About the Writing Fellows

The SPS Writing Fellows are CUNY doctoral students trained in Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) pedagogy. They will not edit or correct your work for you, but will make suggestions for improvements to structure and content and help you identify and correct errors.  The fellows can provide assistance at any stage of writing from brainstorming and planning to proofreading and editing, and can assist writers at every stage of ability.

The 2021-2022 Writing Fellows are:


Ibtisam Ammouri (not pictured) is a PhD student in Linguistics at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests split into three: the Syntax-Semantics interface (the connection between the structure of a sentence and its meaning), reading acquisition and literacy, and machine translation between dialects. She has taught Phonology, Pragmatics, and Internet Linguistics at Lehman College, as well as Introduction to Linguistics at LaGuardia Community College. In addition, Ibtisam has extensive experience in teaching Arabic as a Second Language. She established her own school for Spoken Arabic, and has recently taught Standard Arabic at the MESAAS department at Columbia University. Aside from English and Arabic, Ibtisam is also fluent in Hebrew.


Leylah Bighach (not pictured) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Urban Education program at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Her research explores the impact of African History on the racial/ethnic self-identity, civic efficacy, activism, and academic outcomes for students of color.  Leylah received degrees from Columbia University (Psychology B.A.), Fordham University (LMSW), Hunter College (MS.Ed School Counseling) and Graduate Center (Master’s in Urban Education).  Leylah is currently a high school social worker and has been working full time in active service for the past 19 years in alternative high schools in Brooklyn and consortium schools in Manhattan. Prior to being a high school social worker, Leylah was a parent coordinator and SPARK counselor in Brooklyn alternative high schools.


Giordana Rubria Fiori is a DMA candidate in Piano Performance at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests center around 19th century opera, focusing specifically on the Italian repertoire. Her dissertation on Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra examines the composer’s scenic dispositions to the opera in the larger context of the performance practice tradition of this work. She has taught Introduction to Music courses at Queens College and has been part of the staff in the Opera Studio class.

Aside from English and Italian, Giordana is fluent in French and has a good understanding of Spanish and German.


Alessa Natale is a PhD candidate in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests center around issues related to workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, leadership, and career development. Her dissertation explores differences in self-nomination for leadership programs for men versus women with different cultural values. She has taught undergraduate courses on I-O psychology and career development and planning at Baruch College, CUNY, where she also earned her MS degree. Alessa also holds a BA in Psychology from Boston College in Massachusetts.



Kajal Patel is a PhD candidate in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests center around social media in the workplace, performance management, and employee selection. Her dissertation explores the impact of political information shared on social media in the workplace. She has taught undergraduate courses on I-O Psychology and Advanced Personnel Psychology at Baruch College, CUNY, where she also earned her MS degree. Kajal also holds a BA in Psychology from The College of New Jersey.


Deborah Philip is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research focuses on the politics of home and belonging in colonial and post-colonial Sri Lanka, with an interest in ethno-social formations, visual representations, and modernist movements. She has taught undergraduate courses in Cultural Anthropology at Queens College and Lehman College, CUNY, and in History at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she also recived her B.A in History.

Aside from English, she is proficient in Sinhala, and uses the Chicago citation style for her work.


Kirara Sato is a PhD student in Theatre and Performance studies at the Graduate Center. Her research interests include critical race theory, early modern theatre, contemporary American theatre, and theories of the body in performance. She has taught Introduction to Theatre and World Theatre History 3 at City College, CUNY. She is conversationally fluent in Japanese. Kirara also holds a BA in English Literature and East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Pennsylvania.


Erin Heiser is the Assistant Coordinator for the Writing Fellows at SPS. She has a Master’s degree in English with a focus on Composition and Rhetoric, and is a doctoral candidate in the English program at CUNY’s Graduate Center. She previously held a Writing Fellowship at Lehman College, CUNY.  Her dissertation focuses on how working-class lesbian writers use the autobiographical in their texts. Erin is interested in the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender; and these themes show up regularly in her own writing and on her syllabuses at CUNY and NYU where she has enjoyed teaching literature and writing for over a decade.


This site is organized and maintained by the SPS Writing Fellows. If you have questions about the Writing Fellows program, you can contact Kate Moss, the Writing Fellows Coordinator.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar