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Our Alumni

Living the Dream
By Octavia Yates
Graduating was one of the most exciting times of my life. I had finally completed my
first step into a career. My first thought was relaxing and enjoying life. I had burned myself out.
After graduation, I decided to take a year off to think about continuing my education. During
2016 I traveled internationally for the first time. I met the love of my life and got engaged. My
life was beginning to form in the way I had always dreamed. I had poems stored away that I had
written years ago. It was time to transform my poetry into a book.
While working on my book I decided to return to school. My love for education had not
left me. I began pursuing a Master’s in Liberal Studies at ASU online in the summer of 2016. I
wanted to enter a program that would continue to challenge my creative abilities. In December of
this year, I will officially obtain my degree.
A friend referred me to an independent publishing company called CreateSpace. This
company allows authors to self-publish their work. I re-wrote, edited, renamed, and notated my
book at least a hundred times. I wanted it just right. There were several times I became
frustrated because I wanted so desperately to publish my work. I thought about sending my book
to different publishing companies, but none of them seemed right. Finally, I went forth with self-
publishing. My book is called Even Angels Cry; it’s a poetry book about pain, love, loss, life,
death, and sexual abuse. It is a very emotional book and I hold every word written close to my
heart. Even Angels Cry is available on Amazon Kindle for purchase. It is a hard task as I am
promoting and advertising on my own. The amount of self-motivation that is brewing within me
in boiling over. The feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. Moreover, I bask in the feeling
of knowing that one day the world will know my name.
There were many times I wanted to give up. The pressure of college and working can be
extremely overwhelming, but it will all be worth it in the end. There is nothing any of us cannot
accomplish if we just believe. Our minds are very powerful and our thoughts create our path.
The journey to success is never easy it’s not supposed to be. Every great person in history had to
overcome an obstacle or two. I will not stop until I have completed my goal of being one of the
most celebrated authors of our time. This is just the beginning of a harmonious journey.

Galya Dimitrova, Class of  2010

Dear Dr. Polski,

This is Galya, the Bulgarian student [former Phantom Press editor] and writing lab worker who graduated in 2010. [...]

I am still in Vienna, I have been working at UNIDO for the past three years. It is interesting, and I am glad that I have opportunities to use the knowledge gained in your lectures. I obtained a Masters in Business Communication and now I am starting a second [Masters]: distance-learning one in HR. Staff development and training is an interesting field.

When I visit Chicago, I will definitely pass by East-West.Wishing you all the best!

Best Wishes,

Galya , 07 March 2017

Lorenzo McCray, Class of 2014

After graduating from East West in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English and Communications I started volunteering as a Kindergarten teacher’s assistant for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in September of that year and later had a part-time position as a lunchroom assistant. And with the following school year I was a recess monitor for grades 3rd - 8th  which required me to monitor students during  playtime and work out disputes among them, with the task of still being a teacher’s assistant. The teacher’s assistant job required me to tutor in reading, phonics, and writing with 5 and 6 years old who were struggling in these subjects.

While working with CPS I sparked up a friendship with a security guard name Montel Williams who had a love for cinematography and was a self-proclaimed director who worked on the movie franchise Transformers and directed music videos for the Chicago based Hip-Hop group Sicko Mobb. At the young age of 23 Mr. Williams is the president and founder of Slay House Productions.

This past summer I had the pleasure of working with Williams on his latest project: a short film called “Chosen Foe Life”. It’s based on a true story about a young man named Dashawn Miles who learned the hard way that love is not in the streets but right in front of you. During the production of the film I worked as the Script Supervisor which entailed me to keep note of the continuity of the scenes of the movie and also the actions of the actors.

Being a student at East West University has given me the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills such as patience, critical thinking, and analytical resolution in situations, especially with working with children. I have been blessed in so many ways to be a part of this University that have professors that care about the enrichment and empowerment of their students and I will forever be indebted to this school.

