By Malinn Loeung | Photo by Stan Lim


Lesley Galvan
Galvan, a third-year theatre, film, and digital production major, is writing her own story.


A Familial Theme (Park)

Growing up just a few miles from Riverside’s Castle Park, Lesley Galvan was raised by parents who loved carnival rides and cotton candy. Mom and Dad both came from Mexico: she, a city girl from Sinaloa, he, a ranch boy from Zacatecas. They raised Galvan and her younger brother with a penchant for thrills and theatrics, something they were surrounded by during frequent theme park visits, first to local spots and later evolving into annual trips to Disneyland, Universal Studios, and other Southern California attractions. Theme parks formed her prologue.

Her Write of Passage

Skim through a few chapters and Galvan is now a 20-year-old, first-generation UCR student majoring in theatre, film, and digital production, and already dripping with creativity. She’s written for the GameSpawn video game club and R’Shorts Film Club; added to the Creative Writer’s Guild’s first novel; and authored social media captions for R’Stage Productions and the American Society for Mechanical Engineers. But it’s Galvan’s “full circle” moment that has us clapping for her. After all those years visiting Castle Park as a child, she’s now writing and acting in their holiday specials. For Halloween, she played Valentina De Las Noches Oscuras, a descendant of Día De Los Muertos icon La Catrina, and welcomed guests to the “Land of the Dead.” For Christmas, she’s written and will be stage manager for “Duke’s Holiday Wish.” Of her accomplishments, Galvan is most proud to be providing a little happiness in her hometown.

She Got the Lead

A former high school cheer captain and debate team founder, Galvan has roots in leadership that continue to grow at UCR. She’s been a mentor for Chicano Student Programs and a resident advisor at the Pentland Hills Residence Hall. The latter role won Galvan the “Main Character Energy” award for surpassing expectations with her genuine compassion for homesick first-year students and enthusiastic planning of programs like gamer tournaments, Latin dance parties, and Lego building events.

Flowers for Faculty

Galvan attributes her guidance skills to many UCR mentors, and she’s tossing flowers to her faculty stars. A healing lotus for Kimberly Guerrero for teaching her that “storytelling is medicine.” A bright marigold for Stu Krieger for helping her remember to “put work around life — not life around work.” And an inspiring tulip for Rickerby Hinds, who encouraged her to test an unexpected collaboration between theater and engineering. Hinds chose Galvan’s horror short “Clarice” as the prototype project for UCR’s Making Magic/Oasis initiative, a program merging technology and the arts through interactive stagecraft, emerging media art, robotic art, computer animation, and game design.

Carrying Dreams into Reality

In the next chapter of “The Story of Lesley,” she hopes to spend her final years at UCR studying abroad in Spain and producing and starring in an escapism/science-fiction play that she is writing. Through “Out of Bounds,” Galvan is telling the story of a student trying to untangle her personal and professional lives after an android follows her out of the lab and into her family’s cafe. She’s still working out the details but hopes her engineering schoolmates will build real-life battle bots to be featured on stage. Possible titles for her post-undergrad chapters? “Lesley Goes to Grad School,” “Lesley Tries the Theater Professor Thing,” “Lesley Lands a Major Studio Internship,” or “Lesley Takes Over the Theme Park Industry.” They all sound like good reads. Whichever way the story goes, Galvan’s epilogue will say: “I did this for my mom who had to drop out of college before immigrating to America. I’m finishing what she started — carrying her dreams into reality.”


Return to UCR Magazine: Fall 2023