Full-tuition scholarships still available to aspiring writers

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    Best-selling author and alumna Sandra Brown is looking for the next recipient of her full tuition Excellence in Literary Fiction Scholarship.

    This year marks the fourth year the scholarship is offered to any rising junior who demonstrates high potential as a fiction writer.

    Students do not need to be an English or writing major when they apply, but would need to become one in order to receive the two-year, full tuition scholarship, Press Director Dan Williams said.

    In order to apply, students must create a 50 to 70 page writing portfolio of original fiction, have two letters of recommendation and at least a 3.0 GPA, according to the scholarship’s website.

    Williams said he expects to have 20 to 30 applicants by the Nov. 18 deadline.

    One applicant, sophomore speech language pathology and Spanish double major Linnea Larson said she felt compelled to apply after her experiences working with the homeless on Lancaster Ave.

    “I started out unsure about applying, because I kind of just journaled about my experiences there, and I wasn’t sure how I could fit them into writing,” Larson said. “But after I started talking to people and getting to know their lives, how they differed from mine, my perspective changed 100 percent.”

    Larson began writing her portfolio in September, dedicating it to her experiences at the shelter. However, she said she met some difficulties along the way.

    “My writing itself is super-sporadic. Sometimes I would go three to four days without writing, but then randomly spend five straight hours writing everything out at once.” she said.

    She said despite the time stress of school and work, she would continue writing until next Friday’s deadline.

    Last year’s scholarship winner, junior writing and French double major Bill Hamlett, said he understands the stress that comes with creating a 60-page portfolio.

    He said he began preparing his portfolio a few months in advance, reading pieces from professional writers, getting advice from his professors and going through all the work he has ever done.

    “It was a wonderful but horrible time,” Hamlett said. “I didn’t really leave my room [except] to eat and go to class, and I couldn’t sleep because I would be thinking the whole time about how I could improve my stories. But in the end, it was all good practice for the future.”

    He said despite the chaos and frustration that came with applying for the scholarship, he enjoyed every minute of it.

    “There’s nothing like discovering that one major element in the middle of writing a story that, in turn, helps you find yourself as a writer,” he said.

    Williams said the scholarship is a tremendous opportunity for aspiring writers because not only does it give the winner direct contact with Sandra Brown, but it also gives greater public focus on the student’s work.

    As far as easing the minds of nervous applicants, Williams offered one piece of advice.

    “I would say to just choose what writing best reflects your potential as a writer,” Williams said. “Don’t expect to be writing like a best-selling author right away.”

    Hamlett also offered his words of encouragement for this year’s applicants.

    “All I can say is that I know how it feels, and I’m there with you,” he said. “You’re sharing in a very long tradition of terror and pain, but it’s all worth it.”