Florencia Garcia, Class of  2013

After graduating from East-West University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in English & Communications, I enrolled at the Illinois Media School (formerly called Illinois Center For Broadcasting) to learn more about being a radio personality. At IMS, they teach you everything about television, web, and radio broadcasting, both on-air and behind the scenes, all in less than a year. I learned how to film commercials, music videos, and a newscast, record my own radio show, build my own website, and so much more. Even better, I took what I learned from East-West and implemented my writing skills into the scripts we had to write.

As a student, I was a production intern for IMS’s radio station, in which I recorded voiceovers for the station, worked on a voiceover demo, and did a radio show with my classmate. I realized then that I loved doing production more than being on the air and I continued the internship until a month before I graduated in August 2014.

My experience at IMS was great and I accomplished so much during the program. I definitely learned a lot from them! At the moment, I work there as a graduate assistant tutoring students, answering the phone, performing administrative work, and so much more.

Outside of my job, I am also a videographer and editor, which are what I really want to do now. Every Monday afternoon from 12:00 PM-3:00 PM, I film a sports radio show called Mac & Read at IMS’s sports station, where the guys talk about many things trending in sports and the entertainment worlds. I also serve as the editor and the quiz writer for their trivia segment.

It’s always a rewarding experience watching these students grow and learn so much through our program and get their jobs in their desired field. I recommend Illinois Media School to anyone who is interested in radio and/or television production! If you’d like to learn more about IMS, call at (312) 884-8000 for more information.

Thank you East-West University for your support through my four years there and helping me shape me into the person I am today. I also want to thank the English Department for their support, teaching me the fundamentals in writing and helping me create my own style of writing and so much more!

Joi Lyons, Class of 2011

I graduated from East West University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in English and Communications. After graduation, I began law school at The John Marshall Law School in the Fall of 2011. I am glad to say that I became a distinguishable student right away at John Marshall. Many classes that I had taken at East-West turned out to be very helpful, especially Ancient World Literature, Persuasion and Debate, Introduction to the Justice system, Business Law, Speech, Intro to Psychology, and Development of Political Thought.

After my first year in law school I took a course in Fair Housing. I found my passion for all things housing and public interest that summer. I was hired as a Project Assistant for a project that researched discrimination and segregation in Chicago where I managed 10 other students. The Project results were published in the summer of 2013, and were featured in News and Publications of JMLS. While working on the project, I was interning at the Fair Housing Clinic where I accomplished a significant win for my client by obtaining a preliminary injunction, an extraordinary remedy which is not often granted. I was also volunteering to represent homeowners in mediation with the bank to prevent them from losing their homes in foreclosure. The Clinic’s work, with one of my cases, was also featured in News and Publications of JMLS. After the project ended, I was hired by the Pro BonoClinic at John Marshall as a research assistant where I continued to work on housing cases such as public benefits termination proceedings.  I am set to graduate from Law School this upcoming May 2014. After graduation, I plan to work for a legal aid organization to continue working in the public interest sector to ensure disadvantaged citizens of Illinois get equal access to justice.



Melody Johnson
, class of 2008

I will never forget my time at East-West University and the care of my professors in the quality of courses and their genuine care for my well-being. I am still reaching into my experiences there, in my current personal and professional life. One thing I took away from East-West is the cultivation of studying ancient and world  literature, which I believe provides perspectives of human history that are often taken for granted. I also truly believe that the English and Communications Degree Program is one of the most unique and I could not have asked for a better higher educational foundation. Dr. Gorman, Dr. Polski and Dr. Stevenson ROCK!

After graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in English and Communication, focusing on Literature, I went on to complete a Master’s in Theological Studies, focusing on Literature, Ethics and Systematic Doctrine. This course of study allowed me to view everyday topics that our society is currently permeated with through a theological lens and it often forced me to challenge accepted notions of religion, faith, and spirituality, which are vital aspects of my personal and communal life. This also gave me an opportunity to personally ground my moral center, which is foundational in my professional and communal experiences as well.

