Welcome Fall 2014 Cohort: Student Bios

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Tracey DennisTracey Dennis is a perpetual student. She’s attended UCR, Cal State San Bernardino, the University of Redlands and Moreno Valley College. New to writing, she takes inspiration from film and music. She tends to lean towards the more nerdy side of life; Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter being huge influences on her life. She works at a local high school in special education and hopes to inspire those who have inspired her.


Ajit S. Dutta was born in Jamshedpur, India, but for most of his adult life has lived outside India.  He lived in Ajit DuttaLondon where he obtained a chartered accountancy degree and worked for one of the Big 8 accounting firms; in the Sultanate of Oman on a temporary posting for two years; and, came to the US in 1979 where he now lives in the metropolitan DC area. For about 25 years Ajit owned and ran an international management consultancy firm with offices in Cairo, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Gaborone, Port au Prince and Delhi. He and his wife, Bonnie Galat, recently completed an 18 month stay in Paris: she was working for the World Bank and he was happily exploring Paris. Ajit is writing a blog about that experience http://www.imajit.com/category/blog/) although, regrettably, it is an after-the-fact blog. He is an amateur photographer and has held several exhibitions. He enjoys food, therefore, he also enjoys cooking. Ajit has a special love for music, especially Urdu ghazals and Sufi music. He published a book of poems, “A Father’s Poems,” about his two daughters, Danielle (now at USC) and Nikki (at Dickinson), and has read his works many times in the DC area, Delhi, and Paris.


Henry FinchRoy Finch is a teacher, filmmaker, and composer whose first film,the indie feature WAKE, won him the Best Director award at the Queens International Film Festival as well as receiving the prestigious Prism Commendation from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. Finch received his film training at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope where he worked on such films as “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “The Secret Garden”, and “The Godfather III” in varying production and post-production capacities. Finch has worked with the world-renowned percussionist Mickey Hart most notably as a ProTools engineer and co-composer for Tupac Sukur’s last feature film, Criminal Intent. Finch has also composed the soundtracks for feature films “Follow Me Home” and “Wake” as well as the hit television show Survivor. His recordings have been released by Windham Hill, Palace of Lights, Sentient Spirit Records, and the Chacras Filmworks labels. His latest musical endeavor, and EDM project with acclaimed jazz artist Jamie Finegan entitled “Finegan Finch,” will be released this Fall. Finch is a Professor at Chapman University teaching Advanced Post Production Audio, Visual Storytelling and Intermediate Production. Finch also serves as Course Director for the lecture courses Sound in Cinema and APPB (Advanced Post Production) at the Los Angeles Film School. He is a member of the Actors Studio Playwright and Director’s unit. Finch has taught filmmaking at a number of schools and enjoys “inspiring young filmmakers.”

Education: BA Music Composition & Filmmaking, Hampshire College.


Annemarie Hauser

Annemarie Hauser graduated from the University of Florida in 2014 with her B.A. in English and a minor in Mathematics. She completed a novel for NaNoWriMo in 2012, and is currently editing this piece while also working on her second novel. Most of her work has been described as “tragic, depressing, and emotional.” She currently lives in Oviedo, Florida where she was born and raised, and works for a Preschool/Afterschool education center called O2b Kids.


Melissa Henderson

Melissa Henderson was born in Boston, raised in the Canadian backwoods and tends to rattle around, no fixed address. She received her B.A. in Linguistics and French from UCLA and has written for The Los Angeles Times, Brand X, Soundspike and whoever else would have her. She responds well to threats, deadlines and anyone willing to pay her bar tab.


Jon Levenson has spent most of his career pretending to be unhappy people on various stages in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and beyond. Born and raised in El Toro, CA, he couldn’t wait to Jon Levensonleave suburbia for New York. Levenson was part of the Broadway cast of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart in 2011 and performed in the National Tour the following year. He also played Harold in the 40th anniversary Off-Broadway revival of The Boys in the Band. Jon has taught theatre with The Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop and at his alma mater, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he received his MFA in International Theatre and Acting. After 17 years of gypsy life, Levenson returned home to grow roots in California and do some hard-core Uncle-ing for his 6 year old nephews. It was during this time that he fell in love with writing and he is honored to be able to pursue his new passion at UCR.


Monica MainMonica S. Main is starting her first year at UCR in the Palm Desert Creative Writing MFA Program.  She is planning to graduate in December 2016 with an MFA in Creative Writing. Monica started writing her first screenplays in her freshman year of high school.  Within only a couple of years, she had 11 completed feature screenplays.  Unfortunately, when one is young, there isn’t enough life experience to adequately inject into a story to make it complete.  This would be the time when Monica decided to press the pause button on screenwriting to focus on becoming an entrepreneur whereas she’s built several multi-million-dollar businesses starting from scratch.  Now, at the young age of 40 and with plenty of valuable life experience under her belt, she is now ready to fully embrace pursuing a career in writing starting with earning her MFA degree at UCR Palm Desert. Monica is divorced, has a 6-year-old daughter, and lives in Santa Clarita, California where she runs 2 highly successful mail order businesses.


Currently residing in Chattanooga, TN with her husband and kids, Rebecca Marsh spends her days writing, nourishing relationships, mentoring younger women at her church, going on hikes Rebecca Marshand bike rides with her family, perusing farmer’s markets, cooking, reading, Netflix binging, walking her dog, studying up on nutrition, avoiding anything that feels more like “exercise” instead of “fun,” and daydreaming stories that she hopes will one day appear on the Big Screen. You can check out her blog of random ramblings at http://beccasdailylagniappe.tumblr.com.



