Veteran Resources for Community College Students Following the Educational Assistance Act of 2008

This paper will briefly explore the impact of the Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Act of 2008 as it relates to community college veteran enrollment and the need for on-campus support resources; correspondingly, a review of research in the field will inform the identification of veteran-specific risk factors and most valuable services. Emphasis will be placed on comprehensive case management, congregation initiatives, and referral services as assets of an effective veteran center. 

The GI Bill and Enrollment Surges Post 9/11

The 1970s saw a dramatic downturn  in graduation rates, transfer rates, student enrollment, and general retention among veteran students. This was the result of a combination of factors which included the stigmatization of combat veterans after the Vietnam war and the end of the draft in 1972. Additionally, and possibly most importantly, educational benefits had not been re-evaluated or updated to align with growing tuition expenses or changes in requisite job training across many different fields (Moore, 2017, p.17) marking a clear decline in the quality of civilian life for servicemen upon discharge. As a consequence, recruitment and enlistment numbers suffered nationwide and new initiatives were put forward to resolve existing deficiencies.

The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, which was passed after several years of strenuous hearings, increased tuition assistance allowances by nearly $1000 monthly and provided separate benefits for active duty military. Further enhancements were made under the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008,  which retroactively benefited those who enlisted on or following September 10, 2000. The bill, which is considered the most “generous educational benefit available today”  (Kessler, 2018, p.20) incentivized enlistment and college enrollment upon re-entry in record numbers in much the same way that the original 1944 GI Bill; DeLeGarza notes that “in some college campuses sur­veyed, enrollment of military and veteran students… increased by up to 500% since 2009 with an estimated $36 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill entitle­ment benefits as of 2013 (Lang, Harriett, & Cadet in DeLeGarza, 2016, p.1) (Moore, 2017, p.19). Approximately 84% of  these military service members and veterans begin their academic careers at 2-year institutions, underscoring the community college as an essential component of post-secondary success and less directly, economic prosperity for the veteran population (DeLeGArza, 2016, p.1). These realities mandate comprehensive, targeted supports for students who have served in the military, as they often have no familiarity with the process of admission, enrollment, goal-setting, or completion.

Addressing Risk-factors of Student Veterans

    Risk Factors. Veterans on community college campuses usually exist within multiple nontraditional student identities; like many adult learners,  they are within the minority when it comes to age, life experience, and social responsibility. More precisely, veteran students frequently hold full-time jobs, enroll in college part-time, and act as providers in their home lives (Wheeler in De LeGarza, 2016, p.42) (Pellegrino, 2015). Additionally, they will often attend multiple institutions while earning a degree… or have mixed enrollment (i.e., fluctuate between full- and part-time enrollment)(para. 3) ( NCSL in Moore, 2017, p.31). Dividing time between academic coursework, mother/or fatherhood, and work can cultivate emotional maturity, focus, and leadership skill, but having many obligations can also contribute to the layered alienation veterans feel when socializing  with “non-military peers” (Kessler, 2018, p. 35).  Difficulties are presented in areas both practical and emotional, as these students struggle against damages obtained in or because of combat such as benefit delays, PTSD, and intermittent feelings of anxiety, shock, depression, and isolation.

 Theoretical Frameworks for Addressing Needs. On-campus veteran centers attempt to mitigate some of these issues, taking the unique values and experiences of student veterans into account when designing service offerings and educational planning methods. Military training prioritizes the importance of congregation, service to the group over the individual, and respect for established structures of authority and seniority (Kessler, 2018, p.74) and so theoretical frameworks for veteran assistance often draw from Astin and Schlossberg, scholars who emphasize community, congregation, and relationships as tools for improving self-efficacy(Moore, 2017, p.6-7) (Pellegrino, 2015). 

Factors contributing to Student Satisfaction with Services Offered. 

