2013 Betty von Rutenberg Scholarship recipient Marcella Prince has provided the following update to TEMPO Madison. Marcella is currently working on her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast.
I attended the University of Minnesota – Morris (2013-2017) where I earned an English (Creative Writing emphasis) major and a Political Science minor, and graduated with honours. While attending Morris, I was an active member of their MPIRG chapter and even served as the state board secretary. I also was on the organising board of the Prairie Gate Literary Festival, Chair of the Poetry Club, and worked on several projects as a student employee at the Center for Small Towns (a non-profit attached to the university that serves schools, community governments and non-profits in towns with a population of 5,000 people or fewer).
Through my work at the Centre for Small Towns, I became an intern at the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC) in Appleton, Minnesota. By the winter of my last year of undergrad, I had secured a job as the Communications Assistant at the UMVRDC and I worked there for a year after graduation, until I earned a place at the Poetry MA program at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).
So then in 2018 I moved to Belfast to complete the degree, during which I won a Ireland Chair of Poetry Student Award (2019) and was published in The Tangerine and The Open Ear as well as featured in a handful of readings, including the Writing Home reading at the London Irish Centre. Additionally, I was commissioned by an architectural firm in Belfast to write poems about the city, which were then featured at an event at the Crescent Arts Centre put on by the Queen’s Seamus Heaney Centre.
After completing the Master’s I decided to stay and apply for my English (Creative Writing) PhD at QUB. I am studying Midwestern landscape poetry and writing a collection of poems about Appleton, Minnesota. Since starting my PhD in March 2020, I’ve had three poems published in The Lonely Crowd, and have been co-editor of the anthology Hold Open the Door, published in December 2020 by UCD Press and forthcoming from UChicago Press.
After completing my PhD, I will to stay in Belfast and look for work in publishing, academia, and the arts. Belfast has really become a home to me. I am engaged and hope to get married once my PhD is finished and I have more time to plan with my fiancé.
I know it’s been 7 years, but winning the Betty von Rutenberg scholarship really has helped me not only financially with completing my undergraduate degree, but was and continues to be a source of confidence for me. Applying for the scholarship, I didn’t think I would get it. I wasn’t planning on becoming the kind of entrepreneur that teenage-me thought that the panel would be looking for, so winning really meant a lot to me. It reminded me that I am a smart, driven, and capable young woman, and that I shouldn’t underestimate myself.