Celebrating Our Students, Class of 2018

We have lots of good news and congratulations to share in this final post of the 2017-2018 academic year, but first, we’d like to wish all the very best to our graduating students: we’re immensely proud of you all! Please stay in touch and send us your news, join our Facebook group, CSUSB Department of English Alumni, and keep track of department news on our Facebook page (CSUSB English Department) and of course, this blog!

Student Awards

""Devin Almond, our department’s Commencement Speaker for 2018, will be graduating with his BA in English, Creative Writing Concentration, with a CSU GPA of 3.81. In addition to being a stellar student, Devin has been extraordinarily active in numerous roles on campus. He has served faithfully as a program assistant in the Queer and Transgender Resource Center. He led the programming on campus for the Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil as well as the on-going community discussion series entitled Trans Talk Tuesday. He has served as fiction editor of the English Department’s national literary journal, Ghost Town, and currently is curating and editing his own project, an anthology of trans narratives from around the nation, entitled The Albatross Anthology. Devin also is an intern at the Inlandia Institute and has performed his own poetry in multiple venues, including the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona.  We are proud indeed to have Devin “on the big screen” representing the department at the June 16 Commencement ceremonies.

Paul NunezThe English Department’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student for this year, Paul Nuñez Figueroa, will be graduating in June with a BA in English with a 3.965 GPA.  While Paul is a concentrator in linguistics, he has also taken a number of literature and creative writing courses along the way.  As one of the faculty who nominated him for this award noted: “Paul is thus the unusual English major who excels equally in all of the different areas of the field, from early literary history to linguistics to creative writing.”  That same faculty member has this to say about him: “I am always struck in Paul’s papers by how closely and carefully he engages with texts and the highly original interpretations and insights that result…Paul always strikes out into new, exciting terrain, fueled by the sharpness of his observations and the rigor of his logic.”  Paul’s omnivorous interests and his skill has a writer have also led him to write occasional pieces for the Coyote Chronicle, such as an article he wrote in Fall 2017 about a public academic talk regarding the removal of public statues of Confederate generals.  There was a broad consensus among our faculty in choosing Paul as our Outstanding Undergraduate Student this year and we are thrilled to recognize him for his outstanding academic achievement in our department.

Erika QuinonezNot only was Erika Quiñonez the English Department’s nominee as outstanding graduate student in our MA program, she also was selected as the Outstanding Graduate Student from the entire College of Arts and Letters.

One faculty member nominating Erika for the award noted that her “papers and research projects are not only always eloquently written, but also reflective of an analytical approach to language that deftly connects conceptual themes across diverse theoretical readings and bridges them with real-life experiences.” And it is precisely this type of connection to real-life contexts that was the driving force behind her choice of topic for her Master’s thesis, entitled (Un)Welcome to America: A critical discourse analysis of anti-immigrant rhetoric in mainstream conservative media. As one of her thesis advisors explains, “Erika worked diligently and passionately on her thesis. She views this endeavor as not simply an instance of scholarly work, but, crucially, as a social advocacy project, and one that she hopes will raise awareness about naturalized ideologies of racism and discrimination.”

Beyond her stellar academic achievements, Erika has also been involved in many other activities outside of the classroom during the past few years, among them heading the University Advancement Division’s 2017 drive for the CSUSB Obershaw DEN Food Pantry to provide groceries, toiletries and other basic necessities for students experiencing food insecurity at CSUSB; her small division took the first-place trophy, raising more than 1,100 pounds of food items and supplies. Erika exemplifies the ideals in learning, scholarship, and community involvement that we strive to promote as a department and institution.  We are extremely proud to be able to recognize her in this small way.

Felix Guadalupe Valdez Creative Writing Prize

The Felix Guadalupe Valdez Creative Writing Prize was established by Leo and Lupe Valdez in memory of their son.  The winners are chosen annually by the student editors of the Pacific Review. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

  • Poetry Prize: Ian Ovekimyan Ruiz-Hernandez
  • Poetry Runner-up: Devin Almond
  • Prose Prize: John Allen
  • Prose Runner-up: Jonathan Tovar

MFA Program Acceptances

Stephanie Segura, graduating with a BA in the Creative Writing track this June, has selected the MFA in Poetry at University of Washington/Bothell. Alumna Savannah Solorio (BA ’17) will join the Writing for the Screen MFA program at Loyola Marymount University, and alumnus Scott Bentley (BA ’16) will join the MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry at CSU Long Beach.

Kellie R. Rayburn Thesis Award

The 20Perez, Vickers, Quinonez18 Rayburn Award for Outstanding Thesis in the M.A. in English Composition program went to Ambar A. Perez for “Language Culture Wars: Effects of Language Policy on Language Minorities and English Learners” (Readers: Caroline Vickers and Parastou Feiz).  The Awards Committee noted that in her thesis “Utilizing an array of resources, including federal and state sponsored language policies in the United States and interviews with K-12 educators, Perez argues that an educational enforcement of a monolinguistic practice of English, carried out by dismantling bilingual education and isolating second language learners from their peers, serves to disenfranchise these students by labeling them as deficit language users. Over the course of the thesis, she also examines the ways in which this belief in a singular language acquisition and “mastery” normalizes the supposed hierarchical distinction between “native” and “non-native” speakers, when it fact it works by continually perpetrating deep-seated xenophobic and anti-immigrant ideologies that run rampant in the United States.”

