Bethany Johnsen, Co-Chair
Bethany was born in southern California under admittedly inauspicious circumstances, but very quickly garnered acclaim for herself with a convincing performance as Baby Jesus in a church nativity play. Following a checkered theatrical career, she has since earned a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and very little money. As a third-year UCLA English PhD student, Bethany works on the 18th-century novel, Enlightenment philosophy, Gothic and sentimental fictions, and narrative theory. As a first-time Marathon Reading co-chair, she scribbles ideas in hopes of their eventual execution by herself and others. As a twenty-sixth year (reluctant) homo sapien, her non-academic interests include dogs and whales. Bethany is the prolific imagined author of numerous unpublished and unwritten texts.
Rebecca Hill, Designer
Hailing from the Chicagoland area, Rebecca is a late-stage PhD candidate in medieval studies, which is exactly as morbid as it sounds. She writes on the influence of Arabic science in translation on early Middle English Poetics in the 13th century (that’s the 1200s, mom). She is known for seizing upon every opportunity, including academic guest lectures, as a totally unsolicited venue for vocal performance, and has traveled to 43 countries, all while earning a public school teacher’s salary, an accomplishment of which not even Mother Teresa can boast. Currently, she is a visiting researcher at Yale University and an adjunct instructor at Southern Connecticut State University; her favorite part of New England is the rotating seasonal flavor at Arethusa Farms ice cream shop. She is lactose intolerant.
Abigail To, Outreach Director
As Outreach Director, Abigail makes creative attempts at instagramming novels that are decades or centuries older than she, checks Facebook to see how many likes the page gets, and eats a lot of pizza during team meetings. Mostly though, she begs people for money. Restaurant owners, corporate leaders, and unsuspecting innocents alike get to see her plead for educational funding. In her free time, Abigail enjoys not falling completely behind on the stack of books and essays that her English major demands. Some quarters, she remembers that she’s also doing a minor in Global Studies and pulls her globe out of the attic. As a fourth-year undergraduate with a threatening case of senioritis, she also spends a lot of time watching Netflix. Before joining the UCLA Marathon Reading Team, Abigail spent 21 years searching for her life’s calling. This is apparently it.
Kristine Amyan, Arts and Crafts Designer
Kristine was born in Armenia; her family moved to the United States when she was 12 years old. Having a passion for creative writing and literature, she decided to pursue a degree in English at UCLA, where she is currently working on her B.A. with a minor in Global Studies. Exploring different cultures has always been an interest of hers. Other interests include travel, photography, theatre, and design. She has been a part of various creative and fundraising projects throughout the years, such a singing and dancing concerts for her high school choir and cultural festivals at her community college. A designer and blogger, she takes photographs that illustrate the books for this year’s marathon reading and works on the stage design for the event.