The Chester Aaron Scholarships are awards in the amount of one semester's tuition waiver that go to distinguished candidates in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Chester Aaron is a Professor Emeritus of English at Saint Mary's College and the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently Black and Blue Jew, Garlic Is Life, and Garlic Kisses. This award honors his profound service to students at the College and to his lifelong dedication to the written word.
The MFA Alumni Scholarship
MFA Alumni Fund Scholarships are given annually by alumni who contribute to the fund in varying amounts—some with larger gifts and some with small contributions. Our MFA alumni have a high degree of satisfaction, and they wish to pass along the gift of a writer’s education to future generations of writers. The MFA Program welcomes contributions to this Fund in any amount.
The Alice Bagby Scholarship for Excellence in Writing
The Alice Bagby Scholarship is given annually by an anonymous donor in memory of her grandmother. The scholarship is named after a teacher and missionary, Alice Bagby, who devoted her life to housing and educating young people, especially needy young women, in the southern state of Rio Grande de Sul, Brazil. Alice Bagby was known in the community for her active leadership and for her deeply caring teaching. Completely bilingual in Portuguese and English, she was dedicated to the study of languages and to the life of the spirit in communities far from her family's place of origin in Texas. The scholarship is given to a deserving student whose work will help exemplify the values of spiritual life in language.
Vanessa Bedient (née Stribling) grew up in Piedmont, California and attended Scripps College, the University of Washington, and UCLA. She loved literature and the arts, and was the soul of goodness.
The Elizbaeth Bishop scholarship is awarded to a distinguished first-year candidate in poetry each year, this award is made possible by the contributions of several anonymous donors and through a large gift from The Murray and Grace Nissman Foundation. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1911, Elizabeth Bishop was raised by two sets of grandparents in Nova Scotia and New England. She was a voracious reader and an aspiring writer by the time she enrolled at Vassar College, where she co-founded the literary magazine, The Conspirito. After graduating from Vassar, Bishop traveled extensively, settling in Rio de Janeiro from 1951 to 1966. She later went on to teach English and creative writing at the University of Washington and Harvard University. Her poetry, published in such collections as North and South, A Cold Spring, Questions of Travel, and Geography III, won every major American literary award, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
The Agnes Butler Scholarships are awarded to six distinguished students in the MFA Program. Three awards are granted to distinguished new candidates, and three awards are granted to returning students. The Agnes Butler Scholarships are made possible by the Agnes Butler Endowment for Literary Excellence, which was established in 1998 through two large gifts to the MFA Program. Agnes Butler was the grandmother of an anonymous donor to the program. A southern schoolteacher, Ms. Butler earned her master's degree in English while working as a teacher and raising a family. A beloved and devoted teacher, Agnes Butler instilled in her students a love for literature, especially her favorites, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Keats.
This scholarship by an anonymous donor in memory of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Born in Mexico City in 1648 and Latin America's finest baroque poet, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz spent her entire adult life in a convent. She is the author of the poetry collection The Overflowing of the Castalian Spring by the Tenth Muse of Mexico and the Respuesta, in which she describes her intellectual history and defends her rights as a woman to education. Remarkable for her time, Sor Juana discusses the position of women with astonishing frankness, irony, and thinly veiled anger.
This scholarship is made possible by an anonymous donor and honors the life of Judith Lee Stronach (1943-2002), a writer and activist. Among her considerable accomplishments, Judith was a published poet and an invited columnist for the Turning Wheel and poetry editor for the Enquiring Mind. As a philanthropist Judith was devoted to causes championing Human Rights and since 2000 was an Executive Board Member of Amnesty International.
The Leonard Michaels Scholarship in Fiction honors the work of Leonard Michaels (1933-2003), a noted contemporary writer of fiction and essays. Born in New York City of Jewish-American immigrant parents, Michaels was much admired for the economy of his writing; he established a widely imitated, signature style of spare, imagistic prose. Author of nine collections, including I Would Have Saved Them If I Could (1975) and The Collected Stories (2007), published posthumously, he taught at U.C. Berkeley for nearly forty years. Michaels was the father of three children, Ethan, Jesse and Louisa; he lived in Berkeley until the last few years of his life, which were spent in Italy with Katharine Ogden Michaels
The Jim Townsend Scholarships are awards in the amount of one semester's tuition waiver and go to distinguished candidates in fiction and poetry. Jim Townsend was a Professor Emeritus of English at Saint Mary's College. This award honors his profound service to students at the College and to his lifelong dedication to the written word.
Squaw Valley Community of Writers Scholarship
The MFA program offers scholarships that will enable one second-year MFA student in each genre to attend the workshop at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers free of charge. This scholarship includes tuition, 6 evening meals, and housing for the week at Squaw Valley Community. The writers chosen for the scholarship will attend in her or his genre after the completion of the MFA at Saint Mary's. More information about the program and this summer's workshop leaders can be found here: http://www.squawvalleywriters.org/