By Erika Neldner

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Pictured left to right: John Midkiff, Justin Jones, Dawn Major, Alyssa Hamilton and Hannah Olson.

In an intimate atmosphere in University Theater, five of the six students received their hard-earned Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. An injury kept one student from walking at graduation but she was represented by her classmates and a bold, orange and yellow stuffed chameleon in her chair.

“If you haven’t yet noticed the bright orange and yellow fellow sitting among us, let me point him out. He is the one without the wizardly garb. He represents the absence of our fellow classmate and writer, Jennie Mayes,” said MFA graduate Dawn Major. “Even though she is not physically present, everyone who knows and loves her brought a piece of her here today.”

This group of writers has been together for two years, some studying from afar and coming to Reinhardt’s picturesque campus for a 10-day intensive each summer.

“The Class of 2019 is an extraordinary group of students who will go on to be accomplished writers. I have no doubt about it,” said Bill Walsh, director of the MFA in Creative Writing program. “They have worked very hard over the past two years and have distinguished themselves. I look forward to seeing their careers flourish and their books in the library and bookstores.”

The keynote speaker for the second MFA Commencement Ceremony held June 29 was renowned southern writer, George Singleton, who read his own writings interspersing wisdom to inspire the graduates as they embark on their writing careers.

“It’s more important to be a mule when you’re a writer. Be a mule. They are stubborn, they are all about self-preservation. I want you to remember the dogs may bark but the caravan rolls on,” Singleton said.

He shared with the graduates that though they may constantly write and it may seem that others are getting their book deals and their awards, he cautioned them not to lose hope.

“The time will come,” he said.

During the ceremony, three Dr. Robert Driscoll Awards were given. The award honors writing pertaining to the Etowah Valley and is awarded to students who have written most noteworthy on or about nature, have contributed to a special project in nature or have expressed interest in a particular subject or activity regarding nature. The 2018 Driscoll Awards were given to Dawn Major, Wes Young and Clay Anderson.

The MFA Faculty also give awards to deserving students for their work in the program. This year, the first place Faculty Choice in Excellence Award was given to Dawn Major, and the second-place award went to Alyssa Hamilton.

Congratulations to the MFA Class of 2019:

Hannah Christine Goldman, of Littleton, Colorado, leaves the MFA program with her works, “Into the Other: James Dickey’s Poetic Voice” and “Grave Children.”

Alyssa Hamilton, of Watertown, Connecticut, created “Compos Mentis: Control, Distortion, and Reader Identity in Calvino’s ‘If on a winter night a traveler,’” and “Juniper.”

Justin Bryant Jones, of Canton, wrote “Like a Charcoal Fire Sketched across the Waste: Figurative Language in Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’” and “The Mudsnake.”

Dawn Ann Major, of Atlanta, completed her works “A Southern Mythology: An Exploration of the Supernatural in the Worlds of William Gay” and “The Bystanders.”

Jennie Mayes, of Atlanta, penned “Reassessing E.M. Forster’s People in Aspects of the Novel” and “Prism Keeper.”

John Patrick Scott Midkiff, of Huntington, West Virginia wrote “Braiding, Connecting, and the Importance of Associative Thinking: Examining the Braided Essay through the Braided Essay” and “A War on Cowardice.”