“This is completely different from anything I have ever done,” says Dr. Donna Bearden about the Reinhardt Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing, “and it has been a great experience.”
Bearden is a hospital physician, and now, as she looks toward retirement, she thinks writing may be her next pursuit. “I wrote a few essays on my patients, and they were published in a few medical journals. I really enjoyed the experience, and now I’d like to do some more writing. I want to reflect on past experiences and write about them.”
Bearden began looking into different programs to become a more effective writer before deciding on Reinhardt. “I looked at several high intensity programs, but they required daily attendance. I am still working, so a high intensity program was not what I was looking for. I wanted a positive, enjoyable experience with people who would push me because I do want to learn to write.”
Reinhardt’s MFA program was a perfect fit. “All of our classes meet online, and then we have a residency every summer. The residency has been a wonderful experience. Meeting in person ignites our energy and creativity – both necessary for the creative process. It also builds a support system and enriches the program.”
Working in a hospital during the pandemic, Bearden says her MFA path was slightly derailed. “I started the program in 2019. In 2020, I informed the program director, Bill Walsh, of my time constraints given my needs at work. He was incredibly supportive, enabling me to take one class per semester. It extended my time – I’m in my third year now - but I stuck with it!” She will finish the program later this year.
Bearden says the MFA program, particularly the residency, has a been a bright spot in her life. “The past two years have been challenging and difficult for everyone. As I look back on my experience with the MFA, the courses and the residencies move you forward. When you finish one class, you look forward to the next! And Reinhardt leaders understand that life happens. They collaborate with you when life steps in - and they still push you. They offer an appropriate balance of encouragement, support, and challenge.”