Centers generate favorable responses when they provide opportunities for veteran students to meet each other and form bonds through events, workshops, and special courses; The CMFV  in North Carolina for example “offers career seminars, Veterans Day events, and other workshops to assist in the academic success of veterans. To this end, and to assist the veteran in his or her daily life, the CMFV staff connects veterans with existing community services and advocates for the development of new services to meet the growing need (Moore, 2017,p.4).  DeLeGarza, who used the Community College Survey of Men to determine needs and effectiveness strategies for vet centers, suggests that personal bonds are sometimes the root of endurance. His research shows that “us­ing counseling-based interventions to communicate to student veterans that they possess the ability to complete studies based on the strength of character required, gained, and instilled through military service” inspires confidence and is a necessary supplement to general efficiency (DeLeGarza, 2016, p.51). This may be why faculty-student interaction is a highly impactful in inspiring motivation and persistence among student veterans(Chaves, 2006 in Pellegrino, 2015).  A functional veteran center must account for intrinsic motivation as well as expediency. 

 Comprehensive solutions which simplify the college process by providing “professional counseling, career coaching, enrollment and benefit support, academic planning, and case management” (Kessler, 2018, p.74)  tend to garner greater usage. These “one-stop-shops”, as Kessler refers to them,  employ case managers, advisers, and counselors who serve highly specialized functions, can build rapport with students, and provide a clear plan for coursework, referrals, and advisement with registration, credit loads, graduation, and purchase of supplies. Veterans are more likely to use a campus center if they can see a specific person for each service, “for example, a person dedicated to veteran academic advising is necessary as well as a specific veteran orientation program” (Herman et al in Kessler, 2018, p.30). Accordingly, veteran centers with more general staff deter Veterans from usage as this structure feels chaotic and scattered in comparison to military structures. 

Importance of Retaining Student Veterans: 

The importance of retaining veteran students is plural. On the one hand, they tend to transfer and/ or complete programs of study at a higher rate than non-military students: “First year non-veteran college students transfer at a rate of 9% and that rate rises to 41% by their senior year; non-combat veteran first year students transfer at a rate of 28% and that rate rises to 71% by senior year; combat veterans first year students transfer at a rate of 45% and that rate rises to 80% by senior year (National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE], 2010, p. 17). It follows that a community college with a healthy, supported student veteran population  will excel in areas of educational quality and student achievement. Military friendly institutions also tend to attract both community engagement and opportunities for financial support (Moore, 2018, p.17). Therefore, institutions which not only erect centers for Veteran students, but also implement proven methods for student satisfaction, are projected to gain credibility as the influx of veteran enrollment continues. 


De Lagarza, T., Manuel, M., Wood, J., & Harris, F. (2016). Military and Veteran Student Achievement in Postsecondary Education: A Structural Equation Model Using the Community College Survey of Men (CCSM). Community College Enterprise, 22(1), 43-54.

Kessler, S., & Brent, Brian. (2018). Veteran and Military Student Satisfaction With Student Services at a Community College in Western New York, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Moore, T. T. (2017). Evaluation of a community college veteran center and student veteran success (Order No. 10637560). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1966524367). Retrieved from 

Pellegrino, L., Hoggan, C., & Fishback, S. (2015). A Tale of Two Transitions: Female Military Veterans During Their First Year at Community College. Adult Learning, 26(3), 124-131.

Letter of Rec from Dr. Maureen Hillhouse

March 20, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Angie Hoover since 2011. I have come to know Angie’s skills, capabilities, and strengths well. 

Angie has been working with me on a projects for New York University. One of these is a project conducted in Ventura County, Raising the Barn, aimed at engaging individuals with mental health challenges recently released from incarceration, their families, clinicians, law enforcement and court personnel, and other stakeholders in discussions and activities addressing the needs of this population. Angie coordinates our meetings and communicates effectively and succinctly with all involved parties. She is able to explain research requirements and implementation procedures for potential side projects. Her verbal and written communication skills are excellent and versatile and she is able to adjust to the comprehension level of each specific group.  

Angie has a strong understanding and commitment to academic endeavors.  She appreciates and rises to the challenges inherent in working in the pursuit of academic ideals. She has worked with an array of people, agencies, and institutions, and has never attained less than excellence. She understands the nature of intellectual investigation, and has the necessary skills, knowledge, and motivation to make important contributions to her chosen field. She has shown that she can integrate the pursuit of scholarly goals with the pragmatic requirements of dealing with people, and doing so in a way that is appropriate and meaningful. 

