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Hayley Sigmon
Hayley Sigmon

Incoming first-year student Hayley Sigmon of Rocky Mount has been awarded a 2015 Thomas Wolfe Scholarship, a full four-year merit scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The scholarship program was established in 2001 with a gift to UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences from alumnus Frank Borden Hanes Sr. of Winston-Salem. It honors Carolina graduate Thomas Wolfe, best known for his 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel.

Sigmon is scheduled to graduate from Rocky Mount Academy. She started the book club and film club at her school, plays the drums and piano, and has been involved in the Rocky Mount community theater. She also officiates soccer games for younger kids. She has published works through the Nash-Rocky Mount Council of the International Reading Association. She enjoys running and photography.

She participated in a course through the Duke TIP eStudies program called “After the Apocalypse: Critical Studies in Film and Literature.” Joseph R. Lease, assistant professor of English at Wesleyan College who taught Sigmon in that course, wrote in a nomination letter that her capstone story “Hands” is “the best story I have received from a TIP student in the decade that I have been teaching that program.”

“From the very first page, I knew I was seeing something different from the norm — her control of voice and tone, and her patience with the pace of her story showed a level of sophistication that I do not regularly see from writers who are so young,” Lease wrote.

Sigmon counts Cormac McCarthy, Sylvia Plath and Lisa Gardner among her favorite authors.

In her essay “Why I Write,” Sigmon shared: “I write because I have to do it. It’s ingrained in my bones, always in the back of my mind. I’m never lonely; my stories are with me. I never keep anything bottled inside; I let it pour from pen to paper.”

Marianne Gingher, professor of English and co-director of the scholarship program, said Sigmon will make a fine addition to the Carolina creative writing community.

“Hayley Sigmon’s writing is simply marvelous: poised, character-driven, vivid, specific. I couldn’t believe I was reading the work of somebody 17 years old,” Gingher said. “On a sentence level, Hayley’s work conveys a mature and thoughtful sensibility, but her storyline is also riveting. Beyond her talent, Hayley’s obvious thirst for and curiosity about the literary arts is genuine and compelling. “

 Read Hayley Sigmon’s essay, “Why I Write.”

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