The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, the first and most distinguished low residency program for poets and fiction writers, has always been a place exceptionally diverse in gender, age, occupation, academic background, and aesthetic views. Ethnic and cultural diversity, however, proved to be more challenging.
It is not easy to attract minority students without first achieving a kind of critical mass, so that no student has the discomfort of feeling overly visible or being seen as “representative.” This can be a difficult cycle to break, and, thanks in part to The Holden Minority Scholarship, it has been broken.
The Scholarship has both helped to build a more ethnically diverse population and brought to the Program students of extraordinary talent, some of whom could not otherwise have afforded graduate work. As of 2008, there have been twelve Holden Scholars graduates have already published seven novels and five books of poetry, and edited two anthologies representing cross-cultural writers.
Inaugurated in 1995 by a generous donor, the Holden Scholarship was named for the late Dr. Reuben Holden, a revered President of Warren Wilson, who brought the MFA Program to the College and was its unfailing friend. Under the aegis of the Friends of Writers, an independent non-profit organization established by faculty and graduates of the Program, the Holden Minority Scholarship has until now been sustained by the generosity of the Program’s faculty, alumni and even current students.
In order to increase the numbers of students we are able to support, in 2013 Friends of Writers created the Holden Diversity Fund. This program will allow the MFA program to offer grants in smaller amounts to other students with financial need.
We thank everyone who has supported our efforts to make our literary community within reach of all artists, regardless of color.
BENEFICIARIES OF THE HOLDEN MINORITY SCHOLARSHIP
Current Holden Scholars
Hannah Torres Peet
David Mills, Poetry Class of January 2016
Tommy Blount, Poetry Class of January 2014
Reginald Dwayne Betts, Poetry Class of July 2010
Chloe Martinez, Poetry Class of July 2009
Bora Lee, Fiction Class of January 2007
Natalie Baszile, Fiction Class of July 2007
Kathy Nguyen, Fiction Class of January 2007
Krystn Lee, Fiction Class of January 2007
Victoria Chang, Poetry Class of July 2005
George Higgins, Poetry Class of January 2002
Vyvyane Loh, Fiction Class of January 2001
Rodney Jack, Poetry Class of July 1999
Ven Begamudre, Fiction Class of July 1999
A. Van Jordan, Poetry Class of 1998
Fred Arroyo, Fiction Class of 1997