Hometown: New Fairfield, Conn.
Major: Creative and Professional Writing
WCSU Degree: Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing
Internships: Worked on Poor Yorick as an intern, also taught sections of freshman writing as a graduate assistant
Activities: Worked full-time as a freelance writer until this March when he started full-time as a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine. As a freelancer, wrote for Connecticut Magazine, The Hartford Courant, all the Hearst Papers and the Associated Press
Honors and Awards: 4.0 GPA, WCSU Alumni Scholarship recipient, John Thomas Memorial Scholarship recipient in 2013, Jerry Alfred Memorial Scholarship award recipient in 2012
Erik Ofgang, a student in Western's Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program, is preparing to graduate from the university for the second time. As an undergraduate, he majored in history and graduated summa cum laude with a 3.97 GPA. As a graduate student, he's stepped that up to a 4.0.
Ofgang says he enrolled in the M.F.A. program because "I love telling peoples' stories and I love writing. I wanted to improve as a writer and dedicate more time to long-form journalism as well as nonfiction book writing. I had enjoyed my time here as an undergraduate immensely. When I started looking at graduate schools, I was looking at places like Columbia and NYU but Western's M.F.A. program was truly so unique and its faculty is as impressive as that at any other school."
At Western, Ofgang had the opportunity to serve as the inaugural editor of the M.F.A. program's new literary journal, Poor Yorick: A Journal of Rediscovered Objects (www.pooryorickjournal.com). "Since establishing the journal last winter, we've received more than 200 submissions from both well-known and emerging poets, writers and visual artists," he says. "As part of our mission to work with museums to shed light on lost and forgotten objects, we forged partnerships with the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, The Barnum Museum in Danbury, The Tesla Science Center in Long Island and the Danbury Museum and Historical Society."
Asked if anyone on campus made a significant impact on him, Ofgang was quick to list several names. "Josh Pahigian (author of 'The Ultimate Baseball Roadtrip') was my guide to the publishing world and mentored me to signing my first book deal earlier this year." Other mentors include best-selling author Michael Capuzzo. "He changed the way I write and taught me that nonfiction writing can be just as entertaining as fiction writing. Also, Dr. Brian Clements; I was lucky enough to work directly with this fearless leader of the M.F.A. program on Poor Yorick and I learned so much not only about the literary publishing world, but also about the art of editing and professionalism."
Ofgang sees it as an extension of the experience he had as an undergraduate. "I was privileged to work with Professor of History Dr. Michael Nolan (I still rely on knowledge I learned in his classes), former Associate Dean of the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Abbey Zink (without whom I never would have become a journalist) and Louisa Burns-Bisogno, whose enthusiasm made me want to be a writer."
Asked what he will remember most about his Western experience, Ofgang says, "Taking introductory Hebrew as an undergraduate. I can't speak a word now, but it's where I met my fiancee, Corinne Morrell."
After graduation, Ofgang plans to continue working at Connecticut Magazine where he hopes to win a Pulitzer. "I am writing a book (the exact subject is top secret, but it's a New England travel book that will be published by Islandport Press in the Summer of 2015). I'd also like to teach writing part-time as an adjunct at a university. I loved teaching as a graduate assistant and it is definitely something I plan on doing in the future in some capacity."
Ofgang's advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Do an internship in the field you'd like to work in. You get credit, make connections and learn so much. My internship at The News-Times as an undergraduate at Western launched my freelance journalism career."