I was born in Metro Manila, Philippines, and immigrated to the United States with my family when I was ten. The transition was anything but easy, to say the least. At the age of eighteen, I began to suffer from debilitating anxiety and depression, which soon exploded into horrifying delusions and a suicide attempt. I was finally admitted to a mental hospital in my junior year at Rutgers, marking a turning point in my personal and professional life.
Unsurprisingly, I majored in psychology. I won the Charles Flaherty Award for my Henry Rutgers thesis on suicide and phenomenal creativity, which I later expanded into a book-length MA thesis at Goddard College. This work serves as the basis of my first book, The Paradox of Suicide and Creativity, which is forthcoming with Rowman & Littlefield's Lexington imprint.
Stories to me are very important, as are the voices of the marginalized. During my time as an MFA student at Goddard, I served on the editorial board of Pitkin Review (a biannual literary journal) and taught memoir workshops in and around Somerville, Massachusetts. Simultaneously, I was crafting the beginnings of what would be my own personal narrative into and out of madness. My memoir, The Color of Dusk, is currently represented by Jennifer Chen Tran at Bradford Literary.
I recently completed my PhD in Communication and Graduate Certificate in Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. My dissertation, The Suicidal Self in Cyberspace, explored the co-creation of meaning and community and rediscovery of hope in pro-life suicide forums online. In addition to my research interests in 'cybersuicide' and 'thanatechnology', I am also interested in the online spectatorship of human suffering, in dystopian narratives of our networked society, and in cinematic depictions of marginalized others, including the disabled, the so-called mentally ill, and sexual minorities in international contexts. I'm a staunch advocate of cultivating respect for and appreciation of difference, which is reflected in my previous work as Chair of the steering committee on diversity and core member of the PhD development committee at Goddard College.
Various strands of my writing and research have been supported by a Project L/EARN NIMH Fellowship, an ALANA Diversity Fellowship, and a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, among others. Past roles have included working as a research assistant at a youth anxiety and depression clinic and at a human emotions laboratory; as a program coordinator at an eating disorders clinic; and as a residential counselor at a halfway home in midtown Manhattan, among others.
As a teacher, I've taught courses in film studies, media and culture, television production, human communication and technology, and end-of-life (EoL) communication. I have also supervised independent study courses on the history, aesthetics, and craft of the short film, and the zombie in film and popular culture. Beginning Fall 2020, I'll be joining the Department of Communication at the University of New Hampshire as a Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholar.