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Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the current students?

There are currently twenty students in the program. Meet five of them below! 

Keith A. Dames
( originally from Miami, Florida, earned his H.S. diploma from Miami Jackson Senior High School. Mr. Dames earned an A.A. Degree in Liberal Arts (Music,Theatre & Dance) from Miami Dade Community College North-Campus. He has trained as a Modern Dancer In NYC at the world famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Center on their Certificate Program, and earned a B.F.A in Modern Dance, Choreography & Pedagogy and a M.S.E.D. in Education (Educational Theatre) from the City College of New York. . Currently he  is also the Vocalist/Bandleader of the Jazz & Blues Band "Kat's in Black Hats" - a quartet rhythm section of piano, bass, guitar & drums.  Mr. Dames considers himself a student of the Billie Holiday School of Music and pays homage to Ms. Holiday annually around her birthday every April 7th. Mr. Dames aspires to write a biography on Ms. Billie Holiday which will be entitled Homage to Eleanora: A Musical Journey Through The Billie Holiday Songbook.

Jennifer Skoog ( is a Harlem-based writer who hails from a farm in Minnesota. She is the youngest of nine and an aunt to more than sixty-five people. After she moved to New York City, Jenny became a “bride to baby” personal trainer and got her own TV show that earned her an Emmy nod. She studied Writing and Black Studies at City College and got published in The Promethean. She is currently working on a memoir at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Biography & Memoir program about the trauma of leaving her childhood religious sect. 

Anjelica M. Enaje (she/her) 
Anjelica Enaje is a second-generation Filipina American with Bikol roots, born, raised, and still residing in New York. She joined the M.A. in Biography and Memoir program in Fall 2019, with a focus on memoir writing with some academic research. Her thesis project is a memoir/literary criticism and analysis of the Maria Clara archetype, drawing from Jose Rizal's 1887 novel, Noli Me Tangere.
Ms. Enaje graduated from CUNY Hunter College in 2015, where she studied Sociology, English/Creative Writing, and Asian American Studies. She hopes that her work will help to expand the ever-growing, complex body of Filipinx narratives. Her website: []

Walker Simon
 ( comes to the Graduate Center after a 35-year career as a journalist with the Reuters news agency, for which he reported from 19 countries, most of them in Latin America and the Caribbean. He was raised in Mexico.  Recently, he won prizes for his documentary film “Antonio Norales: Garifuna Guardian,” and he produces a bilingual television program on Latin American art in New York. He co-authored a chapter on Central Americans for the book “Latinos in New York: Communities in Transition,” published by the Notre Dame University Press. His biography project is on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their relation to Judaism and the circle of their close Jewish friends, for which he has already tapped numerous archives in the United States and Mexico and consulted hundreds of books and articles.

Iliana Emilia Garcia ( works in big format drawings on canvas and paper, escalating installations, printmaking and digital photos on canvas depicting her most iconic symbol: the chair. The base of her work is the emotional history of everyday things. It’s not about the geographical or physical history, but about the value we give to what we keep from the landscapes we come from; and that we unconsciously keep with us through crossroads. The symbols that seem to breed from the memory of our heritage. (from her website,

What kinds of backgrounds do you expect students to have?

Students come to the study of biography and memoir from many different backgrounds. Some have undergraduate academic backgrounds in English, history, or other analytic fields with an emphasis on writing. Some wish to supplement their existing writing credentials, whether as published writers, M.F.A.s, or aspiring memoirists whose writing so far has been largely personal, with rigorous training in archival research and interview techniques. Some work part-time and desire training in a burgeoning genre and lucrative publishing market in order to diversify their intellectual activities. All in all, the biography and memoir program is open to all students hungry for the skills necessary to write compelling memoirs or tackle full-scale biographies.

How long will the program take to complete?

The M.A. program is a 30-credit program, and how quickly students complete it depends on their chosen course load. For example, full-time students taking 9 credits (three courses) or more per semester can finish in a year and a half to two years; part-time students taking 6 credits (two courses) per semester will finish in two and half years. We do not require students to be full time, but you must be registered or on a leave of absence each semester 

How much does the program cost?

Information on Graduate Center tuition and fees can be found here.

For master’s students entering in Fall 2020, The Graduate Center will offer Dean’s Merit Scholarships to a limited number of master’s degree students each year.

Will I find a community at The Graduate Center?

There is a vibrant student community in this and related master’s and doctoral programs, such as English, comparative literature, history, and psychology, who share your interests. Through the Leon Levy Center for Biography and our program events you will also be introduced to established  artists, writers, and agents who collaborate with and present their work at The Graduate Center. 
Students at The Graduate Center participate in many student groups and advocacy organizations, and the institution schedules a vast number of panels and lectures involving faculty and students from varied academic programs as well as other universities in the area.