Where They Are Now

'15 Wafa Azeem(M.A., Literature)served as a communications intern for the CSUN Human Resources Department. Now she is a content developer for Scorpion Internet Marketing and Web Design. Another Intern Success story: she says “I’ve always heard stories of people saying they loved going into work every day.” Wafa thought these stories were part of a myth, “the holy grail of employment,” but she loves her work!

’15 Michael Dunbar (M.A., Literature) currently works at 826LA

’15 Ashleigh Mendez (M.A., Literature) is currently attending University of La Verne for her teaching credential.

’15 Rachelle Yousuf (M.A., Literature) is the Membership Assistant at PEN Center USA and the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Women's National Book Association.

’14 Nina Ahn Moon  (M.A., Literature) currently working on a Ph.D. in English at Northwestern University with full funding for five years

’14 Itiola Stephanie Jones (B.A., English Subject Matter) has been accepted into the prestigious Cave Canem program, a home for many voices of African-American poetry. Cave Canem is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African-American poets.

’14 Miles Simon (M.A., Literature) is attending the Ph.D, program at the University of Rochester with full funding.

’13 Sean Pessin (M.A., Creative Writing) graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in 2015, earning an M.F.A. in Writing; he was recognized as the Graduate Writing Class Marshall. Sean also received the Academic Excellence Award and the First Book Fellowship—a $10,000 grant that allows, following completion of the degree, a student to focus on developing and revising their thesis manuscript for publication. He has had work published in Interfictions OnlineThe New Short Fiction SeriesThe Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and Used Gravitrons. His story "Holy Basil" was runner-up for the 2014 Ninth Letter Literary Awards: Fiction. In 2014, Sean co-organized and co-hosted a multi-genre reading series at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), and has read work as part of Writ Large Press' "90 for 90" event, at Skylight Books as part of a showcase featuring the 2015 Otis College Graduate Writing M.F.A. class, and as part of Writing the Future 2015 at the Los Angeles Downtown Public Library in the ALOUD series; a recording of it can be found here. He worked as an assistant editor at Otis Books | Seismicity Editions; currently he teaches at CSUN in the English and the Humanities Departments, and is also the Managing Editor of Les Figues Press.

’13 Colin Herrera (B.A., Creative Writing) is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at Rutgers University in the creative writing (fiction emphasis) program, with a Chancellor’s Award for a tuition remission fellowship. Additionally, he is working with the Visiting Writers Series and as a mentor for high school writing programs affiliated with Rutgers.

’13 Jon Goodnick (B.A., Creative Writing) attended the California Institute for the Arts Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing (fiction emphasis) on a fellowship.

’12 Varant Dickranian (B.A., Creative Writing) Varant Dickranian is a writer and producer who partnered up with his older brother, forming London Fog Pictures. Since graduation, he has written, produced, and co-directed a low budget feature titled Sarah (2013), produced several ADDY award winning commercials, short films, and has completed several story treatments. His first published illustrated novel titled ‘Forgetting Beethoven’ is found on Amazon. Varant has recently partnered up with independent publishing company Magic Novels, to create several unique illustrated stories for all ages.

’12. ’15 Cody Deitz (B.A., Creative Writing; M.A., Creative Writing) is attending North Dakota University for his Ph.D. in Creative Writing.

’11, ‘14 Hayarpi Movsesian (B.A., Literature; M.A., Literature) is working on a Ph.D. in comparative literature at University of California, Santa Barbara, with six years of full funding, multiple fellowships and a funded opportunity to do research in St. Petersburg, Russia and Provence, France.

’11 Rosalba Ruiz (M.A., Creative Writing) has published her first book, Mary, the Mother of Jesus-a-Biography. She wrote an initial section of the biography to fulfill the requirement of her M.A. Thesis

’10 Anne Yale (M.A., Creative Writing) is the owner of Yak Press, an independent press founded in 2010 by teacher-authors devoted to making art via the medium of words. She is also the author of What’s That Word? (published in 2012 by her company), a student workbook that presents a lexical approach to acquiring a college-prep vocabulary in 36 classroom-tested lessons.

’09, ’14 Yollotl Lopez (B.A., Literature; M.A., Literature) is attending NYU with 5 years of funding (with an option of 6 years of funding if she teaches four semesters)Fall 2015. She was also awarded the McCraken fellowship with an additional summer stipend for all 5 years.

’09, ’15 Angeline Olliff (B.A., Honors in English; M.A., Rhetoric Composition) earned first place in the 19th-annual Student Research and Creative Works Symposium for her oral presentation, “Encouraging the ‘Risks of Caring’: a Cognitive-Development Approach to Collaborative Learning in FYC Classroom.”

