Anna Faison, from Aiken, S.C., is the newest Thomas Wolfe Scholar and pictured in front of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial on campus. As a high school student she had already begun to win prizes and awards for her poetry and non-fiction.
The work of the first Thomas Wolfe scholar, Caitlin Doyle, has appeared in numerous publications, led to residency fellowships and brought honors from the Academy of American Poets, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and, most recently, Poets & Writers magazine.
Scholar Maria Devlin graduated in 2011 and began studies at Harvard University this fall. “The very existence of the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship also tells young writers — not only the Thomas Wolfe Scholars but all writers on campus — that good writing still matters."
Hannah Poston won the award in 2003. Since graduation she has served as artist-in-residence for various organizations and published her poetry in a number of literary magazines.
Thomas Wolfe Scholar Andrew Chan graduated in 2008 and pursued a master’s degree in cinema studies at New York University. He earned a Blakemore Freeman Fellowship for intensive Mandarin-language study in Taipei, which will broaden his ability to research Chinese-language cinema.
Jordan Castello, of Asheville, N.C., graduated from high school a year early and traveled the world before arriving at UNC as a Thomas Wolfe Scholar in 2010.
Celebrating 10 years of the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship
Studying Mandarin in Taipei to broaden research on Chinese-language cinema. Writing a full-length book of poetry. Pursuing a Ph.D. in English literature at Harvard University.
These are just a few of the pursuits Carolina’s Thomas Wolfe Scholars have been up to since they graduated.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Creative Writing-based scholarship program, which was established in 2001 in the College of Arts and Sciences with a $2 million gift from Frank Borden Hanes Sr. ’42 of Winston-Salem, a novelist, poet, retired journalist and founder of the Arts and Sciences Foundation. The scholarship honors Carolina alumnus Thomas Wolfe ’20, best known for his 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel. The award winners, who receive a full, four-year scholarship to UNC, are chosen based on artistic merit, and exceptional literary ability and promise.
“The Creative Writing Program has remained exclusively and robustly for undergraduates, and placing this grand scholarship for undergraduate support in our unit was the desire and decision of Frank Hanes,” said Bland Simpson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing and co-director of the scholarship program. “The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship has helped bring increasing national attention to the program ever since.”
UNC welcomed its newest and 11th Thomas Wolfe Scholar, Anna K. Faison, this fall. (See related story here.)
Life has certainly not been dull for Thomas Wolfe Scholarship winner Andrew Chan since he graduated in 2008. He pursued a master’s degree in cinema studies at New York University, spending two years in the city doing film criticism. He then earned a Blakemore Freeman Fellowship for intensive Mandarin-language study in Taipei, which will broaden his ability to conduct research on Chinese-language cinema.
Chan said one of the challenges he faced as an undergraduate studying creative writing at UNC was deciding what form his passion for the written word would take in the future. He said a heightened awareness of diction, syntax and tone that he learned about in his poetry classes helped him develop in all forms of writing, including arts criticism.
“I learned a great deal about the history of literature as an English major at UNC, but it was in my creative writing classes that I became an avid listener of and apprentice to the unique music of the English language,” Chan said. “It’s hard to assess one’s growth as a writer, but I know I underwent profound changes as a reader: my intimate contact with poetry over four years, and the sense of community I experienced around my education in this art form, have enriched my life in ways I cannot describe.”
Poet Caitlin Doyle ’06 was the first Thomas Wolfe Scholarship winner, and she went on to receive her MFA in poetry from Boston University. Doyle’s poem “Thirteen” appeared in Best New Poets 2009, and book reviewer Erik Richardson called the poem “a remarkable combination of ideas and wordplay around the transformations to a girl in her thirteenth year that it is like a socks-on-carpet spark to the brain.”