First-year student Cecelia Tucker of Asheville has been awarded the 2019 Thomas Wolfe Scholarship, a full, four-year merit scholarship in creative writing in the College of Arts & Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The scholarship program was established in 2001 with a gift to the College from alumnus Frank Borden Hanes Sr. of Winston-Salem. It honors Carolina graduate Thomas Wolfe, best known for his 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel.
One reader described Tucker’s poetry as “incantatory” and “mesmerizing,” and another noted that she “addresses the topic of adolescent love with an innovative maturity that seems to be the hallmark of writerly consciousness.”
Tucker graduated from Asheville High School and is the recipient of the Sewanee Book Award and the Taylor Hunt Memorial Award. She has participated in the Kenyon Young Writers Summer Program and the HomeWord Youth Slams at NC Stage. She enjoys writing poetry, prose poetry and short fiction.
“I am reading, always,” Tucker wrote in her scholarship application. “When I was younger I read in laundry baskets, and under the librarian’s desk at my mother’s school. Any moment I could get my hands on a book, I was curled into corners and turning pages. To this day, reading is one of the most important parts of my life. Sometimes in odd places, at odd hours … but always.”
As a high school student, she founded The Strength Project, an educational advocacy youth group that works to eliminate mental health stigma by focusing on topics ranging from media analysis to sexual health to communications skills. She is hoping to extend the project to younger audiences.
She also did volunteer work with the Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders and was vice-president of a weekly creative writing workshop group.
In addition to writing, her hobbies include sound production and engineering, baking, digital and film photography, and drawing and painting.
In a one-sentence biography in her application she wrote: “In the space between this experience and the next one I am building myself a home, I am writing myself the confidence to keep it.”
Marianne Gingher, a professor of English and comparative literature and co-director of the scholarship program, said: “Cecelia Tucker’s use of imagery is often startling in its sensory accuracy. She impressed us with her articulation of the relief and joy she discovers in the act of writing. She is an impassioned reader, observer, and thinker — marvelous and essential enterprises for a writer.”