I am a senior double majoring in Feminist Studies and International Studies and minoring in Political Science. I asked my mother once how she knew I was a writer, and she replied that even when I was very young, I would write her letters anywhere and everywhere. (Though I took her words to heart, when I was digging through some old coats one day I found hard proof of her recollections—my mother’s fluffy yellow Tommy Hilfiger jacket with jumbled letters scrawled in faded ink at the hem.)

So I have always drawn myself close to writing’s folds or, rather, writing has always drawn me to it (or maybe even both sentiments are true). Either way, stories like my mother’s, stories about my parents’ lives in the Philippines and their experiences as immigrants to America, are the strongest influences on my literary background. They were told over the dining table on days suffused with light and laughter, and beneath the simplicity of my parents’ storytelling, I discovered these essential tenets of engaging writing: honesty, clarity, and the encapsulation of the human condition.

Engaging writing, I also learned, means becoming a traveler of the imagination, an observer of the so-called ‘little things’ in life: stopping to delight in the sight of silvery-leafed star apple trees sprouting out of the ground; to wade in the muddy water of a rice paddy, feeling the sweat breaking over my brow and the pricks of insects stinging my legs, my back curved like fruit-laden branches. It is from stories, then, that I learned that the best writing captures the beauty and complexity of the seemingly mundane. Penning such stories—ones that I am personally invested in bringing to light—has become my central motivation in my writing endeavors.