Sheli Ayers grew up in Stockton and graduated from Stagg High School. She then studied English Literature as a Regent’s Scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she received her B.A. in 1990. During her graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she focused on modernism, postmodernism and cultural studies and taught composition and literature courses for five years as a teaching assistant and teaching fellow. She holds an M.A. in English Literature from U.C. Santa Barbara and an M.F.A. in Writing from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where she taught as a teaching assistant and, after graduation, as a temporary faculty member. She has also taught courses at Loyola Marymount University, Berkeley Extension, Kaplan University, and National University, where she has been an adjunct faculty member for over ten years. In 2006, she came back home to Stockton and San Joaquin Delta College.