Hometown: New London, Connecticut.
Major: MFA in Creative & Professional Writing—primary genre novel length fiction, secondary genre journalism.
Internships: Inquiring News in Hartford, New England's Largest African American Newspaper: reporter covered politics, sports, human interest stories and whatever assignments came along.
Activities: Writing instructor and writing specialist at
Mitchell College; Mentor in WCSU MFA in Creative and Professional
instructor and writing specialist at Mitchell College; Mentor in WCSU MFA in Creative and Professional Writing.
Ron Samul has been writing creatively since he was a teenager. After graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University with a BA in English he worked in the food industry and tutored professionally. “During that time I was writing two novels. One was a practice novel, followed by a much better effort. I was sending my work out and get mild response from it. As I moved into tutoring and academics, I found out about the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University.”
Ron did not want a program that featured a strictly creative MFA. He wanted a program that would blend his creative and professional goals. “WestConn MFA has a professional element which really appealed to me. I was interested in on-line writing, journalism, book reviews, academic journal writing. It made sense that if I put my all into the program, it would not only foster the creative side of my novels and writing, but it would open some doors to professional writing in journalism, academic writing, and other opportunities. Why spend all that money and not move forward professionally as well as creatively?”
The low residency aspect of the program appealed to Ron. Rather than having to commute to class every day, Ron appreciated the ability the program afforded him to set his own schedule beginning with a week-long residency. “But, to immerse into a week- long residency and then work with mentors, groups and peers through the different on-line and face-to-face outlets really worked for me. My schedule was crazy in the summer months and slow in the winter, so I was able to manage and produce when it was important to my classwork and the program.”
Ron was part of the first cohort. He and his classmates really helped shape the program. Ron worked with the program coordinator and his mentor to create elements that would be representative of the program for years to come. “It was new to the mentors; it was new to the director, the students, and what we could produce. I was captivated by that and felt it was important to succeed personally, but also think about setting the benchmark for the program…Being the first class, I think our entire cohort felt a certain privilege and obligation to make this program a catalyst for change.”
The program is what the student makes it. Ron says that he took every opportunity that the program afforded him including a trip in 2006 to the AWP, or Association of Writers & Writing Programs, in Texas. For his enrichment project, Ron created Miranda Literary Magazine. He went to the AWP, at the suggestion of MFA program coordinator Brian Clements, to get some ideas for the magazine. While there, he had the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the magazine and book industry as well as read his work with a number of fellow writers from the program. “The book fair, readings, and presentations all helped me shape how and what I would be creating on my own website. I spoke to people, got ideas, and even had some basic promotional information.”
The program has afforded Ron a number of opportunities since he graduated. While he was in the program, he tutored and taught at Mitchell College. Upon graduation, he approached the college about a full time position. He interviewed in the summer and began work in the fall. Ron currently works as a college writing instructor and writing specialist at Mitchell College as well as a mentor in WCSU MFA in Creative & Professional Writing program.
In his internship at Inquiring News in Hartford, he had the opportunity to cover boxing. “I started attending more and more fights and wrote a blog about boxing in New England. That created a platform that eventually lead me to an interview with ESPN. While that didn't work out, opportunities within the program afforded me some exciting places to grow and move.”