In fall, 2015, Professor Christen Madrazo introduced her creative nonfiction students to several popular storytelling podcasts with the following caveat: the CNF genre was sorely missing the voices and stories of our country’s vastly diverse young people. While she’d secretly hoped that they would be as excited as she was to archive their truths and better represent whole bodies of people’s lived experiences, she never imagined they’d take it this far! Though the project is almost entirely student-produced, Madrazo now handles the story text editing process with each writer; helps to arrange class-curated story selections for episodes; and operates as the in-studio director during all story and interview raw recording sessions. In the past several semesters, she has expanded the podcast work to other nonfiction courses (including a self-designed Travel Writing workshop course she taught on-location in Tanzania) as well as in her research courses, in which her first-year students now practice developing research inquiries based on contemporary social issues reflected in LOL stories. For sustainability purposes, she has also developed Independent Study and “Faculty Mentored Research Experience” courses for Life Out Loud work in order to teach and supervise the many behind-the-scenes production elements. Her work both on and with this project recently led, in part, to her winning the 2016 John Jay College Distinguished Teaching Award. When not in the recording studio or in a writing classroom, Christen can be found directing John Jay’s Writing Program or teaching storytelling classes around the world with DAT, an international service arts organization with whom she has designed and implemented curriculum in more than 21 communities on four continents around the world. Her own original writing has been shared at the Renegade Reading Series, the Cornelia Street Cafe, Projective Spaces, New World Stages, and in The Shakespeare Bulletin, a performance journal published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Digital Art Director:
As one of the original founding members, Samuel Tapia volunteered to be the podcast's web developer, and soon realized that this would become one of his most ambitious passion projects. Sam has been at the studio since day one, and has ran the soundboard multiple times, as well as sound edited numerous stories and episodes from all seasons. His own story "WWMD", a quirky tale that takes place during a backpacking trip in Mexico with his girlfriend Lau (an honorary Life Out Loud member), can be heard on episode 1.4 "En Route." "WWMD" was also shared live at Travelogue at the New World Stages' Tony Lounge. During his last year at John Jay, Sam was part of an Independent Study that allowed him to create all the promotional content for Life Out Loud. Sam has a passion for the arts, specifically story telling, whether it's written, visual, or audio. His photograph of the "Orbs" has become Life Out Loud's most recognizable image. Sam graduated John Jay in the spring of 2016 with a degree in International Criminal Justice. He is currently working on a photography series about the children of Mexican immigrants living in New York City. Outside of Life Out Loud, Sam can be found creating the dankest of memes, and going after the longest road card in Settlers of Catan.
Digital Sound Director:
Velislava Bozhinova is one of the original founding members of Life Out Loud. In addition to running sound board, conducting sound editing, and designing underscoring, as the podcast's Digital Sound Director, one of Velislava's main jobs is to train others to edit, underscore, and run sound, too, so that the podcast has lots of helping hands working seamlessly together in order to produce a full episode; team work makes the dream work! As the Digital Sound Director for Life Out Loud, Velislava is also responsible for managing, delegating, and scheduling all of the work that happens on the raw recording tracks. She then compiles all the edited pieces; produces the full episode for review; and conducts all final sound editing on each version of the "final" product before it's launched on iTunes; sound cloud; the website; or on RADio568. Her personal passion is underscoring design, an idea that she initiated and developed here at Life Out Loud. Her own underscoring work can be heard in stories such as The Rabbit, In the Dark, and many more. When not behind the scenes, Velislava also shares her own work from time to time, such as “On the Run," featured in episode 1.2 “Our Father.” In the past year she has taken one Independent Study and one Faculty Mentored Research Group for the podcast during which time she teamed up with beautiful people to create beautiful work for Life Out Loud. When not in the studio or editing one of at least 17 of these incredible stories, Velislava--as a double major--can be found in a Political Science or Economics classroom or spending time with her three kids – a cat, a parrot, and a hermit crab. She’d like to thank her Life Out Loud family for their great work, passion and dedication. She couldn’t ask for a better team!
Digital Sound Assistant; Production Team Member:
Steven De La Cruz was deeply moved by the CNF stories he read in class written by his peers as well as those featured on popular storytelling podcasts such as This American Life, The Moth, and others. In turn, he decided to join the Life Out Loud production team after listening to the podcast for a class assignment during the Spring, 2016 semester. In addition to extensive sound editing work, underscoring, running the sound board, and writing questions for the authors, Steven has hosted several episodes for which he also helped to write episode scripts. Two of his own stories were featured on Life Out Loud as well: “La Llorona” (1.6: Our Brother’s Shadow) and “Party Favors” (2.3: Taking Care of Business), a story also shared live at New World Stages’ TONY Lounge. As a dedicated Life Out Loud member, Steven was invited to take part in a Faculty Mentored Research Group and Independent Study for this work. He’s currently an English Major at John Jay and works with an integrated co-teaching classroom in an elementary school in Queens. He hopes to travel in the future and learn local legends, myths, and more from the places he plans to visit. In the meantime, he will keep researching, reading, listening to, and writing stories from here with LOL. He’d like to thank his Life Out Loud family for their work ethic and for their passion for sharing someone else’s story.
