Student Spotlight: Yoán Moreno, M.A. ’19

Yoan Moreno 665x665 square crop - Student Spotlight: Yoán Moreno, M.A. ’19As of Fall 2018, Yoán Moreno, M.A. ’19 is a second-year English graduate student, with an emphasis in Literature, and a Teaching Fellow. During his time at Loyola Marymount University, he has presented his academic work at multiple conferences, as well as published critical and creative pieces. His experience as a Teaching Fellow has led to both professional and personal development; besides earning teaching experience at the college level, he also recalls personally rewarding moments – like getting a wave returned from a former student. Below, Moreno describes his achievements and memorable experiences in the English graduate program.

Q: What are the academic highlights of your time at LMU? Conferences, presentations, awards, publications?

A: To begin with, taking the contemporary critical theory course with Dr. Mailloux has been my highlight with respect to coursework. I had not learned so much in so fluid a manner, and with so much motivation, in a long time. I have participated in two conferences, the ACLA [American Comparative Literature Association] and MELUS [The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States]; I particularly enjoyed MELUS for the drive out to Las Vegas that I made with a fellow presenter and classmate. Along similar lines, a summer course with Rubén Martínez led me out to Noah Purifoy’s desert space, and even to Mexico City. (Further still, the Summer Research Grant I received took me to Havana, Cuba—a significant moment in my life.) In reality, I suppose the travel experience that has come with the territory of academic conferencing and research has marked the highs of my time here. But I have also enjoyed the two publications I’ve earned, one in Criterion for a critical piece [“Beat Deafness: The Polyrhythm of Paradiso’s Chapter XII”], as well as a creative piece [“Machete”] in Prime Number Magazine.

Q: You work as a Teaching Fellow: are there any memorable highlights or achievements you’d like to share?

A: I have been teaching (Spanish) since I was 21. However, being granted the opportunity to serve as a writing instructor in four courses, and now to run my own two sections of Rhetorical Arts, has given me the space in which to adapt my skills to the university setting. This reality is a kind of highlight. The particular achievements are personal: showing students [how] to become conscious of their voices, having a wave returned a semester later, reading an incredibly ambitious paper here and there.

I think a lot about pedagogy; I have always had in interest in teaching (and learning) through conversation—teaching, learning, and conversing are nearly indistinguishable to me. And I am trusted with 19 students to work out the pedagogical kinks in my approach while I teach them skills—but not just skills. There is something particular to Loyola for which I am profoundly grateful: the idea that a critical education should also have a moral imperative. I am very much into the idea of building societally, not simply individually.

Q: What are your future academic or professional plans?

A: I have been wrestling with [that] question for months. Recently, I decided I would stay in Los Angeles and that I would postpone (indefinitely) my Ph.D. application. Studying for me, specifically through the Masters program here, has become a familiar and habitual activity. So I will absolutely continue to study literature. But I do not want to specialize so narrowly as to have to forgo certain opportunities or projects because I am bound to one. The projects of creation, translation and critique that I want to pursue I will do outside of school; the challenge for me will be to maintain relations with the people in academia from the outside. I am more interested in pursuing these literary projects, now that I have learned what is demanded of them, as autonomously as possible. This decision—the process of coming to this decision—has, I believe, liberated me, given me more options. And I came to the Masters program to earn just that: options.