SNHU's MFA Program Completes its Largest Summer Residency

Thursday, July 05, 2012
SNHU Communications Office

Southern New Hampshire University’s Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction program continues to grow in size and distinction, adding two award-winning faculty members and hosting its largest summer residency to date.

Sixty-three students and 14 faculty members took part in the 10-day summer residency in June, which included a weeklong retreat on historic Star Island in the Isles of Shoals. The annual summer gathering, along with the shorter residency each winter at Mountain View Grand in the White Mountains, is a core element of the low-residency program, bringing students and faculty together for writing workshops, readings, peer critiques, and discussions.

“Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and these residencies encourage our students to become part of a community of writers,” said Director Diane Les Becquets. “It’s an intense, immersive, life-changing experience, one that our students and faculty look forward to all year long.”

This marked the first residency for two new faculty members: Whiting Award winner, Lydia Peelle, and Benjamin Nugent, author of the critically acclaimed “American Nerd: The Story of My People.” Nugent is also the director of creative writing at SNHU. Peele and Nugent, along with twelve other accomplished, professional writers who work with students in the program, will act as one-on-one mentors throughout the semester.

The residency also included a graduation ceremony for seven students who successfully completed the program, and Advisory Board Day, where students had the opportunity to attend a full day of workshops and panel discussions and meet one-on-one with the agents, editors and publishers who advise the program.

“It’s a wonderful chance for students to gain industry insight and make important contacts with people who can help shape their writing careers,” said Les Becquets.

Meanwhile, the program also awarded special prizes and scholarships during the residency to four outstanding students. Those awards included:

The Robert J. Begiebing Prize: This prize, named for the founding director of SNHU’s MFA program, is awarded to one student annually who shows strong literary promise. This year’s recipient was Emma LeBlanc, who is studying fiction in the program and who was elected to the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2012.

The Jack Scovil Scholarship: Created in memory of Jack Scovil, a prestigious literary agent and longtime advisor of the program who passed away in 2012, the prize is designed to aid a promising incoming student. It was awarded to Krista Graham, who is beginning her first semester in the program.

Two awards were created to honor Lynn Safford, an aspiring fiction writer who graduated with the MFA program’s inaugural class. Safford, who passed away in 2010, was known for her community spirit and devotion to literary causes. The Lynn H. Safford Memorial Scholarship was presented to Jennifer Boissonneault for continuing Safford’s spirit of camaraderie, while graduate Robert William Wright Greene received the Lynn H. Safford Book Prize.

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