“It was surreal. I was at work when I got the email, and I read the first line [congratulating me] and … started crying,” College junior and English and Creative Writing major Caroline Schmidt said.

Schmidt is one of 20 students nationwide who received the Beinecke Scholarship, a $34,000 graduate school grant for undergraduate juniors of exceptional promise, according to the Beinecke Scholarship website. The program, which was founded to honor brothers Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke for their leadership in The Sperry and Hutchinson Company, Inc., “seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences,” according to the website.

“I felt so unbelievably grateful not just for the award itself but everything that had gotten me there – [Emory’s] Creative Writing Program, the professors — everyone has been so outstanding,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t imagine that I could ever go to grad school, but now this is an incredible opportunity.”

Schmidt, in addition to being the John H. Gordon Stipe Fellow for creative writing and the fiction and poetry editor for the Lullwater Review, has published fiction, nonfiction and poetry in various literary magazines. She was also one of 12 poets last year to be invited to the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.

As one of two creative writing majors who received the scholarship, Schmidt hopes to pursue creative writing in graduate school to become a professional writer. She plans on applying to schools that offer a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program in creative writing, such as Brown University (R. I.), Cornell University (N. Y.), University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin-Madison. $4,000 will be given to her before she starts graduate school, and the remainder will be disbursed in order to pay tuition at the program of her choice.

Schmidt said her inspiration stemmed largely from her creative writing mentors, Associate Professors of English and Creative Writing Lynna Williams and Jericho Brown.

“Those two have mentored me for years and … are wonderful leaders who I have learned so much from,” Schmidt said. “[They created an intimate and] very vulnerable place, but it’s also very constructive, so I improved a lot,” she added.

“This year we had 99 nominees, which is the most in the history of the program,” Director of the Beinecke Scholarship Program Thomas Parkinson wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Every year we receive a number of very talented students for consideration and this year’s group was similar to previous years except there were more of them.”

In regards to Schmidt specifically, Parkinson commended her “strong” personal statement, “wonderful” writing sample and “glowing” letters of recommendation, naming her as a “very strong nominee.”

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anwesha.guha@emory.edu | Anwesha Guha (18C) is from Montgomery, Ala., majoring in English and quantitative science with a concentration in biology. She served most recently as news editor. In addition to the Wheel, she researches and tutors.