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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. 

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.


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.


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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Victoria Hurtado-Angulo (Poetry) is a Long Beach poet and a jack of all trades in the arts. She is known as an active member in her art community ranging from art shows to skate events. She has hosted her own virtual and in-person open mics in Long Beach and Norwalk, CA. She has been a featured reader at art events, held a lecture for a poetry workshop, published poetry in a handful of zines and collections in these past three years, and is juggling an art project with the EveryLibrary advocacy virtually.

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.
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. 

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.

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.
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.
Carlina Perna -they/them- (Screenwriting) can usually be found questioning some element of social structure. Carlina writes about impact and refusal, using written and visual language to construct realities that critique and affirm. They hold a BA in Spanish Literary Studies and Religious Studies from Occidental College and an MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

Kali Veach (Screenwriter) 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.

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.

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).
Olivia Wolf -she/her- (Creative Nonfiction) writes about topics such as family, homelessness, education, and her experiences as a Chinese adoptee. Olivia’s other interests are similarly varied and continuously evolving. She majored in psychology at Macalester College, studied biodiversity in Madagascar, interned at the office of Senator Amy Klobuchar, and taught English in China as a Princeton in Asia fellow. She has lived across the country and the world, although New York and Portland are where she calls home.