This past January I had the honor of giving the closing remarks at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College graduation. As I thought about what I wanted to say, the idea of family kept coming back to me. Ours is a prestigious program, one which nurtures the development of generations of graduates who consistently become some of the most highly-lauded writers in the country. But graduation is also the first step in a lifetime of support for the talented writers who then become part of the Friends of Writers community, a family deeply dedicated to its members.
I’d like to thank you for being a part of this family over the past year. It’s been an eventful time for the MFA program, and we are pleased to share the following with you.
The Friends of Writers “Soiree for Scholarships,” held October 10 in Minneapolis, raised more than $55,000 in support of Warren Wilson MFA students. Attended by 80 alumni, faculty, and friends, both old and new, the event included music, comedy, drama, film, a silent auction as well as a live one—and dancing! And the memorable setting in the art gallery at Le Meridien Chambers Hotel provided the perfect backdrop. We are so hoping to build on this wonderful success before the end of 2015—if you haven’t yet helped the campaign, won’t you consider making a donation today?
Money raised through the gala was earmarked for the MFA General Scholarship Fund, which guarantees grants for four semesters to every student in the Program who demonstrates financial need through the FAFSA. As someone who has taught in the program for almost a decade I’ve seen firsthand how this assistance enables students to thrive. Many of our students could not pursue their dreams were it not for the MFA Grants and other Friends of Writers’ scholarships such as the Holden Minority Scholarship and Opportunity Grants, the Carol Houck Smith and Barnhardt Family awards, the Lisel Mueller and Renate Wood Scholarships—and two new sources of support, the D’Amico and the Rodney Jack Scholarships. In addition, Friends of Writers continues to help the alumni members of our family, by awarding the Levis Stipend for completion of a first book, providing scholarships to attend the annual Alumni Conference, and underwriting the conference when needed. This degree of support is rare in the world of low-residency MFA programs—it’s one of our program’s many distinctions—and it would not be possible without the generosity of Friends of Writers donors like you.
For the current academic year, Friends of Writers was able to provide $42,100, in 24 individual scholarship awards, but the need is great: many of the Program’s students are unable to cover the costs of their education without substantial help. I have had the privilege of teaching some of these gifted, hard-working writers.
When I thought about what I might say to the graduates it came down to, “You are Awesome,” and “You’ve got this.” By “this” I meant you’ve got us. From the day a writer comes into our
program there is the understanding they are not alone. Friends of Writers is the lifeline that keeps
our students writing and living the lives they’ve worked so hard for. It’s a community I’m extremely proud to be a part of.
As always, we are very grateful for all of the support you may have given to our mission. We hope you will continue to provide opportunities for our students through your generous donation to Friends of Writers.
P.S. You do want to stay in touch, yes? Here’s how:
* Send your up-to-date contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Visit the Friends of Writers website at http://friendsofwriters.org and
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P.P.S. If you have already given this season, my heartfelt thanks.