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"I read to lose myself and find myself at the same time." - Imani Mosley

Student Spotlight

UC Merced English majors and recent English graduates are doing extraordinary things. Here are some of them:

• 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.

• Congratulations to Savie Luce ('21), who 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 begins teaching in Fall 2021.

• We also congratulate the record-breaking honors class of 2022, who will be writing their theses next academic year (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”

Darah Carrillo Vargas, “Analyzing the Lyrical Composition of Popularized ‘Protest Songs’ from 1990 to 2020”

Ying Wei Zhang, “Wangxian in the West: English Fan Translations and Reception of Chinese Boys’ Love in Western Fandoms”

• In Summer 2021, English majors Remy Sumida-Tate and Miranda Rosas are conducting research on poetry and podcasts with Dr. Fatima Burney, and Sofia Andom, Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez, Serena Johnson, and Mahea LaRosa will be conducting research on the LA Women's Shakespeare Company and Harlem Shakespeare Festival with Dr. Katie Brokaw. These projects are sponsored by the UROC-H program, which provides undergraduate research opportunities to Engish majors.
 
• Cathryn Flores, '22, is an English major and writing minor as well as 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 spring 2021 she wrote and performed music for Imogen in the Wild, the Shakespeare in Yosemite film. She is working as a scholar-artist to write a UROC-H research project on electronic music, accessibility, and theatre, and academic publishers are already interested in her work. She is the July 2020 featured student of the month for SSHA and featured by UC Merced's communicatins team in 2021.
 
• Samantha Shapiro, '20, begins a Masters in Public Health in Environmental Health Solutions program at University of North Carolina, Billings, in Fall 2021. Alejandra Salgado, '19, was admitted to the University of Washington Masters of Educational Policy program, which she will begin in Fall 2021.
 
• Chris Ingle, '20, was chosen to represent his class at UC Merced's virtual commencement in May 2020. He spoke eloquently about overcoming many obstacles on the route to getting his degree.
 
• Serena Johnson, '22, created and performed "7 Rings (Hamlet Remix)" in Spring 2020, a brilliant tribute that fans of Ariana and the Bard will love in equal measure. It was one of several creative projects created by UC Merced students for their English classes while under lockdown. She is composing and performing music for Imogen in the Wild, the 2021 Shakespeare in Yosemite film.
 
• Jose Ramirez, Mahealani Larosa, and Emma Greenleaf wrote essays about digital performances in spring 2020, which will be published in Shakespeare Bulletin. They are the first undergraduate students to be published in this prestigious academic journal. 
 
• Diana Lara, '20, received highest honors for her honors thesis "In the Age of Fanfiction: Redefining Literary Readership and Authorship in the Twenty-First Century." Diana also recieved UC Merced's Distinguished Student award upon graduation, and was honored virtually in May 2020. 
 
• Through the UROC-H program, Ying Wei (Anna) Zhang, '22, conducted research in summesr 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.
 
• Xotchitl Garibay, '19, began a new job with the National Park Service as an interpretive ranger for Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Spring 2020. While at UC Merced, Xotchitl was involved in the Yosemite Leadership Program, and worked for the Vernal Pools literary magazine and the Undergraduate Research Journal. Her experience in the English major and in these activies gave her the passion for nature and the communication skills needed to succeed in this exciting job, where she will be teaching visitors to the park about the area and the importance of preserving the natural world.
 
Monica Perales, '18, graduated from UC Merced with honors and as a published poet. She now works for Restore Merced, a non-profit dedicated to creating economic and social opportunities for residents of Merced.
 
• Natalie Robertson, '18, and Bias Collins, '19, are pursuing PhDs in English at UC Davis and in Literature and Disability at UC San Diego, respectively. 
 
• Shawna Lin Murdock, '17, was hired by Yosemite National Park after graduation and now works in the legal profession in San Francisco.
 
•  Jennifer Zamora, '16, earned a masters in Interdiscplinary Humanties at UC Merced and now works as an advisor at UC San Diego.
 
Shavone Charles, '12, is a first-generation American performance rapper-songwriter, entrepreneur, activist and marketing and communications executive in the technology industry, recently named as one of the 30 most influential tech entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes magazine. She is currently the Director of Consumer Communications at VSCO, photo-editing app and social platform. She was the first African-American woman to ever be hired onto both Twitter and Instagram’s communications teams. While at Twitter, She helped co-found Twitter's first employee resource group for African American employees, Blackbirds. s Head of Global Music and Youth Culture Communications at Instagram, Shavone helped create Instagram's first-ever Black History Month program in 2018, which reached more than 19 million on Instagram and featured a series of first-time initiatives, including a #BlackGirlMagic partnership with Spotify and the launch of the #CelebrateBlackCreatives program. In early 2019, Shavone founded Magic in Her Melanin, and released two musical projects: "SITH" and "4C" which premiered by Dazed & Confused Magazine and Billboard respectively. She was UC Merced's first ever alumna graduation speaker in 2018, and in summer 2020 led a workshop for UC alumni. 
 
If you have a story idea for this page, please email Professor Gao at wgao4@ucmerced.edu 
 
Updated 2021