Creative Writing Alumni Celebrate 15 Years of Success

Alumni mingle at a reception held at the new Writers Institute building.

Homecoming–Reunion Weekend gave alumni a chance to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Susquehanna University’s creative writing major. During a reception at the Writers Institute, alumni attested to the versatility of their liberal arts education and the usefulness of their major.

Kate Manning ’08 relies upon her college studies in her work for the U.S. Coast Guard.“The nonfiction classes really helped me out because I work as a technical writer,” she explains. “Lessons I learned in nonfiction classes come up in everyday writing.”

In retail positions, Angela Messner ’08 used the communication skills and ability to handle criticism she cultivated through the program. Messner also gives the liberal arts education its due, saying, “It enhances everything about you as a person. In the long run, it gives you a broader perspective.”

Even current students, like Ryan Rossi ’13, demonstrate the flexibility of creative writing paired with a business education. He applies his studies to the clothing line Paradigm Wear, which he created and runs with fellow junior Marcus Cheatham.

“The two interests, creative writing and business, are partners,” Rossi explains. His background helps him focus on the qualitative aspects of business, write professional emails with flair and engage in the creative process of T-shirt design.

Aside from being adaptable to various careers, the major leads to many writing successes, as showcased by the alumni reading in the Lore Degenstein Gallery. Participating alumni included Marcus Burke ’10, recipient of a prestigious fellowship from the University of Iowa’s Master of Fine Arts program; Sarah Turcotte ’09, author of the short story Scars, published in the fiction issue of The Atlantic; and Jay Varner ’03, author of the memoir Nothing Left to Burn, published by Algonquin Books.

“When I left here, I was a writer,” says Varner, who began his memoir while at Susquehanna.

Professor of English Gary Fincke, director of The Writers Institute, says of the program’s future: “By the time we get to 25 years, we should have a ‘history’ of young writers making a name for themselves and alumni in writing-related jobs.”

Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Karen M. Jones, assistant director of media relations; and Megan McDermott ’14, a creative writing and religion major from Lewisberry, Pa.

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