Current Students

New Students

Liz Beall


Liz Beall is a screenwriter, rabble-rouser, and recovering academic. Following graduate work at the University of Oxford, Liz spent almost two decades as a founder and Executive Director of environmental nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area. Liz began her screenwriting journey at the tender age of 40, graduating from UCLA's Professional Program in writing for television and then the The Black List + Women in Film episodic lab. Her feature film THE LAST WITNESS, a true story about a long-hidden WWII war crime in The Netherlands, is in development with Jackson Pictures. And although her IRA crime drama TV pilot THE TROUBLES has already burned through town and not found a home, she’s still proud to have pitched alongside Anton Corbijn who was, for a brief shining moment, attached to direct. Liz and her family live in Ventura County, where she enjoys surfing tiny baby waves.

Jesenia Chávez

Jesenia Chávez is a proud Chicanita, a public-school teacher, poet and storyteller.  Her writing is inspired by her parents’ migration to Los Angeles from Chihuahua, Mexico, her teaching career, her sense of loss in the rapidly changing landscape of the city, and all the small moments in between when she can catch her breath and put pen to paper. She is working on an upcoming poetry collection that will be published with Alegría magazine.  She co-hosts Que Me Cuentas: A mostly Latinx storytelling podcast.  She believes in the healing power of storytelling, poetry, dancing, nature and lots of hugs. IG @chabemucho @quemecuentaspod. 


Mark Eskridge

Lauren Fierro

Lauren Fierro is an aspiring author and lifelong reader. As a high school student, Lauren read and reviewed advanced reader copies of upcoming YA novels as part of her local bookstore’s Teen Advisory Board. Lauren moved to New York City for undergrad, where she earned her BA in Dramatic Literature at New York University. While at NYU, she completed editorial internships at Rowman and Littlefield and Macmillan Learning. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her family and her beloved shih tzu, Bella, whom she adopted in 2020. When not reading or writing, Lauren enjoys traveling, singing, and playing video games.

Melinda Lee Holm

Melinda Lee Holm is a writer, tarot reader, beauty brand creator, and magick obsessive. She worked as a shop girl, gift wrapper, corporate legal assistant, project manager, photo shoot producer, photography school admin, assistant teacher, and photo editor, before finally returning professionally to the thing that got her out of her chaotic and abusive origins - witchery. Melinda has published her own tarot deck Elemental Power Tarot, a tarot cookbook Divine Your Dinner written with chef Courtney McBroom, and has a book on using magick for personal transformation Your Magickal Year coming out in spring 2022. Now, she seeks to put her conviction that all words are magick words to the test by stringing a couple hundred pages of them together into a work of creative non-fiction about her own life that is as helpful as it is entertaining. Wish her luck.

Brian Hooper

Brian Hooper is a fiction writer from Atlanta, GA. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and West Virginia University College of Law. He is interested in telling stories about the Afro Diaspora and its defining themes such as tradition, displacement, rootlessness, racism, colorism, slavery, and equality. He also has a nascent interest in stories involving Afro futurism. When he isn’t writing or reading he enjoys traveling the world with his wife and, occasionally, their cat. His favorite cities in the world are: New Orleans, Tokyo, and Mexico City. And another thing about Brian is that he enjoys good bbq, fresh pho, and cupcakes.

Francesca Jimenez

Francesca Jimenez is a writer based in Los Angeles. Having grown up in the surrounding San Gabriel Valley suburbs, her affinity for the mountains and nature began with the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. While working as a proposal writer, marketing writer, and copywriter in the corporate world, she decided it is time to cultivate her original love for storytelling and creative writing. While in the program, Francesca is excited to continue exploring themes of time, intergenerational trauma, and co-created spaces and experiences of personal and collective healing and liberation. She graduated from Scripps College with a double major in Music in Psychology. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found rock climbing, hiking, meditating, practicing yoga, playing the viola, or enjoying a nourishing meal or live show with loved ones.


Kumar Mann grew up in a small mountain town in Northern California where he kept busy reading encyclopedias and Wildlife Fact File animal cards. He received his BA in French and Francophone literature at UCLA, then spent over a decade working in celebrity media. He reads books in physical print, tablet, and audiobook (usually at the same time), thinks libraries are undervalued, and has a professional crush on Louise Penny.

Robert Orantes

Robert Orantes is a student driven by his passion for story. Having recently graduated with his BA in Writing for the Performing Arts from UCR, he strives to continue working on his craft in screenwriting. He has done work reading scripts for script coverage and as a production assistant for a local studio in Riverside. If Robert had one goal in his writing career, it would be to create characters that others can connect to for a sense of comfort and escapism. The very thing that made him fall in love with story in the first place.

Shawna Pancharian Yaley

Shawna Pancharian Yaley is an identical twin, CA native raised in Santa Cruz. Boardwalk & birkenstalks, redwoods & driftwood fortified her youth before she headed south for SDSU. She met a guy, raised three lovely daughters, and worked in education and the non-profit sector. She is a skillful urban forager & beach comber.  She enjoys walking her dogs, a good yard sale, writing, and laughing with friends and family.

Karen Parker

Karen Parker is a Black, bi, non-binary Secular Buddhist from Los Angeles, California. After graduating cum laude from UC Irvine with a BA in English, a Creative Writing Emphasis in Fiction, and a minor in Japanese Language and Literature, they taught English in Gifu, Japan, for three years as an Assistant Language Teacher. Now attending UC Riverside’s Palm Desert MFA Program, they hope to research Esoteric Buddhism, oral storytelling tradition, and Black liberation for their debut speculative fiction novel, which will serve as a work of literary art and as an academic thesis. When they’re not writing, they enjoy cooking, cartomancy, composing music, critting in Dungeons & Dragons, and completing their video game collection.

Hailey Schneider

A true Cali girl, Hailey Schneider made the trek from her hometown in Brentwood (the cow town, not LA) to sunny San Diego, and has stayed there since. She graduated from UC San Diego in 2019, and proudly holds a BA in Theatre and a minor in Philosophy of Law and Ethics. Hailey is an aspiring playwright, and is at her best when she is doing something creative. After working a few years in the administrative realm, she longed to move forward with her creative career. She took a chance by throwing her hat in the ring for the UCR Palm Desert Low-Res MFA, and is absolutely thrilled over her acceptance. She is thankful for the support from her enormous insane family and their unending support. Hailey is in love with all things theatre and comedy, and has served as director, stagehand, and/or performer for several productions. When she's not writing, she can be found performing in local improv shows, baking, hiking, or making silly little comics about her day.

Jennifer Schuberth

Jennifer Schuberth has had careers in academics and finance and was a Tin House 2020 novel workshop recipient. As an assistant professor, she created a popular program in the academic study of religion and later co-founded Alder College, a two-year liberal arts college concept. She holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in literature and finance from Washington University. Jennifer’s first novel, Graft, features four women—a con artist, a card sharp, a spiritualist, and a ghost named Captain Jane—fighting for their lives and financial independence in 1890s Oregon. Her second, Opening the Bodies, pits female medical students against a corrupt coroner in 1894 Philadelphia. She will be working on both unpublished works during her time at UCR.

Jennifer is also a literacy advocate and writes about education and policy. Born and raised in Chicago, she now lives in Portland, OR with her partner and children and draws one-panel cartoons to relax. The New Yorker cartoon editors have yet to acknowledge her genius.