"The world needs more readers. The world needs more people with imagination. So figure out a way to cultivate the imagination."
In his address at a July 15th ceremony awarding diplomas to the first six students to complete St. Francis College's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, President Miguel Martinez-Saenz encouraged the graduates to connect their work with audiences who will find joy in reading it.
"I urge you, as you think about developing your craft, to think about your audience...Reading is one of these art forms we've lost. We need to figure out how to reinvigorate it," said Dr. Martinez-Saenz.
St. Francis College launched its two-year MFA program in 2017, under the direction of English faculty member Theo Gangi, and has since enrolled more than 25 writers.
Graduating students completed their degrees on one of three "tracks" -- poetry, fiction or dramatic screenwriting/playwriting -- and worked remotely other than two 10-day full-time residencies each year at SFC's Brooklyn campus, when they took part in workshops, readings and discussions. The six MFA graduates just wrapped their final residency at St. Francis from July 5th to 15th.
"I'm incredibly proud of these [graduates]," said Gangi. "They trusted us as a program and a school with their livelihoods andfutures. And it's really satisfying to see it working out for them. And then moving onto the next stage...Some are writing professionally, some are teaching. So we feel really good about the program's success."
Among those guiding the students included Man Booker Prize Winner Marlon James – named one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People. this year – National Book Award finalist Jamel Brinkley, Cave Canem poet Mahogany Browne, who serves as the program's poetry coordinator, and playwright Ben Snyder, the program's dramatic writing coordinator
"It's just the start for my career," said MFA graduate Adela Sinclair, who entered the program with a MA in teaching English as a second language from Hunter College. "My book is coming together. My thesis is my book that I hope to publish...I'll teach and write books forever."
The July 15th graduation ceremony also recognized Deedee Fields, a detective in the New York City Police Department who completed requirements to earn her St. Francis degree in professional studies this summer. A "Terriers Come Home" graduate, Fields originally enrolled as an undergraduate at St. Francis in 2001, and left before completion to pursue her law-enforcement career.
The 2019 SFC MFA graduates are:
- Noel Jones
- Vincent Longobardi
- Matt Marvilli
- Steven Moller
- Justin Reinsilber
- Adela Sinclair
For more information about SFC's MFA program, visit www.sfc.edu/mfa.