Summer Program Spotlight: Smith College’s Creative Writing Workshop

By Autumn Shelton

One of the many beautiful buildings on Smith’s Campus
Photo Credit: Smith College

The Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholars Program has eleven college partners (you can learn more about them here) where girls can learn subjects ranging from scientific laboratory research to filmmaking. Today I’ll highlight the program I attended back in 2017: Smith College’s Creative Writing Workshop.

I was only fourteen years old and more than 1000 miles away from home when I arrived on Smith’s campus. Immediately the red brick buildings and lucious quads caught my eyes. What kept my attention was the welcoming community of young women scholars. As an all-girls school, Smith allowed me to enjoy the academic atmosphere of every summer program while adding a layer of sisterhood that has not yet been replicated.

In addition, while the summer campus is incredibly inclusive to people from all backgrounds, it also forces you to challenge your beliefs and evaluate issues from all sides of the story. The courses I took, one on creative writing and the other on screenwriting, showed me what real writing looks like outside of the classroom. Unlike the average English class offered at most high schools, these classes were created to be tight-knit (10-15 students at the most) seminars where we experimented with our writing styles, learned how to critique writing accurately, and connected with students just as passionate about the craft of writing as everyone else. As with any Joyce Ivy Summer Program, all the students were excited to learn and collaborate.

Outside of the classroom, the absolute highlight were the friendships I made. From late night writing sessions to who could do the longest plank contests, my summer program let me meet people from all over the country and the world who I never would have interacted with otherwise. While I learned about other communities and cultures, I also was able to tell people about how life is like in rural America, something few of them actually understood beforehand. I think that’s what I love most about Joyce Ivy and the different summer programs. Yes, to meet new people and learn new things is awesome, but closing the gap between Midwestern girls and elite academia is what really makes this whole experience unforgettable.

Autumn Shelton is currently a freshman at Princeton University and plans to attend law school after her undergraduate career. Her favorite things include home baked chocolate chip cookies, Robert Pattinson’s Oscar-deserving performance in Twilight, books on the history of Alaska, and her rather large collection of decks of cards from various places around the country.