Lilly Lew, a 5th year doctoral student with a Language and Literacy emphasis in the Department of Education, is preparing for qualifying exams this quarter. Amidst the whirlwind they inevitably bring, she set aside the moment to share with us her interests in multimodal literacies and identity formation in digital spaces, and why she enjoys watching students explore their creative possibilities. Lilly earned her B.A. in European History at University of California, Riverside (UCR) and her M.A. in Education: Curriculum and Instruction at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) with an emphasis in literacy. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Lilly taught writing composition for secondary education (grades 7-12) and assisted with the implementation of large scale writing assessments in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Thank you for your time and the work you do, Lilly!
GGSE: Tell us a little about your research interests.
Lew: I am interested in ways post-millennial youth compose their identities in digital spaces and how they use multimodal literacies to share ideas as well as build virtual communities. I am also interested in how these interactions could lead to youth empowerment.
GGSE: What is a project during your time at GGSE that you've been most proud of?
Lew: I worked on several projects over the years, but I am proudest of my research project Heroes on and off the field: A Community's Way of Inscribing the World. This project has been possible through University-Community Links. This year I have been theorizing about social construction of identity, especially while engaging in multimodal literacies in preparation for my dissertation proposal.
GGSE: With storytelling and literacy at the core of your work, can you tell us about a time where you saw the impact of story in a very real way?
Lew: Since I started my program at GGSE, I have been participating in a digital storytelling community in Goleta, California. The local youth harness technology to share digital stories and collages, and videos featuring their favorite topics. Every quarter our team has the digital story festival to showcase all the projects completed over the 8-week cycle. When the participants show their remixes of pop culture or original content, I am reminded to reconsider creative possibilities and these ideas expand my universe. Participating in these events have been professionally and personally rewarding. As an educator, I find joy in watching youth in our community mature over the years and leverage their intellectual resources to either pursue or create meaningful opportunities.
GGSE: Is there anything else you would like the GGSE community to know about you?
Lew: In addition to my research, I have been browsing architecture and interior design ideas. I love traveling and exploring the local food culture with friends and family. When I am home in Monterey Park, California, I enjoy gardening and hiking with my dog Vicky. After GGSE, I am seeking a research position that enables me to explore identity formation in maker space/start-up culture as well as inventor education programs.