MAT LA Students and Alumni/ae

Our Students and Graduates in the Field

Current and Former MAT Students

Listed alphabetically with field placement site in parenthesis.

Anna Acosta (B.A. Sociology and Chicano Studies, UC-Davis) is a native Angelina and a former LAUSD student. After completing her undergraduate studies she returned to Los Angeles and served a year with City Year Los Angeles (a national nonprofit organization). During her year of service in South Los Angeles she collaborated with a diverse group of corps members, while working closely with a group of middle school students as a tutor and mentor. Anna’s former experience with public schools in California and her commitment to social justice led her to the Bard MAT Program where she works to develop a culture of collaboration, leadership and inclusivity in the classroom space and community. (UCLA Community School)

Yusuf Bautista (B.A. in Political Science and International Affairs, UC-Riverside; M.A.T. Bard) is from San Bernardino, California. He served with Americorps for City Year Los Angeles at Markham Middle School in Watts. Yusuf collaborated with a diverse group of young corps members from across the country to serve as mentors, tutors, and role models that provided academic support in English and Math classes, lunch leadership clubs, after school programs, school initiatives, and events. His passion for education, mentorship, and social justice led him to Bard where he collaborated with his peers to establish the first student led organization called BLAM (Bard Los Angeles Masters) Learning the Community speaker series.(Miguel Contreras Learning Community)

Shareesa Bollers (B.A. Bard College, Literature; M.A.T. Bard) is a High School English Teacher at Math and Science College Preparatory. Her first teaching experience occurred at age twelve when she opened a free summer school for thirty students in her village in Guyana. She has since participated in teaching internships in New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Costa Rica, China, and Ghana. Shareesa believes teaching is a collaboration between student and teacher so she aims to foster a safe, caring, and nurturing environment in each of her classrooms. Combining her passion for teaching and traveling, Shareesa endeavors to earn a Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education work to reform English curricula abroad. She enjoys sharing her passion for knowledge and learning daily with her students. (Larchmont Charter School, Math and Science College Preparatory)

Akhanaton Cacao (B.A. English, CSULA; M.A.T. Bard) was born in Los Angeles to a family of El Salvadoran immigrants. He has been a business owner and educator since entering college. He sits on the board of Crescendo Young Musicians Guild and was most recently the director of music at Los Angeles High School, his alma mater. He is currently focusing his attention towards finishing a book of poetry and a novel based loosely on Mayan creation myths. (Santee Education Complex, Los Angeles High School)

Francis Dougherty (B.A. Literature, Bard College; M.A.T. Bard) works hand-in-hand with peers, mentors, students and fellow teachers to strengthen disciplined study of literature, make a small difference in his community, and encourage real world change through the arts, language, or social action. Francis has benefited from the expansive lessons of travel in such places as Zambia, Zimbabwe, and France. His research at Bard explored the force of emerging voices through Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Francis draws from the life lessons of a modest small-town public school and community college education background and values being part of innovative efforts to revitalize education in a city as grand as Los Angeles. (UCLA Community School)

Martha Chudy (B.A. English Literature, University of Rochester; M.A. Eastman School of Music). Before joining the Bard MAT program to become an English teacher, Martha worked as an arts administrator and taught clarinet lessons. On weekends, Martha works as a bookseller at Chevalier’s Books in Larchmont. (L.A. Center for Enriched Studies)

Elisa Contreras (B.A. Anthropology and Sociology, Kalamazoo College) is an immigrant and daughter of “undocumented” immigrants driven by resistance work that challenges acts of dehumanization. She completed a year of service with Americorps for City Year Los Angeles at John Liechty Middle School (JLMS) in the West Lake/ Pico Union Community. Elisa’s experience at JLMS ultimately assured her desire to become a teacher, recognizing that classrooms filled with young students eager to explore the world is an ideal place for the deconstruction of social inequalities. She seeks to work in communities where she can support students who feel pushed out of the education system and co-create a space where students are empowered to achieve their highest potential. (John Leichty Middle School)

Elizabeth Crawford (B.A. Literature, Bard College; Naropa University) is a graduate of Bard College in New York and is interested in bridging the field of creative writing with social justice pedagogy. At LACHSA, Elizabeth’s research involves the use of creative arts strategies to increase literacy in the classroom. As a student teacher she taught Ellie Wiesel’s text “Night” to tenth graders and is incorporating visual art created by the children from the Terezín concentration camp, as well as movement, protest poetry and music. Elizabeth credits the Bard MAT as an excellent opportunity to expand her creative practice into the realm of radical pedagogy and to engage with and learn from inspiring youth. (L.A. County High School for the Arts)

Bradley Decker (B.A. English, CSU-LB; M.A. Film Studies, Chapman University) teaches Drama and English in the Bay Area. (Miguel Contreras Learning Complex)

Yadira De La Cruz (B.A. Chicano Studies, UC-Davis, M.A.T. in Literature) is a Chicana Queer Wordsmith and Activist, originally from Westminster, CA but currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA. Her work as an educator continued at New Village Girls Academy where she began as a student teacher; where she is both the Humanities Teacher and an Advisor. (New Village Girls Academy)

Audrey Edholm (B.A. English, Brigham Young University) is originally from Utah.. She has worked as a technical writer and instructional designer for a tech company and as a reference librarian before joining the English cohort at Bard. She has mentored and taught in ninth grade English classrooms at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra. She enjoys reading, watching “The Great British Bake-Off,” spending time with her family at their home in Northern Wyoming, and dreams of hiking the Appalachian Trail.(Mark Keppel High School)

Jorge Flores (B.A. History CSU Monterey Bay; M.A.T. Bard) is from Los Angeles. He is currently teaching social studies at Alisal H.S. in Salinas, California.(Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, Alisal High School)

Kim Free (B.A. Loyola Marymount, English/Poetry Composition, M.A.T. Bard) is an L.A. native. Kim teaches eighth grade English at TEACH Academy, a WASC accredited public charter school in South Los Angeles with a mission to bring small classroom sizes, rigorous learning, and a strong sense of scholarly-based community to students in the area. (Hollenbeck Middle School, TEACH Academy)

Veronica Gama (B.A.CSU Long Beach; M.A.T. Bard) teaches at Heart of Los Angeles.(Oscar Romero Middle School, Heart of Los Angeles)
Rocio Garcia (B.A. Connecticut College; M.A.T. Bard) is a native Angelina and former LAUSD student from the south east side of the city. After leaving Connecticut, she served as a tutor, mentor and role model in the Pico Union neighborhood for City Year Los Angeles, a non-profit educational organization that recruits 17–24 year olds for a year of public service in schools. This experience fueled Rocio’s growing interest in education and pointed her toward a career in teaching. Through her public service and educational work, Rocio explores the values of collaboration, creative curriculum design, and a commitment to serving the needs of all students in the diverse environments. (Roosevelt H.S.)

Jenifer Gutierrez (B.A. Sociology, UC-Santa Barbara; M.A.T. Bard) was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Jenifer served as a member of the AmeriCorps-VISTA program and as the Volunteer Coordinator at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), an afterschool youth program that empowers kids to pursue their dreams and aspirations through academics, arts, and music. At HOLA, Jenifer became a mentor and helped students through the college and scholarship application process. Her research at Bard focused on young women, agency, and belonging in gangs. She hopes her research and teaching will help others better understand her community and the experiences many women in urban settings go through on a day to day basis. Jenifer currently teaches Middle School at Camino Nuevo (Larchmont Charter, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy)

Elizabeth Hermosillo (B.A. History, UC-Berkeley) is from Lancaster, California. As a return Peace Corps Volunteer from South Africa, Elizabeth worked with students in Grades 5–9 teaching English and empowering young women to receive their education. Elizabeth is a Social Studies teacher and Advisor at New Village Girls Academy where she fulfills her passion working with students that are underserved (New Village Girls Academy)

Anna LeRoy (B.A. Somona State, M.A., Trent University, M.A.T. Bard) currently teaches social studies at Larchmont Charter School.(L.A. High School for the Arts, Larchmont Charter School)

Maricela Lopez (B.A. UC-Riverside, M.A.T. Bard) (UCLA Community School)

Ari Karpel (B.A. History, University of Wisconsin; M.A. New York University) is a longtime arts journalist who is eager to apply his knowledge to the high-school English classroom. After a year of volunteering in LAUSD schools through 826LA, Ari entered Bard’s MAT program to hone his skills for success in an urban classroom. (Miguel Contreras Learning Complex)

Vernon Keeve III (B.A. Virginia Commonwealth University, M.F.A. California College of the Arts; M.A.T. Bard) is a black and queer writer from Virginia, and a high school teacher in Oakland, CA. He has been featured at the SF Poetry Jazz Festival, the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and the Oakland Book Festival. His writing has been published in Ishmael Reed’s Konch Online Journal, Black Girl Dangerous, Entropy, Foglifter, Buck Off!, and Blues Arrival: Stories of the Queer Black South and Migration; he received the Zora Neale Hurston Award from Naropa University in 2012. His book of poetry and essays, Southern Migrant Mixtape, will be released in the spring of 2017 with Nomadic Press. (Oakland Community Day School)

Ariella Kirschbaum (B.A. Africana Studies, Bard College) works at both a Los Angeles-based East African non-profit organization and at a high school humanities magnet. Through her experiences as a tutor for men in prison, her summers at a Jewish sleep-away camp, and studies in India, Senegal, and Argentina, Ariella learned to view life through many lenses. She loves learning and teaching historical and anthropological content, especially involving societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora. It is her hope that she can help others find their own enthusiasm for learning and achieving beyond the classroom walls by instilling an inspirational, supportive, critical, and creative learning environment. She strongly believes that education, in school and out of the classroom, leads to individual growth and the betterment of society. (Humanities Magnet at Hamilton High)

Emma Kuzmanoff (B.A. Latin American Literature, Oakland University) is a middle school English teacher at Larchmont Charter School in Lafayette Park. (Larchmont Charter School)

Nelson Miranda (B.A. History, St. Edwards University) was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and lived in Austin, Texas. Over the past few years, Nelson has spent time working with youth in after school, preschool, and alternative middle and high school settings. He brings his background experience with music and media to his approach to teaching, and hopes to create an atmosphere of creativity to future classrooms. Nelson also believes in teamwork between students and teachers, in establishing learning goals and then working together to reach those goals, in order to create meaningful learning experiences. (Soledad Enrichment Action Downtown)

David Moran (B.A. American Studies, Carleton College) (School of Visual and Performing Arts)

Vanessa Orellana (B.A. Sociology and Spanish Literature, Beloit College) is a Salvadorean-American born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Vanessa has taken part in three prior research projects: Latina Participation in Gang Lifestyles, First Generation Children’s Cultural and Linguistic Shifts, and Union Organizing in the Farmworkers Movement. Vanessa’s past experience in working as a GED Math-Subject teacher, Teachers Assistant for ELL students, and as a mentor through After School All-Stars has prepared her to work and incorporate her skills to serve diverse groups of students. Vanessa currently teaches Middle School at Camino Nuevo (New Open World Academy)

David Rasner (B.A. Theater Arts, CSU-Fresno; M.F.A., American Conservatory Theater; M.A.T. Bard) was born in Sevilla, Spain and is classically trained in Shakespearean, Russian and Greek theater. After working for several years as a regional actor, he moved to Los Angeles, immersing himself in voice over work and Improvisation. Inspired by Viola Spolin and Keith Johnstone, his passion for improvisation brought him to education. He spent several years at a high school in the San Joaquin Valley where he taught English, ELD, ran the Drama department, and prepared students for the Migrant Educational Speech and Debate Tournament. David teaches English at University Prep H.S. in Visalia. (Green Acres M.S., University Prep High School)

Pablo Reyes (B.A. History CSU Northridge; M.A.T. Bard) (Larchmont Charter School)

Seema Seraj (B.A. Anthropology, UCLA) is an English/Language Arts teacher at Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School. After completing her undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology at UCLA, she applied her experience managing teen leadership programs to her work as an administrator and fundraiser for nonprofit education organizations. Seema has merged her interests in anthropology, education, and creativity by teaching English, yoga, and piano internationally. She simultaneously continued to pursue her love for working hands-on with students by tutoring (English and mathematics) and teaching the SAT/ACT. Seeing the positive outcomes from the programs she worked with led her to envision creating a classroom that provides an inspirational, supportive, and creative learning environment that can truly change lives. It is her belief that education is the path to individual growth, community empowerment, and social progress. She is currently involved in efforts to incorporate wellness and mental health practices into schools, particularly in low-income, high need areas. Outside of her academic life, Seema enjoys writing, cooking, being active outdoors, playing music, and practicing yoga. (Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School)

Ruby Smyth-McEnroe (B.A. Theater and Performance, Bard College) (L.A. Center for Enriched Studies)
Michael Sullivan (B.A. Literature, Bard College) spent a year volunteering as a tutor and teacher’s aid in the primary school classrooms of the Germantown Central School and a semester tutoring high-risk students at the Red Hook Residential Center, he discovered teaching as a calling and sought better preparation moving to L.A. to pursue a dream, challenge himself, become better prepared. Michael is an avid reader, deep thinker, and proponent of social equality.(Roosevelt H.S.)

Jason Tempinski (B.A. Philosophy and Women’s Studies, M.A.T. Bard) is from Denver, Colorado and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. He worked for 15 years in the hospitality industry and consistently found his passion in having opportunity to lead and teach others through his eventual designation as a Master Sommelier. While the industry was rewarding in some ways, he wanted to return to his true love of literature and philosophy in conjunction with teaching. He is currently teaching AP Language and Composition and Senior Research Courses at Larchmont Charter School at La Fayette Park Place in Los Angeles.(Larchmont Charter School)

Tyler Thornton (B.A., M.A. History Wichita State) (New Open World Academy).

Leonel Torres (B.A. English, Vassar College) teaches in Inglewood, California (Century Community Charter School)

Cameron Towne (B.A. History UC-San Diego) Cameron first became interested in education through his work at the Writing Center at UC San Diego, and was inspired to become a classroom teacher after working with students in San Diego’s Barrio Logan and Lincoln Heights communities.(El Sereno Middle School)

Sampling of Academic Research Project Titles

Moving Borders and Fractured Perspectives: Postcolonialism in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange (literature)
Place and Space: A Marxist Look into South East Los Angeles’s Industrial Belt Labor Politics (literature)
Representing the Urban Crisis: A Cultural Historiography, 1960–1973 (history)
From Missions to Boarding Schools: The Educational Colonization of Native Americans (history)
The Grotesque Heterotopia: The New Orleans of A Confederacy of Dunces (literature)
Watts 1965: Riots or Uprising? (history)
Wanda Coleman’s ‘Love Cry’: An Exploration of Identity and Class in Los Angeles (literature)
1943 Called, It Wants Its Style Back” (literature)
Poetics of Space: Lord Byron’s Journey to Rome (literature)
Reading the World: In Search of A Place to Stand (literature)
Out of Time: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (literature)
Signs of Life: On Nomadism, Porcelain, and Transformation in Bruce Chatwin’s Utz” (literature)
A Dream of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement, 1955–1965 (history)
Blowout! A New Student Identity (history)
Place and Pattern in Invisible Cities (literature)
Tehanu Revisions (literature)
Her Story: Women in America from Colonialism to the Early Republic (history)
The First Transcontinental Railroad: The Economical, Cultural, and Environmental Effects on the United States of America (literature)