’09, ’12 Kristin (Cornelius) Way (B.A., Honors in English; M.A., Rhetoric Composition), is working toward a Ph.D. in Information Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. She was awarded the Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship.

’09 Andrew Bond (B.A., Literature) Entered graduate school for the PhD at UC Riverside with 5 years guaranteed funding. Earned his MA in English in 2011, and continued until deciding to focus on teaching and service. After two years of moonlighting as an adjunct English instructor at Moreno Valley College and a Korean language instructor at UCR, Andrew went on the job market and accepted a tenure track position at Bakersfield College. He is currently an Associate Professor in English and also serves as the department liaison to BC's Rural Initiatives, a position created to help promote college education in Kern County's rural districts.

’08, ’13 Norma Aceves  (B.A., Literature; M.A., Literature) is pursuing her Ph.D. at University of Florida. She received a Kirkland Fellowship (20,000 a year for four years and a year off from teaching in addition to a tuition waiver). She also received the CSU Chancellor's Office Doctoral Incentive program (10,000 loan renewable for up to three years). Read more here!

08, ’12 Ashlyn Morse (B.A., Creative Writing; M.A., Creative Writing), in medical school at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was heavily involved in fundraising activities for Project Medishare, which provides health care in Haiti to people without access to the most basic medical needs. She was one of several volunteer medical professionals and students to go to Haiti to conduct health fairs and mobile clinics.

'07 Ryan Skinnell (M.A., English) is an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition and an Assistant Writing Program Administrator in the Department of English at San Jose State University. Dr. Skinnell earned his MA in English (with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition Theory) at CSUN in 2007 and his PhD in rhetoric, composition, and linguistics at Arizona State University in 2011. He teaches courses in writing and rhetoric courses at all levels, and his research focuses primarily on public rhetoric—how politicians, public figures, and average citizens use persuasive language to influence public policy. Dr. Skinnell is the author or editor of five books, including Conceding Composition: A Crooked History of Composition's Institutional Fortunes(Utah State University Press, 2016) and Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump, (Societas, 2018). He has also published numerous essays in academic and popular outlets on rhetoric, writing education, political speech, and demagoguery. 

‘07 Brittany Vaughn (B.A., Honors in English) is director of operations for the Boys and Girls Club. She has held the position for 10 years. She expects to graduate with her master’s in nonprofit/public/organizational management from CSUN in 2015.

’07, ‘12 Cesar Soto (B.A., Literature; M.A., Literature) Cesar Soto was awarded a Ford Dissertation Fellowship for his dissertation tentatively titled “My Kingdom is not of this World: Christianities, Revolution and National Identity in Atlantic Writing Cultures (1789-1832)”.  He is also an alternate for a Fulbright Research Grant to Ireland. He will be presenting “Fray Servando Teresa de Mier’s Memorias: Radicalizing Burke and the Uses of Rousseau in the Formation of the Mexican Republic in the Nineteenth Century” at the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (UC Berkeley in August). Cesar was very successful at CSUN and he has continued this success!  He says “I continue to be grateful for the first-rate education I received at CSUN and I hope everyone is well!” more on Cesar's adventure; read here!

’07 Ryan Skinnell (M.A.,  Rhetoric and Composition) Ph.D. 2011 Arizona State University is teaching at San Jose State University as Assistant Professor and Assistant Writing Program Administrator. 

’07 Cynthia Cohen (M.A., Literature) Is starting a new job at L.A. Valley College, as a tenure-track faculty librarian. Publications include "Unique Representations of Trees in the Lord of the Rings" in Tolkien Studies (2009, adapted from her MA thesis) and "Identifying Opportunities in Citizen Science for Academic Libraries" in Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship (2015).

’06 Stacee Bucciarelli (née Barcelata) (M.A., Literature) was awarded a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from Loyola University, Chicago.

’05 Nicole Gant (B.A. Credential)is the 2015 recipient of the Heroes in Education Award, presented by the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Gant is a teacher at Port of Los Angeles Charter High School.

’05 Sarah Todd-Balderas (B.A., English Credential) is the author of the article Three Books Changed Everything, which was published in the February issue of California English. The article is about fostering a love of reading in students.

’05 Jane Gama Reed (B.A., Creative Writing) has been promoted to health and wellness director at the Montecito Family YMCA. She was instru-mental in the success of the flagship LiveSTRONG at the YMCA cancer survivor program, which has been replicated in other branches.

’03 Diane Scrofano (M.A., Literature) is a tenured faculty member in the English Department of Moorpark College. She teaches developmental and freshman composition, literature, and critical thinking. Prior to her current position, she taught high school English and also worked as a high school librarian. She holds two teaching credentials and a Master of Library and Information Science degree as well. Diane specializes in children's and young adult literature, and has recently published two articles, one in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services (Winter, 2015) and one in Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)magazine (June, 2015) as the result of a sabbatical on young adult fiction and memoir of mental illness. 

