MFA graduate living her dream | Local

McNeese State University graduate Jenn Alandy Trahan has been awarded the prestigious Jones Lectureship in Fiction at Stanford University. “I’ll be teaching at my dream institution, surrounded by dream colleagues and I’ll have the much-need time to finish my first book as a Stanford faculty member,” said Trahan, a 2015 graduate of McNeese’s Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and Master of Arts in english literature programs.


“It’s a dream of mine to teach at the collegiate level…I aspire to be part of a group that honors the power of shared learning and thrives on bringing different people together in pursuit of a common goal.” 


“My own college years at the University of California Irvine were some of my most difficult years because I was paying my own way through school, working 20-30 hours a week and juggling a full course load,” said Trahan. However, her professors “all played a role in changing the course of my life and I want to pay forward the generosity and kindness that my own college teachers extended me.” 


Trahan was initially attracted to McNeese’s program because of the full-funding available to its MFA students and because of its close proximity to the New Orleans Saints. Recounting the Saint’s Super Bowl XLIV win, she said, “I remember watching YouTube videos of fans in bars cheering on Tracy Porter’s interception…and I thought, ‘Wow, I need to be a part of that culture.’ ”


During her time at McNeese Trahan “had the opportunity to teach 10 course over six semesters” while earning her degrees which served as a catalyst for her career ambitions. “I think all of this in the trenches experience serves as excellent preparation for a teaching career. In fact, I was at McNeese when I realized that I wanted to teach at the collegiate level for the rest of my life.  If I never had the opportunity to teach at McNeese, I wouldn’t have realized this.”


She encouraged aspiring writers to pursue an MFA because it will “give you two to three years of protected time to read, write, grow and hopefully, teach.”  In choosing the right program she urged writers to apply to fully-funded programs like McNeese’s and to “really think about what kind of place will inspire them and their work.”


“Being in Louisiana truly inspired my work…I came into my own as a writer in Lake Charles, Louisiana…If you can go write for two to three years in a place where no one cares that you write or thinks its cool, like Lake Charles, then you’ve got the skin to write. When you strip everything away, writing is ultimately a solitary, lonely endeavor…Which is why you need the right place around you.”


Excerpts from Trahan’s upcoming novel will be published in September’s issue of Harper’s Magazine available on newsstands in mid-August.

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