Hometown: Deer Park, Texas
Major: English literature and writing short fiction
WCSU Degree: M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing (December 2012), Master of Arts in English Literature (May 2013)
Internships: My various positions at Western have served as an internship for my future in academia.
Activities: Graduate assistant in the writing, English and history departments; section instructor for ENG 106W - Intro to Fiction; tutor in the Writing Lab; assistant to M.F.A. Program Coordinator Dr. Brian Clements; managing editor for Roundabout Press, a start-up publishing company based in West Hartford; co-founder of Burnt Twig Productions with Kristin Santa Maria ('12), another WCSU grad; currently producing a documentary called "The Writing Life" and working with authors and people in other creative professions to promote their works through website design and promotional videos
Honors and Awards: John Tufts Prize, English Honors Society, 3.9 GPA in MA English, 3.7 GPA in MFA Writing
One graduate-level degree wasn't enough for Sara Lewis, who decided to get both an M.A. in English this May and an M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing last December because, "I love to read and write literature, and these degrees have helped me to improve my creative and scholarly writing."
Lewis had previously received a B.A. in Mass Communication at Texas State University. At the time she started her graduate studies at Western, it was the only school in the country offering an M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing. "It was important to me that I honed my fiction skills while learning a practical genre that would help me secure a job as a working writer," she says. "The graduate programs at WestConn also offer small class sizes, and I have had the opportunity to take courses with a 1:1 student-teacher ratio. There are also several assistantships and funding opportunities that contribute to the unparalleled experience of graduate study here."
Lewis says because she has worked, taught and studied on campus for the past three-and-a-half years, she has amassed quite a few mentors. "Dr. Patrick Ryan, Dr. Leslie Lindenauer and Dr. Katherine Allocco have been gracious enough to allow me to work for them, and I aspire to have a fraction of the talent and passion they have for teaching," she says. "Dr. Donald Gagnon and Dr. Heather Levy have been tremendous cheerleaders. I owe the greatest gratitude to Dr. Brian Clements. I came to Danbury expecting him to help me become a better writer and I'm leaving with a lifelong friend who has taught me so much more than I can ever quantify."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Lewis says, "Every M.F.A. residency is a memorable experience. Forty or so writers — both teachers and students — gather for a week in the summer and a week in the winter. Each day consists of 12 hours of workshops, lectures and readings. And sometimes we sing karaoke afterward, or have impropmptu open mics. Carolyn Baccaro's ('12) performance piece on Bad Poetry night may be the most entertaining thing I have ever witnessed."
After graduation, Lewis will attend the University of Southern Mississippi as a Ph.D. English candidate. "I plan to continue my work with Roundabout Press and Burnt Twig Productions while teaching undergraduate courses at USM," she says. "In the future, I would like to teach both creative writing and literature."
Lewis’ advice to new students entering WCSU is: "There are a tremendous amount of opportunities to get involved at WestConn: clubs, internships and causes. You will get as much as you put in."