Meet the MFA Students
Rita Cameron grew up in Philadelphia, PA. She studied English at Columbia University and earned her J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Levy Scholar. She practiced law in New York before moving to San Jose, CA, with her family. She is the author of two novels, The House Party (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2022) and Ophelia's Muse (Kensington, 2015). When she's not writing or revising, she loves to cook, travel, and throw overly-ambitious theme parties.
Anne Cheilek is a writer and editor living in the heart of Silicon Valley—if Silicon Valley can be said to have a heart. Cheilek's poems and stories have appeared in RHINO Poetry, Catamaran Literary Reader, Gone Lawn, Juked, The Shore, and many other literary journals. They are currently a poetry editor for DMQ Review, and was poetry editor for Reed Magazine issues 153 and 154, garnering that journal their very first (but not last!) Pushcart Prize. They are raising three great kids, and their hobbies include hiking, arguing, and playing violin in the Saratoga Symphony.
Samantha Denny was born and raised in San Jose and graduated with a BA in English Creative Writing from San José State University. Denny has published stories with SJSU's Poets and Writers Coalition and Meatspace Magazine, with a forthcoming story in the latter. When not writing, she is coaching the youth swim team or playing Pokémon.
Mike Noah Ford was raised in Berkeley, California by two English Professors in a house full of books. He began writing poetry at age 8 and won free ice cream for life in a poetry contest by age 10. Afterwards, he led a life of disrepute until he cleaned up and studied Religious Studies at UCSB. He then moved to Jerusalem and NYC for several years studying Jewish Mysticism and Yogic Philosophy, where he worked on two master's degrees in religion and culture. He has written numerous essays on Jewish Mysticism, Recovery, and several memoir pieces. In addition, Mike has helped his parents in editing and writing students responses in their best selling composition, "Dreams and Inward Journeys" (now in its 8th edition). He is also an actor, Realtor®, and enjoys helping plants grow. He hope to help people grow in their writing too.
Noëlle GM Gibbs is an interdisciplinary writer and theatre-maker living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves playing with words on the page and embodied on the stage. She is the Artistic Director of Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory where she creates performance-based art & community with folks aged 3-103. Whether playing with poetry, working on nonfiction pieces, writing or devising for the stage, or exploring in a cross-section of each of these genres, Gibbs's main interests lie in creating work that connects people to each other and seeks to bringing humanity to our increasingly tech-centric society.
Matthew Olivas is a first generation Mexican-American storyteller, daydreamer, Latine-futurist, and alumnus to 2022 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Olivas made the long list for the Samuel R. Delany Fellowship in 2021, and is a member of SFWA. Their work explores the intersection of Latine and queer experiences and can be found in Uncanny Magazine, Weird Horror Magazine, Bourbon Penn Magazine, and Speculative City Magazine to name a few. Olivas’s debut novel, “Sundown in San Ojuela,” will be released by Lanternfish Press fall of 2024. Olivas resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and spends their free time feeding their affinity for monster movies and collecting transforming robots. For more information on Olivas's fiction visit olivasthewriter.wtf.
Peggy Pollard is a contributing writer to the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper, and history of staff writer for Oakland Tribune, and several East Bay daily and weekly newspapers. She publishes newsletters as staff of an NGO for social support for international students at UC Santa Cruz, teaches ballroom dance and partners in Rotary Water and development projects in Uganda. She and her heroic husband never cease to marvel how our four Santa Cruz raised children transformed into (mostly) responsible adults making our world better.
Julia Pombo grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a Bachelor of Arts in Art Studio from University of California, Davis. She is a lyrical poet and has published a poetry piece and artwork in Berkeley City College's Milvia Street. When she is not studying, she is playing the oboe and jogging/walking.
Mariah Pompa is a fantasy and historical writer in the Creative Writing MFA program who has lived in Morgan Hill California her whole life. She graduated from Gavilan college with an AA in Liberal arts and Humanities and an AA in English. She was a founding memeber of the Gavilan College Poet society and published with them briefly before transfering to San Jose State University. She worked along side the students of Reed Magazine through the pandemic to produce Reed Mag 154, 155, and 156. When not hammering away at her education Mariah is writing, baking, and exploring history.
Ching Ching Tan
Ching Ching Tan was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. BA in Linguistics in UCSD; MA in Communication Studies in SJSU prior to MFA. Tan's primary focus is nonfiction. A WIP is a memoir called NATURALIZED. Tan's work has appeared in CNN, HuffPost, SFWP, Visible Magazine, Canyon Voices Magazine, among others.