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UC Santa Barbara Writing Program Honors Undergraduates with Inaugural M. Garren Tinney Fellowships

Three Seniors Selected for Financial Support and Mentoring

In a celebration of exceptional writing talent, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Writing Program has bestowed the inaugural M. Garren Tinney Fellowships upon three outstanding undergraduate students. These prestigious awards recognize their exceptional talent and dedication, providing financial assistance and invaluable mentorship to support the completion of their book-length writing projects.

Celebrating Writing Excellence

The M. Garren Tinney Fellowships serve as a testament to the extraordinary talent and dedication of UCSB’s undergraduate writers. The selection committee, led by Robert Krut, a faculty member in the Writing Program, was deeply impressed by the caliber of submissions, underscoring the program’s unwavering commitment to nurturing literary excellence.

“The applications we received showcased the remarkable talent of our UCSB undergraduate writers and the exceptional quality of their projects,” remarked Krut. “It is a powerful testament to the exceptional writing flourishing on campus and the boundless potential of our students.”

Meet the Inaugural M. Garren Tinney Fellows

The inaugural cohort of M. Garren Tinney Fellows comprises three outstanding seniors from the UCSB Writing Program, each pursuing distinct and compelling writing projects.

Sophia Campion: Weaving Magical Realism into Family Narratives

Sophia Campion embarks on a captivating journey with her family novel, infusing it with the enchanting elements of magical realism. Guided by her faculty mentor, Michelle Grue, an assistant teaching professor in the College of Creative Studies (CCS), Campion aims to craft a narrative that resonates with readers through its unique blend of reality and fantasy.

Maya Salem: Exploring Identity and Heritage through Essays

Maya Salem delves into her heritage and personal experiences in a thought-provoking collection of essays. She delves into her father’s immigration journey from Lebanon and her experiences growing up in a mixed-heritage family. With the guidance of Ellen Whittet, a CCS lecturer and accomplished memoirist, Salem seeks to explore the complexities of identity, heritage, and familial bonds.

Elaina Smolin: Advocating for Mental Health Awareness

Elaina Smolin’s series of personal essays aims to foster a more inclusive and productive discourse on mental health, particularly focusing on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Under the mentorship of Kara Mae Brown, the program coordinator for the CCS Writing and Literature program, Smolin hopes to shed light on mental health struggles and promote understanding and empathy.

Fostering Writing Excellence and Professional Opportunities

The M. Garren Tinney Fellowships extend beyond financial support, providing recipients with expert guidance from faculty mentors who offer technical and thematic expertise throughout the writing process. Additionally, the fellowships facilitate networking opportunities and connections to professional writing and literary avenues, preparing the fellows for successful careers in the literary world.

Karen Lunsford, chair of the UCSB Writing Program, emphasized the significance of these fellowships in nurturing the creative potential of undergraduate writers. “Each fellowship represents an exceptional chance for the recipient to complete a unique and often personal project that will introduce their writing to the world,” she stated.

Honoring the Legacy of M. Garren Tinney

The M. Garren Tinney Fellowships were established by Donna “Dee Dee” Tinney, Garren Tinney’s mother, to honor her son’s unwavering passion for writing. Garren Tinney, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 41, pursued his love for writing at UCSB, where he studied English, and later at Columbia University, where he studied journalism.

Tinney was a staunch advocate for free speech, education, and the transformative power of the written word. He drew upon his personal experiences as a survivor of grief and his profound understanding of the human condition to craft compelling stories and insightful commentary.

Tinney’s professional journey took him to Washington, D.C., where he worked in politics, to Los Angeles, where he pursued a career in entertainment, and to Manhattan, where he delved into journalism and public relations. He eventually realized his lifelong dream of becoming a writer in Pasadena, where he produced numerous short stories, novellas, and novels.

Expanding Opportunities: Tinney Travel Awards

The M. Garren Tinney Memorial Fund is currently accepting applications for the Tinney Travel Awards, which provide financial assistance to UCSB undergraduate students seeking to cover costs associated with research trips and writing conferences. These awards are open to all undergraduate students and aim to foster a culture of exploration, learning, and professional development.

A Legacy of Inspiration

The M. Garren Tinney Fellowships and Tinney Travel Awards stand as a testament to the enduring legacy of Garren Tinney, whose passion for writing continues to inspire and support aspiring writers at UCSB. These initiatives provide invaluable opportunities for undergraduate students to hone their craft, share their voices, and make significant contributions to the literary world.