David MartinezDavid Martinez has a hard time staying in one place. Since his mother is Brazilian, he has dual citizenship between the United States and Brazil. As a teenager he lived in Bayamón and Dorado in Puerto Rico. He has also lived in São Paulo and Fortaleza in Brazil, and between Idaho, Florida, Arizona and Utah in the United States. He currently lives in downtown Salt Lake City. David earned his BA in English Creative Writing, with a minor in History, from Arizona State University. He writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and hopes to get into screenwriting. While at ASU, David unofficially interned for Hayden’s Ferry Review, where he wrote for their blog. Some of his fiction and non-fiction pieces have placed in a few local and national competitions. He takes inspiration from all types of art. As a teenager he would skip class to thumb through Dali or Klimt art books at the library. He grew up reading everything he could find and he loves all kinds of music from Talking Heads to Tom Waits to Bach to Raul Seixas.


David Rozzell

David Rozzell is a writer and filmmaker.  He began writing articles for his school paper at age 7.  From there, he began performing spoken word while studying at Morehouse College.  He parleyed his love for the spoken word into filmmaking and has produced, written, and directed 8 short fiction films to date.  David’s film review column, Reel Love, is locally circulated in Atlanta, where he resides.


Marion RuybalidMarion Ruybalid graduated from Whitman College with a BA in French Literature. After being adopted from Bangladesh, and living in few different countries, she currently lives in Port Townsend, WA with her husband and six children. Marion’s interests in writing vary as one of her favorite authors is Victor Hugo who wrote in multiple genres. With him as her example, Marion wants to explore many genres of writing, but she knows that one of her favorite forms of expression is through creative nonfiction.



Senta Scarborogh — bio coming soon…Senta Scarborough




Katie Thomason

Katie Thomason wants to get her byline back. During her first career as a journalist in the coal mining/Bluegrass regions of southwest Virginia, she won awards for writing about small town politics. Now she wants to pen her own journey from reporting about one side of the country to teaching writing and literature to inner city Los Angeles youth. Having completed her BA in Journalism from Virginia Tech and her MA in English literature from Arizona State University, Katie is looking forward to pursuing her MFA in creative writing from UCR Palm Desert. She enters the program with her partner of nearly 20 years, Senta Scarborough. They chose it because it looks like a vacation even if it isn’t one.


Christina Tillitz graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a B.A. in History in 2013. PriorChristina Tillitz Egtvedt to this, she earned an A.A. in Fashion Design from Brooks College in Long Beach, California, graduating in 1989. She spent the years in-between working on and off as a seamstress and bridal wear designer, but focused primarily on being mom to her four children. She writes screenplays and creative non-fiction and has aspirations of polishing, and publishing, the mountain of stories and snippets she has packed inside her brain, file cabinet, and various data storage devices. Christina resides in Broomfield, Colorado and is thrilled at the opportunity to return to California and to study with UCR Palm Desert.


Jesse WehrenbergJesse Wehrenberg
has worn many hats, none of them berets. In previous lives he has professionally inspected furnished apartments, sold drugs (legally), appliances (also legally), learned to read squiggles and dots, and taught children how to build birdhouses. He spent six years working in military intelligence where he

[REDACTED] for the [REDACTED], and established a new [REDACTED] in [REDACTED.] And yes, he has seen and even spoken to [REDACTED] in real life. It was, as you might guess, as intense as it sounds. He has a pair of colorful socks for every occasion. He made a little birdhouse in his soul. He refuses to discuss religion or politics but will, if asked, happily sing a traditional sea shanty (off-key.) He still misses his grandfather



Nancy Wilder-Trippel is a poet, dancer and a storyteller.  She earned her BA from UCLA in Dance and will soon begin her first year in the UCR MFA Low Residency program in Creative Writing and Writing for the PerformingNancy Wilder-Trippel Arts, in Poetry.  After dancing professionally, she taught and choreographed, “A Special Dance Interlude” in The Jazz Series: Hoagy Carmichael and Fats Waller at the Art School in Carrboro, North Carolina where “Poetry Through Movement” nurtures and partners the dance artist as described in the biographical description for receiving Honorable Mention in the poem, “Library Notes A Studier’s Snore” in Our World’s Favorite Poems: Who’s Who in Poetry National Library of Poetry, 1993. Nancy is currently working on ”Poetry Treasures: Where The Desert Shadows Hide.”A storyteller of words and movement, Nancy’s earliest passion for  poetry began in her childhood backyard.  Outside of poetry and dance, she enjoys playing tennis with her family in Mercer Island, Washington.


Luke Yankee.jpgLuke Yankee is a critically acclaimed playwright, author, screenwriter and TV writer.  His memoir, Just Outside The Spotlight: Growing up with Eileen Heckart is published by Random Hous
e, with a foreword by Mary Tyler Moore. His award-winning play, The Jesus Hickey premiered in Los Angeles starring Harry Hamlin.  His first play, A Place at Forest Lawn has been performed by Betty White, Marion Ross, Frances Sternhagen, Marcia Cross, Marian Seldes and Millicent Martin and is published by Dramatists Play Service.  His screenplay, The Last Lifeboat, was one of ten scripts chosen internationally for the 2012 DreamAgo Screenwriting Workshop in The Swiss Alps.  The play version (also published by Dramatists Play Service) will receive its world premiere in California this fall. As a director and producer, he has run two regional theaters, assistant directed six Broadway shows and directed Off Broadway and at theaters around the country. He has toured internationally with his one-man show, Diva Dish! and has taught all over the U.S. and abroad.



By | 2017-05-18T16:48:16-07:00 September 9th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on Welcome Fall 2014 Cohort: Student Bios

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