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Prestigious Writers' Conference

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UW-Fox Valley Students Qualify for Prestigious Writers' Conference

The University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley's Darren DeFrain has taught at three different universities and one college. He has never seen anything like this before. 11 students from his Creative Writing class have qualified for the highly regarded "National Undergraduate Literature Conference" (NULC) held April 4, 5, 6 at Weber State University in Ogden, UT.

Dr. Darren DeFrainDeFrain (Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English) believes that his students "worked really hard to earn this honor. To have this many students from one class qualify is enormously significant. This is the most students I've ever had qualify at one time," he said. Last year, in his first year at UWFox, DeFrain mentored seven students through the qualification process.

UWFox students that qualified for the 2002 NULC include:

  • Sarah Stanley;
  • Jennifer Anderson;
  • Brian Giebisch;
  • Amanda Sherman;
  • Nick Robarge;
  • Steve Sutter;
  • Kim Stierman;
  • Chris McGraw;
  • Yveline Garnier;
  • Michael Otto;
  • Michelle LeVally.

Of the 11 qualifiers, eight have made plans to attend this year's NULC, including: Stanley, Anderson, Giebisch, Sherman, Robarge, Sutter, Stierman, and McGraw.

DeFrain explains, "each year the NULC receives approximately 900 submissions from all over the country. Students seeking to qualify have to submit their writing to judges affiliated with the Conference. The judges then select only 400 student-authors, based on their works, to attend the Conference."

"There are two divisions: critical and creative," he relates. "The creative writing division tends to be more competitive because of the popularity of those classes at the undergraduate level."

A wide range of activities takes place at the Conference. "Students will have the time to interact with their peers socially, and meet a cross section of people in a casual setting," DeFrain says. "Key note speakers and professional authors Ethan Canin and Matthew Klam are very going to be very accessible for the students. They can talk and ask them questions about a lot of things. There are also group questions and answers sessions. Colleges and universities that offer undergraduate degrees in writing are also there, and our students can meet and talk to their representatives. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for college students that are aspiring writers," he summarizes.

"The NULC is now in its 14th year. At one time, it was an activity that only Utah-based college students could enjoy. It eventually went to the national level of interest, and now it's internationally renowned," DeFrain shared. "When our students are at the NULC, they'll get up and read their works at a public forum, in front of a new and 'strange' audience. It's a great learning experience for them."

"A key factor for these particular students has been their relatively small creative writing class. That allows me to work more individually with each of them," according to DeFrain. "That's a great advantage for me, too. I can give them a lot more personal attention."

Students that qualify for the conference have to raise their own funds for the trip. DeFrain has helped several students in their fund-raising efforts. "The UWFox students attending the conference are going to ambassadors for the campus, the UW System, and for the State of Wisconsin."