Current Students

New Students

Mike Albers

Mike Albers grew up in the punk and queer scenes of the 1980s and 1990s. A retired logger from the Pacific Northwest, he now lives in Ventura, California where he practices immigration and criminal defense law. 

Ashley Bell

Ashley Bell (pen name Harklin Ashe) lives in the mountains north of Los Angeles, California with a musical husband and a deeply sensitive pitbull. Piles of dusty books, instrument cases, and lovingly chewed Kongs cover her floors instead of furniture.

She writes fiction to feed her soul and a mishmash of other things (ad copy and web content, to name a few) to pay the bills. She spends most of her non-writing time daydreaming, reading, hiking, eating, or thinking about eating.

Cheyann Benedict

Cheyann Benedict is a writer, designer, and fashion entrepreneur who co-founded C&C California, Cheyann Benedict Clothing, and PWWO T-shirts. In 2019 she pivoted full-time into her passion for creating story. As a prose writer, her focus is on speculative fiction, though she is also the co-founder of Futuregraph Entertainment, a boutique content creation company. She is a graduate of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center as well as a private mentor for female entrepreneurs. She received her BA from NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing at Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, when not in Los Angeles or New York, she lives above the Tesuque Reservation in Santa Fe, New Mexico with Stella, her four-legged constant companion.

Destin Blair

Destin Blair is genre fiction writer with a focus on fantasy and horror, born and raised in Southern California. He's worked a variety of customer service jobs and experimented with lots of career choices; having learned from perspectives that challenged his own, he centers his writing around unexplored territory. Escaping reality and focusing on the possibilities of the fantastical is his passion, and he loves centering fun characters around concepts pertaining to existentialism. He hopes to find a group to play Dungeons & Dragons with one day, that opportunity has yet to come.

Aron Cleary

Aron Cleary is a British writer living in Los Angeles by way of Tennessee, The Netherlands and Spain. He studied Modern Languages at The University of Oxford and has worked as a copywriter and creative director in advertising for too many years to mention. When he’s not working or writing, you might find him in the high desert or at a boxing gym, trying not to get hit.

Christine Ducey

Christine Kelly Ducey is a fiction writer from Connecticut with a focus on environmentalism and endangered species. She is a Fairfield University graduate where she studied English Literature and Education, a former teacher, dabbler in sales, and a current newswriter with a passion for writing weird, fringe fiction. Currently residing in New Jersey, Christine loves volunteering at animal shelters, rock climbing, doing yoga, running, and, of course, reading and writing. Christine's passions for the environment, LGBTQ+ rights, quality elderly care, and equitable education often make their way into her stories-- though not always in the way you'd expect.

Shannon Glass

Shannon Glass is a fiction writer and lives in Durham, North Carolina. She enjoys writing stories that provide her a new perspective from which to understand the world. She hopes to write her first mystery novel in the program. In her non-writing career, she designed, configured, and implemented HR technology systems for large enterprises, which often required more creativity than you might think. She also works with a local animal rescue, fostering cats and kittens pulled from rural animal shelters in underfunded North Carolina counties. She also has four cats of her own, and they occasionally try to be helpful writing companions.

Dante Alexander

Dante Alexander (He/Him) is an aspiring fiction author from Corona, California. Dante recently graduated from Boise State University with a bachelor’s in Business Administration. After taking some courses in fiction writing during his time as an undergraduate, he realized it was something he wanted to try doing in a Master’s Program. Dante has always been a huge fan of Japanese Anime and Manga, and he aspires to blend influence from overseas with more traditional western writing techniques. Dante’s writing tackles various themes such as: human morality, self-destruction, hypocrisy, personal growth, and redemption. Dante hopes that with the education and experience he receives from the program, he can become a successful novelist and eventually break into the film and television industry as a producer of his own projects.

Aspen Kleppe

Aspen Kleppe is a playwright who lives in a town most people have not heard of: Norco, California. Although she got her undergrad at the University of Riverside in Spanish Literature, she knew she was born to be a writer in some way. From writing creepypastas that never got narrated to Wattpad stories she will never share; Aspen is excited to continue her growth in the program. Outside of writing, she is a huge fan of TTRPGs and even is creating her own campaign inspired by the Jurassic Park series. However, we all know how that will end. Through this program, Aspen is hoping to break the norms of plays, and bring something new to the field of entertainment and theatre in general.

Laurel Long

Laurel Long graduated from University of Alaska, Anchorage with a degree in Youth Theatre and spent a couple decades teaching, directing, and writing for young actors and young audiences. Her production of Scrooge! won an ariZoni award for best youth production (that’s an Arizona Tony for those not in the know). She has produced her original work all along Theatre Row and twice entered the Hollywood Fringe Festival. She also spent two summers at the USC Summer Production Workshop and went through the Second City Sketch Writing program. Laurel is thrilled to join the UCR Low-Residency MFA program.

John Mannion

John Mannion is a writer, director, and actor whose work often plays with mystery and perspective and invites the deeper questions of life. One of six kids, John grew up in several countries and states and was shaped by the people, places, and ideas he met along the way. Today, he sees himself as a 'student of our stories,' and his artistic process centers around connection—to others, to the world, and to the soul. Most of his time is now spent between Seattle and LA, but he still loves to travel any chance he gets. Professionally, John has worked with over 100 authors as a nonfiction book developer, ghostwriter, and editor. He holds a B.A. in English (film minor) and an M.A. in Education (counseling concentration).

Samantha Martin

Samantha Martin is an aspiring fiction writer that was born and raised in the Coachella Valley. She graduated from California State University San Bernardino where she received her BA in English and also obtained her teaching credential. Since a young age, she was always reading and writing, intensifying her desire to become a writer. When she isn’t subbing throughout the day, or continuing to add books to her TBR, she is binge watching shows and movies, spending time with her friends and loved ones, or walking her dogs. In the next few years, she wishes to complete her first novel and push her writing to the next level. She’s excited to be a part of this program where she will be given the opportunity to dedicate her time to writing creatively.

Breen Nolan Schoen

Breen Nolan Schoen is a writer, recovering magazine publisher and former Rochesterian. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.

Laura Nuckols

Laura Nuckols is a Minneapolitan screenwriting candidate and a poetry editor for Prison Journalism Project.

Emma Schuler

Emma Schuler (She/they) is a writer and bartender born and raised in San Jose, CA. She earned her BA in Rhetoric and Media Studies at Lewis & Clark College. During her undergraduate years, she acted as co-chair of the Gender Studies Symposium and her play Men enjoyed a sold-out run at Fir Acres Theater. Her work examines trauma, grief, and the cost of survival. You can find her in Los Angeles, stirring martinis and singing to her elderly chihuahua.