Alumni Spotlight: Amelia Gramling ’16 and Gyasi Hall ’19 (English)
Posted May 21, 2021
Amelia Gramling ’16 and Gyasi Hall ’19
Not one but two recent Otterbein English Department alumni have been admitted to the top-tier University of Iowa MFA Program in Nonfiction Writing. Amelia Gramling (’16) and Gyasi Hall (’19) are both pursuing the MFA while designing and teaching their own creative nonfiction courses for undergraduates. During the isolating fall of 2020, Amelia stayed plugged in by teaching an undergrad course on Writing for Radio and Podcasts. She credits Otterbein for teaching inspiration: “My passion for teaching and the way I think about creating community in the classroom are something I whole-heartedly attribute to my time at Otterbein.” As Amelia writes her Master’s thesis and prepares to graduate from Iowa in 2021, she reflects on the mentorship of her Creative Writing advisor at Otterbein, Dr. Shannon Lakanen: “What a gift it is to have a teacher who locks eyes with your work and can see what you’ve written for not only what it is but what it can be.”
As Gyasi Hall finishes his second year at Iowa, his essay “Alas Poor Fhoul” has been selected as nonfiction runner up in the Black Warrior Review 2020 Writing Contest. Gyasi notes the “supremely transformative” amount of reading he’s doing in the MFA program: “I’m constantly being exposed to new ideas and approaches to the craft, and I can feel myself becoming a better reader/ thinker.” Gyasi acknowledges an Otterbein Literary Studies professor, Dr. Karen Steigman, for his readiness to do graduate work: “She pushed me in ways that I didn’t even know were ways to be pushed, and whatever thoughtfulness and humanity that I have in my ability to navigate these high level academic lit studies arenas are from her.” Amelia and Gyasi have become good friends at Iowa, and the two of them team-taught a fall 2020 master class on Writing about Music. They also co-headlined an National Writing Project reading last winter and enjoyed introducing one another at the event.