Rayburn Honorable Mention Awards went to:

  • Dustin L. Shepherd for “The Functionality of Reboots” (Readers: Renée Pigeon and Mary Boland), whose thesis the committee found “offers a helpful complication to our sometimes knee-jerk reactions to so-called ‘reboots’ of older film franchises as mere capitalistic ventures by movie studios hoping to cash in on their popularity. Instead, Dustin makes a fascinating hypothesis that reboots, as an act of adaptation, allow audience members of the original franchise to become authors, and ultimately critics, of the texts themselves by highlighting, expanding, or even disregarding themes found in the original film series.”
  • Erika Quiñonez for “(Un)Welcome to America: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric in Trump’s Speeches and Conservative Mainstream Media” (Readers: Parastou Feiz and Caroline Vickers), whose thesis provided “a timely and important analysis of the national narrative of xenophobia that emerges in speeches and discussions of immigration on the political right. Analyzing transcriptions of more than 100 speeches delivered by Donald Trump, both before and after the election, as well as a set of ten news stories on immigration from conservative news outlets such as Fox News, she uncovers some subtle discursive strategies that are used to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment and fear and strip immigrants of their humanity.”

2018-2019 Teaching Associates

The following students in the M.A. in English Composition program have been awarded competitive positions as Teaching Associates for 2018-2019, including two who will be part of a pilot program for a Literature TAship.

  • Lilia Sanchez
  • Ruby Sanchez
  • Melony DeReal
  • Heather Seals
  • Marisol Rivera
  • Karina Garcia
  • Carlee Franklin
  • Monique Dixon
  • Ed Ferrari (Literature)
  • Leilani Martinez (Literature)

Alternative Thesis Presentations

On June 5, students completing the Alternative Thesis in the M.A. in English Composition, an inter-related sequence of scholarly texts that demonstrate mastery of both the subject matter and the written discourse of the discipline, shared their research:

  • ""Angel Lua – “History that Hemorrhages: Corridos and Simulacra in Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing” (shown in photo)
  • Russell Kapryn – “The Distinction of Intelligibility of the Bostonian and Los Angeles Accents Found Between Non-native and Native Speakers of English”
  • Katie Orr – “Roller Derby Performativity: Utilizing Alt Narratives in the Composition Classroom”
  • Jeremy Lunasco – “Freedom by Design: Universal Design for Learning as Liberatory Pedagogy in Prison”
  • Mikhel Hudrlik – “Prosthetic Adaptation: Disability in Manga Shakespeare’s Richard III

Honors Celebration

Our annual English Department Honors Celebration and Sigma Tau Delta installation on June 8 celebrated our award-winning students and their accomplishments, including this year’s students in Linguistics, Creative Writing, and Literature earning Departmental Honors by maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all English courses at CSUSB and completing a two-unit course, English 517, which involves writing a substantial paper and presenting it to faculty and students at an honors colloquium:

  • Jeffrey Hinkle: Gamer Talk: Hedging and Overlapping Within an Xbox Live Party
  • Amy Becerra: Embracing Chicano English: The Value of Non-Standard Dialects Within American Society
  • Miguel Vega: Our Innocent Blood
  • Lucinda Crespin: Chicana Latina Loca: Poetry and Prose by Lucinda Crespin
  • Christopher Surnovsky: Through the Eyes of Empathy
  • Austin Muniz: The New American Folktale: Puritan Portrayals and the Liberation of the Female Voice in The Witch: A New-England Folktale
  • Brianna Deadman: Feminist Princess: The Deconstruction of Gender Roles in Classic and Reimagined Fairy Tales
  • Stephen Milligan: The Grotesque Mirror: A Significant Other in Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood
  • Kate Wright: Breaking Down Domestic Doors: Merry Negations, Symbiosis, and Individual Wildness in Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus and “The Tiger’s Bride”

Students Sandra Vahine and Jeannie Le completed the English 517 Honors project in Fall 2017.

A highlight of the Honors Celebration was the induction of new members into the CSUSB chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society by the Faculty Sponsor, Jenny Andersen, witnessed by friends and family. Show are Professors Carlson and Hyon with Kimberly McKenney; Professors Carlson and Andersen with Lucinda Crespin; and James “Jaye” Johnson with their family.

  • Korissa ClayCarlson, McKenney, Hyon
  •  JW Cradduck
  •  Lucinda Crespin
  •  Jill Dixon
  •  Jackeline Espinoza-Camacho
  •  Trisha Michelle  Felix
  •  Celina Freeman
  •  Savannah Grossberg
  •  Steven  Hinkle
  •  Jeanette Jetton-RangelCarlson, Crespin, Andersen
  •  James “Jaye” Johnson
  •  Kimberly McKenney
  •  Steven  Murray
  •  Katherine O’Neil
  •  Shelby  Reinsch
  •  Kathleen Sarikas
  •  Suzanne Throckmorton
  •  Jonathan TovarJ. Johnson and Family
  •  Xochilt Trujillo-Flores
  •  Mariza Vasquez
  •  Jamie Wyman



mortarboard and booksOnce again, congratulations and our very best wishes to all our graduates: we’re excited about your bright futures. And a very happy summer 2018 to all our readers.

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