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 defended my doctoral dissertation in Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I also pursued a Graduate Certificate in Film Studies. My dissertation, titled 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 Fellowship, an ALANA Diversity Fellowship, and a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, among others. Past roles have also included working as a research assistant at a youth anxiety and depression clinic; 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 have taught courses in film studies, media and culture, television production, interpersonal communication, and public speaking at UMass-Amherst, where I'll be teaching a brand new course called "Death in the Digital Age" in Fall 2019. 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. In Summer 2019, I'll be joining the staff at Putney Student Travel to teach forensic science and public speaking & debate at the Pre-College Program in Amherst College.