Junior Summer Study Stipend Results in Unforgettable Learning Experience

Elijah WaldonElijah Waldon
2015 Junior Summer Study Stipend Winner
Franklin Academy Patriots Chapter
Franklin Academy High School, Wake Forest, NC

At first, I expected the Young Writer’s Workshop at the University of North Carolina Wilmington to be just a chance to learn more about creative writing. However, what seemed like an exciting opportunity to spend five days at the sunny UNC Wilmington campus, a trip funded in part by the National English Honor Society (NEHS) Junior Summer Study Stipend, turned out to be an unforgettable learning experience in understanding myself as a creative writer.

University of North Carolina Wilmington signImagine being surrounded by 30 aspiring poets, novelists, and non-fiction enthusiasts for five whole days! It took me a while to become comfortable with my new surroundings, but after exchanging plot ideas over lunch with other campers, I quickly felt like I gained a new family. My assigned small group’s passions were even similar to my own: a love of poetry, mystic fantasy, young adult dystopia, and animation scripts. The most savory moments with my group were during our daily workshops with our leader, Eli. Having these individual discussions allowed me to appreciate my fellow peers’ work and to gain valuable feedback and criticism on my own poetry.

Wilmington BeachDay one consisted of getting settled into the dorm rooms and meeting other workshop participants. The second day began with timed writing prompts, testing my ability to spit out raw creativity in under 15 minutes. Those short moments revealed to me that I express my creativity primarily through poetic stanzas, whether the topic was a midnight in NYC, or the nostalgia of high school graduation. Afterward, two lectures quenched my thirst for poetry as well as fiction. Professor Mark Cox, founder of the Workshop, taught me how to build poetry, from representational to referential to associational concepts. On the other hand, Jason Mott, the creator of the idea behind ABC’s Resurrection, revealed the beyond-the-cover secrets of getting a story published and the basics of narration. Throughout the third day, I made more memories discussing dialogue in scene work, working on the anthology in the publishing lab, and (my personal favorite) learning the art of erasure poetry. The day culminated with a trolley trip to the beach, where I learned I’d rather watch the water than get in it! The fourth day caught me by surprise; I never imagined being randomly chosen as a character for author Dave Gill’s demonstration on how to craft young adult fiction. Later, I discovered an interest in starting my own blog from listening to Tim Bass’ lecture on nonfiction writing. However, the highlight of my entire stay at UNC Wilmington was the night of the writers’ readings. While listening to sophisticated spoken word and inventive novel excerpts, I realized how blessed I was to be amongst the next generation of literati.

I’ll never forget my experience at the Workshop. Thanks to the NEHS Junior Summer Study Stipend, I’ll never forget the invaluable lectures on poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, or the hour-long workshops spent reading young and talented works of literary art. Ultimately, I’ll treasure every authentic moment shared with such an exceptional and extraordinary group of writers who helped inspire the writer I am today, and hope to become.


2016 Junior Summer Study Program

The Junior Summer Study Stipend is presented to members of National English Honor Society (NEHS) who are high school juniors, rising to the senior class in the fall of 2016. This award is intended to support students who have been selected for or who will be attending a summer learning program that is related to English studies in a direct way. Up to two awards for $750 will be offered each year.

This award is competitive in nature; applications will be evaluated by members of the Advisory Council of NEHS.

Submit your application today.

Submissions are due by Monday, May 2, 2016, 11:59 p.m. CDT.

 

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