Not only is Angie intelligent and goal-oriented, but she is diligent, tenacious, patient, and hard-working. She meets her deadlines, works well under pressure, and produces high-quality work. She is detail-oriented and uses this skill to provide complete and accurate materials for each project. She is also willing to help meet project goals. For example, in addition to her own responsibilities, she provided technical assistance to a colleague who was having problems. As a result, Angie has been added to this project based in Ventura County- testing methods for reducing stress in students with autism. The first trial will use virtual reality to introduce and orient students to new locations and situations. Angie’s understanding of technology has proven to be invaluable for the project and project team. Angie can work well independently, but is also adept at group collaborations. She is well liked by her peers, practitioners, and supervisors. 

I have no doubt that Angie will be an exemplary student in your program. She is intuitive and professional, and brings a level of passion and dedication that would enhance any program that she joins. Applying her knowledge, experience, and positive personal attributes would make her particularly well-suited to your Program in Technical Communications. She is personable and delightful to work with and is a true team player. The admissions committee can be confident that her performance and productivity will be of great benefit to the program endeavor. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information.

Maureen Hillhouse, PhD
Associate Director, BetaGov
New York University
60 Fifth Ave., 2Fl.
New York, NY 10011

contact available upon request

Letter of Rec. from V. Cate

To whom it may concern,

Please consider this letter my wholehearted endorsement of Angie Hoover in her candidacy for USC’s MFA in Screenwriting program. I frankly can’t think of a young artist working in Los Angeles today who better exemplifies the kind of keen thinking, creative eye, and unique potential that USC is – or should be – seeking from its prospective students. 

I have had the fortune and pleasure of working with Angie, both as a director of her written work for the stage, and as an editor of theater journalism sites Stage Raw and @THIS STAGE

Our first collaboration, Cat Fight, was staged in 2014. The show told the story of the experience of being a woman, and Angie brought a varied and brilliant collection of pieces to the evening of short works. Actors adored working with her language, and the show was successfully extended. Since then, I have sought out Angie for multiple projects. What she brings to the table artistically is invaluable.

More recently, Angie has applied her eye and ear (and unerring acumen) as a critic at Stage Raw and theater journalist at @THIS STAGE, precisely to broaden her horizons and expose herself to new work and different approaches and mise en scènes. I believe that Angie could well become a transformative force for the American stage, media,  and cinema alike.

Very sincerely,

V. Cate (they/he)

Assigning Editor, Stage Raw

A.D. Butcherbird Studios

Letter of Rec. Dr. John Baker

To whom it may concern

It gives me great delight to write this letter in support of  Ms. Angelisa Miranda. I first met Angie in January 2011, when she became a student in my Biological Anthropology course. She performed very well in that course, earning a grade of “A” and finishing in the top 5% of her cohort.

Angie and I had many opportunities to interact that semester, and I found her to be an extremely intelligent and motivated individual with a strong artistic streak and sense of self. You can imagine my delight when I learned that she had signed up for a short summer trip to Peru that I had organized for May 2011. Perhaps you know the expression: “If you really want to get to know someone, travel with them.” I must say, traveling with Angie on that trip was an absolute delight. She is well-balanced and extremely personable, and her presence made the entire tour (which included 6 other students of mine as well as participants from other colleges) that much more fun. Angie is an amazing story-teller, and I can recall more than one time when she was relating a story from her life and the entire tour group was quiet and engrossed. Her tales were always insightful, often hilarious, and consistently detailed, so that I could easily feel myself a part of the situation she was describing.

After that tour, I encountered Angie often on the Moorpark College campus, for she was an engaged and extremely appreciated member of the Writing Center. There, she helped students organize their thoughts and compose and improve their term papers and other assignments. I often sent my students to her, knowing that they would find support and affirmation regardless of their writing level. Angie displayed a genuine empathy for the students she worked with while holding them all to high standards and doing all that she could to help them gain confidence and improve their writing skills.

