First Year


R. Cross is an MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. She writes semi-experimental fiction about non-normative love, transgenerational trauma, empathic children, recovering addicts, and women who are just so fed up. Her work has been featured in Day One and Reservoir. You can find her on the internet at


Mark Galarrita is an MFA fiction candidate and McNair Graduate Fellow at the University of Alabama. He attended the 2017 Clarion West Writers’ Workshop, the 2016 Rutgers’ Summer Writers’ Conference, and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a BA in political science. His work has appeared in Bull Magazine and the Kelsey Review. His fiction was nominated for the 2017 PEN/Robert J Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers and a Pushcart Prize. He has written for the “The Aethera Campaign Setting: a Pathfinder Compatible RPG” and narrative scripts for Global Gamer Jam events. Follow him on Twitter @MarkGalarrita or on his website.


Rachel Heng is currently an MFA candidate and Fiction Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. Her debut novel, Suicide Club, will be published by Sceptre, Hachette (UK) and Henry Holt, Macmillan (US) in August 2018. Rachel’s short stories have recently appeared in The Adroit JournalThe OffingPrairie Schoonerthe minnesota review, and elsewhere. Her fiction has won Prairie Schooner‘s Jane Geske Award, was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has been recommended by The Huffington Post. Rachel was born in Singapore, went to college in New York and spent several years working in London before she moved to Austin for her MFA. Rachel can be found on Twitter at @rachelhengqp.


Nancy Nguyen is an MFA fiction candidate at the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in English and from UC Davis with an MA in English and creative writing. Nancy grew up as a second-generation Viet in the white suburbs of Orange County, and she’s always trying to find an excuse to leave. She mostly writes about women, otherness, ugly love, and surrealism. You can follow Nancy on her meager website She will try very hard to update it.


Preslaysa Williams is a MFA fiction candidate and a Jackie Robinson Extra Innings Fellow at Seton Hill University. She received her BA from Columbia University and her MPA from the College of Charleston. Her writing has been awarded the ACFW Genesis and Indiana RWA’s Golden Opportunity Award. As an undergraduate, she was a Jackie Robinson Scholar and a Sol Spiegelman Scholar. Preslaysa is also professional actress who has appeared on TV and theater. She draws her writing inspiration from her faith and her roots as a Black-Filipina woman. Subscribe to her newsletter to get her musings delivered to your inbox every month:


Itzel Basualdo is an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She grew up in the all too hot Miami, Florida, where she fell in love with lady bugs and out of love with palm trees. She is an amateur painter recently turned amateur photographer. She received her BFA in Visual Arts from Florida International University. Her photographs, video art, and text-based work have been exhibited in her native Miami and internationally. One of her short, experimental pieces of nonfiction will appear in Creative Nonfiction Magazine later this year.


Jennie Frost is a queer poet from Maryville, TN.  They are joining the MFA program at the University of Mississippi. Their poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Border Crossing, Kudzu, Glass Mountain, Indicia, Stirring, and more. They are a dedicated member of the LGBTQ+ community and a human rights activist focusing on sexual assault prevention. Their poetry ranges from general discomfort to slutty/sad.



Emily Lawson is a poet entering the MFA program at the University of Virginia. She is a graduate of Hampshire College, where she studied philosophy and intellectual history. Some of her prose poems about state violence and the Information Age can be found in Split Rock Review, The Eunoia Review, and The Reader. Between programs, she’s worked in the Southwest as a whitewater raft guide and, most recently, as a River Ranger for the Forest Service.



Daniel Eduardo Ruiz was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico and studies poetry and screenwriting at The Michener Center for Writers at UT-Austin. He graduated from Florida State University in 2015 and spent most of 2016 in Valparaíso, Chile on a Fulbright Fellowship. His work can be found in Southern Indiana Review, The Journal, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. Daniel is a ginormous goofball, and when not doing poetry stuff, he’s a basketball player and a drummer, too.

Creative Non-Fiction

Christy Lorio is an MFA candidate at the University of New Orleans and works as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Times-PicayunePelican BombAntigravity MagazineNew Orleans Magazine, and The Toast. She holds bachelors degrees in English and film and theater arts. Christy draws inspiration from her hometown and her childhood spent growing up next to a swamp. She’s hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon 10 times, plays flute, and fiddles around with photography. She lives with two dogs, one husband, and a healthy amount of cats in a 100 year old house in New Orleans.


Lauren Mauldin is an MFA candidate at the University of California Riverside. She earned her B.A. from North Carolina State University, and has spent the past ten years working in online marketing before returning to school. Her focus at UCR is creative nonfiction, and there she will complete her first book—a memoir about her experiences as a young widow. In her free time, she enjoys photography and spending time with her dogs and horse. You can read more on her blog.