Elizabeth Engel '18 and Three Classmates Recognized for Creative Achievement by Scholastic

September 23, 2014
carnegie hall balconies with audience

On a casual walk across Wellesley’s campus, one can almost taste the hints of passion that spill out from each Wellesley student in various verbal or physical ways. First year student and 2014 National Scholastic Art and Writing Award Gold Medal recipient Elizabeth Engel ’18, for example, exudes a passion for literature, which brought her from her home in Mamaroneck, N.Y., to Wellesley in the pursuit of writerly excellence.

“The truth is that I started writing terrible, paragraph-long stories when I was around five, and I never stopped,” says Engel. “One reason I found it in myself to continue writing in middle school and high school, years when making time for writing are difficult, was the young adult genre as a whole; when I read YA novels and felt less alone, I realized that something I write could one day have that effect on someone else.”

The gold-medal winning piece she submitted to the Scholastic writing competition and which took her to Carnegie Hall was a work of “flash fiction” called Sunshine. In sharing and being recognized for her creative work, she’s not alone. Wellesley’s newest Purple Class boasts three other Scholastic Arts and Writing Gold Medal recipients, Stephanie Yeh ’18 from Warren, N.J., for a short story called “Peonies and Hard Liquor,” Madeleine Barowsky '18 from Framingham, M.A., for a science fiction/fantasy story called "Complaint: An Epistolary," and Grace Ming ’18 from Livingston, N.J., for a mixed media artwork called Jaipur City Palace. And they are in good company, joining a 90+ year tradition of young people bringing their work to the world through Scholastic. Many medalists before them have gone on to influential careers, not just in writing and art, but also acting, filmmaking, comedy, science, education, and fashion  to list a few with names you’ve likely heard of, like Langston Hughes or Joyce Carol Oates, Andy Warhol, Robert Redford, Ken Burns, Lucianne Walcowicz, Carolyn Forché, Lena Dunham, or Zac Posen.

This dedication to one’s craft is why Engel chose so enthusiastically to enroll at Wellesley. She says, ”Though I did not know yet that I had won two national medals when I applied to Wellesley… one of the reasons I ended up applying and accepting the offer of admission from Wellesley is that I felt that my writing would be nurtured and welcomed with open arms on campus,” adding: “I chose Wellesley because it felt like the right environment and community for me to grow as both a person and a learner.”

Since arriving on campus in late August, Engel has become an active member of the Wellesley Review (a biannually-produced student literary collection), and is excited to continue to discover more of the countless perfect reading niches hidden throughout Wellesley’s 500 acres.

Whether her Wellesley experience takes her abroad to study foreign literature or keeps her on campus to further explore American poetry with Professor of English Dan Chiasson—both options currently on the horizon—Engel is confident that her passion for literature will not fade. “I have no idea where I’ll be in 10 years,” she says, “but one thing is certain: There is no conceivable way that writing will not be a major part of my life. Whether that means editing or publishing or teaching, only time will tell.”

—Katelyn Campbell '17