’02 Jackie Valenzuela-Octavia Butler (B.A., English Credential) is currently working as Program Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She manages a team of eight health educators responsible for developing and assuring our health education materials meet standards, particularly during public health emergencies like the recent measles outbreak or Ebola in West Africa (see the guide we developed here: http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/hea/docs/2013.05.29_SayitRightManual_WEB.pdf), training the 60-member health education workforce throughout the County, and working with local public health schools/programs to get the right competencies into their curricula and recruit interns.  She also has been teaching public health courses at local universities.

’00, 02 Noreen Lace (B.A., Creative Writing; M.A., Creative Writing) recent publications include "$1.00 Stories." Printers Row Journal. Published by The Chicago Tribune. April 24, 2016, "Fairly Tale." April Fools. April 2016, "Dreams of Mr. Rabbit." Love and Leprechauns: Pilcrow and Dagger. Feb/March 2016. Print, West End. REaDLips Press; Los Angeles, 2016. Print.

’96, ’01 Linda Raider Overman (B.A., Honors in English; M.A., Creative Writing) was featured in an article published by the University of Cumbria in England, where she earned her Ph.D. in creative writing. Recent publication; "Adiós Margarita Cansino, Hello Rita Hayworth." Starbodies and the Erotics of Sufffering. Eds. Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Colleen Glenn. Detroit: Wayne State Press (2015)

’95, ’15 Laurisa Reyes (B.A., Creative Writing; M.A., Creative Writing) is the founder of a small press called SKYROCKET PRESS (www.skyrocketpress.com) and is about to release its 5th title, a middle grade book called CAMP OMIGOSH by Wade Bradford (who is an English professor at Moorpark College). She hopes to grow the business over time and release 3 more titles in 2015. She continues to work as the editor in chief of Middle Shelf Magazine, and working as a freelance editor as well.

’93, ‘97 Stephanie Satie (B.A., Literature; M.A. Literature) received the 2015 CSUN Exceptional Creative Accomplishments Award. She is a playwright and had her most recent work, Silent Witnesses, published in Indie Theater. Her play also was performed at Antelope Valley College in spring 2015.

’86 David Marote (B.A., Creative Writing) is the senior corporate paralegal at Dole Food Company’s world headquarters in Westlake Village. During his 27-year legal career, Marote worked for multiple corporations and firms throughout the Los Angeles area.

’81 Peter Mackler (B.A., English)was honored by the American Hospital Association, in partnership with the California Hospital Association. He is the executive director of government relations and policy for Memorial Care Health System. Mackler was recognized with the American Hospital Association Grassroots Champions Award for his leadership in generating grassroots and community activity in support of hospitals.

’77, ’02 Janet Garufis (B.A., English; M.A., Rhetoric Composition) was recently named president of the board of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. She also serves on the board of directors for the Santa Barbara Symphony, Western Independent Bankers and Women’s Economic Ventures.

’76 Terri Ann (Whitaker) Turner (B.A., English, Teaching Credential) has spent 37 years teaching English and language arts in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she also has served as a reading coordinator, mentor, coach and IMPACT counselor for the Teen Mom Program. She never strayed from her Matador roots, as she dedicated 21 years to teaching power reading in CSUN’s Summer Academic Enrichment Program, 32 years as a master teacher to CSUN student-teachers and served as an associate professor in CSUN’s credential program.

’76 Lois Smith (B.A., English)received the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP) 2014 Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes long-term service to SSP. Throughout more than 20 years in SSP, she has served as co-chair of several committees, as well as president and at-large member of the board of directors.

’75, Debra Farar (B.A., English) has been appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to her third term as a member of the California State University system’s board of trustees. She acted as finance chairwoman in the past four campaigns for Sen. Barbara Boxer and as senior education advisor for former Lt. Gov. Gray Davis.

’73 Allan Johnston  (B. A., English) is a writer, poet, and teacher with a Ph.D. from the University of California—Davis. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, Rhino and many other journals. He has published three poetry collections, Tasks of SurvivalNorthport, and Departures, and received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, Pushcart Prize nominations, and awards and placements from Outrider Press, New Letters, Roberts Writing Awards, and other competitions. Originally from California, he now teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago. He has worked as a consulting poetry editor for Word River and is a judge in the annual Illinois Emerging Poets competition. He is also the co-editor of Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education and a contributing editor to The Roundtable. His articles have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, College LiteratureMcNeese Review, Radical Pedagogy, Review of Contemporary Fiction, and other journals.