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Three Creative Writing Alumni Trek Fresh Paths

Grace College alumni in Creative Writing and Interdisciplinary Studies Degree fill us in on the future and how Grace got them there.

What can you do with a degree in creative writing? 

Three Grace College young alumni, Anna Nelson, Kat Yocum, and Dave Holden, are proof that there are many paths you can take after college — from graduate school, to agency work, journalism, freelance writing, and more. 

To learn more about the jobs and opportunities that come with a creative writing degree, read the bios of these shining young professionals. (You’ll find that they have accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time!) And, if you want to pursue creative writing as a career, they have some great advice for you!

Anna Nelson 

Graduation Year: 2017

Grace education:  English major, creative writing minor

Graduate program: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Chatham University

Employment: Marketing writer for a tech company in Los Angeles

The best thing about creative writing: Fiction writing is a way for me to explore the world and myself.  With every story, poem, or random scribble I write, I learn more about who I am. And after I’ve written, I love seeing readers connect with my work. It’s truly magical to hear someone talk about something I’ve written and describe what it meant to them.

Most influential professor at Grace: Dr. Rich pushed me to be my best and always believed in me. Prof. Frank Benyousky was a mentor and friend throughout my time at Grace. And Prof. Mike Yocum gave me multitudes of avenues to express my interests and grow my talents into skills.

A piece of advice for humanities majors: Audition for shows. Even if you think you’ll be terrible, try out. Drama was the highlight of my college experience, and being a part of a play or musical taught me just as much as my humanities classes.

A little-known fact about you: For my final semester at Chatham, I took an Independent Literary Publishing class which required us to start our own micro press and publish a chapbook of someone else’s work through it. My press is called Bent Books. It’s inspired by the creativity of my city, South Bend. I asked one of my favorite local musicians if I could publish a chap of his lyrics. For the launch of the book, I had a little event at Denolf’s in South Bend; Denolf’s made a specialty coffee drink inspired by the book called “Stowaway.” It was a lot of fun and a really cool learning experience. As for the future of the press, I am interested in publishing more chapbooks. If I do decide to continue, I will probably look for a young adult short story next time. 

Kat Yocum

Graduation Year: 2020

Grace education: English major, creative writing minor

Graduate program: Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Spalding University

Employment: Content & social media specialist at 212 Media Studios in Warsaw, IN

The best thing about creative writing: Our lives are consumed with school and work—two things that require a lot of “logical” or “analytical” thinking. Creative writing is an opportunity to write for myself—to write for pleasure. While I have enjoyed putting together essays and white papers, creative writing allows me to use a part of my brain, and a part of my talent, that is more artistically inclined. Creative writing allows me to express myself and my way of looking at the world.

Most influential professor at Grace: There are several professors that come to mind when I think about who influenced me the most, but my answer will have to be Dr. Rich. Dr. Rich taught the first literature class I ever took at Grace and she was my advisor. Dr. Rich is honest, funny, encouraging, and won’t let you off the hook—in a good way. Her classes were interesting and creative, and her excitement for the subject matter translated to whatever book or article we were discussing. Dr. Rich’s passion for academia and literature inspired me to truly care about what we were reading and studying, and I considered becoming a teacher because of her.

A piece of advice for humanities majors: It seems obvious, but it’s true: do the reading! Don’t just read summaries or notes. If you do, you miss out valuable, insightful discussions about works that you might never have picked up on your own. You can’t get those conversations back, and I promise you’ll regret it. Plus, reading the material makes essays and tests that much easier! And one more thing: don’t worry too much about what you’ll do after college with a humanities degree. Humanities degrees are valuable, and you’ll (eventually) find what you’re supposed to do.

A little-known fact about you: Dr. Rich helped me find my ideal graduate school. While looking for programs, I did an excellent job of being too vague about what I actually wanted out of grad school. Dr. Rich encouraged me to be specific about my interests, goals, and expectations for an MA program. She then, after many conversations about other, less than ideal, schools, suggested Spalding University. Dr. Rich knew someone who went through their program, and thought I might be a good fit. And she was absolutely right!

Dave Holden

Graduation Year: 2020

Grace education: Interdisciplinary Studies degree (communication, media, and English)

Graduate program: Master of Fine Arts in Screen and Television Writing at Pepperdine University

Employment: Sports editor at the Greenville Advocate in Greenville, Illinois

The best thing about creative writing: The coolest thing about writing, in general, is that you have this great ability to empower others and impact others and give the voiceless a voice. Everyone wants to be heard. Writers give people the chance to express themselves and tell their stories, and that’s what I like most about the writing profession.

Most influential professor at Grace: I’m going to cheat a little here and give you three names: Pat Loebs, Brent Krammes, and Lauren Rich. These three were super important to me during my time at Grace. They were always in my corner. They always pushed me hard and expected a lot from me which I greatly appreciated coming from an athletic background.

A piece of advice for humanities majors: For those who want to do something in the writing field, it boils down to discipline. Do you have the discipline to sit down and write 1,000 words a day? You’re going to experience quite a bit of failure as a writer, but what are you going to do with that? Are you going to give up or keep trying? I have experienced more failure than success, but I’ve learned that the key to getting better is discipline.

A little-known fact about you: I recently won an award from the Illinois Press Association in their 2021 Best of Press Awards. The story that won was about how Greenville University’s head basketball coach, George Barber, took a very innovative and optimistic approach to less-than-ideal circumstances. 

These successful alumni once stood where you stand. Through thoughtful scholarship and real-world internship opportunities, Grace College prepared them to be critical and creative thinkers in graduate school and beyond. The skills they’ve gained here will serve them well wherever their paths lead. 

Learn more about our creative writing program!

Tagged With: School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Humanities, English & Journalism, Student Stories