UC Merced English majors and recent English graduates are doing extraordinary things. Here are some of them:
• Ying Wei Anna Zhang ('22) recieved the outstanding student award for the class of 2022, and completed a highly successful honors thesis on Chinese fan fiction as part of the honors program. Through the UROC-H program, she conducted research in summers 2020 and 2021 on the role theatre can play in the fight for environmental justice. She interviewed theatre directors and scholars from around the world and helping to create the EarthShakes alliance, a global consortium of theatres committed to foregrounding ecology in their plays.
• Cat Flores ('22) was chosen to be the UC Merced student commencement speaker, and is headed to UC Davis in fall 2022 to begin a PhD in English. Cat is also a composer and musician. In summer 2020, she composed the music for the bilingual production of Richardo el Segundo (Richard II) produced and filmed by Merced Shakespearefest, and in springs 2021 and 2022 she wrote and performed music for Imogen in the Wild and Love's Labor's Lost, produced by Shakespeare in Yosemite. She worked as a scholar-artist to write a UROC-H research project on electronic music, accessibility, and theatre.
• Brandon Cooper ('22) won The Carter Joseph Abrescy and Larry Kranich Library Award for Student Research Excellence for a research paper that he wrote last Spring in and English class on the Cultural History of Comedy Since 1800. His award-winning paper was titled "The Laughter of the Madman: Sudden Enlightenment and Yeatsian Happiness."
• Kaelyn Hughes ('22) was featured in the LA Times discussing the impact of AmeriCorps on her life and how her stipend helps her pay for tuition and rent, and also furthers her goals of becoming a teacher.
• Andrew Hardy ('21) is working as a writer and copy editor for Mid-Valley Publications, where is writing is being published, and as a teacher of drama with Playhouse Merced's Play Anywhere! program, using his English degree in both positions.
• Jose Ramirez ('20), Mahealani Larosa ('22), and Emma Greenleaf ('20) wrote essays about digital performances in spring 2020, which were recently published in Shakespeare Bulletin. They are the first undergraduate students to be published in this prestigious academic journal, the leading journal for the study of Shakespeare in performance.
• In fall 2021,The Michigan Quarterly Review published "A Night at the Theatre: On Chaos and Fate," by Eddie P. Gomez ('14). After UC Merced, Eddie earned his MFA in creative nonfiction from Fresno State. His writing centers on food and travel and has also been featured in Small Print Magazine; Post Road Magazine; Your Impossible Voice Magazine; Flies, Cockroaches, Poets; The Normal School Online; and 34th Parallel. He is currently working on publishing a book, Chasing Life: A Memoir on Movement, People, Coffee and Food.
• Maria Nguyen-Cruz ('20) began working as an English and Language Arts middle school teacher at Voices College Bound Language Academy. While at UC Merced, they conducted research with the UROC-H program (where their work was written up here), participated in Shakespeare in Yosemite and Merced Shakespearefest productions, and served as president of the Feminist Students Association.
• Diana Lara ('20) also works at Voices College Bound. Diana received highest honors for her honors thesis "In the Age of Fanfiction: Redefining Literary Readership and Authorship in the Twenty-First Century," and recieved UC Merced's Distinguished Student award upon graduation.
• Conor Morgan ('18) was accepted to Johns Hopkins University's MA program in Communication, with a concentration in Corporate and Non-profit Communication, which will begin in fall 2022.
• Many English majors contributed to the Fall 2021 issue of UC Merced's literary magazine The Vernal Pool. Remy Sumida-Tate ('22) served as editor in chief, and it was copyedited by Arianna Mengel ('22), with Miranda Rosas ('23) working as junior copyeditor. Ying Wei "Anna" Zhang's award-winning short story "Upside Down Swing" is featured, and she also has two poems the issue. English program students Kaylin Insayarath, Monika Robles, and Juan Luzuiraga are also published in it, as well as Mengel and Sumida-Tate.
• Several English majors took part in the creation of Shakespeare in Yosemite's first feature length film, Imogen in the Wild, which can be viewed for free here. Sofia Andom ('22) stars as Imogen, and Andrew Perez ('21), Amber Loper ('21), Andrew Hardy ('20) and Kate Templeton ('21) act in the film. Cat Flores ('22) and Rena Johnson ('22) both wrote and performed original music for the film, and William Darpinian ('22) served as director of sound and a film editor. Brandon Cooper ('22) and Rilee Hoch ('21) also video edited the project, and William Serg George ('19) was a camera operator. Sam Flores ('22) and Remy Sumida-Tate ('22) worked on props and costumes, Monica Perales ('18) was on the research team, and Katherine Hernandez, Abigail Raven, and Preethi Merugumala worked on educational resources for the film, which has recieved praise from prominent Shakespeare and environment academics.
• Almost immediately after graduation, Amber Loper ('21) was hired to be the sophomore English teacher for Gustine High School.
• Sofia Andom ('22) gave a briliant interview to the Cymbeline in the Anthropocene project, talking honestly about approaching Shakespeare and the outdoors as a woman of color. Sofia stars in Imogen in the Wild, a new film by Shakespeare in Yosemite. She will also be starring in Shakespeare in Yosemite's 2022 live prodcution of Love's Labor's Lost in April.
• Savie Luce ('21) graduated with High Honors in the English program after completing their brilliant honors thesis, “Asexual Erasure Undone: A Short History of Asexuality in 19th- to 20th-Century Literary Classics." Savie was hired by Yosemite Unified School District and began teaching in Fall 2021, and was just admitted to UC Merced's Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD program, which they will begin in Fall 2022.
• We congratulate the record-breaking honors class of 2022, who are writing their theses in 2021-22:
Brandon Cooper, “Romanticism and the Modern Era of Conspiracy”
Cathryn Flores, “Digital Theatre: A Musical Process”
Viviana Gomez, “Becoming La Virgen de Guadalupe: Coatlicue’s Journey and Her Influence on Modern Chicanx and Indigenous Communities”
Kaylin Insyarath, “The Effects of Literary Fiction on Empathy”
Arianna Mengel, “Blurring Lines to Broaden Perspective: Gender Expression in Past and Present Shakespeare”
Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez, “Contrasting Creation: Analyzing Mesoamerican and Abrahamic Creation Narratives”
Remy Sumida-Tate, “Echo: Audio Horror in Podcasting”
Ying Wei Zhang, “Wangxian in the West: English Fan Translations and Reception of Chinese Boys’ Love in Western Fandoms”