Photo of Liz Harmer

Liz Harmer, MFA ’19

Did you know that Chapman University is a member of the Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS)? WAGS is the western regional affiliate of the national Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). One of the membership benefits is the opportunity to nominate outstanding graduate students from Chapman University’s graduate and professional programs for recognition. 

We are proud to announce Liz Harmer, MFA ‘19, of Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is the national winner of the 2019-2020 WAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Master’s Thesis and/or Final Master’s Capstone Project Award in the Creative, Visual and Performing Arts category! The award is granted to the nominee who demonstrates peerless “originality, aesthetic merit, technical execution, and potential to reach beyond the original academic audience.”  In her award-winning thesis,  “Interpretation Machine: A Memoir,” Liz details her experience growing up in a religious family and coping with a family member’s mental illness. 

Liz, a novelist and essayist originally from Canada, received her MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman. Her fiction and nonfiction writing has already received critical acclaim beyond an academic audience. Her Chapman education has not only helped her flourish as a skilled writer, she has learned how to plan book launches, engage with readers on social media, and participate in literary panels. In addition to her writing and frequent public talks, Liz works as a community college instructor and editor. She has always been a believer in strong communities, volunteering to support members of her community using her skills in teaching, leadership, communication, and community organizing both in Ontario, Canada, and now in Riverside, CA. 

As the recipient of this prestigious regional award, Liz will receive a $1,000 prize. Additionally, she will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 62nd Annual WAGS Conference where she, along with other award recipients, will be recognized at their Awards Luncheon.              

We congratulate Liz on her outstanding achievement and extend our appreciation to her graduate faculty advisors for nominating and being such enthusiastic advocates of her creative works. More more information on Chapman’s participation in WAGS and recognitions available to our graduate students, please contact