Pictured: Sandra Brown, Michael Brown and ELF awardees Wafa Shaikh and Matt Grubb. Photo by Glenn Ellman.
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The Excellence in Literary Fiction (ELF) scholarship, established in 2008 by TCU alumna and best-selling novelist, Sandra Brown, grants one winning applicant two full years of tuition for the applicant’s junior and senior year.

The ELF scholarship is an endowment that gifts passionate writers, and the reason for its creation was to do that very thing.

Michael Brown, the husband of Sandra Brown, created this scholarship as a token of admiration for her success as a writer.

“This was a surprise birthday present for Sandra,” said ELF scholarship facilitator Dr. Dan Williams. “She actually left school to marry Michael, and so to make up for her pressing pause on her career as a writer, he proposed to have this scholarship made in her name.”

For the last 13 years, the ELF scholarship has granted over $700,000 to 13 student-writers enrolled at TCU.

To apply, students must submit a writing portfolio between 50 to 75 pages. The work must be original fiction — either as part of a longer story or a collection of short stories. Applicants must also submit a self-introduction and two letters of recommendation.

Students do not have to be an English or writing major upon application but must enroll in either major upon winning.

Wafa Shaikh, the 2021 ELF scholarship recipient, submitted a collection of short stories that spoke on women’s issues for her application. Shaikh admits that the path to her application was quite stressful for her to complete, but the result was life-changing.

“My life has changed a lot,” Shaikh said. “I love that I can dedicate myself to writing more. I think that’s what college should be, a dedication to studying without having major worries obstructing that. Having my tuition covered has done that for me.”

Matt Grubb, the 2020 recipient also holds gratitude for being selected.

Grubb decided to submit part of a fiction novel he first started writing when he was 16-years-old.

“When I heard about this scholarship, I thought about the book I started when I was 16. So, I thought I might have a shot of winning if I finished it,” Grubb said.

Both recipients urge students who are considering applying to think big and stay disciplined.

“Just try and do something that’s big. Don’t do something that is barely going to get over the word count or something that’s a safe pick,” said Grubb. He

He also advised applicants to remember that their writing holds value — win or lose.

“The scholarship is just a bonus,” said Grubb. “At the end of the day, if you’re a creative writer and this is what you love doing, then you’re putting time and effort into something that matters to you.”

The deadline for the scholarship is Dec. 4, 2021. For more information on how to apply, go to https://elf.tcu.edu/new/about-the-scholarship or contact Dr. Williams at [email protected].

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