Celebrating our English Graduates 2020-2021

Author: Department of English
May 31, 2021
“The class of 2020 and the class 2021 have prevailed against a world ravaged by a global pandemic, a country besieged by a rash of violent racist attacks, and a system of higher education compelled to reinvent its ways of being overnight.”

— Gitanjali Shahani, Professor and Department of English Chair

Event Student Speakers

  • Katrina Hsieh (English Education)
  • Satomi Abe (M.A. English: TESOL)
  • Courtney Sadowski (Linguistics)
  • Chloe Donnelly (M.A. English: Linguistics)

Department of English Undergraduate Student Honorees

Undergraduate Honors Convocation Nominee and English Literature Distinguished Student: Mandolyn Tracy

One of Mandolyn’s professors writes: “I only met Mandolyn during her final semester in my Postcolonial Literature class, but she made an extraordinary impression. Her final research project on Tommy Orange's novel There There outlined an astute critique of what she called "colonial understandings of owned and contained 'places'" and showed how the complex narration in Orange's novel offers a powerful Indigenous reclamation of both physical and psychological place. Mandolyn shaped her project with fine attention to the nuances of writing such an analysis as a white-passing mixed race Indigenous person, drawing on materials from the class, independent research, and readings from her previous coursework in Native American Studies. The care that Mandolyn showed in her final project was also a quality she demonstrated week in and week out during class discussions. Her engagement, which balanced thoughtful listening and insightful sharing, helped the online class feel like a dynamic in-person one."

Courtney Sadowski (Linguistics)

Courtney's commitment to inquiry about language and how it functions in society has been apparent to all of us. She worked on research with Professor Smirnova and her peers on the parallels between computer mediated communication and telegrams from the 1960s and 70s. In Professor Lederer’s course on conceptual metaphor, Courtney examined metaphorical models of cancer survivorship. And for the capstone linguistics course, The History of English, Courtney's final paper is titled “Lumbee English as a Post-Colonial Language”. It examines the structure and socio-political history of Lumbee English, a variety spoken by the indigenous Lumbee peoples in what we now know as North Carolina and to whom Courtney has ancestral connection. It's been a joy for all of us in Linguistics to teach and learn from Courtney and we're thrilled to celebrate her degree.

Undergraduate Honors Convocation Nominee and Professional Writing and Rhetoric Distinguished Student: Wing Chi Wong

Wing Chi Wong is has been a remarkably capable, resourceful, and enthusiastic student of professional writing and rhetoric over the past several semesters. In all of her professional writing and rhetoric courses, she has consistently been a leader, inspiring her classmates to participate and interacting with them with a kindness and collegiality that promotes the kind of collaboration all professors hope to see among their students. As a child of immigrant parents for whom English is a second language, Wing feels passionately about using writing to empower others to navigate the complex, often opaque discourse of civic life. After graduation, she hopes to work in a setting where she can make complicated ideas and information accessible, less intimidating, and more useful to people. 

Brenden Michael Nolan (Literature)

Brenden Michael Nolan graduates with an English Literature major and a Linguistics minor. Brenden believes in the power of literature and language to shape our world. As he asserts in the conclusion to one of his essays: “through literature . . . ideological revolution may begin to occur within people’s minds.” Professor Mary Soliday wrote of Brenden: “he is an unusually fine close reader, sensitive to nuance in language, and he enjoys wrestling with difficult texts. In class, he is a very thoughtful listener who is also responsive to others -- a sophisticated, ambitious, and critical reader, writer, thinker.” Brenden excelled in courses such as “Women in Literature,” “The Literature of Exile and Migration,” “Irish Literature,” and “Literature and Ecology.” Brenden will take his commitment to language and social justice to law school, as he is applying to UC Hastings for Fall 2020, eager to prepare for a career in law. 

Katrina Hsieh (English Education)

Besides her outstanding academic achievements, Katrina has been a pleasure to know inside and outside of the classroom, a student who loves to discuss teaching! Personable, and with a warm sense of humor, Katrina’s contributions to class are guaranteed to deepen the level of discussion for all. "Katrina’s passion for knowledge, her emergent pedagogical and scholarly skills, and her optimistic and collaborative disposition create a strong foundation for her future success. She is clearly a special and unique student—among the most curious, hard-working, and compassionate that I have encountered in my career as an educator." Katrina has already supported school students by tutoring with 826 Valencia and as an instructor at the Aim High summer experience for middle school students.In July, she will start the Stanford Teacher Education Program. We are  excited that she will continue to assert herself as a leader among her peers and future colleagues. The English Education faculty send her all our best wishes.

Lauren Baker (Linguistics)

Lauren Baker is passionate about language and linguistics. Her final project in ENG 680, co-authored with 3 other students, examines sentiment around COVID-19 using a custom computer program to analyze Twitter data. Lauren is also a member of the ECOLE lab and a Marcus Undergraduate Research Assistant working with Anastasia Smirnova on a project on language simplification. As part of the project she participated in the creation of a digital corpus and the design of behavioral experiment. After graduation, she is interested to apply her skills to better understand the role of language in society.

Graduate Student Awards for Distinguished Achievement

Satomi Abe (M.A. English: TESOL)

Satomi Abe is an incredible success story and a shining example of how an international student can grow professionally and as a scholar in our program to achieve a very high level of academic work and pedagogy. Having come through the ALI, Satomi was dedicated to doing all she could to succeed, including taking longer to complete the program in order to ramp up her linguistics background and academic writing skills. She has done excellent work in her studies, has pursued professional conference opportunities (CATESOL) multiple times to augment her grad training. Satomi has done exceptional service for the program as a SHINE Coordinator. On that front Satomi served for 3 years as a SHINE leader where she mentored other SFSU students to work effectively in adult ESL classes; in her work at SHINE she developed a writing workshop that integrates CSL and scholarship application writing. In short Satomi Abe was involved, engaged, and is the consummate professional.

Final project title or area of study: Reflective Writing in Community Service Learning: Identity Representation of Multilingual Students in the Personal Statement Genre

Chloe Donnelly (M.A. English: Linguistics)

Her research involves a conceptual metaphor analysis of modern clinical psychology theory, showing how the conceptual structure of psychological theory and treatment mirrors and elaborates the metaphorical understanding of the mind in everyday language and thought.

Final project title or area of study: Conversations of the Divided Self

Maria Zuffanelli (M.A. English Literatures)

Maria is a gifted and dedicated teacher who has succeeded in every teaching opportunity available to English Department graduate students, serving as a model TA, a paid grader, and a GTA; she also recently stepped in to take over two classes for a faculty member who needed to take emergency sick leave. Many faculty have noted her commitment to student success and social justice both inside and outside the classroom, and one faculty member notes that “her work epitomizes what we have come to call resilient pedagogy.” Her flexibility and talent as a teacher will serve her well in her future endeavors.

Final project title or area of study: 20th-21st-century American and 20th-21st-century British literature

Monique Therese Ubungen (M.A. English: Composition)

For the past five years, Monique Ubungen has played a vital role in supporting the academic success of a diverse population of students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Through her extensive work in community college English, ESL, and adult education courses, alongside university-level writing classrooms, she has been an advocate for critical literacy development and student empowerment. As a fourth generation Filipina-American and San Francisco native, she is firmly committed to increasing equity and access to higher education for urban communities of color and non-traditional student populations. Prior to beginning graduate school, Monique was a community college transfer student to UC Berkeley, where she earned her B.A. in English. During her English M.A. studies at SFSU, she served as a Graduate Teaching Associate for First-Year Writing. She also completed certificates in Teaching Post-Secondary Reading and Composition to more effectively address the learning needs of students who struggle in developing college-level reading and writing skills. Following graduation, Monique plans to pursue a secondary master’s degree in Education with a Concentration in Equity & Social Justice, and she aims to establish policies and programs that provide greater opportunities for everyday people to receive a college education.

Final project title or area of study: A Pandemic of Change: Lessons the COVID-19 Crises Taught Us About Education, Equity & Empowerment

Yuri Madenokoji (M.A. English Literature)

Yuri's excellent M.A. thesis examines what Mary Prince and Audre Lorde can teach us about the workings of systemic oppression. She is an exceptionally self-motivated, responsible, intelligent, and generous student who is committed to social justice, community building, and anti-oppressive pedagogy and research.

Yuri volunteers at Hospice East Bay, and is planning to pursue an MA in Secondary Education and a Teaching Credential at SF State in Fall 2020.

Emily Nicol (M.A. English Literature)

Emily is completing a remarkable thesis on Raymond Chandler that fuses a nuanced sense of historicity with a deft use of scholarly, critical, and biographic research; her examination of the relationship of Chandler's vision to cinema and the city of Los Angeles breaks new scholarly ground.

Emily has served as an excellent TA in the M.A. in English Literatures Program; her future plans include further pursuit of scholarship and teaching.

Cheryl Eccles (M.A. English TESOL)

Cheryl held high standards for herself throughout her time in the M.A. TESOL program. Her expertise as a drama teacher provided a natural source of inspiration as an academic, a teacher, and colleague. When her students read Farenheit 451 to write an analytic paper, she used drama-based techniques to engage her students. This eventually led to her culminating experience project.

Cheryl was a welcome source of intellectual energy and professional drive in our program. Her organizational skills, attention to detail and ability to seek the ‘big picture’ are evident in her performance as a graduate student, LAC tutor, Project SHINE leader, coordinator of our "TESOL Talks" series, a TA in ENG 201/202, and then as an ALI teacher and mentor teacher.

Skyler Ilenstine (M.A. English Linguistics)

His culminating experience project concerns the metaphors commonly used to discuss autoimmune diseases and explore hw these metaphors influence treatment intentions and feelings of patient empowerment. In line with research on the metaphorical framing of cancer, findings show that that, by far, the two most common metaphors for autoimmune disease in both corpora are AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE IS WAR and AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE IS A JOURNEY.

Tiffany Custer (M.A. English Composition)

For her culminating experience, Tiffany examines educational opportunity gaps experienced by under-represented students, particularly black males. She argues for pedagogical interventions to improve self-efficacy and academic self-concept.

Tiffany has supported countless students’ academic success at both SF State and Diablo Valley College, through her work as a tutor, supplemental instructional leader, and composition teacher.

2020-2021 Graduates

English Education

Charlene Angeles
Aubrie Basco*
Breanna Baze***
Rodrigo Campos
John Chew*
Reginald Cruz
Shane Cueva
Taylor Dreher
Daniel Fernandez
Meghan Frasure**
Maria Gonzalez
Alberto Gutierrez
Veronica Ignao
Lexie Jones
Jessica Korbus
Nirmeen Mandour
Francisco Martin**
Kilanii Milan
Octavio Montiel
Alejandro Navarro
Emma Neu
Ryan Perry
Zachary Prasad
Daisy Santiago**
Alexandra Schuler
Julia Swing***
Brinna Tom*
Valarie Vera


Christopher Kyle Granados
Cynthia Green
Miriam Isler
Sophie Liang*
Kelsey Marcott
Mariana Monascal
Anna Moss
Emily Ochoa*
Adriana Rodriguez
Courtney Sadowski
Dorian Saravia
Lindsey Searle
Kayla Wynne
Edmond Yuen*


Amal Abu-Ali
Leticia Arellano
Fabiola Baeza*
Adrienne Baronia
Nicole Breazeale
Sirreck Brown-Smith
Rebecca Castillo
Si Clare
Aisia Fletcher
Courtney Donahoe
Natasha Forsberg
Lauren Forte
Natalie Fregoso
Russelle Gatmen**
Stephanie Gonzalez
Nathan Guila
Michaela Healton
Audryana Hernandez
Krista Hutchison
Presley Jackson
Shalane James
Veronica Jardeleza*
Phillip Johnson
Rafe Kassim***
Rafe Abd Al Illah Kassim***
Breanna Keys
Jacklyn Kohls
Hannah Leonard**
Ze Hui Lu
Priscila Madrigal
Jacob Mahady
William Manzano-Mallison
Grace Mcguire
Julie Millay
Corina Moran
Binh Nguyen
Natalie Nuñez
George Ogarkov
Spencer Olney
Megan O'Reilly
Teuila Petaia
Mckenzie Phelps***
Willis Plowman***
Juliet Poucher
Stephanie Ramirez*
Heyzell Raudes
Annie Rhinehart
Amanda Riley*
Quinnmarie Shaw
Roland Shepherd
Benjamin Shields
Rejeanne Smith**
Erik Sterner
Faith Swanson*
Ethan Swigart
Emily Taylor
Rajan Thiara
Catherine Torres
Mandolyn Tracy***
Liana Velazquez
Mitzy Velazquez
Anthony Vieira
Courtney Westergren
Rachel Yeater

Professional Writing & Rhetoric/Technical & Professional Writing

Alexa Almira
Journi Gillette
Maikeila Lunch
Zacarias Milton**
Hailey Russell
Kelly Scheurer
Cara Stucker
Lauren Taylor
Jessica Tovar Bobadilla
Kari Vides

M.A. in English: Composition

Shanna Cooper
Tiffany Custer
Sudha Krishnamoorthy
Kimani Lincoln
Alexandra Naeve
Rachael Tupper-Eoff
Monique Therese Ubungen