Performance Rehearsal Director; Production Team Member:
Karina D. Velez has always had a passion for storytelling and writing. This passion came full circle when she was introduced to CNF in Spring 2016. Upon volunteering to help with hosting and photography for Life Out Loud, she quickly realized the importance of performing pieces and preventing stories from existing solely on pages behind closed doors. In addition to extensive production and hosting work (as she has hosted at least eight episodes!) Karina is now the Performance Rehearsal Director at LOL. She takes great pride in empowering other authors to deliver powerful performances of their work. She is responsible for coordinating rehearsal sessions as well as providing feedback and direction during pre-recording process. In addition, Karina also sounds edits, assists with episode script writing, photographs much of the behind-the-scenes work, and occasionally dusts off the soundboard. She also tries to save some time for her writing, too. Episode 1.4: “En Route” features her original writing, “Pura Vida,” a story that was also performed live at New World Stages’ TONY Lounge in February, 2016 and again in October of 2016 for an invitational encore performance. More of her recent travel writing was also selected for live performance at IATI Theater, NYC in the summer of 2016, upon her return from a Travel Writing CNF workshop course in Tanzania. Karina is currently a Forensic Psychology Major at John Jay and during her free time she works with New York Cares, a volunteer outreach program that provides various humanitarian services for the community. She hopes to travel more in the future so she can continue to learn and share the personal stories of others. In the meantime, she hopes to continue preforming more of her written pieces, reading, and listening to the experiences that were previously untold until LOL. She would like to thank her Life Out Loud family for bringing so much passion to her last few semesters as an undergraduate!
Social Media Director; Episode Script Coordinator; Production Team Member:
In a world of cat people and dog people, Karen Argueta considers herself more of a bird person. Lover of manatees and seasoned feeler of the feels, Karen has been hosting for Life Out Loud since the Spring of 2016 and never wants to stop. Seriously, she won't leave. This is her 4th consecutive month camping out in the studio. A testament to this is the fact that Karen has taken part in hosting every single episode for the podcast since the second episode ever. She also writes episode scripts; coordinates with the other script and interview writers, and has taken to sound editing stories and interviews despite technology's seemingly fierce determination to work against her. Karen also runs the official 'Life Out Loud' Facebook and Instagram (@lifeoutloudpodcast) pages. Born in El Salvador, Karen is an escapee from Long Island to beautiful Harlem, and she wants nothing more than to thrive and die in New York City. As a Criminology major and Gender Studies minor, getting to learn about the inner (and outer!) workings of the people that inhabit this world is the blessing she treasures the most. Her work with storytelling is an organic extension of this work. Karen also has a budding passion for teaching that she discovered while serving as Secretary of John Jay's Mock Trial Association, as well as a fire for speaking out against injustice. You can frequently find her in ice cream shops or on bridges despite her fear of heights. She hopes this speaks volumes about who she is as a human.
Original Episode Concept Design; Production Team Member:
Maoly Hernandez is one of the original founding members of Life Out Loud. In addition to sound editing and underscoring, Maoly often hosts episodes and writes interview questions for episodes. Together with founding member Samantha Jones, Maoly developed the original concept of the episodes for the podcast, creating a layout for future episodes and even choosing the podcast's theme song. Maoly wrote the website’s tags for stories, and even rehearsed with writers before they recorded their pieces during season 1. Additionally, Maoly has written and edited several of the interview scripts for both season 1 and 2. Her meticulous underscoring work can be heard in stories such as Edward Serrate’s Beniana and anonymous author’s Fork in the Road. Maoly is often encouraging fellow writers to submit their work, and even sharing her own work such as her comical piece “A Cheeseless Cheeseburger and a Dangerous Redhead, featured on episode 1.1, and her more delicate piece focusing on social justice, “Bus Ride” which was performed live at New World Stages's TONY Lounge and was featured in episode 4 “En Route.” Passionate about writing and international affairs, Maoly graduated from John Jay in the Spring 2016 with minors in Writing and Latin American Studies and a major in International Criminal Justice. Currently, Maoly works as a Paralegal Casehandler at The Legal Aid Society where she fights gentrification in the South Bronx, a borough with which, although not her home-borough, she has become enamored and which she has come to appreciate more than she ever thought she would. Through her writing, she hopes to share pieces of her life, provoke changes in perspectives, and immortalize the not-so-famous people around her.
