McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship
This fellowship honors the founding director of WV Wesleyan’s MFA Program by offering a graduate of the program the opportunity to gain teaching experience in close mentorship with practiced faculty.
2019-20 FELLOW: Julia Kastner
Julia Kastner is a 2019 graduate of the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. In the program, she studied creative nonfiction, with a special interest in the themes of identity and home. Her thesis, “Wonder Chamber on Wheels,” is a collection of linked essays about the narrator’s experience moving out of a house and into a van, featuring the objects she must pack or leave behind. As a reader, she most appreciates ambiguous and complicated characters, and a focus on place.
Julia also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston and a master’s in library science from the University of North Texas, and has worked as a bike messenger, bartender, librarian, and book reviewer, among other adventures. She loves mountain biking, hiking, little dogs, craft beer, and books with trees in them.
2019-20 FELLOW: Amber Milstead
Amber Milstead is a 2019 graduate of the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College with a focus in fiction and creative nonfiction. During their tenure, they focused on short stories and a novel, “Tippie,” which became their thesis project.
Amber’s work explores queerness, magical realism, and the happenings of small towns in rural West Virginia, and their short story “Grace” is the 2017 winner of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Contest. Amber finds inspiration in 19th Century British literature, Virginia Woolf, Ursula K. Le Guin, Laura van den Berg, and Isabel Allende. Amber earned a BA in Theatre Arts and English from Davis & Elkins College in 2012 and has worked as an adjunct professor, freelance writer, and at a railroad company while completing the MFA program. Amber loves teaching, writing, hiking, playing cello, sean-nos dancing, and their cat Gizmo.
Former McKinney Fellows:
Ginny Rachel, 2017-18
Christopher Chapman, 2015-2017, 2018-19
Ashley Higginbotham, 2014-15
Zach Williams, 2013-14
The Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship is available to all graduates of the West Virginia Wesleyan College MFA Program for up to 3 years after graduation. The fellow will teach six undergraduate courses during the academic year—typically, three Composition I courses in the fall, and two Composition II courses and a 100-level Introduction to Literature or Creative Writing course in the spring, with possible variation depending on English Department needs; s/he will also offer a literary reading on campus in the spring. The fellow will work under the supervision of the MFA Director and English Department Chair, will meet regularly with a mentor and undergo at least two classroom observations, and will receive a stipend of $16,500. The fellow will be required to live in the Buckhannon area (or at reasonable commuting distance which allows the fellow to hold a minimum of 5 office hours weekly) from the mid-August New Faculty Orientation to the early-May Final Grades due date during the fellowship year.
Timeline for application process: The fellow must have the MFA degree in hand before the fellowship year. To comply with Final Deposit of Thesis deadlines and MFA degree conferral dates, fall thesis students are eligible to apply the March following their Fifth Residency. For example, a Fall 2014 thesis student may apply for the fellowship as early as March 2015. Spring thesis students are eligible to apply as early as the March during their thesis semester, so, for example, a Spring 2015 thesis student may apply as early as March 2015.
An applicant should submit the following:
1) letter of application which discusses:
–relevant teaching/work experience (applicants with no teaching experience will be considered)
–areas of expertise and interest in writing and literature
–current writing projects
2) teaching philosophy for basic composition
3) drafted syllabus for a Composition I course and sketch of an Introduction to Literature course
4) current CV
5) writing sample of no more than 20 pages of prose, 10 pages of poetry
An applicant must also have two letters of recommendation addressing his or her experience/potential as a teacher mailed or emailed directly to the MFA Director. One letter of recommendation may be submitted by Wesleyan MFA core or visiting faculty; the other letter must come from outside the program.
While the fellowship may be received only once, and while we prioritize new applicants so to offer teaching experience to as many as our alumni as possible, current fellows may apply to renew for a second consecutive year. Also, previous applicants who were not awarded the fellowship are permitted to reapply. Those who reapply–along with current fellows applying to renew–may elect to use letters of recommendation already on file, though all other materials should be refreshed. Applications will be reviewed and finalists chosen by the MFA Director and core MFA faculty; advancing candidates may be interviewed by phone or Skype. The final decision will be made by the English Chair, in consultation with the MFA Director and with the approval of the Dean of the College.
Applications must be received by March 1 for the following academic year; a decision will be made by April 1.
Electronic submissions are required. Application materials should be sent in a single Word or PDF file to Doug Van Gundy, MFA Director at firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating McKinney Fellowship Application in the subject line. Letters of recommendation should be sent directly to Doug Van Gundy via email or mail: West Virginia Wesleyan College; 59 College Avenue, Box 32; Buckhannon, WV 26201.