Layhannara Tep is the full-time Project Director of Writing Success Program (WSP) here at UCLA. She is a Christmas baby born and raised in Long Beach, California to two refugee parents from Cambodia. Her parents are survivors of the Cambodian genocide, a heavy fact that anchors her in reality. She tries to remember to live a purposeful life because it is a life she almost didn’t have. Her serious side is deeply rooted in her Capricorn being but she’s also a dreamer by nature.
She loves Mindy Kaling, Amy Poelher, Maxine Hong Kingston, Khalid Hosseini, and J.K. Rowling. But Jane Austen reigns supreme. Sunday brunch is her favorite meal. She lives at coffee shops and nap ocean-side. Throughout the last few years, she has worked actively on issues of access, retention, diversity, and curricular reform.
As an undergraduate, she double majored in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Asian American Studies. She loves stories in all forms: songs, poetry, television shows, film, theater, and books. When a story resonates with her, she feels a connection to the world. As an aspiring writer, she hopes to one day re-create this experience for others.
Gabriela (Gaby) Cuevas
“The kind of writer that takes herself too seriously and has inside jokes with herself.”
That would be the pull quote for one of Gaby’s biographies if biographers felt she was important enough to have one. As a young twenty-something year old, Gaby spends her time working, ordering food, and sleeping. When she has time she switches between reading Dave Eggers’ novels, brainstorming endings and beginnings for her unfinished short stories, and thinking of clever things to tweet. You can find her on her days off in her apartment staring at blank walls and enjoying the fact she has no commitments for the day. As an English Literature aficionado, Gaby enjoys the antithesis of Jane Austen and depressingly morbid stories about life and love. Even though many of her comrades consider Gaby an untheatrical person, and even though many have described her as “calm” and “relaxed” her favorite work is Wuthering Heights. If you ever feel like you want to know more about Gaby but her resting bitch face draws you away, feel free to follow her on twitter (@gabycaves), some have said it’s the window to her soul.
Pegah Mahmoud is currently in her last year here at UCLA and is amazed at how quickly time flew by! As the Writing & Creativity Counseling Coordinator, she makes sure that her calling to be a high school English teacher is reflected in the work that she does here at the Writing Success Program. Making sure that all staff and students who are a part of WSP, no matter how quickly or slowly time goes by, will feel WSP’s positive impacts long after college.
Pegah is an English major with a minor in Educational Studies. Besides procrastinating on her final papers and cursing herself every time for it, she actually loves writing papers (when she gives herself enough time) and exploring the various themes that can accompany a novel, short story, poem, etc. Her love of English, beginning at a young age, is now at full steam – only hoping to get stronger as time passes.
Haesoo Kim is a tennis-playing, succulent-collecting tea enthusiast from El Dorado Hills (near Sacramento). As WSP’s Communications Coordinator, Haesoo serves as the blog’s editor, among other things. A huge travel-bug and outdoors-lover, she has been to all of the national parks in California and plans on seeing the rest soon. Her goal is to one day visit every continent in the world. She has a light obsession with food, coconut water, and learning languages. Haesoo became interested in psychology after reading Flowers For Algernon, and she likes learning about artificial intelligence and the brain.
Her appetite for stories began at a young age when her parents read Korean folklore to her and shared stories from their own pasts. She loves to read science fiction and fantasy stories. Her all-time favorite writer is the late author of the fantasy comedy series Discworld, Terry Pratchett, although Tamora Pierce will always remain close to her heart.
Julia Eberhardt is one of the Writing and Creativity Counselors for WSP. She is an avid reader (particularly of war novels and political satires), a loose leaf tea collector, and an aspiring certified cheese specialist. Julia decided she wanted to become a writer when she was six years old after writing her first “novel” – a detailed plot summary of The Lord of the Rings. Since then, Julia has dabbled in all genres of creative fiction and has attempted to write several short-stories and novels, but discovered a particular affinity for poetry after reading the quirky, yet meaningful work of Emily Dickinson. Following in Emily’s footsteps, Julia is currently working on a chapbook that she plans to eventually see published, the first (she hopes) of many. When not writing poems, Julia also spends her free time at reasonably priced concerts, in the historical fiction section at independent bookstores, or unabashedly divulging in cream puffs and ginger tea at local bakeries.
Kent Tran is a Writing and Creativity Counselor counselor at WSP. Growing up in the Bay Area suburbs of San Jose, he is fond of milk tea and the word “hella.” In his free time, Kent is a consumer: a lover of good food, pretentious indie music, and all the hyper-liberal news he can find on Facebook. When he puts on his serious face, Kent is always working on improving his poetry writing, figuring out what the buttons on his DSLR do, and learning more about issues of gender, race, and economics. Sometimes, he writes about all these things too.
As Kent grows up, he is quickly realizing that the world has way too much to offer. He hopes to one day be able to write code for the next big software company, publish and edit books for up and coming writers, craft stories and headlines for newspapers, work together with nonprofits to make change, and teach English to eager young minds. For now, you can find Kent learning vital life skills, such as learning how to cook for himself.
Rosalva (Rosie) Isidoro
Rosalva Isidoro is a Writing and Creativity Counselor for the Writing Success Program at UCLA. She has an impressive number of Polaroid pictures, a collection that reminds her of the good times spent with family and friends. Besides making memories she also enjoys shopping for skirts and dresses, going to museums, concerts, and eating candy. She is from South Central, Los Angeles and is the daughter of Mexican parents who have created in her a passion for Mexican food. When she’s not thinking about food or what concerts are coming up, Rosalva always carries a book in her backpack that she is currently reading (Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions). She fell in love with reading because it transported her to another place, a different setting than the one she grew up in. One day she hopes to use her love of reading and art in education. You can spot her wearing her lilac headphones listening to music on her way to class. Say hi or ask her what she’s listening to!