Ryan McIlvain and Other Students in New MFA in Creative Writing Program at Rutgers in Newark Receive National Honors and Accolades

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(Newark, NJ) — Students in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing Program at Rutgers University in Newark are making a name for themselves and the program, which was newly established in 2007.

Graduate student Ryan McIlvain is one of five U.S. fiction writers to be awarded a 2009 Stegner Fellowship. The highly sought after Stegner Fellowship supports two years at Stanford University. Fellows receive a stipend of $26,000 each year to help defray living expenses while devoting their time and energy to writing fiction on a full-time basis and attending lectures, workshops and campus readings.

“This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said McIlvain, a Florham Park, New Jersey, resident who received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University. “To consider some of the great writers who’ve had the Stegner Fellowship in the past–Raymond Carver, Philip Levine, Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, to name a few–is a pretty thrilling feeling.”

Each year approximately 1,400 applicants vie for the coveted fellowship, named after Wallace Stegner (1909-1993), a historian, novelist, environmentalist, and Stanford faculty member who founded the university’s creative writing program.

McIlvain is not the only student making the Rutgers MFA program proud. Erin McMillan’s short story, “Crossing Cut Creek,” and Evan James Roskos’ short story, “Conspiracy of Males,” were featured nationally in Granta’s online series, “New Voices.” Notably, of the six writers featured in Granta’s “New Voices,” two were students of Rutgers University in Newark. McMillan who resides in Nutley, New Jersey, is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where she received her bachelor’s degree, and Bemidji State University, where she received a master’s degree in English. Roskos is a resident of Collingswood, New Jersey. He graduated from Rowan University with a bachelor’s degree and Rutgers University in Camden with a master’s degree in English.

Continuing the list of student accomplishments, McSweeney’s magazine featured Dawn Ryan’s short story, “The Strauss House,” in its 29th issue. Ryan resides in Jersey City, New Jersey, and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University.

Not to be outdone by his peers, Chidi Asoluka garnered distinction as one of two finalists for the 2008 Hurston/Richard Wright AwardTM for College Writers. The award honors excellence in fiction writing by students of African descent enrolled full time as an undergraduate or graduate student in any college or university in the United States. Asoluka’s novel excerpt, “Exchange,” was chosen from a nationally representative pool of applications. Currently residing in Irvington, New Jersey, Asoluka received his bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University.

“Talent abounds in the Rutgers MFA in Creative Writing Program,” notes Professor Jayne Anne Phillips, director of the program. “Our role as faculty is to nurture and develop the skills and creative gifts of our students as they continue to refine their work. We celebrate their successes along the way and continually challenge them to stretch their capabilities and imaginations.”

Media Contact: Helen Paxton

Contact: Ferlanda Fox Nixon