In addition to these activities, Angie completed her studies at Moorpark College and then at Arizona State University, where she earned her B.A. in Film and Media Studies. Along the way, she also found the time to earn her TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certification, to participate in and present at a number of conferences and workshops, and to publish an article. Clearly, Angie is a highly motivated and dynamic individual who could, in my opinion, do anything she wants.

What makes Angie even more special in my eyes is that what she wants to do is to help other people find themselves and their own paths. This desire springs from her own personal story, and thus reflects who she is and how she has become this person. Her many outstanding qualities, combined with her deep empathy and compassion for others, PLUS an extraordinary artistic streak, ensure that Angie will be both a dynamic and well-regarded member of your program and that she will subsequently be a counselor who will attract and be able to work with a wide variety of clients. I should add that I have always found Angie to be a person of deep integrity who puts others before herself (without becoming trampled in the process).

I hope that you can see from these few lines that I hold Angie in the highest regard; indeed, I consider her to be one of the most gifted and innately talented, and warm and compassionate students, that I have encountered in my 29 years of teaching. If we had more like her, perhaps we wouldn’t need therapists and counselors. The next best thing would be to have people such as Angie, who are dedicated to improving the lives of her fellows and to truly making the world a better, more compassionate, and fun place.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide you with any additional information about Angie Hoover; I would be happy to share what I know.


John R. Baker, Dr.phil.

Professor of Anthropology

Moorpark College

Contact information available upon request

Letter of Rec. Dr. Tracy Tennenhouse

To Whom it May Concern,

Once in a while we come across a student who is exceptionally dynamic in her capabilities, demonstrates an academic rigor uncommon at the community college level, and who brings creativity and a “presentness” we don’t see very often. It is my pleasure to have encountered these qualities in Angelisa Hoover and can therefore recommend her highly for advanced study and graduate work in the discipline  of technical communications. 

I first met Angie when she was my student in English 1B, critical thinking about literature. Her analysis and critical thinking skills were way beyond her classmates, and her writing was so strong that we awarded her with an English Department Writing Award as well as publication in our Student Essay Anthology. I also recall in those years that Angie would stop by my office and have long conversations with me about her experiences in the music and entertainment world (she comes from a family of musicians), sharing her struggles growing up as an intellectual and creative kid in a school environment that didn’t really value those qualities. My daughter was in elementary school at that time, and I remember listening to Angie’s experiences and relating them to my own worries about raising a creative, intelligent girl in our society. She gave me good advice and shared her wisdom, which I truly appreciated at the time. I guess you could say that we mentored each other!

Fast forward a few years to when I became co-director of our Writing Center, where I had recommended Angie to be a tutor. I was now serving in a supervisorial position and could see Angie as not just a student but as a professional tutor. Without a doubt, Angie was our most sought-after tutor. Her appointments filled up before anyone else’s, and students flocked to her and asked for her regularly. They did this because she not only had the academic skills to help them with their writing, but she brought a kindness and a presence that truly engaged these students. She listened to them and then quickly figured out how to focus and help them on something tangible during their 45 minute appointment. It takes great skill to figure out what someone needs and then give it to them in a short amount of time, and Angie has that skill. Angie was also really flexible as a tutor, being able to help someone with ESL skills as well as someone working on upper-level analysis and research papers. We were fortunate to be able to send Angie into classrooms as a supplemental instructor, workshop leader, and I even invited her to do a study skills session for our local high school students. At all of these events, Angie exuded an energy and credibility that resonated with the students. She was relatable, fun, and clearly knew her stuff. She is, in other words, a natural guide and teacher! As a regular fixture in our tutor training sessions, Angie graciously offered her experience and guidance to new tutors, and she took leadership roles in many of our enrichment activities such as poetry workshops and readings.

From the first day I met Angelisa I knew that she was destined for academic and intellectual pursuits. I am sure that she will bring the same passion, excellence, and focus to your place of work that she does to everything, and I can enthusiastically recommend her.


Dr. Tracy Tennenhouse

Moorpark College English Department

Contact information available upon request

Corey Feldman Drama Academy for Mature Women (Monologue)

Corey Feldman Drama Academy for Mature Women

Monologue written for Cat Fight, 2013

ANDY, an older actress in a professional outfit, stands on stage. She takes a moment to set herself and a spotlight is cast. She delivers her lines cheerfully and with enthusiasm!