Professionally, I’ve maintained my love for supporting educational institutions. During my graduate study, I worked with American University and currently I am working at Alexandria City Public Schools, administratively supporting students, teachers and  executive staff. This allows me to continuously be engaged with the majority of my community; which is the basis for all that I do. I get to interact with everyone and I’ve met so many wonderful people. I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can say I have a career. And it is nice to know that everything that I’ve done up till now has prepared me for this. The other cool thing is that our population of students is mostly from other countries: South & Central  America, Middle East, Africa; we also have a growing population of refugees, so I’ve been honored to get to know them and their culture. I’m learning Spanish now and have acquired a small vocabulary of Arabic and Amharic words. I also interact with many of our ESL teachers, so this has been awesome.

I remain committed to the enhancement of my community; working with homeless, refugee, and senior communities; while always donating my time to enrichment of children and youth.




Maria Silva-Young,
class of 2012

I am currently an Admissions Advisor for CEC.  I have been with the company for almost two years.  In addition, I am also pursuing my MBA at Capella University.

My current job position requires the constant use of the following skills: communication, writing, researching, and critical thinking.  Communication is at the heart of any business.  As a graduate of the program, I speak well, write in a concise manner, and have developed an extensive vocabulary.  The numerous hours spent on learning how to present a thesis coherently, constructing arguments, role-playing debates, and defending my points logically have not gone to waste.  These are fundamental skills when venturing out to the real world. No matter what field or job position an individual undertakes, being able to communicate effectively is key.”

As East-West graduate, I truly believe that the following courses helped me cultivate a solid foundation that has assisted me in my day-to-day activities:

SpeechSocial Media in Today’s Workplace
Technical WritingNegotiations
Writing for MultimediaCommunication Theory
Language & MindSenior Seminar



Galya Dimitrova, class of 2010

I am currently enrolled at the University of Vienna in Austria pursuing a Master’s degree in English Language and Linguistics with a focus on Second Language Learning and Teaching. My intention is to transfer my studies to an English speaking country, therefore, I am currently applying for various programs.

I have been tutoring since my return to Europe, both in Austria and Bulgaria. Also, I have been teaching English as a second language for the past six months.

All of the English department classes during my course of study at East-West were very useful. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Gorman’s, Dr. Polski’s, and Dr. Stevenson’s classes because they were interesting, enriching and at the same very challenging, which I truly enjoyed. More specifically, my favorite classes were the following: literature classes, senior seminar, honors classes, and persuasion and debate.



Fidel Love
, class of 2011

My four years spent at East-West University was an exciting and enriching experience. I walked through the doors my freshman year ready to make changes in my life and with a serious commitment to my education; I knew EWU was the right place for me. I remember being early for class, waiting quietly in the hall and listening attentively to some professors’ lectures, feeling eager to one day register for their classes.

With the help of my professors and the opportunities they created for me, I also discovered new interests and passions that have followed me long after graduation.

The time I spent working in the EWU Writing Center as an English tutor inspired me to teach. It has been a career option I’ve recently considered using my degree to pursue. Currently, I am accomplishing lifelong goals and following my dream of being a successful writer. I graduated from EWU with my degree in English & Communications — it was the field that catered to my interest in literature, language, and my passion for writing. My advanced composition, creative writing, and literature courses taught me a lot – along with the professors who headed the EWU English department. I am grateful!

After graduation, I published two books: Cry Through The Pen and CrazySexyCruel.  I’ve had poems published in literary journals, and short stories featured in anthologies since.

Of my poems, one of my favorites is “Little Black Boy Blues”. I actually wrote as a class assignment at East West. We had to create a piece of writing by mimicking the style of another writer whose work we admired, and I chose Langston Hughes. The poem earned me an A and has been getting positive reviews since, so I made it the first poem in my book – read it below.

