Ghost Stories And Running Shoes.

Meet English major Jacey de la Torre ’20.

September 3, 2020

Major: English

Hometown: El Sobrante, California

Thesis adviser: Prof. Pancho Savery

Thesis: Ghost Stories: Discovering and Disintegrating Home Space.

What it’s about: Through a series of memoir-style nonfiction narrative essays, I explore the mutability of the definition of home, the ways in which home constitutes itself both as space and concept, and the ways that family relationships shape and destabilize these meanings.

What it’s really about: I get messy about my family members and you can read all about it!

In high school: As a transfer student who commuted 20 minutes from a low-income neighborhood to a wealthy public high school, I felt like I had a unique perspective at my school. I loved class, played oboe in the school band, volunteered a lot, and was the captain of the cross-country and track team.

Influential professor: I have been deeply influenced by Prof. Pancho Savery’s democratic approach in the classroom, in which the students in conference are responsible for educating themselves by educating each other.

Influential book: Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit is a narrative memoir, similar to the writing that I modeled during thesis. She presents seemingly disparate topics, weaves them together slowly and beautifully, and allows spaces of unknowing ambiguity to live bravely in her writing.

Concept that blew my mind: Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of “the smooth and the striated” delineates between uncategorized, unlimited “smooth” spaces and ordered, formal, often obstructive “striated” spaces as a framework for examining the systems that govern our daily lives and modes of being.

Cool stuff: I was a student leader for Reed’s Christian club, Oh For Christ’s Sake, and joined The Flame, a nonliturgical church for queer folk based on radical community care in downtown Portland. I was a signator for Latinx Student Union and helped organize Reed’s first-ever Latinx Heritage Month. I ran the Portland Marathon for three years, and, in 2017, was the winner of my age group.

Awards, fellowships, grants: My writing has been presented at two conferences and published in two online magazines. I also received Phi Beta Kappa honors and an Eddings Research Grant at graduation.

Challenges I faced: As a low-income student, I worked multiple jobs every year to stay afloat and often found that my everyday problems and experiences were not shared by my (wealthier) peers. But the community and friends that I’ve found here have held me together these four years.

How Reed changed me: Reed pushed me out of my comfort zone. I became a much more measured, assertive, and deliberate person.

Financial aid: Financial aid has allowed me to receive this rare and beautiful education. I’m especially grateful for the David Eddings Scholarship for English majors.

What’s next: Substitute teaching, then applying to grad school so I can become a high school teacher!