Celebrating the Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellows

July 31, 2015 - 11:00am

The Writers' Workshop and The Rona Jaffe Foundation are delighted to announce that the 2015-2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing has been awarded to Monica West, who will enroll in the program’s Graduate Fiction Workshop this fall. The fellowship, which pays tuition and a generous stipend, is granted each year to a first-year woman student in fiction or poetry.

“Receiving funding from the Rona Jaffe Foundation has validated all of the sacrifices that I have made to become a writer," said Monica West. "The fellowship allows me to devote 100% of my time to writing—something that I have never been able to do. I am grateful for the Rona Jaffe Foundation’s support of female writers, and I hope to live up to this honor. Studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop has been one of my biggest aspirations, and the Rona Jaffe Fellowship is making these dreams a reality.”

Monica West grew up in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, and has a B.A. in English from Duke University, and an M.A. in English and American Literature from New York University. She worked in the editorial departments of HarperCollins Publishers and Macmillan/McGraw-Hill before becoming a high school English teacher in 2006. She has written two novels, and attended workshops at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center, Sackett Street Writers' Workshop, and the San Francisco Writers' Studio. She has also attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. In 2014, she was selected as a Southern Methodist University Kimbilio Fellow. 

In 2008, the Rona Jaffe Foundation generously established the Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellowship at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, in recognition of the programs’ shared goal of supporting writers of exceptional talent early in their career. We are very proud to work in partnership with the Rona Jaffe Foundation, which has done so much to advance women writers and their work.

As a way of looking back at this fellowship program, we recently conducted interviews with Vauhina Vara, who was the inaugural fellow in 2008, and Delaney Nolan, who just completed her first year in the program. 

Delaney Nolan (MFA, 2016) is currently a second-year student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Guernica, Oxford American, The Rumpus, Ecotone, Vela, The South Carolina Review and The Chattahoochee Review. She is a former Bread Loaf work-study scholar and a Stanley Graduate Award recipient. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Italian, Bulgarian and Polish.

Interview: A Conversation with Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow Delaney Nolan

Vauhinia Vara (MFA 2010)  is an O. Henry Award-winning fiction writer whose short stories have been published in Tin HouseZyzzyvaGlimmer Train, and elsewhere. She earned a master’s degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in San Francisco, were where is a business and technology correspondent for NewYorker.com, and previously, she worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Interview: A Conversation with Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow Vauhini Vara