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Mount English Professor Scott Bryson connected four of his freshmen students this spring with well-known author Lisa See. This summer, See hired the young women to create a Web site detailing the places and people in her new book, "Dreams of Joy."

Mount Freshmen Find Summer Employment With Famous Author

July 15, 2011 -- Four Mount students have turned a freshman English project chronicling the Los Angeles history found in famous novels into summer employment with well-known author Lisa See.

Just weeks after completing their first year at the Mount, Danielle Mumar, Kamirun Nesa, Nicole Nicolas and Gladys Santillan, all class of 2014, were sitting around the dining room table at See’s home near the Chalon Campus, discussing their new employment with the author. Their journey began in April when English Professor Scott Bryson sent a link of the Web site they created in his class about See’s “Shanghai Girls” to the author.

See hired the students in June to create a new Web site providing details about people and places in her latest release, “Dreams of Joy.” When the students enthusiastically finished that project on time and with great attention to detail, See again hired the team to do the same treatment for her previous work, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which is the basis for a film released this month. That project is due the first week of August, just before the students start their sophomore coursework.

“It was amazing meeting with her,” Mumar says. “We had practiced a script of what we would say to her, but that all fell apart because we were all so excited and we just started talking about how we would do the project.” The students each took home advance copies of “Dreams of Joy” to start their summer job.

"I can't tell you how impressed I am by all the things you've found," See wrote to the students after reviewing their "Dreams of Joy" project. "I love that it all looks so colorful and engaging. You all have done a fabulous job!"

“The students are thrilled out of their minds to be doing this,” Bryson says. “’Shanghai Girls’ was a favorite of all the students, and this group in particular went at it full force,” he says. Bryson revamped his LA Literature Web site -- where his students' projects are archived -- this year with help from a $12,000 competitive teaching grant he applied for and received from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Bryson’s Web site has gained its own national attention for providing a creative and engaging way for students to understand the importance of place and time in literature.

After Bryson reached out to See about his students’ work, the author immediately posted a link to their Web site on her Facebook fan page and shared the site on Twitter.

For Mumar, it’s the best kind of summer employment an 18-year-old could hope for: high-profile, meaningful work she can do almost completely at home. The paycheck that comes every two weeks is a complete bonus, and the work will look great on the students’ first resumes.

See’s enthusiasm with the students’ work has inspired Mumar, who is undecided on her major, to rethink her academic future. “Doing this project makes me think about being an English major. The experience has really opened up a lot of possibilities to me; it has affected all of us in such a positive way.”

To visit Bryson's LA Literature site, click here. To review the students' summer projects, click here.

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