Welcome Everyone! I am Andy Everglade, (cutely) in the flesh, star of 1977’s Pillowfight Slaughter 2, and 3 time winner of TBS’s MILF award.  

This afternoon, I have the immense pleasure of cutting the ribbon at Acton, California’s very own Corey Feldman Certified Pre-Owned Honda Dealership AND Drama Academy for Mature Women! Now you might be saying, an acting studio attached to a car dealership, what’s the big idea, Andy? Well, let me tell you.

Mr. Feldman believes that used cars, like women over 50, may seem practically undriveable to the outside world, but in actuality, they have a few good years left in them! That’s right! Want to star alongside Harrison Ford [beat] as his elderly aunt with Alzheimers? Then look no further! Take it from me, there are plenty of challenging and exciting roles as Television Divorcees, Grandmothers and even Great, Great Grandmothers to go around! And that doesn’t even scratch the surface! Last year, using Mr Feldman’s methods, I landed not one but TWO commercials for Life Alert’s new product: Hot Flash Emergency Warning!! 

Still not sure if you want to come and visit? That’s fine! We are a full service garage too! Come get your oil changed and pick up a pamphlet about our diverse array of classes! While you wait, feel free to peruse through a magazine from our library of age-appropriate reading material. Trust us, we cater to YOUR interests such as menopause, Oprah and  minimizing ghastly wrinkles with a mixture of avocado and semen!

But acting isn’t all about being pampered like a STAR! Here at The CFDAMW, we also want to prepare you for the real world! For just 6 small payments of $25.99, our resident mechanic will make sure you are ready for the experience of auditioning as a middle-aged woman by refusing to make eye contact with you, refusing to make eye contact with you, and refusing to make eye contact with you.

With Mr. Feldman’s knowledge and guidance in your corner, you will be scoring Osteoporosis Commercials in no time! Act Now!  For this weekend only, Mr. Feldman has graciously agreed to hire young Models to visit the Academy. That way, we will know who to stand behind when the time is right! 

So, come on down!

A model, CHELSEA, struts on stage and stands directly in front of Andy. She does various poses. Andy fights to be seen.

Thank you, Chelsea. [deep breath] This feels right!


Mad World: The Lunacy of Imperialism in Apocalypse Now (Academic Article)

Academic Film Criticism of Apocalypse Now and the Imperialist Adventure Film

Francis Ford Coppola’s  Vietnam epic, Apocalypse Now (1979) rejects the simplistic vision of expansionism that is propagated by the imperial adventure film and instead exposes Conquest as a complex tapestry of emptiness, glory, and devastation. Although the film perceives beauty in the biblical proportions of war, it ultimately condemns neocolonialism as a source of moral corruption, mass destruction, and large-scale suffering. The finished product is a nightmarish depiction of imperial progress, which subverts the ‘Imperial Imaginary’ and reveals the West’s frivolous dehumanization and annihilation of non-white cultures. 

 Film theorists Stam and Shohat define the ‘Imperial Imaginary’ as a system of tropes in cinema which support imperialist ideology. Action-adventure films and American Westerns, in particular, are guilty of holding up imperialism as they  “tell the story of colonialism from the colonizer’s perspective, … [and] idealize colonial enterprise as a philanthropic “civilizing mission” motivated by a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny” (Shohat & Stam 113). But Coppola reveals the perversion seated in these ideas. 

