Hometown: Bethany, Conn.
Major: M.F.A. in Professional Writing - primary genre nonfiction/feature writing, secondary genre children’s writing
WCSU Degree: Master of Fine Arts in Professional Writing
Internships: Designed a workshop on corporate storytelling and delivered it at place of employment for the communications team
HONORS AND AWARDS:3.97 GPA
Activities: "I was a 40-something professional woman with two young children when I went back to school for my master's degree, so when I wasn't working, writing or reading, my extracurricular activities were building with Legos, getting beat at PS2, playing hide-and-go-seek, or sleeping!"
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern Connecticut State University in 1984, Anne Witkavitch knew that she would one day return to school for a master’s degree. "But," she says, "it wasn’t until 20 years into my career that I finally found a program that met my needs and that I was brave enough to apply for. Returning to school was not easy, but once I started I knew it was exactly where I should be."
Witkavitch says she had been researching graduate programs for a few years before enrolling in WestConn's Master of Fine Arts in Professional Writing program. "It was important for me to find a degree that would benefit me professionally as well as personally, and that I could earn while juggling my family and career," she says. "The low-residency approach gave me the flexibility I needed and the self-directed nature of the studies fit perfectly with my entrepreneurial personality."
"My passion has always been writing," Witkavitch explains, "and I had already used these skills to build a successful career in marketing and communications. However, I really wanted to become a published writer and I knew that going back to school for an M.F.A. would not only help me develop my craft, but would also give me exposure to other writers, publishers, and editors -- a network of people who would be instrumental in helping me to achieve my goal. The M.F.A. also gave me the option to teach, something I'm thinking about down the road."
Witkavitch found that the M.F.A. program is designed around one-on-one mentoring with published writers who not only taught the courses but gave workshops and lectures at the residency. “The collective power of this group has shaped my writing career in ways I never anticipated," she says. "I was fortunate to study under Elizabeth Cohen, who was my primary adviser on my thesis. She was tough and had high expectations but was always encouraging and supportive. I’m not sure I would have made it through the thesis if not for her confidence in me. In fact, we are still in touch via e-mail!"
Asked what she will remember most about her WestConn experience, Witkavitch says, "The week-long residencies were a special time. We all had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in our writing craft for an intense six-day period of workshops, lectures and networking. When you already have a family, career and hardly any spare hours in your life, having one week a semester to focus solely on developing yourself as a writer is a coveted gift."
"I also remember the two-day fiction workshop with author Gloria Frym during my first semester," she says. "Although fiction was not my genre of study, I attended the workshop and brought with me my novel-in-progress, which I had never shared with anyone. It was the first time I mustered enough courage to read my work in public. I received such positive feedback and support from Gloria and the class that I have continued to work diligently on finishing the manuscript and even submitted the first 50 pages to a first-time novelist competition!”
After graduation, Witkavitch is redefining, refocusing, and re-energizing for the next phase of her career. She is working on a nonfiction book about helping successful women define what they want for the second half of their lives, and developing a coaching and speaking platform in support of that work. "I am also working on finding a publisher for my thesis, which is a collection of personal essays about being a working mother. In addition, I have launched my own communications company called C-Suite Communications and work with clients on their communication strategies, messaging and marketing. In between it all I keep writing my novel and publishing articles, features and essay, building my credentials as a published writer."
Witkavitch’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “Define your goals and write them down. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, even those not so obvious. Build relationships. Become a skilled writer, no matter what you want to do -- it will differentiate you in the marketplace. And most importantly, enjoy yourself and have fun!”