Skip to main content
Pictured is AJ de la Cruz. Photo by Ethan Stoner.

Photo by Ethan Stoner '26

Meet AJ de la Cruz '25

English/Creative Writing
Women's and Gender Studies, Psychology
College Activities
Writer’s Club, Honors Program assistant and Hey Girl, Hey podcast host
Bushkill, Pa.
High School
East Stroudsburg High School North
Dream Job
Hobbies & Interests

Crocheting, reading, side quests to the steepest road in America

"Point Park offers a range of coursework to suit the needs and passions of students. The professors find joy in what they do. Faculty and staff who have chosen to dedicate themselves to students' betterment are readily available for support."

AJ de la Cruz '25

Why did you choose Point Park University?

I really loved Point Park’s location. Coming from a rural area, I was captivated by the liveliness of the city. I’ve come to enjoy the literary cultural scene, including City of Asylum. I love going to their readings and authorial events!

What do you like about Point Park’s creative writing program?

The professors! The Department of Literature, Culture and Society faculty are truly dedicated to teaching and mentorship. I am challenged in my craft and encouraged to follow discovery.

How have your minors in Women's and Gender Studies and Psychology enhanced your learning experience?

I am able to integrate various fields of research and experience into my writing, both academically and creatively. My professors have allowed me to take a holistic approach to my education, empowering me to mold it and take the reins.

Which faculty members have had a significant impact on you?

  • Jessica McCort, Ph.D., associate professor of composition and rhetoric and director of the Honors Program, has given me kindness and grace in a professional and personal manner. She has a care for her students that is so rare to find. When I was going through a hard time personally, I felt her compassion and how she genuinely wanted me to feel better, not so I could get an assignment done or perform better in my academics, but so that I could enjoy my college experience.
  • Chris Girman, Ph.D., assistant professor of literary arts, has been heavily influential in my pursuit of finding my voice. He is teaching Queering the Essay, which explores questions concerning how literature is in conversation with the world we experience. He allows me to study queer aspects of research writing while still honoring my creative voice.
  • Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., professor of English and coordinator of the literature and creative writing programs, and James Sidel, M.F.A., adjunct instructor, have been fantastic fiction professors. I tend to embrace poetics and essay writing, so fiction is a beast for me to tackle. In their own unique and inspiring ways, they have taught me to discover.
@pointparku Creative writing classes, Writer’s Club, Honors Program assistant and Hey Girl, Hey podcast host: Get career-ready with sophomore AJ de la Cruz - as they share their Point Park experience! 📚✍️🎙️ Full story on 👏 #GRWM #GetReadyWithMe #PointParkUniversity #PointParkU #CreativeWriting #CreativeWritingMajor ♬ original sound - Point Park Univ.

Tell us about the campus activities you’ve been involved with and what you’ve gained from those experiences.

I am so lucky to have the resources on campus to host my own podcast, Hey Girl, Hey. I talk about college life with other students, how seasons of change affect us and our work and how impactful professors truly make a class what it is. I recently recorded an episode about crocheting and how that hobby keeps my friends and me afloat. Old friends of mine and people I wouldn’t normally get to talk to have come on the podcast to share their experiences and have honest conversations. It’s a great, productive excuse to practice empathy and storytelling.

I also work as an Honors Program assistant, helping with event organization, student outreach and brainstorming ideas with Dr. McCort on how to enhance the program. I get to talk to other students about their projects, internships and jobs. It’s rewarding work, if only because I get to be more integrated into the Honors community.

Describe your experience working as a campus tour guide for the University.

Often my job reminds me of why I went to college in the first place. Education has always been of high value to me, and giving prospective students tours allows me to reintroduce myself to the University. Meeting families and showing students that their passions can be honored here is always a highlight of my day. My favorite destination to show students is the dorm room. A lot of independence and self-realization takes place when you first move away from home. I tell the students to embrace young adulthood and all its awkwardness and discovery.

I recently gave a tour to a young student wanting to study creative writing, and she got to meet Dr. Girman and discuss her goals as an author. I saw myself in that moment, remembering when I had the opportunity to discuss my aspirations with Sarah Perrier, Ph.D., when I was a senior in high school itching to get out of my hometown. These are not insignificant moments. They are affirming and alive. Who would we be without our passions?

What are some of your favorite courses you’ve taken?

I love Dr. Girman's Queering the Essay course. Ross Gay’s "Book of Delights" is on our reading list, and I don’t think I would’ve found that genius book had it not been for this class. I am able to marry all of my degree pursuits and write a paper on subjects that I otherwise would’ve felt were abnormal or too risky in any other class.

I love Dr. McCort's Authors class. We are studying the life and work of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Sexton has become one of my favorite poets. I find great joy in appreciating aspects of their place in literary history, especially their contributions to confessional poetry and the female voice in literature. They spark conversations that are meant to be had.

I also had a transformative experience with poetry professor Liam Wholian. He is vibrant, brilliant and astounding. He reveres the work of every student. As someone who has been a poet for years, I have not read or written poetry the same since taking his class.

Why would you recommend Point Park to a prospective student?

Point Park offers a range of coursework to suit the needs and passions of students. The professors find joy in what they do. Faculty and staff who have chosen to dedicate themselves to students' betterment are readily available for support. Our library is architecturally stunning, and the librarians are great! Every day I come across someone delightful on campus.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Dwyer told me something when we first met at an open mic. I often get nervous that my work is juvenile and unserious because it isn’t rooted in something more proper. I find myself unconventionally attracted to writing about the body and what it holds. She told me, "Your obsessions are your obsessions." Point Park is an environment that honors that, where my obsessions in my writing are taken seriously and with respect. 

Learn more about Dr. Girman:

More About: Get Career-Ready, creative writing, Pittsburgh, faculty, success story, psychology, School of Arts and Sciences, Honors Program, Downtown Pittsburgh, Honors Student Organization