In a reversal of the ‘Imperial Imaginary,’ Apocalypse Now adopts the perspective of the colonizer and re-appropriates it to unearth the potent insanity beneath the surface of Imperialism. The film follows Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) as he embarks on a classified mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a military genius gone mad. Though Willard is the film’s protagonist, he is in no way a hero crusading for the “benefits of empire” (Shohat & Stam 120). In fact, he is a lost and lonely man tormented by the horrors he has endured at its hands. When the viewer first sees him, he is laying alone in his hotel room, confined by his own terrifying memories. Throughout the film, he speaks often of the brutality and hypocrisy of conquest. After the PBR crew murders a Vietnamese woman sailing past in a houseboat, he remarks, “We cut them in half with a machine gun and then give them a band-aid. It was a lie, and the more I saw of them, the more I hated lies.”  Here, the propaganda that adventure films would ordinarily expect their audiences to swallow is embittered. Disillusionment, terror, and derangement are emphasized frequently as symptoms of war in both the film’s style and its content. With the use of psychedelic visuals, eerie folk music, and the layering of Willard’s hopeless voice over, Coppola reflects the dreamlike derangement of Vietnam and solidifies his critique: imperialism is a broken mentality. Kurtz himself allegorizes the madness of the American people: drunk with power, deluded in their entitlement, and confident  that their arrogance is, in fact, godlike wisdom. 

 As much as the film denounces the war for it’s futility, it completely omits the voice of the Vietnamese people who are being massacred without purpose. They are shown only as extras milling around Kurtz’s camp, running from fiery explosions, or laying dead in gruesome photographs. Their invisibility, however, underscores the dehumanizing gaze of imperialism as they are treated like pests who must be exterminated before moving day. This disregard for ‘natives’ and the associated American entitlement to foreign territory is made extremely clear in a scene early on where an air strike team assembles to slaughter an entire village without just cause. In all of the scenes where soldiers come face-to-face with Vietnamese civilians, it is clear that the  presence of American democracy in developing nations is a violation which is met with great fear and grief. During the airstrike, school children run; mothers clutch their sobbing babes, and men attempt to fire a primitive machine gun to no avail. The audience is made to feel repulsed by Big Brother’s indifference to human suffering. 

These images of moral decay within the military stand in direct opposition to imperial adventure films of the 1930s-50s, which position imperial soldiers in a place to “quell ‘terrorist’ uprising[s]”  and ultimately “ legitimate … destruction and the paternal transformation of the friendly “elements” into servile allies, authorizing [their] right to establish new outposts (and implicitly to hold on to old ones)” (Shohat & Stam 120). Willard is never shown triumphant, and his actions reject the idea that imperialism causes minor distress in the name of the greater good. Kurtz ,who acts as a demented sage, is also an exemplar of the ugliness which drives conquest. He explains that for wars to deliver victory,  soldiers  must make “horror and moral terror their friends, or else they [will become] enemies to be feared.”  This horrific look at the spread of western ideology and what it entails places Coppola’s unforgiving war drama in line with post 1960s “realistic” Westerns which “project[ed] a less flattering vision of the expansionist project” and “depict[ed] the frontier as violent but un-heroic, often presenting Native Americans with considerable sympathy” (Shohat & Stam 126). In it, is a shift from cartoonish idealism to (some level of) public responsibility and guilt  that encourages audiences to regard racial stereotypes with skepticism. And though these images don’t solve the problem, they urge audiences to pity and sometimes empathize with the plight of peoples who have historically been dismissed as savage or uncivilized.

As Shohat and Stam suggest, “films arrange events and actions in a temporal narrative that … shape[s] thinking about historical time and national history” (104). If the imperial adventure film serves the pretense under which imperialism operates, Apocalypse Now looks at the perverse truth: in the pursuit of global domination, massacre and decimation are justified sacrifices.  Just as the film’s opening sees lush, green, trees being ignited by the careless fire of Western hubris, the ending sees Kurtz’s followers debased and destroyed for the sake of his madness.  These parallel images brilliantly underscore the film’s criticism of the large-scale greed that corrupts and disrupts the natural order of things.

Works Cited

Shohat, Ella, and Robert Stam. “The Imperial Imaginary.” Unthinking Eurocentrism:Multiculturalism and the Media, 100-136. London, England: Routledge, 1994.Web.

Virtual Reality as an Antecedent Intervention for High School Students with Autism (Professional Lit Review)

Prepared for NYU’s Marron Institute by Angelisa Miranda

Although virtual reality (VR) was originally developed to build more immersive environments for video games, in recent years, it has been used therapeutically to reduce stress in individuals who are prone to severe anxiety (Opris, Pintea, García‐Palacios, Botella, Stefan, David, 2012). In terms of its application as an intervention strategy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), VR has shown promising results as a substitute for imaginal experiences in social cognition training (Kandalaft, Didehbani, et al. 2012), travel training, and environment intervention (Bernardes, Barros,  Simoes, Castelo-Branco, 2015).

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA), the standard therapy used to treat ASD individuals, attempts to address general fears and anxieties through graduated exposure. When visiting a new place, the first phase of graduated exposure may be “imaginal desensitization; however, individuals with ASD have difficulties with imagination” (Maskey, Rodgers, McConachie, Parr, 2014). This is often a debilitating limitation as it fortifies the barrier between individuals with autism and the resources established for their aid and comfort. In a school setting, this might mean that a student with ASD is emotionally unable to visit a special education office, a school library, or a new classroom. 

A study conducted by Newcastle University in England attempted to address this issue through the use of virtual reality environments (VRE). In this study, VRE primed students for intimidating experiences that they could not easily imagine, such as going shopping (Maskey, et al. 2014). Following 5 VRE exposure sessions lasting between 20-30 minutes each, individuals with ASD showed significant improvement when asked about their target fear, while a select number of participants felt they had overcome their fear completely. 

Similarly, this randomized control trial will use 360 video and VR technology to simulate the experience of visiting a new and unfamiliar location, allowing students with autism to develop a level of comfort and familiarity before they attempt to visit in real life. In this way, VR could be used as an antecedent intervention, reducing feelings of anxiety and panic that typically prevent individuals with ASD from accessing necessary assistance in a school setting, and more generally, in daily life. 


Bernardes, M., Barros, F., Simoes, M., Castelo-Branco, M. (2015). 2015 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation (ICVR), Valencia, 2015, 127-128.

doi: 10.1109/ICVR.2015.7358609

Kandalaft, M. R., Didehbani, N., Krawczyk, D. C., Allen, T. T., & Chapman, S. B. (2012). Virtual Reality Social Cognition Training for Young Adults with High-Functioning Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(1), 34-44. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1544-6 

Maskey, M. ; Lowry, J. ; Rodgers, J. ; McConachie, H. ; Parr, J.R. (2014). Reducing Specific Phobia/ Fear in Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) Through a Virtual Reality Environment Intervention. PLoS ONE, 2, Vol.9(7). Retrieved from

Opris, D, Pintea, S., García‐Palacios, A., Botella, C., Szamosközi, S., David, D. (2012). Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy in Anxiety Disorders: a Quantitative Meta-analysis. Depression and Anxiety, 29 (2), 85-93.

House of Tales (Theater Review)

House of Tales

Theater Review for Stage Raw

Reviewed by Angie Hoover

Published on 6.11.18

House of Tales, written and directed by Changting Lu, is a tragedy, but not in the way it’s supposed to be.

 More logic puzzle than work of art, the show follows an experimental format that uses archetypal imagery and conceptual language to present societal order as a threat to the human spirit. 

The lights come up, and viewers are instantly struck with the stuff of SNL parody: four solemn performers stand on stage holding bright orange traffic cones. They move, then stop in rhythm with the ticking of a metronome. A man in a windbreaker approaches and upon reaching the stage, he struggles — however unintentionally — to lift a cumbersome pylon to his mouth. “Ideology! Comparative Analysis! Social Order!” he exclaims before returning to his place in the aisle. In his absence, the performers discover folk tales that cannot and do not exist in a culture that values structure above poetry and art. This cycle occurs three times before culminating in a display that takes a page or two out of Tommy Wisseau’s book of acting techniques.

While the ensemble of artists, hailing from such esteemed colleges as UCLA, USC, and Cal-Arts, exude a palpable love for art, theatre, and performance, their presentation is derivative, pulling from influences that theatre students are institutionalized to revere but not necessarily comprehend. That being said, an intention to communicate ideas visually and unconventionally is often the starting point for innovative theatre. For a collective in its artistic infancy, it is all but necessary to venture into the realms of imitation and experimentation before reaching maturity.

