I was born in Metro Manila, Philippines, and immigrated to the U.S. with my family at age ten. The transition was anything but easy, to say the least. In my late teens, I began to suffer from debilitating anxiety and depression, which soon exploded into horrifying delusions and a suicide attempt. I was admitted to a mental hospital during my undergraduate years 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 served as the basis of my first book, The Paradox of Suicide and Creativity, which was published by Rowman & Littlefield's Lexington imprint in November 2020.
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 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 in a pro-recovery suicide forum. 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 a diversity steering committee at Goddard College, and my current work as Diversity Chair of the Postdoctoral Association at the University of New Hampshire. More recently, I was named a member of the National Communication Association's (NCA) Mental Health and Communication Task Force.
Various strands of my research and writing have been supported by a Project L/EARN NIMH Fellowship, an ALANA Diversity Fellowship, and a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, among others. Past roles include working as program assistant at a youth anxiety and depression clinic; as program coordinator of an eating disorders clinic; as research assistant at a human emotions laboratory; and as residential counselor at a halfway home in midtown Manhattan, among others.
As a teacher, I have taught courses in film studies, television production, media and culture, interpersonal communication, public speaking, and end of life (EoL) communication. I have also supervised independent study courses on the history, aesthetics, and craft of the short film, and on the zombie in film and popular culture. In Fall 2020, I joined the Department of Communication at the University of New Hampshire as a Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholar.