Welcome to New Graduate Writing Center Consultants!

By Lauren Hammond |

The Graduate Writing Center (GWC) is happy to welcome two new writing consultants this quarter: Chris Valencia and Kristen Herbert.


[Image Description: John Heder waves in Napoleon Dynamite.]

Pictured: The GWC staff eagerly waving hello to the new consultants!

At the GWC, we take pride in serving the diverse members of our graduate student and postdoc communities. We search for team members who value creativity and collaboration, who are able to think critically, and who communicate effectively. With this in mind, we make a sincere effort to hire people we believe will make a difference, and we are proud to now count Christopher and Kristen among that number. As our newest team members, we are excited to properly introduce Christopher and Kristen to the broader UCR campus.

Chris in a puffer vest standing in front of body of water, smiling.

Christopher Valencia is a second year Ph.D. student in the Religious Studies Department. He grew up in Southern California, in the Los Angeles area, so has "basically been a city kid all [his] life.” As a kid, he enjoyed skateboarding and art; for Chris, “skateboarding only perpetuated [his] love and wandering of [LA],” and artistically, he “always enjoyed creating stuff, and found art as a productive outlet where [he] could draw and paint whatever was on [his] mind.”

As an undergraduate, Chris studied English literature and fine arts. Now, as a graduate student, Chris explores topics related to modern and contemporary Christian history and religion in everyday life, particularly urban city life— “what can I say," he laughs, "I just like the city vibe.” In his free time, Chris enjoys reading, listening to music, exploring the outdoors, making and drinking coffee (a preferred GradSuccess pastime), and spending time with family and friends.


[Image Description: A person drinks coffee directly from a coffee pot.]

Pictured: A (slightly) exaggerated representation of GradSuccess coffee consumption habits.

Chris applied to be a writing consultant at the GWC because of his background in English literature and also because he "thought this would be a great part-time job opportunity (I mean... I get to drink coffee and help people with their writing — sounds great to me!).” More seriously, as a person who wants to continue teaching in the humanities and the arts, “[he] felt this job would help [him] gain some more hands-on teaching experience” while also working with other graduate students.

Black-and-white photo of Kristen standing in front of a tree

Kristen Herbert is an MFA candidate in fiction in UCR’s Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts program. Most of her life was spent in the Chicago area, where she completed her BA in English and Creative Writing at Roosevelt University Chicago. However, before making the move to Riverside, Kristen first lived in Budapest, Hungary for five years working as an English as a Foreign Language teacher, freelance translator, and customer service agent. Her experience as a translator continues to influence her professional and personal interests. She notes:

“I translate contemporary Hungarian fiction and poetry into English, both for work and as a hobby, and have published some of these pieces in literary magazines like New Delta Review, Newfound, Waxwing, and Asymptote. In 2021, a friend and I put together a bilingual Hungarian-English print journal entitled The Penny Truth which compiled the work of local writers, photographs, and translators in Budapest. I enjoy sharing Hungarian literature with friends and family who do not know the language through the process of translation, as well as increasing awareness of available translated literature. Also in 2021, I worked as a staff editor for a journal that did just that, Hungarian Literature Online, which regularly publishes news and translations of recent Hungarian literature.”

Now, as an MFA student, her work and hobbies have merged into translating, writing, and language learning. Kristen’s current writing is inspired by the years she spent in Budapest as she analyzes the phenomenon of party tourism in Post-Soviet Central Europe. Her enjoyment in reading and discussing others’ writing inspired her to apply for the open consultant position at the GWC, where she hopes “to learn from the experience how to become a more thorough and efficient reviewer.”


[Image Description: Nikki on Strays says "Well welcome to the grind."]

Pictured: By grind we mean coffee. We drink coffee and talk about writing.

Chris and Kristen, on behalf of the GradSuccess staff - welcome to the team! With such creative and diverse personal and professional backgrounds, we know you two will both make a great addition to our crew of writing consultants.