This March, Wilkinson College graduate students student ventured into the southwest for two major conferences: The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) in San Antonio, Texas, and the Council of Graduate School’s (CGS) annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Chapman Creative Writing Graduate students in Chapman conference booth

Wilkinson graduate students in creative writing representing Chapman at the AWP 2020 Bookfair Booth

In San Antonio, over a dozen of our MFA in Creative Writing students represented Chapman at AWP, the largest literary conference in North America. Wilkinson, along with the Department of English and our partners in Strategic Marketing and Communications, has been sponsoring Creative Writing Students to attend this professional conference for almost a decade. This year, our students found themselves tapping elbows and boots (in lieu of handshakes) and networking (from a physically safe distance) with thousands of writing professionals from around the country. Students also attended panel sessions on topics ranging from writing for video games to taking those next steps in the writing career after earning their MFA.

Liz Harmer (center) with Graduate Programs Coordinator David Krausman (left) and Chapman’s Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Dr. Roxanne Miller (right)

Shortly after, two Wilkinson Graduate students flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico to receive special honors at the annual WAGS 2020 conference. Creative Writing student Liz Harmer was 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.

Dominic So delivering his three-minute thesis presentation at the WAGS 4th Annual 3MT Competition

Also honored was War & Society student Dominic So. This year marked the 4th anniversary of the WAGS Fourth Annual Regional 3MT Competition. What is 3MT? A 3MT is a research and scholarship presentation that must encompass a student’s thesis work from hypothesis, research, and conclusions in no more three minutes. These 3MTs are not done for show, but offer a vital skill in scholarship and industry to encapsulate and effectively convey research in a short amount of time. Each year hundreds of graduate students across the nation compete for a spot in the semi-finals, and Dominic was Chapman University’s first student to claim a spot. While Dominic may not have made it to the finals, Chapman and Wilkinson could not be more proud.

Our graduate students arrived home just days before stay-at-home orders swept across the country, offering our Wilkinson community one more shining example of our stellar students as we navigate our new normal finishing this academic year.