HNU Literary Journal Explores Social Justice Themes

Between the Lines, HNU’s new online literary journal, launched its first issue in April. The journal publishes poetry and creative nonfiction with a social justice emphasis.

The journal’s editor-in-chief, Belo Cipriani, says that he was drawn to the online format “because it would be paperless, eco-friendly, and accessible to people with print disabilities.” He chose to focus on nonfiction and social justice themes, since he wanted the journal to deal with real events that tied to the University’s mission.

Students participated in the journal in conjunction with the class Online Journal: Literature and Social Justice, which is taught by Cipriani, the University’s writer-in-residence. For its inaugural issue, the journal received more than 100 submissions from the United Kingdom, Africa, and throughout the United States. Cipriani and the students, Prose Editor Michelle Morgan and Poetry Editor Andrew Taw, selected the authors who would be included in the first issue of Between the Lines.

“The students in the class read every submission and voted on each piece they felt fit the voice of the journal,” Cipriani said. “When considering poems or essays for the journal, the student editors looked for a strong message and literary merit.”

The April 23 launch party included readings from several of the authors whose work was selected for the journal, including Sandra Wassilie, the winner of the Celestine Award. The Celestine Award recognizes exceptional and thought-provoking work in poetry. Daisy Zamora served as the judge of the Celestine Award; she is the author of five books of poetry, including The Violent Foam and Life for Each. J. Weintraub earned the journal’s Anthony Award, which acknowledges revolutionary nonfiction. Greg Archer, a writer, editor, and television host, served as the award judge.

“I am very proud of the students in the class and of the final publication,” Cipriani said. To read the first issue of Between the Lines, click here.



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HNU Event Highlights National Steinbeck Center Project


Executive Director of the National Steinbeck Center Colleen Bailey

When the staff at the National Steinbeck Center gathered to decide what to do for their annual festival, which would mark the 75th year since the publication of The Grapes of Wrath, they were struck by the parallels they saw between modern events and the setting of John Steinbeck’s legendary tale.

There was a drought in California, terrible storms across the country, and national discourse about immigration and health care, Executive Director of the National Steinbeck Center Colleen Bailey said during an HNU panel on March 5.

“What we decided to do is to embark on a journey … into the United States to ask people what was happening for them and to connect that up with John Steinbeck’s work—to look at what has changed in these 75 years and, most importantly, what are our struggles and what are our sources of resilience during these difficult times,” Bailey said.

The HNU event detailed the October 2013 journey made by center staff, a film crew, and three artists, following the path of the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, to Bakersfield, California. The 10-day trip collected more than 70 oral histories from people around the country and included 17 workshops and programs.

“I think there’s an eloquent way, there’s a powerful way, there’s an effective way to make your voice heard and to inspire,” said Patricia Wakida, the block-print artist on the trip. “I think that’s what this book does incredibly well, and I hope that by actually going around and collecting people’s stories and encouraging them to tell from themselves that they go through that similar process.”

The artists commissioned for this project—a block-print artist, a filmmaker, and a playwright and director—were asked to take what they learned from the trip and create new works of art. The full works commissioned by the artists will be unveiled at the 2014 Steinbeck Festival in May. The festival will also include presentations by Susan Shillinglaw, a specialist in Steinbeck’s work, and Rick Wartzman, who will discuss the banning and burning of The Grapes of Wrath in Kern County in August 1939.

“The book, although it’s set in the 1930s, it’s really not about the 1930s. It’s still so true in 2014. And it’s not just an American book—it’s about people and about America in the 1930s—but people who are dispossessed … (are) all over the planet,” filmmaker P.J. Palmer said. “It’s happening now. So I found the book timeless in a way.”

The HNU event also featured music by Arwen Lawrence and Jorge Liceaga of Cascada de Flores.

Octavio Solis, a playwright and director commissioned by the National Steinbeck Center, talks about his experiences traveling from Oklahoma to California with other artists and center staff.

Octavio Solis, a playwright and director commissioned by the National Steinbeck Center, talks about his experiences traveling from Oklahoma to California with other artists and center staff.

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Series Prepares Students for Life After College

The Backpacks to Briefcase series, a collection of workshops and events focused on the transition to life after college, is taking place throughout the spring semester. Organized by Director of the Career Center Sam Rodriguez and HNU Experience Coordinator Andrea Melrose Guimaraes, series topics range from writing a strong resume, to managing finances, to finding a place to live.

Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life Justin Vacca and Melrose Guimaraes led the My First Place workshop on April 1, which they designed to address issues students have in renting their first apartments. They covered rental searches, lease agreements, renters’ rights, and money matters, such as household budgets and deposits.

“Our students are unclear about what their rights are in terms of … need(ing) 24-hour notice before a landlord enters their apartments, what their rights are in terms of contracts, … what are reasonable first and last month’s rent,” Melrose Guimaraes said. “I think a lot of our students don’t have that knowledge because it is a new process for them—so (the workshop is important for) making sure that they’re … looking at their contract, and they’re asking good questions, and they’re doing comprehensive walkthroughs.”

Several workshops have focused on career development, teaching students strategies for developing effective resumes and cover letters, using social media for employment opportunities, and conducting successful job searches. The February 19 workshop featured Judson Walsh, the director of business development for the San Francisco Business Times, who discussed utilizing local market information to identify prospective employers, job leads, and networking opportunities.

Three forthcoming events continue the series’ emphasis on professional development. The Destination Law School Diversity Panel will take place on April 9 and feature a number of practicing lawyers who will speak on overcoming adversity and their educational experiences. On April 15, students will have the opportunity to talk with numerous employers at the Career Fair. That evening, the Etiquette Dinner will provide guidance to students on the basic skills of business communication. The event, which will include a presentation by Manager of College Recruiting and Training for Northern California Greg Clefisch from Southern Wine & Spirits, is being organized with the assistance of Frances Renty Williams, director of alumnae/i relations at HNU.

“It’s important for graduating students to plan and prepare for their next steps after graduation,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve invited speakers to talk about the job search and how to plan it strategically.” The Career Fair and Etiquette Dinner are signature events that provide networking opportunities and help students with their transition from college to work, he added.

Additional workshops included two financial planning sessions led by Nikki Beasley, branch manager of Citibank in Oakland, who talked to students about saving money and getting out of debt.

For more information, visit

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