The production is disjointed, messy, and desperate to be original, but in its desperation, it is somewhat endearing. There is no doubt that this collective is passionate about performance art and that their contrived efforts are merely a stage in their artistic development. The desire to give insight to the audience is clear, but a production can’t succeed on artistic intention alone. House of Tales tries so incredibly hard to do everything right, but ultimately, it reads as a collective of amateurs playing at an art form they don’t yet understand.  

The Complex Hollywood, The Dorie Theatre , 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038; Sunday, 4:30 p.m.; Through June 23; or (323) 465-0383; Running Time: 60 mins with no intermission 

Cabaret Consensual and Issues of Duality in the Quest for Queer Visibility (Interview/ Profile)

Cabaret Consensual and Issues of Duality in the Quest for Queer Visibility
Queer Life & Theater/Cabaret Consensual for This Stage L.A. 

Written by Angie Hoover/Angelisa Miranda

Published  8.9.18

The performance room at The Three Clubs is, in essence, a side closet in a straight bar. But it is not the closet of shame and doubt that imprisoned LGBTQIA during The Gay Dark Ages; it is a new closet with cocktails, comedians, celebrated sexual deviance, and the opportunity for queers and their allies to convene without fear of judgment. To be wholly candid, safe spaces such as these are something that I criticize in my personal life; the obsession with politically correct language, the vigilant and angry exclusivity, the hypocrisy of gathering oppressed people who ultimately wish to oppress their oppressors–it all feels like a recipe for stagnancy. And after all, a closet is a closet. But after speaking with Bitsy La Bourbon, founder of sexual assault activism group, More Than No, and producer of Cabaret Consensual, it is plainer to recognize how difficult it is to play a part in increasing queer visibility, and how any attempt to gather the community can inspire projects for more focused systemic change.

An assault survivor and former addict, Bitsy offers insight that is highly motivated by personal traumas, giving her a powerful relatability and strength. Despite her status as an icon of openness, however, she approaches questions about her work with a sort of restrained professionalism, and in many ways, it is this reserve that revealed to me the internal conflict queers feel when they must be both empathetic and forward-thinking. Also illuminated, was the pressure leaders feel to build outlets for emotions that are discordant, namely aggression and acceptance. There is a need for forceful momentum when it comes to increasing visibility and fostering respect for queer people, but there is also a need for cautiousness when dealing with a large group of traumatized people. But when a single person tries to be both the voice of catharsis and the voice of revolution, progress is muddied.

Personally, Bitsy desires more spaces for anger and more uproar among allies who sometimes seem complacent, but as a producer, she wishes to create a respite from those types of negative and sometimes painful emotions. Together with spaces where anger and retribution are central, she believes her event can catalyze the healing process and provide clarity of purpose,and she acknowledges that the lack of other perspectives is problematic; She remarks:”Cycling through emotional stages is essential to moving forward. It allows for a full scope of reflection, and that helps us know what progress looks like.”

Although More than No and Cabaret Consensual champion survivors of sexual assault regardless of how they identify, Bitsy felt it important to dedicate a select night to queer performance art, with careful consideration given to diversity and representation in the realms of gender and race. As she explains, “sexual assault survivors are a minority group unlike any other because any person can all of a sudden become a part of it and there are certain minorities that experience violence at a much higher rate. The odds of our community experiencing assault is very high– assault is experienced at the highest rate among trans and bisexual, people of color so representation is extremely important.” These statistics indicate a community that is inherently mixed, so it is essential to book entertainers who sometimes fall outside of  her immediate circle of friends to ensure that all voices are heard and equality is actively maintained. Again, fostering inclusion here is complex as there are many contradicting viewpoints.

The potential friction here is avoided by directing attendees toward consent and open discussion about kink and other unconventionalities. Using provocative performances in the genres of storytelling, burlesque, and stand-up comedy to challenge widely held ideas about sexuality, pleasure, and intimate connection, the cabaret not only informs, but endears its audience to the kinds of issues that are ignored even among friends for fear of inciting conflict. Closeness is cultivated easily and quickly in such a comfortable and inviting space, and although this queer utopia doesn’t directly galvanize people to envision clear, direct goals, it provides what many more hostile iterations of Queer Pride cannot achieve: unification and hope for progress