Associate Center Director @ Employment and Employer Resources

Founder and Director at April Brings

Admissions Processor

Marketing Coordinator at Commscope/Andres Solutions

Radio Production specialist in Austria

Patient Support Specialist at North Shore University System

Faculty Member of Mongolian University of Science and Technology

Student at Kent Law School

Student at John Marshall Law School

Academic Advisor at Devry University

Academic Advisor at Governor’s State

Payroll and Pension Specialist at Aon Hewitt

Masters in Theology, elementary school teacher

Paralegal at Litigation firm

Senior Admissions Counselor


Development Intern at SPNN

Mad Tactics Management and Media

Studying for MBA at Dominican University/Works at Harold Washington Library

Educational Management

Financial Aid Officer at East West University

CPS Teacher 6th grade


Sales Manager at General Mills

Social Media Strategist at The Honeycomb Project

Little Black Boy Blues by Fidel Love

You see him walk a path

his peers won’t go

Scared to death of being alone

but his tears won’t show

So ignorant, it appears he don’t know

The whole world’s against him

Little Black Boy

So offensive, on the defensive

trying to prove he’s a man

but so young

They’ll always see him

“Ay boy, what up son…”

as a Little Black Boy

Looked down on, never up to

Always something for them to judge you

So go to school, hear the professor in college preach

Sell out or just sell his soul to the Chicago streets

You see him walk a path

his peers won’t go

Scared to death of being alone

but his fears don’t show

Should be scared

Ain’t the least bit prepared

The whole world’s expecting you to fail

Plus ya girlfriend’s expecting, can you tell?

A Little Black Boy with a lil’ black boy

Whose fault

Can’t teach him, what you were never taught

Don’t know the Quran

and only a handful of scriptures

Show him how to walk

and maybe how to stand

but understand

there was never a man in the picture


Enjoy two essays Raymon Strong, Class of 2013

Discovery of Love

In “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and “Hills Like White Elephants,” authors Raymond Carver and Ernest Hemingway present relationships through characters and setting in the realistic fiction genre.  Both authors give insight into the ideals of love.  There is conflict, both internal and external, as well as resolution.  These stories adhered to the realistic fiction genre because of the issues that people in society can relate to their own life.

Dynamic characters can really propel a story forward.  In realistic fiction, having characters the reader can relate to is very important, based on the message you are trying to send, either social or political.  In Carver’s story, issues revolve around more modern ideas of love.  In the story we see a variety of couples in different stages of their relationships, from newlyweds to a couple who have been together for years.  The story shows love in the highest standards and the lowest.  Mel and Terri are a married couple who have been together for five years.  Both had marriages prior, and both have less than positive memories about those relationships.  With Terri there is a struggle going on because of how her first husband treated her.  He physically assaulted her, but yet we see Terri defend his actions to her current husband Mel saying, “There was love there, Mel.  Don’t say there wasn’t.”  What this shows is how perspective can affect someone’s logic. (click here to read more)

A Different Love

When it comes to love, there are a multitude of explanations, assumptions and so on.  And it seems that it can be analyzed from every angle possible from biological to emotional and psychological.  Everyone one can agree that most, unless born with some kind of pre-disposition are capable of love.  So why is it that people have such a hard time accepting same sex couples?  The questions always seem to jump not to whether they love each other, but how unnatural it is.  According to author Christopher Arroyo, opponents of same sex couples say that “homosexuals are incapable of genuine, full erotic love.”   The capacity to love does not rest on a person’s sexuality alone.  If that was the case, then no one would be able to love anyone without it being deemed unnatural.( ex, human affections for animals, father’s love for son)  What people might not understand is that same sex relationships are built on the same foundation that same sex couples form their’s, that being love and respect.  But we can’t dive into if same sex love being valid without going into marriage, because if two people love each other, the next logical step would be to make that love permanent.  However, opinions are so widespread, that it can be hard to move forward when so much is holding you back.  But maybe if people can get past biased feelings, then maybe we can start to find a middle ground.  What I want to achieve for this paper is a different perspective on a topic that people feel strongly, whether you’re for it or against it.  So my question is what makes same sex love different from any other kind of love? (click here to read more)