Olivia Gunn knew she wanted to teach in a college classroom. After acquiring her bachelor’s degree in English, she embarked on her master’s degree in psychology, but soon found a different path. “I realized that what drew me to study psychology was not enough to make a career out of it. But I did know that I wanted to teach, mentor, and write," says Gunn.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided the clarity she needed. Shortly after the shutdown, she was offered a position as a columnist for the Rome News Tribune. The column led to a job as a Special Features correspondent. “Writing for the paper reminded me of my passion. I also realized how much I missed the role of leader/advocate. During my undergraduate studies, I worked as an Adult Learner Mentor and an English/writing tutor and absolutely loved it. So, I decided to pursue a degree that would allow me to strengthen my writing skills as well as afford teaching opportunities at the collegiate level.”
With renewed motivation, Gunn searched for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing. Online classes were a necessity with the pandemic. She enrolled in an MFA program at a university out of state, but something about the program didn’t feel right. “I wanted a place that would challenge me. I wanted someone to hand pick me for their program and have a reason for wanting me there. I didn’t have any of these feelings in the program I initially chose.”
Just before classes were scheduled to begin, she heard about Reinhardt. “I read a review of Anjali Enjeti’s book, 'Southbound.' Her bio mentioned her involvement with the MFA at Reinhardt.” Gunn realized Reinhardt was not far from home and offered a low residency program, with the online classes she desired as well as opportunities to meet in person.
“I was so impressed that the director of the MFA program personally reached out. I didn’t know a director would take the time to do that.” Gunn decided Reinhardt was the right match and switched schools. “Choosing Reinhardt has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life."
Gunn shares, “The MFA faculty are thorough, approachable, accommodating, and available. There’s no personal competition in the program. It is a safe place for writers to learn, write together, and support one another.” With support from her faculty and peers, Gunn will graduate in 2023 at the end of a summer residency.
Gunn’s focus is on writing memoirs and poetry. Since beginning her MFA journey, Gunn says her writing has significantly improved. “The program has sharpened my ability as a writer. Even my editor at the Rome News Tribune says she recognizes the impact of Reinhardt’s MFA program on my work!”