M.A. in English: Linguistics

Joseph Decarlo
Chloe Donnelly
Jenna Ferrario
Sujung Nam

M.A. in English: TESOL

Satomi Abe
Eric Chien
Samier Farmer
Kourosh Ghaderi
Casey Laird
Yun-Jung Lee
Miguel Llora
Calvin Mak
Calvin Mak
John Rodgers
Elisandra Santos
Jennifer Smetzer
Trang Thi Thuy Tran
Peter Vanvalkenburgh*
Kathleen Wheater

M.A. in English Literatures

August Braddock
Frankie Carrillo*
Angela Chang
Elyot Cotter
Jill Delong
Teresa Diviacchi
Rachel Egoian
Lee Hammel
Kayley Huff
Clementine Johnson
Terrence O'Leary
Ufuoma Umusu
Melissa Valk
Maria Gorbea Zuffanelli

2019-2020 Graduates

English Education

Jihane Abdelhadi
Janus Baetiong
Alizha Batres
Alina Benson
Chiaki Borissoff
Jazmin Cecena
Blake Cram*
Valeria De Santiago*
Andrew James Diaz
Ana Fuentes
Samantha Garcia*
Ramon Hernandez
Katrina Hsieh***
Lauren Ibarrientos
Edward Kevorkian*
Jia Yi Lao
Anna Marie Livesey
Karina Lopez
Diego Meredith-Marquez*
Kyrene Maria Narciso Castaneda
Courtney Norman
Arturo Perez
Niecey Quintero**
Lianna Reich*
Kayla Rodriguez
Erica Salas
Austin Sheffield***
Maya Showen***
Luc Theriault
Jake Tise
Maria Elena Urquico*
Gohar Zakian


Lauren Baker
Zachery Brown
Angel Canlas*
Jacqueline Cao
Marnee LaBine
Rafay Mazhar
April Mejia
Sanghun Namgung
Scott Purdy
Brit Trimble


Jihane Abdelhadi
Anthony Abuan
Steven Abundis
Alessandra Arguello-Recinos*
Jeanine Balbuena*
David Bodek
Jonathan Burnette***
Christina Ceja*
Michael Dao
Gabriel Dumaop
Natasha Eastin
Cody Fisher
Kaitlan Gomez
Juliana Guerrero
Sharvil Gupta
Cassandra Irizarry*
Emily Johns***
C'erah King-Polk
Kaili Kobylka
Elizabeth Leiva**
Chloe Lete*
Huan Hong Liao
Celina Lopez
Michael Manuel
Dan Martinez
Lauren Neuroth
Brenden Nolan**
Melissa Nuila
Trinity Ogg**
Victoria Pascual
Jessica Payne*
Valerie Pedroche
Iztel Perez
Justin Remy
Alejandro Rodriguez
Olivia Schneider
Rhea Segismundo*
Makai Smith
Eileen Sosa
Nicolas Soto Juarez
Gabrielle Spano
Taylor Tracy
Ollin Vargas
Marco Varni*
Raven Wadley-Wright

Technical & Professional Writing

Alexandra Bialkin
Yoon Chang*
Thomas Enriquez
Caitlin Ghan
Vanessah Howard
Rachel Ladeby
Peter Liao
Wing Chi Wong**

M.A. in English: Composition

Josue Garibay
Heather Gorgen
Lauren Holt
Robert Hoyt
Dottie Pratchard

M.A. in English: Linguistics

Skyler Ilenstine
Taneesh Khera
Rose Kitchel
Helena Laranetto
Minsun Lee
Cesar Olivas

M.A. in English: TESOL

James Chao
Sin Yee Chau
Cheryl Eccles
Jasmine Giblin Ingaramo
Katya Hawks
Ryan Lee
Christine Leung
Leilani Matthews
Claire Northall
Stanislava Petrova
Billy Priest
William Grady
Jessica Marcela Racca
Pedro Ramos
Michael Walsh
Wenyi Yang
Christina Yun
Phillip Zavala

M.A. in English Literatures

Nikolas Bunton
Giselle Cardenas
Zoe Dumas
Leila Easa
Elizabeth Eckert
Colin Flynn
Sandy Karkar**
Yuri Madenokoji
Megan Mather**
Emily Nicol
Grace Pearson
Rosette Simityan
Maureen Spengel**
Calandra Warren

* Cum Laude Honors | ** Magna Cum Laude Honors | *** Summa Cum Laude Honors

Related Events

For details on SF State’s plans to celebrate Graduates, please visit the Commencement website.