern California. She has lived in New York and Colombia. She has explored Canada as she occupied a police station with Black Lives Matter Toronto. She has explored Mexico after attending La Fiestas Del Sol to see a Caifanes reunion. And she's explored southern and Midwest states through her community organizing. Though she has explored many places, she calls Riverside, California home. She holds a Bachelor's in Creative Writing and is on her way to an MFA. Yoselin is a mother, a student, and a community organizer. In March 2020, Yoselin published a personal essay titled "Mexican Boy."  "Mexican Boy" was nominated for a Pushcart award in November 2020. Her focus is Creative non-fiction stories and personal essays. She writes about her life, living with a chronic illness, being Afro-Latina and being a mother.

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Anoop Singh Nijjar -he/him- (Screenwriting) is a South Asian filmmaker from Southern California with roots in Chicago, IL. His whole life has been a series of artistic endeavors: starting with painting and drawing, then evolving to spoken word and performing in bands, and last but not least persisting in writing and directing film. All of Anoop’s past experiences have ultimately culminated at the creative crossroads of filmmaking.

Anoop obtained his BA in Media & Culture studies from UC Riverside in 2018, spent the last several years avidly studying screenwriting, and now has achieved technical certificates in both cinematography and film production from Pasadena City College. In 2020, Anoop began volunteering on student films at the American Film Institute. He assisted in both the grip & electric departments, as well as the camera department. In 2021, Anoop’s outstanding contribution to the Cinema program at PCC resulted in receiving the Alta Dena Rotary Scholarship award.

Taking inspiration from cinema icons such as Mira Nair, Wong Kar-wai, Michelangelo Antonioni and many more, Anoop plans to create highly stylized films that discuss topics such as social identity and the human condition.

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Corey Spanner (Fiction) is a writer living in Los Angeles. He was born and raised in Appalachian Ohio and received his bachelor's degree from Ohio University in 2017. He worked various jobs in LA for five years before deciding to pursue a Master's and write novels. In his free time he likes to read comics and watch baseball. 

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Trinity Thompson (Screenwriting) is a writer, educator, and organizer who proudly hails from Honolulu. She grew up witnessing the power of storytelling as a tool for individual exploration and collective liberation. Whether in her writing or organizing, Trinity loves creating worlds of BIPOC belonging and transcendence. She most enjoys experimental and genre-bending forms of art and is particularly interested in exploring the complex and seemingly contradictory aspects of identity in her writing.

A graduate of Stanford University, Trinity studied creative writing, ethnic studies, and sociology. She also completed UCLA's Professional Program in Television Writing and has written for and about her community as an Oakland Voices correspondent. She identifies as a film lover, pop culture fiend, ice cream aficionado, and too competitive for her own good.

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.
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Kali Veach (Screenwriting) is a writer and director interested in absurd connections, tragicomic consequences, queer perspectives, and the ways in which organizations and individuals interface with emerging technologies. After receiving her BA in Creative Writing from UCR, she taught English as a Second Language before transitioning to film production. Upon returning to UCR, she was selected as the writer-director for the fall 2021 Gluck Film Ensemble Fellowship. Her fiction, poetry, and scripts have been published in Mosaic, The Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. As a child she moved cross-country several times, between St. Louis, Baltimore, and Huntington Beach, but now lives in Los Angeles with her wife. She is in various stages of development and production on several projects.

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Rachel Whitfield (Poetry) is a poet and graphic designer originally from Edmond, Oklahoma. They hold degrees in English and Marketing from the University of Oklahoma. After graduating from OU, they worked as a Marketing Specialist for an Oklahoma City nonprofit. In 2022-2023, they will be teaching erasure poetry in the community as a Gluck Fellow. They are fascinated by the intersection of visual art and poetry, and they enjoy using magazines and newspapers to create. Rachel moved to Riverside from Norman, Oklahoma where they lived with their girlfriend and their three cats. They love OU softball, indie pop, and the color pink. 
Dan Williamson

Robin Williamson -she/her- (Fiction) was born in London, UK. She writes. Her work has been published in Nebo, Kelp Magazine, S Magazine, TheMediaBriefing, and Glamour Girl. She dances in the kitchen, sings in the shower, and naps in the afternoons.