Production Team Member:
Samantha Jones is one of the original founding members of Life Out Loud. In addition to sound editing and running soundboard, Samantha often hosts episodes and has written several of the interview scripts for both season 1 and 2. In addition, Samantha takes part in reviewing edited episode drafts pre-releases; encourages fellow writers to submit their work; and she has even shared her own when it was voted top in workshop by her Fall, 2015 Creative Nonfiction class; this story, “How To Ruin Your 19th Birthday,” was featured in episode 2.2 “Beneath the Surface.” In the past year she has taken two Independent Studies linked to her Life Out Loud work: one learning production and another to work on her own research project on Storytelling as a tool to help children with learning disabilities. As a creative nonfiction writer, Samantha traveled with Dramatic Adventure Theater to Tanzania where she ventured into a new country in order to bring back impactful stories based on her adventures. Her piece "Johnson," inspired by her time in Tanzania was selected for live performances at IATI Theater as well as for John Jay's International Studies Week festival. When not in the studio or editing amazing Life Out Loud stories, Samantha can be found staring at her new John Jay diploma representing her finished work as an English Major; studying to tears for her GRE; hoping that she will be accepted into NYU’s Speech Pathology Master’s program; or playing theater games with Autistic children with whom she works on Staten Island. She’d like to thank her Life Out Loud family for always supporting her and giving her a reason to smile every day!
Production Team Member:
Edward Serrate is one of the original founding members of Life Out Loud. In addition to writing for the first episodes of Season 1 "Between Worlds" and Season 2 "Motherland," Edward often hosts episodes and has helped to write interview questions for episodes in season 2. Two of his original stories "In The Dark" and "Beniana" can be heard on episodes 1.1 and 2.1, and he can be heard co-hosting in Season 2’s "Motherland" and "Taking Care of Business." During LOL's first semester, he encouraged his friend Rose Osorio to submit her award-winning work "Thoughts in Transit," which can be heard in episode 1.2 "Our Father." The first non-CNF class member to participate in the podcast, Rose was also later invited to read this piece at the Cornelia St. Cafe for a travel writing reading series called "Travelogue," hosted by international theater co Dramatic Adventure Theater. Later, Edward has also invited to perform his original work "Stains" live with DAT at IATI Theater as part of his work as a Travel Writer in Tanzania during the summer of 2016 when he studied abroad. Back on the John Jay campus, Edward can be found pursuing an International Criminal Justice Major with a minor in Writing as well as setting up space requests as the recently elected Photography Club Secretary. Edward can also be found performing folkloric dances at cultural events such as International Night of Culture, as well as taking it into the streets with lively Bolivian music and costumes at annual parades around NYC and New Jersey. In May, 2016, "Beniana" (2.1) was awarded first place in the Patricia Licklider Award for Best Work of Nonfiction at the John Jay College English Awards Ceremony.
Production Team Member:
As a Production Team Member, Julia Brodska primarily works on sound editing for Life Out Loud. She joined the Life Out Loud family during season 2, after taking a Creative Nonfiction class. When not editing these incredible stories, Julia can be found in an Economics class or with her dog. She plans to continue sound editing until she attends law school in the future. She’d like to thank her Life Out Loud family for sharing their incredible stories and for welcoming her with open arms.
Production Team Member:
A founding member of Life Out Loud, Mandi Malcolm majors in English and minors in Philosophy. Professor Madrazo was a big inspiration for her being an English Major and then trying out Creative Nonfiction when she moved from Jamaica and was assimilating to the "American way of life." This all led her to LOL. Mandi has hosted, written and presented a piece of her own for LOL, and she has also helped coached other writers with their performance. She is now helping with sound editing episodes and interviews. She plans to learn more about the behind-the-scenes duties soon. Mandi is also a Peer Success Coach at John Jay and the Vice- president of the Jamaican Students Association.
Production Team Member:
Fiction writing was always Rebecca Singh’s passion, hobby, and dream job. Following her passions, Rebecca took a CNF writing class in the fall of 2016 and became intrigued by it. The stories told in the class were unique, revealing, awe inspiring, and, most importantly, true. While her passions remain with fiction, CNF has burned and buried itself deep inside her heart! Rebecca started her Life Out Loud career as a volunteer ready to work in the spring semester of 2017. Almost immediately, she was spring boarded as a full production team member that same semester, already working on soundboard, sound editing, and underscoring pieces. Her first editing work is featured in episode 2.6 in “You and I,” by Amanda Donohue. Currently, she is working with LOL as part of an Independent Study and is planning on continuing in the following semester under the Faculty Mentored Research group. Along with working on the Life Out Loud podcast, Rebecca is pursuing a dual BA/MA degree in Forensic Psychology and hopes to one day go on to get her dual PhD/JD degree. During her off time, Rebecca finds herself working on fiction pieces that she one day hopes to string together to create a book series; playing video games or DnD with her friends; or just trying to catch up on her sleep. Rebecca will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to her by the Life Out Loud family to help share all of these wonderful, inspiring, and beautiful true stories.
Production Team Member:
Selena Linares is a newbie to Life Out Loud. She joined at the start of the Spring 2017 Semester as Life Out Loud’s first ever first- year student. When taking English 101 with Professor Madrazo, a course which required Selena to listen to many of the beautiful Life Out Loud stories for research project inspiration, she was inspired to get involved. She now assists with sound editing, underscoring, and soundboard. You can hear her first editing and underscoring work on episode 2.8 “Found in Translation.” Selena has a true passion for telling stories and helping others share theirs. The Life Out Loud studio has become her home away from home. Attending John Jay as an out of state student from Michigan, Selena is happy to have the Life Out Loud group as her family in New York and thanks them for being so warm and welcoming and for painting a hard to remove smile across her face every week.