a photo montage by Abby Higgs, M.F.A. '12
featuring alumni of the classes of 2011 and 2012, current students and faculty
Some are straight out of college,
some are parents or grandparents,
some are back in school
after 20 years. Some just got home
from Iraq or Paris, others teach
high school or special ed, almost all
have day jobs. Some are engaged,
some are divorced, some are middle-aged,
some LGBT, and some
are all of the above.
Some are African American,
some are Persian or Filipino,
from Wisconsin, from South Africa, from Baltimore.
All in Baltimore now, some living
in a city for the first time. Some with roommates,
some alone. Some broke.
They come from state schools, private colleges,
or nowhere special, always quitting
something or other.
If you are a scientist, an artist, a waitress
a full-time government employee, you can
find a home here.
Poets and writers all.
I would not trade my time in UB's M.F.A. program for anything. My life has been transformed. I have the skills, the confidence and the determination to pursue and live the life of an artist and writer. Not many people can say that they are doing what they love and what they were created to do—I can. Life doesn't get any better than that.
I had an amazing experience at UB. I use things I learned in the program not only in my personal writing, but nearly every day at my job. I'm lucky because my employers recognize how a creative approach can improve all types of communication. And I'm lucky to have been able to teach part time for the last few years. I would never trade in my time with the Plorkers.
I loved my time at UB. The M.F.A. program allowed me to develop as a writer and build a community of writers with whom I continue to have relationships. I also learned a great deal about teaching from many wonderful instructors. It was of great benefit to me as a professional, an artist and a lifelong student. It is not at all what I expected, but the world is full of M.F.A. programs that are exactly what one would expect, and who needs that?
Integrating writing and design was very valuable. Most people are not able to do that and can't even articulate its value. To have an entire curriculum devoted to that integration is very forward thinking. I feel fortunate to have been a part of it.
I loved the M.F.A. program at UB. The instructors were exceptional and cared about students as learners and as individuals. The curriculum challenged me to become a better writer, a more engaged thinker and a more creative person.
Combining design and writing is genius and despite my lack of graphic skills I gained from taking those classes as well as my writing classes.
I feel like I gained something specific from every instructor in the program—they're all so different, which is what makes the program valuable. I learned about subjectivity and taste, as well as different approaches to looking at language. I am glad that these vast differences exist among the faculty—without these differences the program is at risk of churning out manufactured writers (as I've heard many writers without M.F.A.s say of M.F.A. programs). I never found myself second guessing if I was being brainwashed or preened into mini versions of my instructors.
I would not have discovered teaching as a career without the program. I also have gone on to publish, publish others and advance my writing life.