Back in January 2010, my life as a writer took a step in a much more serious direction when I started my first day of graduate school. I had applied and been accepted into the Master of Arts in English program at Mount Mary University (known as Mount Mary College then) and was ready to get my then-current WIP into better shape. By the end of that first semester, I had grown by leaps and bounds and I knew I was where I needed to be. Beyond that semester, I only continued to grow as a writer and as a person. In December 2011, I graduated with one completed novel manuscript and half of a second, multiple short stories, and had been persuaded to apply to one of the top low-residency MFA programs in the country for creative writing (to which I would later be accepted).
I could write volumes about how this specific program changed my life as a writer, how it influenced my writing, and how it helped me develop into the writer I am. My professors, advisors, and peers at MMU have meant so much to me in the years since I left the program and I’m so thankful for the time I spent with all of them. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without their friendship and guidance.
Sadly, in April of this year, the powers-that-be at Mount Mary University decided that it was no longer important to fund a graduate-level degree in creative writing. The following letter was sent to current students in the program:
I learned of this disappointing decision (and this letter) through a Facebook group I belong to, as alumni weren’t notified. I found that to be even more disappointing.
It’s sadly no secret that liberal arts are constantly undervalued and overlooked across all levels of education. Grade schools are cutting after-school reading programs. High schools are cutting art and music programs in favor of sports.
Here, in this specific instance, it’s hitting close to home. I may not be a student anymore, but the idea that this fantastic program will no longer be available to others looking to further their own writing and education as writers is truly a sad thought. And while I’ll get over this eventually, what will be the hardest to move past is the fact that I’ve lost a small part of myself as a writer.
The death of this program is the death of a very small part of who I am and that is what hurts the most. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, and it’s truly disheartening that Dr. Pharr and the others at MMU who voted to dissolve this program have chosen to ignore this.
Thank you for everything, Mount Mary University M.A. in English program faculty and staff. I’m truly grateful for all you taught me and done for me. My time in the program was invaluable.